View Full Version : Wildlife in the City - Unlikely Inhabitants

May 23rd, 2003, 11:15 AM
Quote: from ZippyTheChimp on 2:25 pm on May 19, 2003 in the thread A Great Estate Opens Its Gates
That reminds me, I saw a wild turkey in Hudson River Park (just north of Perry St condos) about a month ago. I couldn't believe it.
Can a Wild Turkey Find Success and Happiness in the Canyons of Manhattan?

Much about this bird is a mystery.

For starters, why did it take flight over Manhattan? Where did it come from? Is it alone?
One thing is clear.

"It's definitely a wild turkey," said E. J. McAdams, executive director of New York City Audubon, which has documented sightings of the bird from the Upper West Side to Chelsea and Greenwich Village since February. "And it's a talented turkey at that."

Several other witnesses, lacking Mr. McAdams's ornithological insight, have been just as impressed.

"The thing scared me to death," said Art Lindenauer, a retired chemical engineer who encountered the turkey in April on the balcony of his 28th-floor apartment on West 70th Street. Mr. Lindenauer has photographs of the turkey at rest, walking along the balcony railing, and taking flight.

By all accounts, the wild turkey sightings apparently are a first in the center of Manhattan. Few species would seem less likely inhabitants of an urban core, considering the wild turkey's ungainly size, its native habitat in woods, mountains and swamps, and its diet of berries, nuts and insects.

But its arrival is not altogether surprising, given that birds and animals have been making their way into densely populated areas across the nation.

A coyote was found in Central Park in 1999, not far from where a pair of red-tailed hawks have nested on a luxury apartment building at Fifth Avenue and 74th Street. Bears, not yet spotted in Manhattan, have been spotted in the suburbs, feeding from garbage cans and lumbering across yards.

Wild turkeys, long a beguiling sight along back roads and stone walls in the country, have been moving steadily to the suburbs and the fringes of the boroughs.

Several have been spotted in recent years in Pelham Bay Park, in the Bronx Zoo, on Staten Island and in Inwood Hill Park at the northern tip of Manhattan.

The turkey that has been spotted this year in Manhattan is clearly a female: she is smaller and less colorful than a male and lacks a male's wattles.

"The population all around is so healthy, I would not be surprised to see one or two turkeys wander into Manhattan each year," said Greg Butcher, an ornithologist and director of citizen science for the National Audubon Society. "Turkeys are going to want woods and fields, and New York City parks provide them," he said, "but I would be surprised to see a self-sustaining population in Manhattan."

Not everyone is convinced that a wild turkey could find its way into the center of Manhattan on its own.

"If it's real, I'd say it was assisted into the city by some person," said Stephanie Easter, director of dispatch for the city's Center for Animal Care and Control, which rescues injured animals and birds.

"We've never seen one in Manhattan," she said, "and I don't think the average person in this city knows what a wild turkey looks like."

John Rowden, the curator of animals at the Central Park Zoo, said that no one had yet reported a wild turkey in his park but that recent sightings in the Bronx and Inwood might explain how one or more was spotted near the Hudson River on the West Side.

"Turkeys are not great dispersers or fliers," he said, adding that they rarely range much over 12 miles. Even their limited flying abilities would allow turkeys to cross the narrow expanse of the Harlem River from the Bronx, find their way to the Hudson and migrate down its shoreline, he said.

That appears to fit the pattern. Mr. McAdams, of the city's Audubon Society chapter, said the first two sightings were in February and mid-April, when what seems to have been the same bird was spotted trotting in the West 60's between West End Avenue and the West Side Drive.

Then, on April 20, came Mr. Lindenauer's encounter on his 28th-floor balcony, in the Lincoln Towers apartment complex, just off West End Avenue. He said he spotted the turkey leaning against his living room window, as if she were taking a nap.

Mr. Lindenauer, who was at home with his wife, Jinx, a sculptor, said he tapped on the window to get the turkey's attention. The bird stood up reluctantly, he said, and walked along the railing, posing for photographs for 15 minutes or so before she took off.

That episode has mystified bird experts, who say turkeys have not been known to fly as high as the 28th floor.

"They are not vertical fliers," said Mr. Butcher, the ornithologist. "You will see them maybe 20 feet up in trees, but not 100 feet. I'd say that turkey went up an elevator."

Mr. Lindenauer insisted that the turkey was not planted on his balcony. Mr. McAdams said she could have made her way to the 28th floor by flying up from balcony to balcony, like an elevator making all the stops.

The next recorded sighting, by a reporter, was on May 7, when a female wild turkey roosted quietly in the upper branches of a London plane tree in front of an elegant row of landmark-district brownstones on West 21st Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues.

During the next few days, the turkey became a familiar sight on nearby Chelsea blocks.

"Lots of us saw it," said Lenny Kesselman, owner of the London True Value Hardware store on Ninth Avenue near 22nd Street.

The turkey gave her longest performance on May 8 on the lush grounds of the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church, which fill the block bounded by 9th and 10th Avenues and 20th and 21st Streets.

Toni Daniels, the seminary's director of enrollment management, said she saw the turkey standing outside her office window early that morning. "A faculty member came in saying it must be a buzzard, and I thought it was a peahen," she recalled.

Before long, the bird was identified by seminarians from the South who had seen turkeys at home.

"It just strutted around here for three or four hours, then flew over the wall and was gone," Ms. Daniels said. Her colleagues started referring to the turkey as Glorvina, after Glorvina Rossell Hoffman, a particularly generous seminary benefactor in the 1800's.

In the most recent sighting, Mr. McAdams said he saw what he believed to be the same turkey on Monday in Greenwich Village. She was roosting casually on top of a garage on Barrow Street, between Washington and West Streets, he said.

Back on the Upper West Side, Mr. Lindenauer said he held little hope of a return visit. But he has named his balcony, instead of the bird, in honor of the April 20 encounter. The question is whether he did so while thinking of Thanksgiving.

"I've decided," he said, "to call it the Butterball Roost."


A female turkey visiting a 28th-floor balcony on West 70th Street on April 20. She appears to be the first of her kind to make a go of it in Manhattan's parks and airways.


May 24th, 2003, 11:25 AM
:) Thanks for validating my sighting, but now I'm really confused. Because of their constant alertness against predators, wild turkeys are supposed to be very difficult to hunt or photograph. But the sight of that female perched on the balcony leads me to believe she came to NYC like so many others - to get famous.

January 14th, 2004, 12:57 AM
January 14, 2004

Heard of the City Mouse? Try Bigger, and Far Uglier


What was that furry creature parked yesterday on a ledge at 135 East 35th Street? A big rat? A cat? A small bear? For nearly eight hours, a quiet corner in Murray Hill was transformed into a kind of temporary zoo, as passers-by stopped to gawk and guess the identity of the long-snouted cat-size animal that paced along a narrow stone ledge about nine feet over a brownstone garden, sniffing, shaking and yawning.

"I was thinking it was a hedgehog, because of the Beatrix Potter books," said Jennifer Gould, who may have been the first to spot it, at 7:30 a.m.

"I thought someone had put a giant statue of a rat in front of the building," said Lynn Peraza, owner of the topless club Flashdancers, who wore a multicolored fur coat.

The animal was, in fact, an opossum - and not entirely an alien in Manhattan.

"They, along with raccoons and squirrels, are among the most common small mammals that you would find in cities in the Northeast," said Pat Thomas, a curator of mammals at the Bronx Zoo. But because opossums are nocturnal and generally live in high places like trees, he said, they are not a common sight.

This particular opossum served as a sort of urban Rorschach test. Some were afraid of it; others were afraid for it.

Rose White, a nanny, whisked by, pushing a stroller. "It looks like a big rat," she said, shielding her eyes. "I can't even look at that," she said, and sped off.

Even the Postal Service had to wait. Jay Spatarella, 53, who has been delivering mail in the neighborhood for 11 years, began walking up the stoop but stopped in his tracks when he caught sight of the marsupial. "I'll go back later," he promised. "Hopefully it will be gone."

But Susan Wichmann, who lives in the neighborhood, thought the animal was cute and worried about its ability to survive on the streets. "He needs to be brought back where he belongs - the woods," she said. "I don't understand why they don't get him."

In fact, an effort to return the animal to the wilderness had been tried earlier in the day, to no avail. Liz Stevens, who lives next door at No. 137, called 311, where she was directed to NYC Animal Care & Control and told that the opossum should not be removed.

"If the animal appears healthy and not injured, we encourage people to leave it alone," said Edward Boks, director of the agency. "An opossum falls in a category that we call urban wildlife - wildlife that have adapted to an urban environment."

Concerned that the animal might be scared by all the attention and run down the stairs into traffic, Ms. Stevens posted a sign on the front door that read: "Yes it is a Possum - they are all over the city and he will be fine - Don't scare him."

But this opossum was not easily scared. It continued its high-wire act for hours, undaunted by the traffic noise and the gaggles of onlookers who came in waves.

By about noon the animal had bravely made it to the stoop, and seemed about to make a run for it when Emilio Delgado, 33, bounded up the steps with a delivery. The animal caught sight of his three large plastic bags and skittered back onto the ledge. The contents of the bags? Fur coats.

About an hour later, the animal again braved the trip to the stoop, and this time settled in. It cleaned itself, put its head down. Rain fell, people stared and pointed, but the animal would not budge. It looked as if it were playing possum.

Then the sun came out, and a heroine arrived. Holly Staver, a legal secretary and the president of City Critters, a cat rescue and adoption group, pulled up in a car on her lunch break, and emerged with a red net in one hand and a blue-and-white polka-dot towel in the other. With some help, she eventually got the animal into her net, and then into her car.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

January 14th, 2004, 01:05 AM


January 14th, 2004, 09:58 AM
Dang! Maybe this weekend me and Ol' Blue will head uptown for some possum hunting.

TLOZ Link5
January 14th, 2004, 01:26 PM
Well, this says a lot about the city's environmental health in recent years.

January 14th, 2004, 01:34 PM
Dang! Maybe this weekend me and Ol' Blue will head uptown for some possum hunting.
I hope it will bite your wicked hand off and feed the fingers to its young.

January 14th, 2004, 02:12 PM

Of course I mean photo-shoot. I may as well confess. Ol' Blue is the artistic eye of all my photos. He points. I shoot.

January 21st, 2004, 09:16 AM
In Inwood Hill Park:



January 21st, 2004, 09:58 AM
Looks like you've put on a few. Life is good in Manhattan.

May 16th, 2004, 03:58 PM
May 16, 2004


Holy Bat Detectors!


Daniella Gustafson in Central Park, detecting equipment in hand.

IT was around 7:20 one recent Saturday evening, with the light fading, that Dr. Kate Jones, a fellow of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and Daniella Gustafson, a bird watcher who works for the New York Stock Exchange, made their way into Central Park to look for bats.

As they walked against the gentle tide of couples and families leaving the park, Ms. Gustafson, 41, started to tune her bat detector, a pale gray box with two dials that was given to her as a wedding present. The device enables her to listen to the otherwise inaudible high-frequency chirps that bats use to home in on insects and avoid obstacles.

Moments later, as they walked towards the Ramble, the detector started to emit high-pitched warbles. "That sounds like a cricket," said Dr. Jones, a veteran bat-watcher at 31. "It could be a shrew."The two women were making a first exploratory field mission for the New York Bat Group, a team of researchers and enthusiasts who are trying to learn more about the city's bat population. Dr. Jones, who works in what she describes as "extinction forecasting" and specializes in bats, set up the group this year and is recruiting volunteers for a summer of bat-walks, bat-catching and tagging.

Little is known of New York City's bat world. Of the 10 or so species that live in New York State, four or five are thought to brave city life, creating crowded colonies in warm spaces under apartment roofs. Traces of three species (the Big Brown, Little Brown and Red) were found during last year's BioBlitz, a survey of Central Park's wildlife by the Explorers Club. But beyond that, except for a few anecdotal sightings and occasional deliveries of dead bats to the American Museum of Natural History, there is only guesswork, no estimate even of the population's size.

Shortly after 8, Dr. Jones and Ms. Gustafson settled on a large rock in the Oven, an inlet overhung with trees at the opposite end of the lake from Bethesda Fountain. They waited. Then, silent at first, came the first sighting: a Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) flapping and swooping against the darkening sky.

"How exciting is that!" Dr. Jones said, as Ms. Gustafson tuned the detector, which duly came alive with slowed-down versions of the quacks, slaps and gibbers of the bat's otherwise inaudible calls.

