Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Mystery Accipiter Plus A Washington Square Park Red-tail Update

Photo by Karen Anne Kolling

For some time now Karen Kolling, observer of her Gonzo Deck in Rhode Island has been attempting to get a photograph of her yearly hawk visitors--


Finally, photos of the hawk (s) that visits my deck once a year or so. In the photos he's perched on a Japanese maple.

No idea what kind of hawk he is? For size, that rod in front of him is about four inches of a window crank and it's about two feet in front of him.

Also, the foxes are back. Two small ones were on the deck early this morning when it was still dark.


Congratulations on getting the photos! As to what kind of hawk, check out that somewhat hyper-thyroid-ish look to the bird's face. That taken with what I'd take is a long tail, makes me think immature Accipiter.

Here is a crop of the bird's head. It doesn't appear smallish and very round compared to the body, so not a Sharp-shinned Hawk. Though it does have a white brow which a Cooper's immature doesn't have much in the way of--- Hmm. Those two are usually the two Accipiters that we're attempting to tell apart as Goshawks are scarce and getting more scarce all the time. Could this be an immature Northern Goshawk? Is the white brow stripe bold enough? The specific field marks for an immature Goshawk are a bold white brow stripe and irregular banding of the dark tail bands.

Anyone have a good familiarity with Goshawks?


FROM HILARY, Washington Square Park Red-tail Observer

If you go to the park, look up at the hollow steel cross on top of the Judson Memorial Church on the south side of the park. The hawk was there this afternoon (11/21) at approximately 2:00 p.m. And blogger Zach has pictures posted of a hawk in the same location.

I heard what I thought sounded like an American Kestrel and when I looked up, a smaller bird swooped down on the hawk sitting on top of the cross before flying away from the park. However, it happened very quickly, so please take the kestrel ID with the caveats that a) I went to the park not expecting to see raptors! and b) I did not have bins... The RTH was perched the entire time I watched (about 20 minutes), keeping an eye on the very busy park with breaks for preening.

Many thanks Hilary for update!

And I haven't forgotten about talking about Owl feathers....honest.

Donegal Browne

Happy First Snow Storm...and Thanksgiving too!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Do Great Horned Owls Really Eat Cats? (Yes but only small ones, so another reason to keep Kitty in the house beyond songbird munching.)

The Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus, currently of Central Park, having a last minute nap before fly-0ut.

The other day I wondered if this Great Horned Owl might have a connection with the Great Horns in The New York Botanical Garden. After looking into it I found out that Great Horned Owls don't migrate but rather tend to stay within their limited hunting range of choice year round. I'd just assumed previously that the Great Horned Owl visitors we get in Central Park from time to time were migrating but as they don't migrate (though they will move to the next area of adequate prey in times of a dearth, but that isn't considered true migration) these owls may well be from our area.

Late fall is the time of year when young GHOs leave their parents and strike out on their own so these young owls may be the ones that Central Park hosts.

This non-migratory adaptation is considered rather remarkable as it is so rare in birds occupying GHO habitat types.

Speaking of which, how does one tell the age of a Great Horned Owl. The question came up the other day while watching the owl. The answer- you can't. Once a GHO is wearing adult plumage there is no way to discern its age. Typically the females are larger. An adult GHO is anywhere from 18 to 25 inches. The females weighing in at 3 to 4 and a half pounds, with the males typically 2 to 3 and a half pounds.

I also discovered that 90% of young GHOs that are banded on the nest and then recovered later in life have been found to have moved less then 80 kms from their natal area. So it is possible that the Great Horned Owl currently in Central Park has some relationship to those in the NYBG.

Typical Great Horned Owl prey includes- rodents of various sizes, song birds, geese, adult turkeys, small cats (Kitty should stay in the house anyway.), skunks, beavers, porcupines, beavers, snakes, Grouse, muskrats, eels, squirrels, rabbits and variety of other things that they can manage to nail.

They don't always get off scott free from these encounters with prey but have been found killed or severely injured by porcupines, skunks, snakes and other intended meals.



Take a Safari on the Subway

Courtesy of
The urban chickens occupy two areas in Corona Park

Safari 7 is a self-guilded tour o urban animal life along New York City's No. 7 Subway line. traveling from Manhattan's dense core, under the East Rier and into Queens, the nation"s most ethnically diverse county, we hope you can use Safari 7's resources to better understand the complexity,biodiversity, conflicts, and potentials of our urban ecosystems.

Sunday, November 22, 2009