Lordly Peregrine

IMG_4327Since moving to Sunset Park in late August, I’ve kept an eye out for birds on the top of the local landmark, St. Michael’s RC Church on 4th Avenue at 42nd. The cross on the steeple seems like a perfect perch for raptors, making them the lord of all they survey. For until this century, it was, supposedly, the second highest building in Brooklyn after the Williamsburgh Savings Bank. But until last evening, I hadn’t seen a single bird up there. Seemed like a waste of good architecture. IMG_4328Last night I noticed something not quite right with cross’s silhouette near sunset. Sure enough, the field glasses revealed a bird. The church is two long blocks away, so I had to use all my super birding-powers to get a bead on it. Seeing it in the air confirmed it.

Now, one thing I have noticed here is three flocks of homing or fancy roof-top pigeons over in that area, flying back and forth in the morning and the evening. In the morning, the sun is in front of them (from my perspective), and in the evening, behind them, making for beautiful ballets as they swirl in the air. There’s no way all those tender squab aren’t going to attract some raptors in this town, so I figured it was only a matter of time before a Cooper’s Hawk or Peregrine should end up in the mix of feathers flying there. In fact, last night there were two peregrine in the air, rowing hard back and forth among the lower flock. Neither looked like successful hunters last night, and this one returned to perch up here for a little longer.

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The architect Raymond F. Almirall designed a rather unique structure for St. M’s, which was completed in 1905. I don’t know of another church in the city like it. The tower is, in the words of the AIA Guide to NYC, a “Sacré-Cœur beehive.” My electrician took one look at it and asked if was a mosque. He’s not my electrician any more, but for other reasons.

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5 Responses to “Lordly Peregrine”


  1. 1 Dr. Dann October 16, 2015 at 7:13 am

    Matthew! So glad to hear that the peregrines and pigeons have appropriately welcomed you to Sunset Park, and that your sunset view takes in that cross-perch. If you aren’t already leading some OHNY or other adventure tomorrow, come join us to hunt the phantoms of Silicon Dreams:

    http://www.atlasobscura.com/events/ny-silicon-dreams-tour

  2. 3 elwnyc October 16, 2015 at 9:05 am

    An ecumenical-minded electrician! A mosque with a cross!

    Peregrines sure do like those church steeples – some years ago I had a courting pair calling to each other from paired steeples in Brooklyn Heights.


  1. 1 Lordly Peregrine, Part II, or What the Hey? | Backyard and Beyond Trackback on October 18, 2015 at 8:07 am
  2. 2 Peregrine’s Perch and Other Raptors | Backyard and Beyond Trackback on December 16, 2015 at 7:08 am

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