"That was a feeding buzz," Dr. Jones added, as the calls seemed to collapse into a raspberry, the sound the bat makes as it focuses in on a moth or other insect snack.

Because bats are so hard to identify visually, the best way to monitor a population is to build a library of their calls, which vary from species to species. Over the coming months, the New York Bat Group will catch a few of Central Park's bats and tag them to positively match the species and the sounds they make. The group's ultimate goal is not only to catalog and track the calls of the city's bats, but also to make them accessible to anybody interested enough to have a bat detector.

By 9:20, the park was dark, populated only by isolated joggers and cyclists. A bat swept low over Dr. Jones and Ms. Gustafson as they paused on Bow Bridge. Heading back to the West Side toward the Gotham-like towers of the Eldorado, they stopped again on the south shore of the lake, where white and yellow overhead lights chalked shimmering lines on the water. A helicopter clattered overhead, and out of the darkness, a gondola approached, the gondolier singing a love song.

Suddenly, the detector came alive with a burst of taps, chops, slaps and pops. Four or five bats floated in front of them.

"Wow," Dr. Jones said. "Pretty cool."

"The sound of the city," Ms. Gustafson added. "It's a rich mix."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

May 30th, 2004, 05:24 PM
Like any neophyte, our feathered friend has quickly adapted to life in the city, and is now indistinguishable from native denizens.

Here in Battery Park, while watch peddlers separate tourists from their money, he separates them from their bagels.


May 30th, 2004, 09:02 PM
:P What a bird! Maybe he can't fly anymore eating so many of them...

June 1st, 2004, 10:40 AM
It does love bagels. It's been there for months now. This turkey often gets more attention than all the statues, memorials, and sweeping views of Battery Park.

June 18th, 2004, 10:16 AM
Urban Neighbors: Images of New York City Wildlife (http://urbanneighbors.nypl.org)

April 23rd, 2005, 03:30 PM
Bronx woman bitten by rabid raccoon

April 23, 2005, 10:23 AM EDT

NEW YORK (AP) _ A Bronx woman was bitten by a rabid raccoon in her backyard earlier this week, the first such incident to occur in the city in nearly five years, health officials said.

The woman and her husband, who was scratched by the raccoon, have both started taking medicine that can prevent rabies infection after exposure to a rabid animal. The woman remains hospitalized at Jacobi Medical Center.

Health officials captured the raccoon and brought it to a lab where it tested positive for rabies.

The city Health Department warned New Yorkers to keep away from wild animals, vaccinate their pets for rabies, and call the authorities if an animal is seen acting aggressively. Health officials issued an alert to medical providers and veterinarians and distributed flyers in the North Riverdale neighborhood where the bite occurred.

A second woman was bitten the same day by a raccoon two blocks away, but it was unclear whether the same raccoon was responsible.

Reports of rabid animals are more common in the Bronx than in other boroughs. Ten rabid animals have been found in the Bronx so far this year, health officials said.

Copyright 2005 Newsday Inc.

July 1st, 2005, 11:26 AM
Wildlife in NYC
Saturday, July 16th
1 - 4 pm
Charles A. Dana Discovery Center
36 E. 110th Street, NYC
(between 5th & Lenox Avenues)
Eastside of Central Park

Guest Speakers:

Susan Marino, Founder & President
New York State Licensed Rehabilitator
Angel's Gate Rehabilitation Center for Animals
Awarded Woman of Distinction Award for NYS - 2003
Learn how to help injured wildlife and how to handle a wildlife emergency by learning the basic principles and applying them in first aid situations.

Cheryl Craig, M.A.
"Ancient Healing Techniques for Wildlife"
During this talk you will be given helpful communication tools so you can begin to telepathically tune into your bird. Influenced by her great-grandmother, a Choctaw Indian, Cheryl has worked with animals and birds as a healer for over 30 years using the ancient techniques found in Native American traditions and The Tibetan Healing Buddha.

Admission: Free
Info: nywildlife@yahoo.com
www.manhattanbirdclub.com (http://www.manhattanbirdclub.com)

October 16th, 2005, 08:22 AM
Having lost her feeding ground at the Battery Park flag pole, the turkey has moved to the lawn, where I spotted her foraging. A bagel-free diet has helped her shed a pound or so, but she is still too big for quick flight.

Not that flight seems to matter. I took the photo from about 6 feet, and after it was determined that I would not throw a snack, I was completely ignored. I think she is devolving into a pigeon.

Hey chickie, keep the weight off until Nov 25th.

TLOZ Link5
October 16th, 2005, 02:55 PM
When I go to Hoboken, I often see rabbits in the grass, particularly at the Stevenson Tech campus and on the piers.

March 22nd, 2006, 02:22 PM
Wily Coyote Captured in Central Park
March 22, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) -- A wily coyote led sharpshooters armed with tranquilizer guns on a two-day chase through Central Park before it was finally captured Wednesday morning.

At one point, the searchers had the coyote cornered near the park's ice rink, but the clever creature jumped into the water, ducked under a bridge, then scampered through the rink grounds and ran off.

The coyote was captured somewhere north of that area, Parks Department spokesman Ashe Reardon said.

The hunt had been on since Tuesday afternoon when Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, among others, spotted the animal in the southeast corner of the park, not far from the tony Upper East Side. People had reported seeing it in the area since early Sunday.

''It didn't look the least bit worried,'' Benepe said. ''He leaped over the fence and disappeared in the park.''

A police officer eventually shot the coyote, a male believed to be about a year old, with a tranquilizer gun at close range, Benepe said. He said the animal would be taken to an upstate wildlife facility.

While coyotes don't usually present a threat to people, Benepe warned that park visitors should keep their dogs leashed to protect the pets.

The coyote, nicknamed Hal by Parks Department staffers, may have wandered into the city from Westchester County, perhaps swimming across a river, Benepe said. Another coyote found its way to Central Park in 1999 and is now kept in the Queens Zoo.

Both coyotes strayed into the same area of the park, the Hallett Wildlife Sanctuary, Benepe said.

''It's an area closed to people and dogs, so it's a good place for a coyote to hunt for birds,'' he said. ''It's an immature young coyote. ... At that age they're frisky and curious to explore the turf.''

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press (http://www.ap.org/)

March 22nd, 2006, 09:27 PM
Lucky it weren't a DINGO ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dingo )

One of the classic moments in film ...

MERYL STREEP: "A dingo ate my baby!!!!"


April 6th, 2006, 11:24 PM
I think as everyone you followed the history of hal the coyote of central park


I have just read on ny1.com that hal had died, not having survived has his arrest


foul weather for the coyotes on New York

April 22nd, 2006, 03:53 PM
After molly the cat, Hall the coyote, now the turkey

We learn the presence from at the very least unexpected animals in the parks of the town of New York. A wild turkey was discovered last week wandering around a complex of apartments. The official ones and the police force met to observe the animal, then slackened it in calms Morningside Park located close to the university of Columbia. The official ones suspect that the turkey, called Hedda Gobbler, would have behavioral disorders and would have been jealous of the sudden attention of people for rabbits and chicks of Easter last week. It is however to bet that the animal will make low profile during the festival of ThanksGiving.


April 22nd, 2006, 04:36 PM
The official ones suspect that the turkey, called Hedda Gobbler, would have behavioral disorders ...
Just don't let her near a gun ...

April 30th, 2006, 05:15 AM
April 30, 2006
Urban Studies
Coyote Adorable

Homage to the coyote, rendered in bronze and larger than life, in Van Cortlandt Park.

COYOTES are big news when they appear in Manhattan, as one did in March and another in 1999, both times advancing all the way to Central Park. As posses of police officers and park rangers give chase and television helicopters hover in the sky, wildlife authorities try to explain how a coyote could have made its way into the heart of Gotham.

Up in the Bronx, though, where a sighting in Van Cortlandt Park made headlines less than two weeks ago, coyotes aren't such a big deal. Since the mid-90's, periodic reports of sightings and intermittent roadkills in the areas of Van Cortlandt and Pelham Bay Parks have stripped the animals of the novelty that, every seven years or so, drives Manhattan coyote-mad. Some experts are convinced there is a breeding population in Van Cortlandt Park.

The Bronx even has a monument to coyotes. A bronze statue of a coyote at the southwest entrance to Van Cortlandt Park commemorates, according to its plaque, "the first confirmed coyote sighting in New York City since 1946" — a 29-pound female that perished on the nearby Major Deegan Expressway on Feb. 8, 1995. A different coyote is now known to have been in the nearby Woodlawn Cemetery as long ago as October 1994, but the Parks Department did not learn about it until after the Feb. 8 coyote was confirmed.

The bronze coyote, installed in 1998, was an idea of Ricardo Hinkle, a landscape architect for the Parks Department, who designed the green where the coyote stands proudly atop a boulder, gazing skyward to the south. "That was the idea — the coyote enters New York City," Mr. Hinkle said.

The Modern Art Foundry in Astoria, Queens, charged with turning Mr. Hinkle's idea into reality, hired the sculptors Glenn and Diane Hines, a husband-and-wife team. The Hineses made their creation one and a half times life size, working from photos of a second coyote that was found dead in the Bronx in February 1995 and then stuffed by the Parks Department. In addition to having a broken hind leg, suggesting it had been hit by a vehicle, the second coyote had been shot, which Henry J. Stern, then the parks commissioner, likes to think of as a mercy killing. "Let's give the unknown gunman the benefit of the doubt," he said recently.

The Hineses were a logical choice to make the statue, which took most of a year. They live on a farm near Houlton, Maine, way up north "beyond the power lines," as Mr. Hines puts it, so they know all about coyotes, bears and other wildlife.

"We feel great in the city for about three days," Mr. Hines said. Then he and his wife yearn to get away — an impulse not shared, apparently, by the coyotes of the Bronx.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

May 29th, 2006, 04:11 AM
May 29, 2006
Unto the City the Wildlife Did Journey

And the great beasts came down from the mountains and crossed the seas and descended upon the cities — the hind and her fawn, leaping fences in the southeast Bronx; the black bear, stout but fleet of foot, stealing through the streets of Newark; the seals of the harbor sunning themselves by the score upon the hospital ruins of Staten Island.

And the coyote prowled the West Side and took up quarters in Central Park. And the dolphin beached itself on the Turuks' sandy yard in Throgs Neck. And the she-moose, 21 hands high, strayed within 30 miles of the city gates.

And the wise men stroked their beards and scratched their heads, and they finally declared, "This is not normal."

Bill Weber, a senior conservationist for the Wildlife Conservation Society, said that the other day. He was talking about the bears that have lately taken to wandering New Jersey's urban core.

But bears are just the beginning. In recent weeks, the three largest land mammals native to the Eastern United States, along with numerous runners-up, have visited New York City and its environs. A fair degree of chaos has ensued.

Big-city police officers idled by falling crime rates spend their days pursuing four-legged fugitives. The pit bulls and tomcats in the city pound in East Harlem have been forced to make room for white-tailed deer. This spring, the New York metropolitan area depicted on the evening news has come to resemble an episode of "Animal Precinct" filmed at a big-game preserve.

What in the world is going on?

There is no simple answer, the wise men say.

"You have this really neat pulse of things happening within a relatively short period," Dr. Weber said from his office at the Bronx Zoo, "and as humans we like to make some sense of that and give some justification. But they all have their anomalous reasons."

The factors include both environmental triumphs and travesties. Once-threatened species continue to recover because of conservation measures. Waterways are cleaner. Greenways are being built in and around cities. At the same time, development in the farthest exurbs chews up land and flushes animals from their usual homes. Mild winters, possibly man-made, are easier for many species to survive.

All of it adds up to a new definition of normal. (Or perhaps an old one. After all, the animals were here long before the people were.) Just as the suburbs have spent years negotiating conflicts with wild animals, it is now the cities' turn.

"I think we're just seeing the growing trend of population sizes with some of these animals, and the adaptation to survive and, or at least, venture into more progressively more urban areas," said Gerry Barnhart, the wildlife director at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The season of strangeness began on the first day of spring, when a coyote was spotted in Central Park for the first time since 1999. Four days later, biologists on a search expedition counted 20 harbor seals at the edge of Swinburne Island, off the east coast of Staten Island. Seals have been observed there since 2001, but never in such numbers. In April, a wild turkey nicknamed Hedda Gobbler was apprehended on the grounds of the Riverton Houses in Harlem, just days after one — possibly the same one — was seen wandering the lawn of the American Museum of Natural History.

