Posts Tagged 'Sunset Park'

Raptor Us

As I turned the corner onto 41st Street across from the park, preparing for the hike up the moraine, I noticed a big bird take off from the slope above the park’s retaining wall. It was a Red-tailed Hawk, of course, and it landed in a London plane tree anchored in the sidewalk. Crossing the street to stand beside the tree’s bole was but a moment’s work for me. The hawk paid no heed to my efforts, nor to three other bipeds passing below. Instead, it swallowed some food in just a few bites. No feathers flew, so perhaps it was a small mammal. The bird was about 15 feet away from me. That’s some FID — flight initiation distance to the ornithologists, a mark of habituation to humans. In fact, the bird hopped down to a lower branch that was even closer to me. It was one of my closest encounters ever with these big raptors, an almost daily sight here in Brooklyn. I’ve been reading Urban Raptors: Ecology and Conservation of Birds of Prey in Cities (edited by Boal & Dykstra). Neither Red-tailed Hawks nor American Kestrels, the most common nesting raptors in NYC, rate their own chapter, but there are lessons to be extrapolated. Adaptability, dietary catholicism, ability to withstand human presence (now, that’s an achievement).

Like for instances:
Last weekend, a young Bald Eagle sailed over the block and down towards the avenue. It was below eye-level for us here on the 4th floor atop the Harbor Hill Moraine. What a thrill! Yesterday, an adult was high overhead Green-Wood. That’s three sightings of at least two different eagles this month within a mile of home.Here’s a shot for ID purposes only, taken through a moon roof. This is a Merlin atop this regular American Kestrel perch one avenue (long) block from home.This antenna, five blocks away, is a more infrequent American Kestrel perch, but only because I don’t pass it all that frequently.A pair of Peregrines. They’ve been seen up here almost every day for months now. This morning: one was there when I first looked at 7:09am;  both there at 7:18am. Only crappy weather keeps them elsewhere. Another Peregrine, in the Bronx this time.And another Red-tailed Hawk, also in the Bronx.

Stay tuned for more raptors in the New Year. I already have the whole month planned for “Raptor Wednesdays.”

New Perch

Raptor Wednesday

It seems like there are American Kestrels everywhere. But how many? Without banding or electronic tracking, I can’t say for sure. But:

There were three individual males, a new record, seen together from the windows here recently. There was much tail-pumping amongst the trio as they perched near each other on building and tree.

The male pictured above may have been the same one that dive-bombed a perched Cooper’s Hawk the same morning this picture was taken. The Cooper’s was unmoved. (Picture from before the breaking news.)

Over in Green-Wood, fifteen blocks away, more small falcon activity. Two separate males have been spied within a short distance from each other on several occasions. A male and female have now been seen together atop the main entrance to Green-Wood twice, four days apart. The female has perched on top of the lighting rod each time. During the second sighting, a Merlin was perched nearby on a tall pine.This male kestrel was spotted plucking and eating some songbird prey.

American Kestrel News

On Thursday, the first snowfall of the winter caught the city off-guard. Unprotected by congestion pricing, Manhattan, flooded with prowling car service vehicles, came to a traffic standstill. In the boroughs, lots of limbs were sheared off trees from the wet heavy snow and wind. The pictures above are from Wednesday. The male American Kestrel was keeping an eye on the sky. If you’ve followed our #BrooklynKestrels adventures, you will recognize this knob of a perch. It’s an upright arm of a London Plane tree right across the street from the #ViewFromTheMoraine, a.k.a our apartment.

This branch came down in Thursday’s storm. I noticed that it was missing Saturday. The branch, which was dead, is now hanging upside down further down in the canopy. I thought, oh, no, it’s the end of an era! You couldn’t have asked for a better view, well, ok, except for the fire-escape or a lamp post. As I was tweeting the news out to a waiting world of kestrel fans, I heard a kestrel calling. Yes, there he was in the tree across the street, just using another part of it to perch on. Those smokestacks in the distance, by the way, are where two Peregrines have been seen, either one at a time or in a pair, for several week now.


I assume you’re all voting tomorrow. Hopefully you’ll take friends and relatives along with you…

Kestrels, As In Plural

Well, well, well! Thursday morning, male and female American Kestrels perched on the building down the block.The male.The female.The male flew back and forth from the rail atop the bulkhead to this ailanthus several times. Both falcons disappeared for a while, then their calls returned us to the windows. They were circling each other overhead. They landed on a nearby antenna, nearly side-by-side, then flew off again. Reunion? Courting?This time the male landed on the pipe the female had been on earlier, but only for a second. They were not noticed again that day, but on Friday, he showed up in in the afternoon.

The Return

Look who showed up on the knob perch across the street! It’s a male American Kestrel. I think it is the male American Kestrel, the pater familias of the falcon family who nested on the corner. I’ve seen a male a few times over the last few months; I don’t think he went anywhere. This is his territory. But this was the first time in months that I’ve seen him here.And here! Another old perch. This was Thursday, the coldest morning so far of the fall: this perch is out of the wind and in the sun. Friday, he was up on the chimney pot and roof post he used to favor in late winter.on Thursday I saw two male American Kestrels perched within a 100 yards of each other in Green-Wood. One was being harried by two Blue Jays.Friday: I spotted a male on a distant antenna across the street from Green-Wood. Another Blue Jay was policing the situation.


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