Raptor Wednesday

Local falcons:American Kestrel. This one was a long avenue block from the Green-Wood linden. The same male, I think, perched atop Sunset Park High School.Another day. Just a few blocks away, atop the tall antenna at 5th/40th. A different male, I think, because of the much greater amount of russet on the breast (not just the play of light). A long-unseen sight! Coming out of Green-Wood’s obscure 4th Avenue entrance, we noticed something atop St. Michael’s nine blocks away. A bit of telephoto on the anomaly revealed the silhouette of a Peregrine, which we haven’t spotted up there since spring. The bird flew towards us before angling towards the northwest. Note what sure looks like a wing of some prey up there. Almost a week later, same situation: walk out of Green-Wood, notice something odd in the distance, apply telephoto. This time, the falcon perchedperched, perched until I got to 42nd St., the location of Mike’s Spike. I was aiming to get out front, that is, with the sun behind me. But the bird flew off as I made my way to 43rd St. Later in the day, however, the bird was back, as witnessed from the apartment. And has been spotted, if it’s the same one, thrice since that day.

I get pretty excited when I see a raptor. The city is surprisingly rich with them, as I aim to document with these Raptor Wednesday posts. So far this year I’ve had 312 raptor sightings within NYC limits.

But the city is also full of deadly hazards for raptors. A big one is that private citizens AND the Parks Department continue to use rat poison. Rats are prey for Red-tailed Hawks, Snowy Owls, and others. The poison moves up the foodchain: last week a Red-tailed Hawk was killed in Prospect Park. The Park suspended the use of poison, but only after the bird was dead. A friend tells me a Snowy Owl on Governor’s Island met the same grim fate last year. Poisoned birds are constantly being delivered to local bird rehab facilities; most of the dead ones are never found. The stuff needs to be banned.

More about rat poison and predators who eat rats. And here is something about alternatives to poisons.

1 Response to “Raptor Wednesday”


  1. 1 The Goose December 20, 2017 at 9:58 am

    Love the Kestrel pics, they are my favorite raptor.
    Thank you for making people aware of the hazards of rat poison. I’ve met people that put out some pretty nasty stuff for squirrel and mice. I won’t hunt small game in those areas anymore. It’s almost a guarantee that any small animals near city limits has been exposed to poison, part of what I blame for the decline of the Kestrel population.


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