Then came the bears of May. A 225-pounder, perhaps on a misguided mission to lodge a complaint against New Jersey's new no-tolerance policy on urban bears, got within two blocks of Department of Environmental Protection headquarters in Trenton before he was treed, tranquilized and killed. Under state policy, bears that wander into heavily populated areas may be killed if the state determines that they pose a hazard.

The Newark bear — a phrase that had until recently meant only a minor-league baseball player — crossed into neighboring Irvington, where he, too, was shot dead. A juvenile weighing 153 pounds made it as far as Short Hills, seven miles from Newark, before being put to death, to a growing outcry from bear defenders.

In between bear sightings, the southeast Bronx, best known for tidy waterfront neighborhoods and convenient access to Queens, was the site of two more untimely mammal deaths.

A panicked mother deer fleeing would-be rescuers gored herself on a backyard fence, ran into Eastchester Bay and drowned. Then an offshore bottlenose dolphin, a hefty subspecies usually found at least 50 miles from the shore, washed up next to the Turuk family's dock. Stephen Turuk, 40, cried as he poured water on the sickly animal trying to save it. "It's a beautiful thing to see a dolphin," he said, "but it's terrible that it died."

In April, the moose, a 7-foot female estimated to weigh 700 pounds, surfaced in Somers in Westchester County, 27 miles from the New York City line, or slightly closer than Riverdale is to the Rockaways. Joan Ackerman, a manager at a county park, was dumbfounded when she locked eyes with it. "I went to Alaska and didn't see a moose," she said.

While the intensity of the current invasion may be a fluke, the guests seem to be here to stay. Wildlife officials released the Harlem turkey and the surviving Throgs Neck deer not in distant preserves but in the city parks where they were presumed to have been living before — Morningside and Pelham Bay, respectively.

So eventually, if not sooner, city folk will have some adapting to do. But what sort of adaptation? Should New Yorkers hang their trash from ropes rather than leaving it curbside for large clawed paws to tear through? Will the orange hunting vest replace the little black dress? Could Lyme disease become the new asthma?

Fortunately, the experts have much advice to offer. Do not add meat scraps, bones or melon rinds to your compost pile. Yell or bang pots when walking through wooded areas. Provide secure outdoor shelters for poultry. And do not, under any circumstances, feed bananas to visiting seals, as some people did at the Coney Island beach last summer. ("Don't even give them fish," said Martha Hiatt, the supervisor of behavioral husbandry at the New York Aquarium.)

And if a moose should wander into the Big Apple, an outcome that Al Hicks, a state wildlife biologist and its official moose expert, said was possible "if the moose made a number of mistakes," there is only one appropriate course of action beyond notifying the authorities.

"Enjoy it," Mr. Hicks said, "because it's probably going to get hit by a car in the very near future."


Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

May 29th, 2006, 07:13 AM
What?...No gators in the sewers?

July 6th, 2006, 09:38 AM
The New Jungles
Think wildlife loves a country setting? Turns out that many animals, birds and plants now prefer the city.

By Stefan Theil
Newsweek International

July 3-10, 2006 issue - A walk across the abandoned railyard in Berlin's Schöneberg district gives new meaning to the words "urban jungle." Between a noisy commuter train line on one side and apartment blocks on the other, a carpet of rare flowers with names like ladies' fingers and queen-devil hawkweed covers railroad ties and warehouse ruins. All sorts of endangered butterflies, spiders and bumblebees thrive, as does Europe's northernmost breeding colony of praying mantises. Goshawks and kestrels spy for prey overhead.

Nature has, of course, found its niches in towns and cities ever since humans built them. Pigeons and cockroaches have settled down with mankind. Escaped pets and their offspring, like the famed wild parrots of San Francisco's Telegraph Hill, have added an exotic touch to the urban fauna. Yet for some reason many of us continue to see cities as barren or worse, spreading biological destruction wherever they sprawl.

As they take a closer look, however, biologists in the nascent science of "urban ecology" are finding that cities are not just important habitats, but veritable hot spots of animal and plant life. "You can take any big city and find more species, more diverse habitats than in just about any national park or nature reserve," says Josef Reichholf, professor of ornithology at Munich's Technical University. Both in animal numbers as well as species diversity, he says, cities beat the countryside hands down.

Berlin, one of the best-studied cases, is home to two thirds of the 280 bird species existing in Germany, including peregrine falcons and ospreys—raptors that have disappeared from much of the country. What's more, biologists say, urban biodiversity seems to be on the rise—as our cities become cleaner, suburbs grow greener, and more and more species learn to adapt. These findings are challenging an old piece of orthodoxy—that urbanization is the planet's biggest environmental threat. On the contrary, it's in the open country that plants and animals have seen the most rapid decline. The main culprit, biologists say: a highly efficient but species-killing agriculture, now spreading from the developed world to southern countries like Brazil.

Vast "monocultures" of single-strain crops, maintained with powerful herbicides and insecticides, have decimated the older, more varied landscape. Many forests are now uniform tree farms supporting few species. An oversupply of fertilizers and animal wastes favors fast-growing greens that crowd out the wildflowers, grasses and weeds that were once a rich habitat for insects and animals. "The real wasteland isn't in the city, it's out in the country," says John Hadidian, head of the Urban Wildlife Program at the Humane Society in Washington, D.C. Today, biologists estimate that agriculture and forestry cause over 80 percent of explainable species deaths worldwide, versus just 15 percent caused by human settlement, pollution and sprawl.

Some biologists think flora and fauna are seeking refuge in cities, and the bigger the city, the better. For starters there are fewer guns (in general) and more sources of food in heavily settled areas, as suburban raccoons, deer and coyotes discovered long ago. In Zurich today, there are now up to ten times as many foxes, badgers and hedgehogs per square kilometer within the city as in the surrounding rural area, a recent Swiss survey found.

More important, megacities create a mosaic of habitats and microclimates, from pond-filled gardens to industrial "brownfield" sites like those dry, hot railyards in Berlin. In London, the extremely rare redstart has seen a resurgence in abandoned factory lots, and on those "green roofs" newly popular with environmentally conscious urbanites. For the birds, these spaces resemble the country meadows they can no longer find. Among skyscrapers and tall smokestacks, peregrine falcons seem to feel even more at home than in the mountains whence they came. New York City's population, 14 breeding pairs, is the highest concentration on record.

Established suburbs, with their old trees, underbrush and open space, attract ten times more species of butterflies than farmland, again because they more closely approximate woodsy meadows. In Britain, the magnificent stag beetle, which likes piles of rotting wood, has all but disappeared from the antiseptic countryside. Its biggest U.K. population now lives in the south London suburbs.

All this has happened with astonishing speed. In the past half-century, dozens of once-shy species have learned that city dwellers mean them no harm. Wild boars, hunted in the country, have become an increasing nuisance in Europe's suburbs, with occasional sightings in downtown squares. Shy woodland birds, such as goshawks, first colonized major cities a couple of decades ago. Now, each successive generation seems to adapt to shorter nesting trees in ever smaller parks, particularly in comparison with their cousins still living in the wild. "It will be very interesting to see how much farther they will go," says Rainer Altenkamp, a Berlin biologist who just ringed a nestful of hawk chicks in a small Jewish cemetery downtown. Because of this adaptation, he says, many cities now support higher raptor populations than similar-size nature reserves.

Cities are turning into vast labs for studying animal behavior and evolution. New York, Hong Kong and London rate among the world's richest spots for migratory waterfowl—especially now that cleaner water has brought back the fish and crustaceans on which some of them feed. Urban duck populations are already producing countless new variations in colors and plumage. Butterflies and moths that a century ago adapted to sooty factory districts by developing black pigment have, in recent years, lightened up again.

Because cities tend to be hotter than the surrounding countryside—brick and pavement store heat—scientists see them foreshadowing the great environmental upheavals likely to follow from global warming. Birds lay their eggs earlier, plants grow faster, and new species arrive from the south, like those praying mantises in Berlin. In the fall, once-migratory birds flutter nervously, fly once around the city and settle back down to stay for the winter, Reichholf says.

This vast urban experiment is only now grabbing significant scientific attention. For decades, mentioning "urban" and "nature" in the same sentence drew sneers from an environmentalist mainstream. Fewer than 10 percent of all biological field studies take human settlement into consideration at all. It was not until 1997 that the U.S. National Science Foundation first added cities (Baltimore and Phoenix) to its long-term ecosystem studies. Now, schools from Virginia Tech to the University of Halle in Germany have taken up urban biology studies. The first text on urban wildlife management appeared last year in the United States. Yet skepticism remains. "Academics still have this fixation that cities are artificial," says Hadidian. "They'd rather go to the tropical rain forest or the Arctic tundra, even though they've got an accelerated experiment in evolution going on right at home."

Still the explosion of urban wildlife is forcing a rethink, and not only among scientists. Environmentalists and planners have long pushed for builders to develop vacant urban land before using up new "greenfields" on the outskirts—a policy that often destroys lots teeming with life in order to protect ecologically dead farmland. "We think that's wrong," says Catherine Harris, an activist with Wild London, one of a growing number of urban wildlife pressure groups. Sprawl is fine, these urban environmentalists say, if it develops ecologically inferior land and takes pressure off biologically diverse city neighborhoods.

Of course, cities can destroy nature, especially when they pave over every last tree, or spread into or poison wetlands and wild forests. While birds, insects and plants often do well, fish and amphibians are usually decimated by settlement. But as urbanization continues—more than 60 percent of the earth's population will likely live in cities by 2030—understanding how human settlement interacts with nature will be key. Why protect dead space just because it looks like a field, when that empty lot down the street has more life?

July 6th, 2006, 10:54 AM
I saw a wild turkey strolling northward up the BPC Esplanade this past weekend, near the Winter Garden. The park officer told me that it lives in Battery Park.

July 6th, 2006, 12:38 PM
I remember it was kind of a big deal when the prairie fowl returned to Detroit after so much of it was torn down. Now apparantly they fly across the freeway and get killed.

August 8th, 2006, 03:53 PM
August 7, 2006
Massive Manatee Is Spotted in Hudson River

By JENNIFER 8. LEE (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/l/jennifer_8_lee/index.html?inline=nyt-per)

August 7, 2006

Added to the chronicles of great beasts that have descended upon New York City in the year 2006 is one that is arguably the greatest of them all. A beast, upwards of 1,000 pounds and a cousin to the elephant, which dwarfs the coyote, the deer and the dolphin that preceded it. A beast that, at hundreds of miles north of its natural habitat, has most likely made the longest and most arduous journey among them. A beast, with a pudgy-nosed face and a sweet-potato-shaped body, that could even be considered cute: a manatee.

Over the past week, boaters and bloggers have been energetically tracking a manatee in its lumbering expedition along the Atlantic Coast and up the Hudson River.

John H. Vargo, the publisher of Boating on the Hudson magazine, put out an alert last week, much to the incredulity of some boaters.
“Some were laughing about it, because it couldn’t possibly be true,” Mr. Vargo said.

The manatee has been spotted at 23rd Street near Chelsea Piers, West 125th Street, and later in Westchester County. It appeared to be healthy.
Randy Shull, a boater from Ossining, spotted the manatee about 4:30 p.m. yesterday while his 21-foot boat was floating at Kingsland Point Park in Sleepy Hollow.

“It was gigantic,” Mr. Shull said. “When we saw it surface, its back was just mammoth.”

It is unusual, but not unprecedented for manatees to travel this far north — the seaweed-munching sea creatures are commonly associated with the warm waters of Florida.

Manatees have been reported along the shores of Long Island and even as far north as Rhode Island. It is unusual, however, for a manatee to be spotted inland in a river this far north.

“I’m 70 years old, and I’ve been on the river my entire life,” Mr. Vargo said. “I’ve seen dolphins and everything else, but never a manatee.”

Copyright 2006 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

August 8th, 2006, 03:55 PM
August 8, 2006

A Manatee Comes to Manhattan


Eleven years ago today, The Times ran a little piece about a male manatee who decided, for reasons unknown, to swim up the East River. Now, the manatee nation appears to have sent another emissary northward, though the sex of this one is unspecified so far. It was sighted several times in the Hudson River last weekend, along the piers in Manhattan and as far north as Sleepy Hollow. Migration is normal for manatees, but to say that this one was out of its native range is to state the case too mildly. Seeing a manatee in the Hudson is like seeing a moose in Myrtle Beach.

