Posts Tagged 'Sunset Park'

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.

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


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