I had a surprise merlin-sighting this last Saturday on Avenue A. I've only seen one in the area before, so I was really excited to see one again.
I was watching Christo, the red-tailed hawk, eat his evening meal in Tompkins Square around 4pm, just as the sun was going down. He was in the big elm near the Avenue A & St Mark's entrance when what looked like a kestrel went zooming by. I followed several other birders who caught up with it high up on some scaffolding on the SE corner of Avenue A & 7th Street.
Closer inspection proved the bird to be a merlin.
The merlin is a small falcon, about the size of a pigeon.
As we watched, the merlin lept off the scaffolding and chased after a sparrow right over the Avenue A traffic. The acrobatics were fast and amazing (too fast for me to catch with the camera!) but the sparrow got away.
The merlin then perched on a water tower on the SW corner of Avenue A & 6th Street.
From there, it dove west, into the Village View complex where we were unable to follow.
Read more about merlins here.