A manatee sighting is a subtle thing in itself — no threatening dorsal fin knifing through the waves, no porpoising, just the quiet, still length of a half-ton mammal’s back on the surface, a place where the water has lost its shine. There is hardly a more benign creature on earth than a manatee, which lives an entirely vegetarian life underwater and is an endangered species. In fact, the biggest threat it poses, especially here so far from home, is simply its unexpectedness. Its natural enemy is boat traffic, which is why we hope this manatee forsakes the Hudson before long.

We tend to notice, of course, only the creatures that surface in the harbor and the Hudson — dolphins, whales, seals, even the barely surfacing manatee. Who knows what other endangered visitors slip past the Narrows and up the river beneath the waves? For now, we’ll try to keep a watch on this one placid summer visitor, who is the antithesis of all things “Jaws.”

Copyright 2006 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

August 9th, 2006, 07:09 AM
Everything's coming up roaches.

September 27th, 2006, 11:18 PM
A leaking fire hydrant’s pristine puddle, lined with autumn leaves, creates a sidewalk day spa
for some European starlings and a sparrow to bathe in and drink from on a Brooklyn morning.

SEPTEMBER 27, 2006


Andrea Mohin/Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company


September 28th, 2006, 12:06 AM
That is a surprisingly beautiful scene. Looks like prime fodder for an urban artiste.

September 28th, 2006, 12:38 AM
The color photo in my Wednesday's Times was even more beautifully rendered -- surprising, as the color reproductions in the printed paper often come out off-set and funky.

November 25th, 2006, 04:17 PM
A Kinder, Gentler Way of Stuffing a Turkey

Robert Stolarik for The New York Times
Zelda, the wild turkey who resides in Battery Park, freely strutted about and feasted on dried corn
and seeds provided by expert bird feeders.

nytimes.com (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/24/nyregion/24turkey.html)

November 24, 2006

At least two people showed up in Battery Park early yesterday armed with dried corn and seeds, all the better to fatten up Zelda, the famed wild turkey who has made the park her home.

Zelda, a hulking feathered mass, was perched some 40 feet up on the branch of a tree. Bird food was scattered for her. She looked down, unruffled, as sparrows and then pigeons moved in to peck at the seeds.

“She knows it’s Thanksgiving,” Richard Haugland, a gardener for the city, said.

On hand to witness the would-be feeding was Sara Hobel, a woman who, by dint of her job and near fanatical love of animals, has become one of the foremost experts on wildlife that happens into the city’s parks. Ms. Hobel is director of New York City’s Urban Park Rangers, a parks department agency that runs nature centers and handles wildlife management and rules enforcement in the five boroughs’ 28,000 acres of parkland.

Under usual circumstances, Ms. Hobel frowns on anyone feeding wild animals. Even the most well-intentioned offering can do a bird like Zelda harm. People have tossed peanuts, which are bad for a turkey’s digestion, or — horror of horrors — bread. “It’s like feeding somebody Styrofoam,” Ms. Hobel said.

But yesterday found two seasoned bird men in Battery Park, both well aware of Zelda’s gastronomical needs. One, Phil Lombardi, a park supervisor, supplies Zelda with chicken feed just about every day. The other, Peter May, said he was tossing seeds to other park birds one day when Zelda muscled in, driving her lesser competitors away. He has been feeding her since.

After being hunted to near extinction, the country’s wild turkey population is now in the millions because of reintroduction programs. Few wild turkeys call Manhattan home, though several fly through and nest during mating season.

New York City, for all its drawbacks, happens to be a good place to be a wild turkey, not least because hunting is not allowed, and flocks are well established in greener parts of the city.

Pelham Bay and Van Cortlandt Parks in the Bronx are home to dozens of the birds, and gobblers and hens near the South Beach Psychiatric Hospital on Staten Island have been known to crowd in on workers lunching outside.

Ms. Hobel believes Zelda likely flew in — wild turkeys, unlike their domestic counterparts, can fly — from the Bronx. She alighted on Riverside Park in 2002, was next spotted near the Museum of Natural History and then in a tree by Tavern on the Green, before finally settling as far south as she could get without leaving the island, in Battery Park.

Last year, a few wild turkeys nested in Morningside Park. One bird flew about this spring and landed on a tree in a housing project, Ms. Hobel said, where she was mistaken for a vulture.

After the bird was captured by parks workers, her true identity was discovered and she was returned to the park. Ms. Hobel christened the bird Hedda Gobbler, a nod to Hedda Gabler, the character and namesake of the Henrik Ibsen play.

Rescuing hapless animals caught in the wilds of the city is routine for Ms. Hobel, who shares an apartment in Chelsea with her husband, Scott Mendel, a literary agent, along with five cats, a gecko, a frog and, until its recent death from lung cancer, an outsize rabbit that had been abandoned in its youth.

Ms. Hobel, who is 51 but looks at least a decade younger, joined the parks department as a volunteer in the late 1990s, after making a career switch from being a business consultant for media groups.

She helped oversee the pursuit of Hal, the ill-fated coyote who wandered into Central Park this spring. She was part of a two-day search in 2000 in Van Cortlandt Park, following reported sightings of a black bear, which turned out to be a 180-pound Newfoundland dog.

She once fielded a call from frantic staffers wondering how to deal with a skunk that had gotten its head caught in a Snapple bottle. (The skunk had already sprayed, and thus could be safely approached.) The rangers caught it and greased its neck with lard borrowed from a nearby food vendor, freeing it.

Apart from Hedda Gobbler’s flight and capture last spring, Ms. Hobel said that wild turkeys in Manhattan rarely get into much trouble. There was, of course, the turkey that wandered into the toll plaza of the Triborough Bridge last week, and Zelda has ambled into traffic and spent at least one night in a police station house near Battery Park as a result.

Yesterday, Zelda finally flew down from her perch, delighting onlookers by pecking at the seeds and chasing away smaller birds. Life in Battery Park clearly suits Zelda, and Ms. Hobel estimated that she weighed about 12 pounds. “Portly, for a female turkey,” Ms. Hobel said.

Then Zelda wandered out of sight, and Ms. Hobel announced that she had to go, too. She had another turkey to attend to, this one a 10-pounder, bound for the oven.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

February 23rd, 2007, 11:53 AM
After 200 Years, a Beaver Is Back in New York City

Wildlife Conservation Society
Biologists filmed José the beaver in the Bronx.

By ANAHAD O’CONNOR (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/o/anahad_oconnor/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: February 23, 2007

A crudely fashioned lodge perched along the snow-covered banks of the Bronx River — no more than a mound of twigs and mud strewn together in the shadow of the Bronx Zoo (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/b/bronx_zoo_wildlife_conservation_park/index.html?inline=nyt-org) — sits steps away from an empty parking lot and a busy intersection.

Scientists say that the discovery of this cone-shaped dwelling signifies something remarkable: For the first time in two centuries, the North American beaver, forced out of town by agricultural development and overeager fur traders, has returned to New York City.

The discovery of a beaver setting up camp in the Bronx is a testament to both the animal’s versatility and to an increasingly healthy Bronx River.

A few years ago the river was a dumping ground for abandoned cars and rubber tires, but it has been brought back to life recently through a big cleanup effort.

The biologists who discovered the beaver say they have nicknamed it José, after United States Representative José E. Serrano of the Bronx, who has directed $15 million in federal funds toward the river’s rebirth.

In an interview, Mr. Serrano said he had always envisioned the river getting cleaner, “but I don’t know to what extent I imagined things living in it again.”

A number of people reported seeing the beaver last fall, but biologists figured that the sightings were much more likely to have been of muskrats, which are somewhat common in the area.

But the biologists were intrigued enough to investigate, and after trudging the riverbanks, they spotted gnawed tree stumps and the 12-foot-wide lodge — evidence that pointed to beavers, which are rarely seen in the wild because they tend to work at night and avoid people.

Then on Wednesday, the biologists were able to videotape the animal on film, swimming up the river looking for more material to insulate its home. The animal is several feet long, two or three years old, and appeared to be a male in search of a mate, said one of the biologists, Patrick Thomas, the curator of mammals at the Bronx Zoo, which is run by the Wildlife Conservation Society (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/w/wildlife_conservation_society/index.html?inline=nyt-org).

He speculated that the beaver had traveled to the Bronx from Westchester County or other, more rural areas that are common beaver habitats.

He said that it would be interesting to see if a mate had accompanied José or whether one would come down and help start a new beaver community.

That would be unusual, to say the least, because such a community of beavers is something New York City has not seen since Times Square was still farmland.

A beaver sighting was reported last month in East Hampton on Long Island. Environmental officials said that if it was a beaver, it may have come across the Long Island Sound from Connecticut or from Gardiners Island, a tract of private land between Long Island’s forks.

The North American beaver vanished from New York City in the early 1800s as a result of trapping, fur trading, and deforestation. Beavers helped speed Manhattan’s development by attracting fur traders who were eager to feed huge demands for their pelts in Europe. To this day, beavers remain tightly linked to New York’s identity.

Images of the beaver are on the official seal and flag of New York City. It is the official state animal of New York State, and a Beaver Street is between Broadway and Wall Street in Lower Manhattan.

Then there is the City College of New York (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/c/city_college_of_new_york/index.html?inline=nyt-org), which named its sports teams the Beavers.

The area along the Bronx River where José built his lodge is one of environmental triumphs and travesties. Cleanup efforts on the eight-mile stretch of river that snakes through the heart of the Bronx began in the 1990s. Today the river is stocked with 45 species of fish, and there have been increasing sightings of other wild animals near its banks, like turkey, deer and coyotes.

The size of José’s lodge and the abundance of poplars and other trees favored by beavers suggest that he may stay for a while, said Dietland Muller-Schwarze, a beaver expert at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He said it had been only a matter of time before a beaver popped up in New York City.

“It had to happen because beaver populations are expanding and their habitats are shrinking,” he said. “We’re probably going to see more of them in the future.”


March 14th, 2007, 01:26 AM
Asian Long-Horned Beetle Threatens Trees On Staten Island


NY1 (http://www.ny1.com/ny1/content/index.jsp?stid=1&aid=67591)
March 13, 2007

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Tuesday that it’s getting ready to quarantine part of Staten Island's West Shore to find out if the Asian long-horned beetle has landed there.

The agency found evidence of the tree-eating beetle on Prall's Island, an 80-acre isolated bird sanctuary off the Island's west coast. So far about 15 trees are infested.

The long-horned beetles often prove deadly to trees as infestations can be controlled only by cutting down and chipping or burning infested trees.

"These are rather poor flyers so from what I was told they suspect they might have just been picked up by the wind and deposited there,” said Staten Island Parks Commissioner Thomas Paulo. “And there's still a chance they may not get across to the Island but we have to take precautions."

Sometime within the next three or four weeks, the USDA will begin checking trees along the West Shore.

The beetles are about an inch long, shiny and black, with white spots.

The beetle has claimed about 4,000 trees in the city since it was first discovered in 1996.

Copyright © 2007 NY1 News

March 28th, 2007, 10:36 AM
Staten Island: Beetle Infestation Found

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/28/nyregion/28mbrfs-BEETLEINFEST_BRF.html?_r=1&oref=slogin)
March 28, 2007

Metro Briefing | New York

A silver maple tree infested with the Asian longhorned beetle has been found on Staten Island, the first evidence ever of the tree-damaging insect in the borough, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department said yesterday. Beetle eggs in the tree, in a privately owned woodland in Bloomfield, were discovered on Thursday by United States Department of Agriculture workers. When the maple was last inspected, in May 2006, it showed no signs of infestation, the parks department said.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

April 6th, 2007, 07:39 AM
Let loose the dogs of war.

April 6, 2007

Central Park Calls in the Dogs, Hoping They’ll Drive Out the Geese

Marko Georgiev for The New York Times
Coal, a trained goose chaser, practices “the stare” for photographers.


For anyone who believes geese are unobjectionable, think again. Here are some things the city’s parks department would like you to know: Geese are voracious eaters and can ruin acres of manicured lawns. They chase away ducks. Adult geese produce nearly one pound of droppings each day.

So under a light snow yesterday morning, the humble Canada goose was elevated to the city’s pantheon of scourges, alongside such stalwarts as pigeons, roaches and rats.

There was no proclamation, no recoil from a hunter’s rifle, just three aggressive border collies in Central Park, primed to corral — though not to harm — any goose caught resting unaware on the park’s Kentucky bluegrass, which apparently tastes as good to geese as it looks to humans.

