Posts Tagged 'Sunset Park'

Kestrel Action

This silhouette: large-headed, full-bodied, longish tail. This is the local American Kestrel female. She’s larger and rounder than the male. The pair are mating now. They’ll do this multiple times a day. They can do it hundreds of time a breeding season.More falcon silhouette: long tail, arch of wings, nearly boomerang-like. She was moving from perch to perch in the northwest corner of Sunset Park. That is the famed car service antenna on 40th St. behind her, a Kestrel (and Merlin, Red-tail, crow, N. Mockingbird, Starling) perch behind her. Keeping a sharp lookout.

Kestrel Renewal

Well, here they are, kitty-corner from last year’s cornice nest. Have seen no mating as yet, but that sure doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any. Picture above from March 5th.

On Thursday, March 14th, at about 5:30pm, the same set up: both on the chimney pot after she flew there from a nearby roof pipe. Much vocalization from both.

Yesterday, Friday, around 9:15am. Heard first, as if often the case (can’t look out the windows every minute…). The male was stirring up a trio of Blue Jays. He held his own, didn’t budge. The female showed up. She perched on one pipe of a neighboring building, flew to a another pipe on the other side of the same building, and hey! She had prey. Which she clearly cached up there on the roof. Because she dipped down out of sight behind the parapet and reappeared to perch on the pipe on the other side of the building again. (These three photos of her are in sequence). We call this the Solar Building because its roof is filled with solar panels. Last year, it was a definite food-caching site. Presumably the falcons are stashing prey under the panels, where it can’t be seen from overhead.About 2:30pm yesterday, the female was seen eating on the solar bldg. She plucked and snarfed down what looked like a sparrow, the same thing she had up there earlier in the day. At one point, she dropped down to pick up a scrape she dropped. Not wasting anything but the feathers. She’s got to put on lots of weight for egg-making.

A big change from last year’s #BrooklynKestrels story is that the upright dead limb of the London plane tree across the street is no more. It was a regular perch for the falcons. It came down in a snowstorm this past November. Also this year, there’s no sidewalk shed around around our building: this hosted several House Sparrow nests last year, which probably meant the population of this Kestrel prey species was enriched.

One of the Staten Island Ferry’s big orange boats in the background. That’s Upper NY Bay, with the southern end of Ellis Island just visible to the right of the ferry.

Mammal Monday

Curling up on a roof on a cold winter day. For two days, this raccoon spent daylight hours up here on a neighboring roof. The gutter, and poor roof drainage, provided water from the recent snowfall. It disappeared just a few minutes before sunset the first day.  I thought it might be a goner, for canine distemper virus is still taking its toll.

The next day it was again in this corner for most of the day. That second afternoon, a Common Raven flew low over the raccoon. Scouting mission? Twilight Thursday, the raccoon walked towards the front of the house, where a tree presumably provides access to the street. No sighting since.

Raptor Notes

From all over, but mostly from the window. Here’s a Cooper.Kestrel on the same fire escape, with prey.Cooper again, another day.A Kestrel several blocks away, atop Sunset Park HS. I always glance up here when entering or exiting the 36th Street subway station.Red-tailed Hawk with full crop.

In #BrooklynKestrel news, a male was seen regularly from the window for most of January. A female has been seen locally too, perching on favored spots used by last year’s couple: TV antenna, chimney pot, roof pipe. While on the antenna, she called several times. Another day, from her perch on the solar building, she went after what I assumed must have been a Cooper perched on the other side of the building. From a hover, she plummeted down, swooping back up, and dive again, three times in total. Further down in the flatlands, I watched a Kestrel go after a Red-tailed. Fierce little birds.

The second half of February has been sparser for local Kestrel sightings. A male occasionally on the big antenna at 40th St.

Ripped from the headlines:yesterday, we saw a pair of Bald Eagles mating on Staten Island. It was at some distance so we couldn’t hear them, but we could see their big bills open and knew it was noisy.

Back to that article I think folks should be talking about:

“Drawing reasonable inferences from current patterns, we can predict that a hundred years from now, the Earth may be inhabited by between 6 and 8 billion people, very few of whom live in extreme poverty, 70%–90% of whom live in towns and cities, and nearly all of whom participate in a globalized, market-based economy. It is not inconceivable that two centuries from now, the population could be half what it is today and the long-cherished goals of a world where people respect and care for nature may be realized, especially if we act now to foster this eventuality. We argue that these gains might be accomplished not through draconian population policies or ongoing perpetuation of poverty, but rather through the social dynamics of cities. Success is by no means inevitable, but as others have observed (e.g., Ausubel 2000), acting to accelerate these dynamics now offers the best opportunity humanity will ever have to recover nature on a global scale.”

Weekend Update

Two and a half hours in Green-Wood this morning, and not a single raptor sighting. That’s unusual for a winter day.

As I was walking home, a block away from the southern edge of the cemetery, I heard a Raven croaking. I turned to see it heading towards Green-Wood. Because I’d turned around, I saw a kettle of big birds swirling over the next avenue down the hill, to the west. Seven Turkey Vultures, with a few pilot-fish gulls, probably Herring, in the mix. And then a Cooper Hawk cut right overhead, heading south.

Once home, warming tortillas, I noticed a Red-tailed Hawk perched on the 40th St. antenna. But back to the  vultures. They’ve been seen in dribs and drabs over Brooklyn in the last month. Mostly Turkey, with a few Black. On Thursday, a Turkey Vulture flew low enough for me to capture the red face of a mature bird and the curl of the primaries.Yes, a Valentine’s Vulture! This is a tuliptree, not a cherry, but a haiku does suggest itself:

A midwinter day,
Vulture floating overhead ~
“Yo, I’m not dead yet!”

Dawn Corvids

One morning recently, a great parliament of crows flew over the apartment heading towards the bay. I estimated fifty at least. They boiled around the air column over the empty parking lot of the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, before turning right to head northish along the coast of Brooklyn. They must have been roosting inland. They didn’t make any noise that I heard, so I couldn’t tell if they were American or Fish. (American or Fish should be a game.) Both species are found here year around.

A few days later, I saw at least twenty crows flying over Bush Terminal Park. These were vocalizing, and so identifying themselves as Fish Crows. They were relatively low, too, so I snapped a picture or two.

(Yes, the proper collective noun for a group of crows is murder or congress, but collective nouns are more wordy historical fun than anything else, so why not bend the rules?)


I usually hear them before I see them. Brooklyn’s Common Ravens regularly fly across the bow, the view from here down to the coast of Upper New York Bay. They are generally quite vocal, which helps to distinguish them from the crows from afar. In this case, the somewhat swine-like krongking was right overhead. The bird swirled down from above my apartment building and landed in the Kestrel Tree across the street for just a moment.This has happened twice in the last month. But mostly, they are in the distance, passing across Green-Wood, gruntling.


Bookmark and Share

Join 569 other followers

Nature Blog Network