Monday, September 18, 2017

Raptorfest 2017

Below are some highlights from Raptorfest 2017, which was held in Van Cortland Park in the Bronx this last Saturday.  Thanks to the NYC Urban Park Rangers for hosting the event, and to Bobby and Cathy Horvath from WINORR who generously shared their birds and patiently answered a million questions.  I love this event because it's a positive educational experience, and a lot of fun.

Raptorfest gives us the rare opportunity to see birds up close that we would not normally get to see in the wild.  For instance, this Peregrine Falcon.

Peregrine falcon

Peregrine falcon

We see Peregrines flying over the city and perching on high buildings fairly often, but I've never been just inches away from one. 

Peregrine falcon

We do often see Kestrels in the city at street level, but it's still a thrill to see one in person.

Kestrel

Kestrel

Kestrel

Below, Ranger Rob introduces a Red-Tailed Hawk to some girls.

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk

My personal fave is this Rough-Legged Hawk named Gypsy.  If she looks familiar, it's because I've photographed her before at Raptorfest 2014.

Rough-legged hawk

Her coloring and feathers are gorgeous.

Rough-legged hawk

Rough-legged hawk

This Ferruginous Hawk is native to the west, so we're not likely to see one flying around this area. Note the pale eyes.

Ferruginous hawk

This is an Eastern Screech Owl.

Eastern screech owl

Eastern screech owl

This otherworldly Barn Owl announced its presence with its terrifying voice

Barn owl

Much larger and intimidating than the Barn Owl s this Eurasian Eagle Owl.  The handler told me it weighs about ten pounds. Note the huge talon.

Eurasian Eagle Owl

Eurasian Eagle Owl

I did not enhance the color on these photos - the bright orange eye color is all natural.

Eurasian Eagle Owl

I was really intrigued by this Pied Crow, who is native to Africa.  Apparently, this one talks, although he was shy while I was there and did not vocalize.

Pied Crow

Finally, you can't have Raptorfest without a Bald Eagle.

Bald eagle

Some size perspective...

Bald eagle

This particular eagle is blind in one eye, and is unable to live in the wild.

Bald eagle


See many more photos of Raptorfest 2017 here.


Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitaion (WINORR) is a non-profit volunteer organization that works tirelessly to care for sick and injured wildlife in the New York City area.  If you would like to help, please consider a donation to their fundraiser.






Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Raptor Fest 2017 coming up this Saturday

This Saturday, September 16, come join us at Raptor Fest in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. 

Eastern screech owl

From the NYC Parks Department website:
Join NYC Parks at Raptor Fest hosted by the Urban Park Rangers. The event is free to the public and will include live demonstrations, a raptor viewing area, and education/activity tables. Activities are provided by the Urban Park Rangers; and live birds of prey are provided by Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation.
This event is a great way for kids to learn about birds of prey, while getting up close and personal with them. There will be birds on display, including falcons, hawks, and owls.

The event will be from 12:00-3:00pm and is a great opportunity to see a lot of cool birds close up and in action.

More details and directions can be found here.



Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tompkins hawk fledgling is still with us, park birds take in some music

It seems our Tompkins hawk fledgling (the native one, Ten) is still hanging around the neighborhood.  She showed up in the park this last Saturday (September 9), perching in the nest tree near the Temperance Fountain and crying loudly.

Tompkins fledgling #1

She had a full crop, so I'm not sure why she was crying for food.  Neither Christo nor Dora responded, so the young hawk just hung out a while, resting and stretching.

Tompkins fledgling #1

She even "sung along" to some music in the park (I'm not sure which band is playing).



After about an hour, the hawk flew off towards Avenue A and I haven't seen her since then.

Speaking of birds and music, a female American Redstart caught an insect in the park during the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival on August 27.  In the video below, Joshua Redman plays sax in the background and the applause at the end is nearly perfectly timed.  May I suggest he form a group called Redman & The Redstarts?  You heard it here first!







Thursday, September 7, 2017

Fall migration begins

It's that time of year when birds begin their fall migration south, and we start seeing many different types of birds passing through the city.  Below are a couple of colorful warblers to look out for in Tompkins Square.  They're tiny - smaller than sparrows - and move very quickly as they feed on insects in the trees.

Female American Redstart:

Redstart

Redstart

Redstart

Redstart

Black-throated Green Warbler:

Black-throated green warbler

Black-throated green warbler

Black-throated green warbler

Black-throated green warbler




Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Quick Tompkins hawk update

After a six-day absence from Tompkins Square, Ten showed up in the park around 6pm Saturday.  She was seen again the following morning (September 4) in the SW corner of the park near the chess tables.

Tompkins fledgling #1

I have no idea where she was during the days she was away from the park, but she must have been in the area.  If anyone has any sightings of her or other juveniles (they have brown tails, as opposed to the adults who have red tails), please let us know.

This is the latest in the season I've seen any of the Tompkins hawk fledglings stick around.  In 2014, my last sighting of a youngster was on August 29.