Before it dawned on them that they were to be the prey yesterday during a demonstration of the dogs’ skills, a pair of affectionate geese soared majestically above Harlem Meer, the lake at the north end of the park. Other geese paddled placidly in the chilly water.

But when the dogs — in this case, two black-and-white collies named Dehl (pronounced DEAL) and Coal — were led by handlers to a cove where the mating birds had stopped to rest, the geese immediately flew off. They circled overhead, honking in protest. A few minutes later, the geese in the Meer were scared off by the sight of a collie in a kayak that had been paddled out to the middle of the lake.

“These dogs are highly trained herders,” said Donald Marcks, their owner. “Any dog could chase geese around the park and the geese would be scared — more because the dogs would be a nuisance than anything else.”

But Mr. Marcks said that unlike other dogs, his collies would never harm the geese. In any case, the collies are kept under tight control by their human handlers.

Mr. Marcks, who wore blue jeans, brown cowboy boots and a black cowboy hat that crowned a head of long blond-gray hair, resembled an aging rock star turned gentleman rancher. His handlebar mustache and goatee were perfectly trimmed.

“All we’re doing is playing with several thousand years of predator-prey interaction,” he said, looking into a row of television cameras.

Last week, before the Central Park Conservancy brought in Mr. Marcks and his company, Geese Police Inc., to rid the park of geese, 300 of the birds had made the park their home, a tenfold increase during the past three or four years, said Douglas Blonsky, president of the conservancy, a nonprofit organization that manages the park for the city.

About 150 of the geese had been living in the park year round rather than migrating, as geese habitually do.

But after three days of dog patrols this week, Mr. Blonsky said, the number of geese dwindled to about half a dozen. A team of four collies will be in the park for the rest of the month and will probably return in the fall, he said.

Known for their ferocity when protecting their turf or their young, the park’s geese have been chasing ducks and other birds away, Mr. Blonsky said. They also have the potential to contribute to erosion and to the fouling of the lake by the sheer volume of their dung.

The geese spend most of their time at Harlem Meer, which mimics their preferred habitat — a body of water surrounded by short grass. At night, they venture south to two of the park’s jewels: the Sheep Meadow and the Great Lawn. In those places, park officials take great pains to protect the grass, restricting large gatherings and most sporting activities. Mr. Blonsky said geese grazing and droppings could quickly overwhelm the grass.

Parks officials said that before turning to the dogs, they tried a variety of options: education campaigns to stop people from feeding the geese; letting the grass grow taller to disrupt the birds’ eating habits; building fences to confuse them and try to limit access to certain areas.

However, Mr. Blonsky said, “it was not enough to discourage the geese.”

Border collies are used in such cases because they have been bred as herd animals and are able to frighten geese via “the stare,” a particular look and stance that leads geese to conclude that the dogs are predators, according to park officials.

Sometimes the geese allow themselves to be corralled by the collies before flying off; at other times they fly away when they see the dogs coming. By contrast, geese quickly lose their fear of human scare tactics, like shouting and arm waving.

Adrian Benepe, the city’s parks commissioner, said that so far no one had objected to the treatment of the geese.

“The geese are not being hurt. They are being harassed the same way they harass animals that get in their way,” he said. “We haven’t had any complaints, but this is New York and it’s still early.”

Several hours later, after the demonstration had ended and the dogs had gone, the geese had returned. In pairs, they ducked their heads into the water, eating aquatic plants, and soared above the Meer, honking noisily.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

PETA would probably point to the entire quote:

Blood and destruction shall be so in use
And dreadful objects so familiar
That mothers shall but smile when they behold
Their infants quarter'd with the hands of war;
All pity choked with custom of fell deeds:
And Caesar's spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice
Cry 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war;
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial.

June 2nd, 2007, 08:08 AM
American Oystercatcher (http://audubon2.org/webapp/watchlist/viewSpecies.jsp?id=9)

At GNRA (http://www.nps.gov/gate/index.htm) Jacob Riis Park

http://img149.imageshack.us/img149/3402/oystercather01gi7.th.jpg (http://img149.imageshack.us/my.php?image=oystercather01gi7.jpg) http://img149.imageshack.us/img149/9389/oystercather02yw7.th.jpg (http://img149.imageshack.us/my.php?image=oystercather02yw7.jpg)

They nest on sandy beaches above the high-tide mark. Maybe because of the cold spring, but it seems that hatchlings are late this year, putting them into conflict with the Memorial Day weekend beach crowd.

With an estimated North American population of only 7,500 birds, this species is extremely susceptible to a major catastrophe, such as an oil spill or hurricane, especially during the non-breeding season, when the population is more concentrated. On both its breeding grounds and wintering grounds, American Oystercatcher is faced with continued loss of habitat, as humans develop and use coastal beaches. Disturbance from human recreational use of shoreline habitats is a major problem for nesting birds, especially on beaches.

The species was locally extinct in some shore areas of New england in the 19th century, but has bounced back after the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (US and GB). It's on the Audubon watchlist, but not protected by the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The Piping Plover is on the endangered list, so the Oystercatcher benefits from shared habitat.

Park rangers set up protective zones around nesting sites. Beyond the dunes in the background, the mile long Fort Tilden beach is left in a natural state (no swimming).

http://img149.imageshack.us/img149/536/oystercather04yl8.th.jpg (http://img149.imageshack.us/my.php?image=oystercather04yl8.jpg)

If you approach within about 50 feet of the nest, the bird will move off noisily, trying to lure you away. Hold your ground, and she'll eventually circle around, and not regarding you as a threat, cautiously return to the nest.

http://img183.imageshack.us/img183/5844/oystercather05bs1.th.jpg (http://img183.imageshack.us/my.php?image=oystercather05bs1.jpg) http://img183.imageshack.us/img183/9933/oystercather06lr4.th.jpg (http://img183.imageshack.us/my.php?image=oystercather06lr4.jpg) http://img183.imageshack.us/img183/8552/oystercather07bl5.th.jpg (http://img183.imageshack.us/my.php?image=oystercather07bl5.jpg)

Not typical of shorebirds, hatchlings are fed by parents for about two months.

http://img149.imageshack.us/img149/5503/oystercather03zr1.th.jpg (http://img149.imageshack.us/my.php?image=oystercather03zr1.jpg)

A little goofy looking on land, but not in flight.



June 9th, 2007, 08:55 AM
A turkey believed to be Zelda in Washington Market Park Tuesday.

Turkey discovers what’s up from The Battery

By Lucas Mann

Something strange was afoot at the corner of W. Houston St. and LaGuardia Pl. last Friday afternoon. There was something walking the streets even lighter than the models that usually patrol the area. Far stranger looking than any neighborhood hipster, this tourist to Greenwich Village cut a striking figure as it ambled along Houston St. It was, in fact, a wild turkey.

It’s a challenge for most newcomers to adapt to Manhattan’s hustle and bustle, let alone one of a different species with a brain the size of a peach pit, but apparently this bird was no chicken. Friday’s turkey sighting at Houston and LaGuardia was reported by Curbed.com. The next day, a local resident spied the turkey — presumably the same one — farther west at Christopher and Washington Sts.

“He was really evasive, like a football player,” said Glenn Berman, who videotaped the bird in action. “He was darting in between cabs. One time I thought I’d trick him and come around the back side of a parked car, but he doubled back and outmaneuvered me.”

In Friday’s turkey trot, the wild bird ran down Houston St. and ended up exploring the wild Time Landscape indigenous garden. The garden was originally planned in 1965 by artist Alan Sonfist, and was completed in 1978. It was planted to slowly become a plot that exemplified the pre-Colonial Manhattan landscape of the Native Americans. Perhaps this new neighbor was merely returning to check out his ancestors’ digs.


Councilmember Alan Gerson not only represents the district but also lives at 505 LaGuardia Pl., right next to the Time Landscape.

“The turkey is to be commended for bringing authenticity to Time Landscape,” Gerson said. “However, I understand that the turkey subsequently jaywalked across Houston, and that I cannot condone.”

Yet, others would say the turkey cannot be faulted for its survival skills. Berman said he asked the police about the bird and they said it had been sighted before. But was it, in fact, the same turkey each time? A roving turkey has been living in Battery Park for a few years. Sara Hobel, director of the city’s Urban Park Rangers, thought that it probably was the Battery Park turkey.

“Oh, she’s famous,” Hobel said of the Battery Park turkey. “Her name is Zelda. She’s been down there for years and she has been known to wander. She’s been spotted as far up as the Village.” Zelda, apparently, lives about as good a life as a turkey can lead. She is adored and quite well fed by all those who pass her tree in the park. She is also “wacky,” as Hobel put it, and while she is too content to leave Manhattan, she does explore.

“It is uncommon to see wild turkeys in New York City, but it’s not unheard of,” said Hobel. “There’s a flock of turkeys that live on Staten Island, a few on Pelham Parkway in the Bronx and a couple in Morningside Park that had babies last year.”

Another reason to suspect that the bird at Houston and LaGuardia was, in fact, Zelda, was that it was spotted alone. Turkeys always migrate in flocks. But Zelda, given her odd living arrangement and questionable mental state, does not migrate or socialize with any feathered friends.

Hobel said that wild turkeys are actually “quite smart and instinctive, with good survival skills. They’re nothing like domestic turkeys.” Judging by the brilliant open-field running described by Berman, the Greenwich Village turkey likely never spent a day under human care.

The mystery of whether the turkey was Zelda may never be solved. Berman’s video of it is posted on Youtube.com under “The Far West Village NYC Lochness Turkey.” The clip includes close-ups of the turkey tightroping across a narrow iron gate.

The last shot of Berman’s video shows the turkey perched on a high tree branch, taking flight like a large, awkward pigeon.

It seems that the bird headed Downtown from there. On Tues., June 5, the turkey — assumed to be Zelda by Tribeca residents — found its way to Washington Market Park and spent the day there, as crowds gathered around to gawk at the gobbler.

Liz Williams, a Financial District resident who has built up enough of a relationship with the bird to converse with it on a first-name basis, came upon her feathered friend in the Tribeca park and called the First Precinct.

“Well, this isn’t the first time the police were called,” Williams said. “A couple of years ago, it got into the schoolyard at P.S. 234 and the Police and Fire Departments came to take it home.”

This year, however, law enforcement seems to have a more nonchalant take on wild turkeys. The police declined to pick up the bird and instead referred the matter to the Department of Environmental Conservation.

An employee who answered the phone at the city’s Center for Animal Care and Control said they would just leave the bird “in the wild,” if one can call Tribeca “the wild.”

For now, it seems that the apparent Zelda can hang out in whatever park she likes.

As Williams spoke over her cell phone, a debate broke out at Washington Market Park and children could be overheard arguing that if the turkey was happy there, she should be allowed to stay. Williams, however, was not satisfied with the police’s decision.

“The problem is she’s old and she can’t fly very well. I don’t know if she can get home,” she said. “She probably doesn’t know how she got here [Washington Market Park] in the first place.”

But what if Zelda knew exactly what she was doing in flying the coop? Spring is here and Zelda was once again alone in Battery Park. Perhaps she was out looking for love?

Maybe she will settle in Washington Market Park. Maybe she will return home. No one seems to know exactly what this wild urban turkey will do next.


August 13th, 2007, 03:08 PM
Fitting near the Prospect Park Audubon Center:

Hawks and falcons are now common in the city, but this was a surprise. Just over the rustic bridge, the path forks down to the pond. Just off the path, a hawk was having a meal of squirrel.

http://img524.imageshack.us/img524/6940/hawk01dg4.th.jpg (http://img524.imageshack.us/my.php?image=hawk01dg4.jpg) http://img524.imageshack.us/img524/8715/hawk02hh1.th.jpg (http://img524.imageshack.us/my.php?image=hawk02hh1.jpg)

I tried to slip around him to get the sun behind me, but I spooked him into a tree, where he kept an eye on his catch until I moved on.

http://img158.imageshack.us/img158/1935/hawk03ka8.th.jpg (http://img158.imageshack.us/my.php?image=hawk03ka8.jpg)

August 16th, 2007, 10:44 AM
when you're in the middle of central park it sounds like a jungle

August 16th, 2007, 01:36 PM
when you're in the middle of central park it sounds like a jungle

This was my laugh out loud moment today. (I got this phrase from BR ;))

February 2nd, 2008, 08:27 PM
I’ll Be a Monkey’s Agent

The NEW YORKER (http://www.newyorker.com/humor/2008/02/04/080204sh_shouts_rudnick)
by Paul Rudnick (http://www.newyorker.com/search/query?query=authorName:%22Paul Rudnick%22)
February 4, 2008


After the death of Washoe, a chimpanzee who had been taught to use sign language, the scientist Duane Rumbaugh told the Times that chimps “don’t get contracts to write books, they don’t get invited to give talks, they don’t vote and so on, but their intellectual functioning overlaps” with that of humans.

