On a recent afternoon, I had the pleasure of experiencing the Brooklyn falcon trifecta. It all started in Green-Wood: the distinctive shape of one of the small falcons tearing through the air in the distance, met by the rough chorus of outraged Monk Parakeets stirred up by its cousin. (Yes, falcons are more closely related to parrots than they are to other raptors.) The bird proved to be a Merlin (Falco columbarius), and I snapped a few mediocre pictures of it on top of pine. Alas, the light was wretched for photos. Not too long afterwards, a sudden excitement in the air proved to be a Merlin chasing a male Kestrel over the Sylvan Water. This was a first for me, although I’ve seen Kestrels go after Red-tailed Hawks and Ravens. The Merlin, perhaps the same individual as the first sighting, was in turn harassed from conifer to snag and back again by two-three Blue Jays. Then it was gone. The Kestrel, which had perched high atop a tree briefly and then vanished, reappeared suddenly rather close, evidently trying to jump on something mid-air, presumably one of the few dragonflies to be found. He returned to the same far perch he’d been on earlier and did some grooming. I couldn’t tell if he’d dispatched the dragonfly after all.
Upon returning home, I took a glance out the window as I’m wont to do, and noticed something on the cross of Mike’s Spike, a perch with fantastic views of the neighborhood.Peregrine (Falco peregrinus).
For completists, there is another eastern North America falcon, the Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus), but it’s a boreal bird only rarely seen in our parts. It is on the NYC list, but not mine; I’ve only seen one in Iceland. As a bird of the far north, they’re like Snowy Owls in that when they do show up in our parts, they’re generally found along the barrier beaches further east on this Long Island.