Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Governors Island 2017 - Part 2

Continuing on from the last post about summer at Governors Island, below are highlights from June and July.

Baby Tree Swallows:

Hungry swallows

Tree swallows nested on the island and it was a joy to watch the parents tirelessly catch insects and bring them back to their nest box.

Feed me!

Dad arrives with lunch.

Here comes dad

Mom does a feeding.

Feeding time

Baby tree swallow

Along with baby swallows, the island hosted a pair of cute baby Canada Geese.

Goslings with pin feathers

Detail of the pin feathers:

Detail of pin feathers

Meanwhile, Yellow-Crowned Night Herons were on the other side of the island sitting on a nest of eggs.

Yellow-crowned night heron

Cedar Waxwings hunted insects in the moat around Ft Jay.

Cedar waxwing

Red-Winged Blackbirds also nested on the island and their calls could be heard throughout the island. Below is a youngster.



Immature Barn Swallows flocked together in the western part of the island.

Barn swallows

Barn swallow

A Laughing Gull in breeding plumage:

Laughing gull

Herring Gulls nested in an unused part of the island. Below, a baby struts its stuff.

Baby herring gull

What I enjoy most is seeing different species mix together peacefully.  Below, a crow watches over five ducklings.

Unusual babysitter

More to come...

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Governors Island 2017 - Part 1

Governors Island opened to the public early this year, so I took advantage and have spent a great deal of time there over the last six months documenting the wildlife.  Below is a selection of birds found on the island during the month of May.

Bobolink (male):


Palm Warbler:

Palm warbler

Song Sparrow:

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Eastern Kingbird:

Eastern kingbird

Tree Swallows:

Tree Swallows

Tree swallow

Barn Swallows:

Barn swallows

Barn swallows

Rose-breasted Grosbeak:

Rose-breasted grosbeak



Common Grackle:


Red-tailed hawk and a crow:

 Fish crow chases red-tailed hawk

This hawk spent the summer on the island and now has a full adult red tail.

Fish Crow:


More to come...

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Quick Christo & Dora update

There's not much to report about local hawks, Christo and Dora, except that they are still working on a new nest in the old ginkgo tree in Tompkins Square Park.

This morning, I found them together on one of their favorite perches at Village View on First Avenue. Dora is on the left, and Christo is on the right.

Dora and Christo

They usually perch together on the chimney cover - I don't recall seeing either of them perch on the antenna before, so that's new. They seem content and have been spending a lot of time together.  In this case, no news is good news.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

More fall migrants

Fall bird migration across the city began a few weeks ago, with American Redstarts being some of the first travelers seen making their way south.  Since then, many more have been passing through and below are a few recent highlights.

Black-and-White Warbler:  This little bird could fly as far as South America.

Black & White Warbler

Northern Parula:  This is one of my favorite warblers as they are so lively and colorful. This one is headed for the Caribbean.


This is the same bird with a grub, fattening up for that long journey.


Ruby-Crowned Kinglet:  This one might fly to the American southwest, or down to Mexico.

Ruby-crowned kinglet

Yellow-Rumped (Myrtle) Warbler:  This bird is also traveling southwest to warmer climes.

Myrtle warbler

Cedar Waxwing:  I found this young waxwing on a sidewalk.  Flying through the city can be treacherous and way too many birds die after colliding with buildings.  For more information on how to help, see NYC Audubon's Project Safe Flight page. I'm hoping this little guy is back on its way to Central America.

Cedar Waxwing

Canada Warbler:  This female was foraging right at the St Mark's entrance to Tompkins Square Park.

Canada warbler

This is the male, a real stunner.  These two could go as far south as Peru.

Canada warbler

Ovenbird:  This bird is headed for Florida or the Carribean while its counterparts on the west coast overwinter in Central America.


Winter Wren:  A year ago, I was excited to see one of these in Tompkins Square.  I found the one below on Governors Island, on its way to the southeast.

Winter wren

Carolina Wren: This little wren is also heading to the southeast.

Carolina wren

On this day, park-goers were captivated by the wren's lovely voice, which can be heard in this video:

Northern Cardinal: This is a year-round resident, but I love the color he brings to the trees, especially in fall as the leaves begin to turn.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Christo & Dora are back at work nest-building in the ginkgo tree

The weekend after Ten was last seen in Tompkins Square (September 10), Christo and Dora went to work building a new nest in the ginkgo tree on the east side of the park, which they previously used in 2016. 

Dora brings leaves to the nest
Dora bringing leaves to the nest in April 2016.

September is very early for the hawks to be nest-building, but for the last two years, they have begun the task in October, so maybe they like to get ahead.  Christo and Dora are a well-bonded pair, and projects like this serve to reinforce their partnership.

Or, maybe they're just bored!

I hope they do decide to use the ginkgo tree again as I think it was a great location for them.  The tree itself is strong and can be easily defended from squirrels.  The cross at St Brigid's church is a perfect perch for the hawks, giving them a good view of the nest and surrounding area.  We won't know what their real plans are until January or February, but based on their past behavior, these hawks look pretty serious about this location.

In the mean time, Christo has been spending a lot of time on the east side of the park.  He's been perching in new locations near the ginkgo, which makes me think he's studying the area.

Christo has spent the last six weeks or so molting (Dora started and finished a bit earlier than him).  At one point, he looked to be missing so many feathers, I worried about his flying ability.


Seconds after this photo was taken, Christo lost one of his tail feathers, making him appear even more scraggly.

Molting Christo

One evening, as Christo perched in a tree near the 7th Street entrance, I wondered aloud if he was able to hunt very well while missing so many feathers.  Just as I finished the sentence, Christo floated down from the tree and nabbed a rat right in front of me.


Christo catches a rat

How could I ever doubt the Master?

Christo catches a rat

This week, Roger Paw caught Bobby, the male red-tail of Washington Square Park, in action catching a squirrel.  These hawks continue to amaze me - seeing them go about their business right here among us is just something we would never seen anywhere else.  


We are so fortunate the hawks allow us to see into their personal lives.  There is so much yet to understand about them.