As the agent for many first-rank animals active in all media, I beg to differ with Dr. Rumbaugh. I currently represent Bobo, a gifted and sensitive orangutan who will soon publish her haunting memoir of growing up in the jungle with a charismatic yet abusive mother, a distant father, and the ability to open pop-top cans of soda with her feet. Bobo will be touring extensively, and has already appeared on a panel at the 92nd Street Y entitled “Gender Issues in Autobiography: Why Do the Males Always Get to Wear the Propeller Beanies?”

I also handle Flora, an elephant who has discussed her struggles with weight and self-image on all the morning shows, and whom Oprah called “the bravest lady I’ve ever met,” after riding her through the streets of Chicago. Thanks to an exclusive contract with Jenny Craig, Flora has recently lost more than eight hundred pounds. “Kirstie Alley and I have a bet,” she trumpeted to In Touch Weekly. “We’re both going for that last seven hundred!”

In addition, I’ve been responsible for the high-profile career of the silverback gorilla Binky-Dink, who has written an extremely successful series of lower-primate-related thrillers, including the best-selling “Monkey See, Monkey Die.” On the political front, I discovered Trinabelle, an anteater who has already been compared to Ann Coulter. Trinabelle’s collection of think pieces, “Ants in My Mouth,” covers her views on global warming, immigration, and why ants are really just chocolate sprinkles that move. I’ve also just signed the author of the searing tell-all “Entrée,” in which an anonymous sow describes how, even after winning countless blue ribbons at state fairs, she was forced to watch as Rush Limbaugh devoured her grandparents.

On a lighter note, animals have been very popular in the life-style sector. My client Tibbles, a sleek Abyssinian, has published many trade paperbacks of witty essays, including “Couches Worth Clawing,” “Sex and the Kitty,” and “There Are Feces in My Water Dish!” Tibbles is a regular guest on “The View,” where she recently chatted about having a litter after forty, and why she sometimes just likes to ignore everyone and lie in the sun, blinking. “Baby, I hear you,” Barbara Walters purred.

Still, everyone always wants the chimps; as I told the Learning Annex, “Maybe Donald Trump can advise people on investment opportunities, but can he do it while roller-skating around the podium wearing a diaper, a bandanna, and a cowboy hat?” Kookoo the baboon has appeared on “Regis and Kelly,” “Larry King Live,” and “Rachael Ray,” plugging his big-screen blockbuster “Kookoo Kuts Up,” in which he plays the nation’s second simian President. I shouldn’t really mention this, but Kookoo is currently in negotiations to play his first lead in a romantic comedy, starring opposite Kate Hudson in “Look What I Found in Your Hair.”

And, of course, I’ll always have a special affection for CheeChee, the chimp who often co-hosted with Ted Koppel on “Nightline.” CheeChee could always get right to the heart of a breaking news story, whether he was tugging on Fidel Castro’s beard and shrieking, or assembling his moving video-collage tribute, “A Banana for Diana.” CheeChee was the dean of American chimps; we can all probably recall how, in times of triumph or tragedy, CheeChee would put on his little three-piece suit and his fedora, bare his teeth at the camera, and throw things. Today, CheeChee is retired and living happily in East Hampton with his third wife, Yoko, a howler monkey. ♦

Keywords: Monkeys (http://www.newyorker.com/search/query?keyword=Monkeys); Agents (http://www.newyorker.com/search/query?keyword=Agents); Chimpanzees (http://www.newyorker.com/search/query?keyword=Chimpanzees); Apes (http://www.newyorker.com/search/query?keyword=Apes); Animals (http://www.newyorker.com/search/query?keyword=Animals); Elephants (http://www.newyorker.com/search/query?keyword=Elephants); Cats (http://www.newyorker.com/search/query?keyword=Cats)

Copyright © 2008 CondéNet. All rights reserved.

February 3rd, 2008, 12:25 AM
It's astonishing how animals can adapt to life in a city. Do you get fox's in New York?

February 3rd, 2008, 05:16 AM
January 28, 2008, 6:38 pm

A Seal Visits the Upper West Side

By John Sullivan (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/author/jsullivan/)

A seal in the Hudson River, off West 79th Street, on Monday. This is not such an unusual sight in recent years, park rangers say, perhaps because the river is cleaner.
(Photo: Joyce Dopkeen/The New York Times)

Cute is not a word normally associated with the Hudson River waterfront but when a juvenile harbor seal decided to take some sun at the 79th Street boat basin, the word sprang to mind. “He was moving around pretty fine, yawning and sunning himself,” said Sgt. Rakeem Taylor, an urban park ranger for the city Parks Department.

Sergeant Taylor said the workers spotted the seal just before 10 a.m. The animal, which he estimated to be 3 to 4 feet long and about 90 pounds, was lying on the dock.

“It’s not that unusual, but we don’t usually get a chance to see them,” Sergeant Taylor said of the visitor. “It’s about as unusual as getting the occasional coyote.”

He said the presence of the seal was a positive one. “It is definitely a sign that the river is in better shape that they are coming up this far for fish,” he said.

Harbor seals typically stay around for day or two before moving on. Sergeant Taylor said he watched the seal for about 40 minutes on Monday and planned to return “tomorrow and see if he is still hanging out.”

On a scale of 1 to 10 for unusual animals, Sergeant Taylor said, the seal rated about a 4 or 5. The strangest animal he has seen in eight years with the department?

“A nine-foot boa constrictor in Central Park,” he said. “That had to be an 8 or a 9.”

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

February 6th, 2008, 10:25 AM
Do you get fox's in New York? Yes. Well, I can't say when the last time one was spotted within the city limits, but they're certainly in the suburbs.

February 8th, 2008, 02:12 PM
If you come into Staten Island and visit SI University hospital there are hundreds of turkeys everywhere! I went there the other day to pick up my mother and there were 4 in a tree and 2 families crossing the street. Also there were about 5 sitting on the lawn by the hot dog vendor. So funny.

Also about 4 years ago in December, a BUCK swam across from NJ and was running up and down Richmond AVE, a heavily traffic zone. This went on for 1 week until they finally shot him with a sedative and took him back to his home.:D

February 8th, 2008, 04:20 PM
Also about 4 years ago in December, a BUCK swam across from NJ and was running up and down Richmond AVE, a heavily traffic zone. This went on for 1 week until they finally shot him with a sedative and took him back to his home.:D

Where, Elizabeth?

February 9th, 2008, 08:39 AM
Where, Elizabeth?
It may have swam from Elizabeth but wound up in Staten Island, NY. If you go to the South Shore here NJ is supeeerrrrr close. I could swim it if I had to.:)

February 10th, 2008, 02:56 PM
Actually I realize that. But I don't usually think of Elizabeth as deer territory.

February 10th, 2008, 03:17 PM
There was Hal, the Central Park Coyote who eluded police and animal control for days, he was captured and when he was allegedly going on a trip to some upstate sanctuary he mysteriously DIED.
Never read a followup story to it or to the "cause" of his death, but I have my own suspicions as to the "cause", the official word was;

Hal received medical care prior to his intended release into California Hill State Forest in Putnam County, New York, but he died unexpectedly on 30 March during a tagging procedure while being restrained by biologists. Wildlife handlers and park officials say the animal appeared healthy and relaxed going into the procedure.

So while being manhandled to the ground, er "restrained" for a stupid tagging he died.

Another official word was;

"A New York State Department of Environmental Conservation statement also notes that the animal's preexisting poor health "coupled with the stress of captivity and handling during the release" resulted in Hal's demise."

Stone's report, which refers to Hal as a "greatly-compromised coyote," notes that, as the one-year-old was readied for repatriation, he was "taken from his carrier and held with a catch-pole and the mouth was held shut with an ace bandage wrapped around his snout." While Hal's "nose was clear for breathing," a few minutes into the procedure, "the coyote stopped breathing. This was during ear-tagging.


Funny, young Hal was healthy enough to elude cops and animal control for TWO DAYS, but suddenly he has "poor health" when under control of biologists.

February 10th, 2008, 06:15 PM
I remember that (see page 2 of this thread) but didn't know about the sad outcome. Spunky little critter had what seemed like the entire police force after him - you would have thought Bin Laden himself was hiding out in Central Park.

February 11th, 2008, 09:56 AM
I just looked up the article and it said that the deer swim across the Arthur Kill.

February 25th, 2008, 05:31 AM
New York Observed

Lemon Zest

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/02/24/nyregion/bird600.jpg Cal Vornberger
OUT-OF-TOWNER The parks, and the city around them, may be made by men and women, but the wildlife that flashes through is no less real.

Published: February 24, 2008

ON a cold morning late last month, I took a subway to Union Square Park to see a bird I had never seen. The bird, a Scott’s oriole, had been noted intermittently behind the statue of Mohandas Gandhi since December, though it took birders several weeks to figure out that it was not in fact an orchard oriole — which would have been unusual enough for winter in Manhattan.

Scott’s oriole is a bird of the Southwest and has never been recorded in New York. It should be no farther east than Texas, which is why, despite my sluggardly winter ways, I decided it was worth a trip down from the Upper West Side, where I live.

Alongside my excitement, I felt a qualm of embarrassment as I exited the busy subway with my binoculars. It was like taking a taxi to hunt big game: “Let me off near the wildebeest, driver.” In Central Park, I can at least conjure the illusion of wildness if I focus on the trees. But when your marker is a metal statue of a man in a loincloth, standing on what is essentially a traffic island, you cannot pretend you are in the middle of nature.

Then again, that’s the point of bird-watching. “Nature” isn’t necessarily elsewhere. It is the person holding the binoculars, as much as the bird in the tree, and it is the intersection of these two creatures, with technology bringing us closer than we have ever been to the very thing technology has driven from our midst. And, anyway, there are still wild elements in the center of a city. The morning I arrived, the bird had made itself scarce, perhaps because a red-tailed hawk, a Cooper’s hawk and a kestrel were all patrolling the park.

I was not the only birder there. Everyone had read the same birding e-mail messages I had, and we were all staking out the southwest corner of the park, scanning the same stunted holly trees and viburnum.

Oranges and banana slices had been scattered on the ground, like votive offerings. The first report I read of the bird had it eating a kaiser roll. Several people had been there for hours, and two men showed me pictures of the bird that they had taken on their digital cameras that very day. They were hoping for a last look and braving the cold in the knowledge that by noon, sunlight would again fall on the building-shadowed corner of the park and entice the lemon-yellow, black-headed bird back into view.

Vagrant though the bird was, it seemed to me that there was also a rightness to its having landed in Union Square. This was not simply because of the statue of Gandhi, suggesting the need for simplicity and putting me to shame in his cotton dhoti and sandals as I shivered in my down jacket. My feelings also had to do with the park itself, named originally for the union of Broadway (then called Bloomingdale Road) and the Bowery.

Bird-watching is all about the coming together of disparate things, not merely earth and sky but the union of technology and a hunger for the wild world. “Imaginary gardens with real toads” is how Marianne Moore described poetry. Birding in city parks evokes much the same sensation. The parks, and the cities around them, may be human-made, but the wildlife that flashes through is no less real.

On the building across from where I stood, high up on the brick wall, there was a metal box that from time to time emitted the cry of a peregrine falcon.

It was just a recording, but it roused the pigeons on the windowsills into a sort of lazy panic, getting them to rise and fly a few circles in the air before resettling. Even real peregrine falcons have a hint of the artificial about them, having been brought back from the brink by falconers expert in the ways of an ancient art that involved borrowing a bird from the wild and then turning it loose again.

Like the greenmarket in Union Square that brings apples and vegetables from outside the city, the token bird in the park is a reminder of an older way of life we are still intimately connected to and vitally in need of.

And like birders with their binoculars, we are not necessarily doomed by our modernity to exclusion from wildness. Bird-watching was born in cities — combining technology, urban institutions of higher learning, an awareness of the vanishing wild places of the earth and a desire to welcome what is left of the wild back into our world.

The name Union Square accumulated layers of later meaning, from the great rally held there in 1861 for the Union troops, and the Labor Day marches that took place later that century. In its own way, Scott’s oriole belongs with Union Square’s famous 19th-century monuments, most especially the 1868 statue of Abraham Lincoln (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/l/abraham_lincoln/index.html?inline=nyt-per).

THE bird was named by Darius Nash Couch, a Union general who was also a naturalist. (There were a lot of army men in the 19th century who used their postings as a way to record bird life.) Couch named the bird in honor of Gen. Winfield Scott, who was known as “Old fuss and feathers,” though I feel sure that is not the reason he got a bird named after him; one of the great soldiers in American history, Scott began his career with the War of 1812 and ended it with the Civil War.

The bird is a monument to 19th-century ornithology, but it had defied its label and was doing what creatures with wings do: flying out of range and surprising us with life. It is never enough to know the name of a bird when you are birding. It is the mysterious unknowable animal that lives alongside the named and classified creature that draws us out to look.

By noon on that cold January day, about 20 birders had gathered, craning with increasing urgency into the bushes as the little patch of grass behind Gandhi grew brighter. And suddenly the bird was there. Someone pointed, and then we all saw it. It came down to the ground and, without ceremony, pecked at a piece of banana.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company.

February 29th, 2008, 03:16 AM
Riverside Park Nest Draws Hawk Watchers

By Sewell Chan (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/author/schan/)
A red-tailed hawk soared near its nest in Riverside Park, around West 81st Street and the West Side Highway.
(Photographs by Robert Caplin for The New York Times)

Bird lovers have been congregating near the intersection of 81st Street and the West Side Highway for what several urban nature experts say is a rare event: the construction of a nest by red-tailed hawks on the Far West Side of Manhattan. Leslie Day (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/22/ask-about-nature-in-new-york/), a naturalist who lives on a houseboat on the Hudson River and is author of “Field Guide to the Natural World of New York City,” said that bird watchers first noticed the nest around nine days ago, in a honey locust tree.

Blogs like Urban Hawks (http://urbanhawks.blogs.com/), Pale Male (http://www.palemale.com/) and Marie Winn (http://mariewinn.com/) have been gushing over the new nest-builders.


“West Siders have seen red-tailed hawks for years, but no one has ever seen red-tailed hawks building a nest in Riverside Park before,” she said in a phone interview. “This is the first time it is so out in the open.”

She added: “As a birder and naturalist, whenever I see people looking up I follow their gaze. And there was a red-tail with a very flimsy nest in a honey locust tree. You could see the sky through it.”

The nest has since become much more larger — about three feet in length — and more sturdy.

The red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) is the city’s largest hawk. An adult is typically 19 to 25 inches long, with a wingspan of 46 to 58 inches. Common nesting locations, according to Dr. Day’s “Field Guide,” include Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx, Prospect Park and (in winter) the grasslands at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn; Fort Tilden (in winter) in Queens; Saw Mill Creek Park on Staten Island; and the Central Park Ramble, Riverside Church, Inwood Hill Park and (in winter) the 79th Street Boat Basin in Manhattan. The predatory birds eat squirrels, rats, pigeons, doves and other songbirds.

In December 2004, an uproar (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/19/weekinreview/19word.html) broke out over a Fifth Avenue co-op board’s decision to remove (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/09/nyregion/09hawk.html) a nest used by the red-tailed hawks Pale Male and Lola. The board quickly retreated (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/14/nyregion/14hawk.html), agreeing to rebuild (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/15/nyregion/15hawk.html) the birds’ nest.


Copyright 2008 THe New York Times Company.

February 29th, 2008, 01:42 PM
The pidgeons are not happy about this. Neither are the rats.

March 1st, 2008, 12:09 AM
Here's a hawk that was hanging out on my fire escape this past fall. It was beautiful and ruled the backyards from above.




April 10th, 2008, 04:44 AM
Counting the Seals Of Swinburne Island

By BENJAMIN SARLIN (http://www2.nysun.com/authors/Benjamin+Sarlin)
Special to the Sun
April 10, 2008

Swinburne Island, a small, manmade hunk of land off the coast of Staten Island (http://www2.nysun.com/related_results.php?term=Staten+Island), was once used to quarantine immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island (http://www2.nysun.com/related_results.php?term=Ellis+Island) suffering from contagious diseases; later it became a base for military training exercises. Its decaying brick huts, rotting pier, and complete isolation may harm its prospects for development, but at least one group of New Yorkers finds it an attractive piece of real estate.

Migrating harbor seals, once an extremely rare sight, have made the rocky island their winter home for the last several years before returning to their native Maine (http://www2.nysun.com/related_results.php?term=Maine) in summer.

Yesterday, scientists, students, and volunteers left on a boat from Kingsborough Community College (http://www2.nysun.com/related_results.php?term=Kingsborough+Community+Co llege) in Manhattan Beach (http://www2.nysun.com/related_results.php?term=Manhattan+Beach), Brooklyn (http://www2.nysun.com/related_results.php?term=Brooklyn), to study the creatures during the third annual seal count. The trip's organizer, Paul Sieswerda, curator of the New York Aquarium (http://www2.nysun.com/related_results.php?term=New+York+Aquarium), said such record-keeping will help biologists learn the new seal community's size and migration schedule.
The return of seals to city waters after a decades-long absence is primarily attributed to population growth that has expanded their range. The 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act, which outlawed the killing of seals, helped boost their numbers.

"Fisherman would shoot them because they were competitors for fish," Mr. Sieswerda said. "In the old days, there used to be a bounty on seals' noses that hunters would collect, but with better protection the population has grown."

As the boat slowed to a halt about 50 feet off Swinburne Island's coast yesterday, black flashes began to appear and disappear in the water. Harbor seals bobbed their heads out of the water like submarine periscopes and examined their visitors.

"They're very curious, they'll come right up and look us," Mr. Sieswerda said as the seal count participants eagerly shouted out more, and increasingly closer, sightings. The animals quickly surrounded the boat, sometimes popping out of the water as near as 10 feet from the ship before retreating underwater, where they can stay for as long as five minutes before coming up for air.

After a half hour, Mr. Sieswerda called an end to the count, putting the final number at eight, consistent with the nine spotted in 2007 and 10 in 2006.

"It's interesting how they're coming back to New York City (http://www2.nysun.com/related_results.php?term=New+York+City)," he said. "In a giant metropolis, having nature return is a good thing."

Copyright 2008 The New York Sun.

April 19th, 2008, 05:51 AM
April 18, 2008, 2:30 pm

40-Pound Beaver Is Rescued From East River

By Patrick LaForge (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/author/plaforge/)

Updated 6:30 p.m. | A four-foot-long, approximately 40-pound beaver was pulled to safety at 12:45 p.m. from the West Channel of the East River by police harbor and scuba units. The special units were patrolling the United Nations in connection with the visit of Pope Benedict XVI and said the beaver appeared to be struggling to swim. A state conservation official later said they might have been better off leaving it alone.

Lt. John Harkins, the commanding officer of the scuba unit, said the animal was tilted unnaturally and showed “labored breathing,” according to a New York Police Department statement.

After approaching what the statement called “the beleaguered beaver,” Police Officer John Angus secured the animal in a safety noose and pulled it onto the rear of the harbor launch, where the police said it was kept in a bucket and doused with water.

It was not known if the beaver was male or female. (“It has pretty big claws,” Lieutenant Harkins said in the statement.)

The beaver was held on the 34th Street ferry dock then was later transported to an animal hospital on the Upper West Side. City Room was unable to get a photographer to the dock in time to get a picture, and The Associated Press said all of its photographers were too busy following the pope.

Of course, this was not the first time that animals have appeared in the urban jungle of New York City (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/29/nyregion/29animals.html), including beavers (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/23/nyregion/23beaver.html).

A spokeswoman for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (http://www.dec.ny.gov/), Lori O’Connell, said it was not unusual for beavers to be in the river systems around Manhattan because they swim up and down the Hudson and the East River. They use the rivers as natural corridors in looking for food.

It is likely the police came face to face with the beaver in its natural habitat in part because there were more officers than usual in the waters around the United Nations.

Ms. O’Connell said that distressed beavers were not the same as distressed humans in the river. “While animals appear to be stressed, it’s best to leave them in their natural habitant,” she said. “Actions of being brought into captivity are stressful above and beyond what they are already experiencing.”

Jennifer 8. Lee contributed reporting.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company.

April 19th, 2008, 08:43 AM
Fox published a picture of the "beleaguered beaver” in a bucket ...

Pope Security Police Bag Beaver in East River

Animal Was 'Struggling' to Swim Near United Nations

MYFOXNY.COM (http://www.myfoxny.com/myfox/pages/Home/Detail;jsessionid=7FD3A6C1E5B79136E1BBA226607269F6 ?contentId=6344536&version=8&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=TSTY&pageId=1.1.1&sflg=1)
Arun Kristian Das
Last Edited: Saturday, 19 Apr 2008, 3:12 AM EDT
Created: Friday, 18 Apr 2008, 7:12 PM EDT

Harbor cops pulled a beaver out of the East River.
The animal was swimming close to the United Nations,
where the Pope was speaking.

MYFOXNY.COM -- The NYPD's Harbor Unit, patrolling the East River near the United Nations as a part of security operations for the Pope's visit, rescued an apparently sick beaver from the water.

The ever-vigilant harbor cops spotted the animal, which appeared to be having trouble breathing and struggled to swim, not far from the U.N., where the Pope was speaking.

>> VIDEO: SCUBA COPS BRING BEAVER ASHORE (http://www.myfoxny.com/myfox/MyFox/pages/sidebar_video.jsp?contentId=6345148&version=1&locale=EN-US)

>> VIDEO: OFFICER DESCRIBES BEAVER RESCUE (http://www.myfoxny.com/myfox/MyFox/pages/sidebar_video.jsp?contentId=6345119&version=1&locale=EN-US)

Police Officer John Angus caught the beaver in a safety noose, pulled it aboard, and placed it in a bucket with water. Officers brought the beaver to shore for transport to an animal hospital.

They did not say if they considered the animal to be a security risk.

But "it has pretty big claws," said Lt. John Harkins of the NYPD SCUBA team. He indicated the beaver was four feet long and about 40 pounds.

No word if the beaver was trying to get a closer look at the Pope.

(c) 2008 Fox Television Stations, Inc.

April 20th, 2008, 04:31 AM

April 19, 2008, 10:19 pm

East River Beaver Dies on the Way to Utica

By Patrick LaForge (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/author/plaforge/)

The ailing beaver that was pulled out of the East River by police scuba units (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/04/18/40-pound-beaver-rescued-from-east-river/) on duty Friday for the pope’s United Nations visit died a day later while being transported upstate for treatment by a wildlife medical specialist.

Dr. Paul Howell, the owner and lead veterinarian at the hospital that treated the animal overnight, Animal General (http://www.animalgeneral.com/) on the Upper West Side, said a vehicle was hired to transport it to the specialist in Utica, but it died en route.

“We took her, we put her on IV fluids,” Dr. Howell said. “They have special needs when it comes to therapy… She was pretty sick. We don’t know what she had.”

One complication: beavers will not urinate unless they are in water, he said, and “that’s a pretty large requirement for a 40-pound animal.” He added that while the animal’s size was impressive, it was probably not unusual for a beaver.

He said that members of the hospital staff, Dr. Heidi Lawrence, a veterinarian, and Karen Heidgerd, a wildlife rehabilitator, treated the animal overnight Friday after the police arrived with it and a contingent of the news media.

They suspected a gastrointestinal obstruction and took an X-ray, but, he added, “we weren’t the right facility, and she was in no shape to go in for surgery.” A cause of death will be determined later.

Could the beaver have survived if left alone in the river? Not likely, Dr. Howell said. It had strayed into a salty area, which was not helping its recovery. “The beaver was failing,” he said. “There was something majorly wrong.”

Costs of treatment and transportation will be covered by the Wild Bird Fund (http://www.wildbirdfund.com/), a nonprofit organization associated with the hospital.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company.

May 16th, 2008, 08:44 AM
Peregrine falcon nest at 55 Water St

Webcam (http://falcons.55water.com/)

Waterfront view is a chick magnet

Downtown Express photos by Lorenzo Ciniglio

Four peregrine falcon chicks named Cheyenne, Kaycey Lane,
Megan and Leeloo were tagged Wednesday.


By Josh Rogers

There’s a live Web site showing naked underage chicks Downtown, but it’s not likely to be blocked by parental filters.

The four chicks, hatched April 24 - 26, are rare peregrine falcons living at 55 Water St. and were tagged yesterday.

The chicks — three females named Cheyenne, Kacey Lane and Megan and their brother Leeloo — are expected to be living on the 14th floor of 55 Water for a few more weeks under the watchful eye of their mother and Frank Magnani, vice president of special projects at New Water Street Corp., the building’s owner, which has graciously hosted the endangered species since 1999.

Mangani said no window washers will be allowed near the nest overlooking the East River while the chicks get ready to make it on their own. Their progress can be monitored on a live Web cam available at falcons.55water.com.

“It’s extraordinary to have this wildlife in the middle of the city,” Magnani said.

The falcons can fly at speeds of 180 miles per hour with the ability to descend rapidly when in pursuit of their prey. They often mate for life and have nested in many bridges in New York State.

Arturo Garcia-Costas, a spokesperson for the state Dept. of Environmental Conservation, said there are only about 18 pairs of peregrine falcons in the Downstate area, which includes the Hudson Valley, Long Island as well as New York City, but the number is growing “thanks to the efforts of cooperating local building owners and others.”

Chris Nadareski of the city’s Dept. of Environmental Protection volunteers his time to the state to help keep track of the falcons, Costas-Garcia said.

Nadareski first rescued a falcon named Diane in 1998, after she crashed into a Wall St. building fracturing her wing. Her mate Jack stood by her and together they settled on Water St. the next year where they had nine more children. In 2001, Diane’s bad wing sent her into retirement at Cornell, where she still lives. Jack took up with J.J. and the pair stayed put on 9/11 as empty nesters.

“They didn’t leave,” said Magnani. “They were calm. It was extraordinary.”

Magnani said Jack has been displaced by the new chicks’ father and his whereabouts are unknown. He said the mother is docile compared to Diane and J.J., who would do whatever it took to protect their babies.

“Diane was vicious,” said Magnani. “She would attack a lot. She knocked one of my engineers to the ground.”

That incident occurred while the engineer was watching a ground breaking ceremony at the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial led by then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Typically, when Diane’s and J.J.’s chicks were tagged, the mother would fly and try to get to them clenching their claws into fists, but the new mother sat docilely while they were tagged, held back with a pole.

Magnani said he was waiting to hear from the state the names of the current parents, but Costas-Garcia said if the parents do have names, D.E.C. would not release them because the agency’s wildlife biologist feels strongly that names encourage the public to think of the rare birds as pets.


Downtown Express is published by Community Media LLC. | 145 Sixth Avenue, New York, NY 10013

May 17th, 2008, 04:42 AM
I must be in a "strange" state of mind. I thought this thread was about eccentrics in the city ... NOT! :D

June 8th, 2008, 09:14 AM
Not exactly in the City, but close enough ...

L.I. Woman Quarantined With Bird Mite Infestation

Victim Put In Bio Containment Suit, Taken By Hazmat Team To Nassau University Hospital And Placed In Isolation

'They Were Coming Out Of Her Nose, Out Of Her Ears'
wcbstv.com (http://wcbstv.com/health/bird.mites.bloodsucking.2.741942.html)
Reporting: Jennifer McLogan
June 7, 2008

LEVITTOWN, N.Y. (CBS) ― There was a warning issued Thursday to homeowners after a Long Island woman's home was infested with "blood-sucking" parasites. It wasn't bed bugs that caused the problem, but bird mites.

"I was hysterical crying last night," said Crystal Shea, the daughter of the bird mite victim. "You know, I feel terrible for her. How do you watch your mom come out in a hazmat suit?"

The emotional daughter of the bird mite victim shared ominous looking photos of her mother being suited up in bio containment gear by emergency medical technicians responding to her S.O.S. from her Levittown home. They stripped her of her clothing, shoes, carted off her mattress, confiscated the wild bird nest from a bathroom vent and transported the patient to the quarantine unit at Nassau University Medical Center.

CBS 2 HD spoke by phone with patient Nina Bradica from her hospital bed in the isolation unit.

"My whole shower was covered with them," said Bradica, 45. "I didn't even know they were there at first, I was drying myself with my towel in the bathroom. That's how they got on me."

One of Bradica's doctors told CBS 2 HD bird mites can be a very severe problem.

"They can be a nuisance and some people have been infected for years with these bird mites and have had difficulty eradicating them," said Dr. Kenneth Steier.

Added Dr. Shadab Ahmed of Nassau Medical Center, "They can stick to the body. They are extremely tiny. I just sent three to be tested to the parasitology lab for identification."

The victim told CBS 2 HD bird mites
were crawling all over her skin,
coming out of her nose and ears,
and left welts and red marks
all over her body.

Doctors say there is absolutely no public health hazard. Mites can't feed off human skin and will eventually drop off, but until then …

"They were biting her all night long," Shea said. "They were coming out of her ears, her nose, some other places."

Bradica tried to describe her discomfort.

"They do go inside you. They go in your nose. They go in your ears. They go in your mouth."

The victim's irate family is blaming her landlord, who drove off without commenting on why the home had not been fumigated.

Bradica told CBS 2 HD she is covered with welts and red bumps and wonders if her home will ever be livable again.

Bird mites usually infest bedrooms and bathrooms, but can quickly spread to the entire house.

© MMVIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

June 15th, 2008, 08:32 AM
SEE EARLIER PICTURES HERE (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=229844&postcount=66)

Financial District

Falcon Cam

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/06/15/nyregion/thecity/falcon01600.jpg Robert Wilenkerm
The young birds live on a balcony of 55 Water Street, and their flights can be tracked on the TV screen in the lobby.

Published: June 15, 2008

TELEVISION monitors rarely make New Yorkers pause, but in the marbled lobby of 55 Water Street, an insurance company worker named Katherine Stronk was transfixed recently by the image on the screen of four peregrine falcons in their nest on the building’s 14th floor.

Robert Caplin for The New York Times
David Yokel and Barbara Saunders are among those who pay attention.

“I check in on them every day,” Ms. Stronk said, barely taking her eyes off the monitor, which sits between a cafe and a magazine stand. “They were like cotton balls when they were born.”

But by this point, in late May, the birds were nearly full size. As two of the chicks stretched their wings and flapped them a few times, Ms. Stronk said, “You know they’re thinking about it.”

“It” was flying, and the prospect of the birds attempting their inaugural flights has held her and other workers in this 54-story corporate office building in thrall to the lobby TV.

Some 17 breeding pairs of peregrine falcons live in the city, their nests perched on skyscrapers and bridges. In a long-term joint effort, city and state biologists are identifying, monitoring and studying the falcons, which nearly faced extinction in the 1960s from the pesticide DDT. But Ms. Stronk and other falcon aficionados have a nonscientist to thank for the Webcam in the lobby. His name is Frank Magnani, and he is the building manager of 55 Water Street.

The story of the Water Street falcons began on a sunny day in 1997, when Barbara Saunders, an information technology analyst, stepped out of her nearby office to eat lunch on a promenade that overlooks the East River. “I saw something dive,” she said, “and I thought: ‘Oh, my God! What was that? That ain’t no seagull.’ ”

Ms. Saunders saw the bird fly to 55 Water Street and reported the sighting to Mr. Magnani. He in turn notified a city biologist, who helped him install a nest box to support the peregrines’ breeding efforts.

Two years later, Mr. Magnani installed the first camera, which projected a small black-and-white image into the lobby. “We got so much interest from the public,” he said, “you’d have a couple hundred people standing down there.”

Much has changed at 55 Water Street since the early years. Among other things, the original breeding pair, Jack and JJaie, have left, and their nest was adopted by a new pair of birds, named Jasper and Jubilee. But the rhythms of nature have stayed the same, which means spring is still the breeding season, and its climax is the chicks’ effort to fly from the nest, high above the F.D.R. Drive and the East River.

Many years, on that inaugural journey, some fledglings from 55 Water Street are unable to mimic their parents’ effortless loops around the sky and through the canyons of the Financial District. Fighting gusty winds and learning how their wings work, some end up hit by cars or in the choppy water of the river. More than half of the birds won’t make it through their first year.

In late May, the four chicks at 55 Water Street became more active and started to explore the far reaches of their nest. On that day in the lobby, Ms. Stronk saw three of the young birds standing on the balcony’s edge while the fourth bent over the remains of a pigeon, ripping off pieces of flesh with its beak.

On the last day of May, a quiet Saturday when the office building was nearly empty, the first fledgling flew. And fell. Bill DeMauro, the security supervisor on duty, learned that the bird had landed in the middle of a film set on South Street. Carefully, he scooped up the frightened but uninjured fledgling and returned it to the nest.

The birds’ fortunes are endlessly fascinating to those who live and work in the neighborhood.

“Everyone asks about the birds — we call them the 55 Water Street mascots,” said Orlando Burgos, whose station is the front desk. “There’s something good going on here. But it’s heartbreaking, too. Every year, we watch them grow up, and then half of them end up on the road. You just want to put a big net up over the F.D.R. to catch them.”

Two days later, just after sunrise, another bird was found on South Street, facing off a fire truck emerging from the station. The firefighters managed to get the creature into a milk crate, and it too was returned to the nest.

Ms. Saunders, the technology analyst who first saw the nest back in 1997, was staked out on the promenade the first week of June, and on Wednesday, June 4, she witnessed the first chick’s successful flight. The next day, two more followed.

THAT left just one bird in the nest; it was the runt of the brood, but it was growing stronger each day. Ms. Saunders was checking the monitor on Friday morning when she and other passers-by saw the chick hop-fly across the nest.

“I’m so happy she’s flapping!” said one of the watchers.

The next day, that falcon, too, flew. That achievement meant it was a banner year for the birds, with all four chicks successfully entering the life of an urban falcon.

Many more dangers await them, of course, but at 55 Water Street, it was smiles all around.

“I love birds,” Ms. Stronk said. “I have two cockatiels, and I love the falcons. I know they would have my cockatiels for lunch, so there’s a little dissonance. But it’s still so great to have nature like this here in New York City.”


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

June 27th, 2008, 05:06 PM
Midtown taxi driver tells News he hit brakes and scooped up lucky ducks

Thursday, June 26th 2008, 11:19 PM

http://www.nydailynews.com/img/2008/06/27/amd_castillo.jpg Savulich/News
Taxi driver Sergio Castillo rescued a mother duck and her ducklings that were trying to cross Park Avenue.

Cabbie Sergio Castillo didn't duck from his duty when he saw a mother duck and her chicks waddle into his cab's path on Park Ave. last Friday.

"They were walking in the middle of the street," Castillo (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Cabbie+Sergio+Castillo) said, "like a tourist!"

Castillo, 68, said he slammed on his brakes and the chicks, who had wandered out of Central Park (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Central+Park), marched beneath his cab.

So he scooped them up.

"I used my hat to catch the babies," the cabbie from Jamaica, Queens (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Jamaica+(New+York)), told the Daily News Thursday. "All of them jumped inside my hat. They just needed protection, that's why they jumped in."

As the mother made it safely across Park Ave., he said she looked back to see her babies in the middle of oncoming traffic.

"When she saw me take the babies, she jumped up, crying, quack, quack, quack!" Castillo, who has driven a cab for 22 years, said. Because he had a passenger, he reluctantly gave the ducks to bystanders, who promised to look after them.

Urban Park Ranger Sunny Corrado (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Sunny+Corrado) returned the ducks to the park.

Taxi and Limousine Commissioner Matthew Daus (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Matthew+Daus) Friday will give Castillo a plaque for rescuing the web-footed wanderers.

"Mr. Castillo's extraordinary demonstration of humanity and compassion mark him as an exceptional individual, and exactly the kind of person we want behind the wheel of a New York City (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/New+York+City) taxicab," Commissioner Daus said.

Captain Henry the Duck, the mascot of NYC Ducks, a fleet of half-boat, half-bus vehicles that give land-and-river tours of the city, will present Castillo with free passes.

"I never was expecting this," said Castillo, who grew up in the Dominican Republic (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Dominican+Republic) but has been a New Yorker for more than 40 years. "I feel very happy."

Just days before rescuing the ducks, Castillo said he'd given a puppy to his 8-year-old granddaughter who he was visiting in Florida (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Florida).

The dog, appropriately enough, is named Chicky.


© Copyright 2008 NYDailyNews.com.

June 27th, 2008, 10:55 PM
".....Cabbie Sergio Castillo didn't duck from his duty....when he saw a mother duck and her chicks waddle into his cab's path..."

Nice story -- and as a former hack I take my baseball cap off to Mr. Castillo -- but someone should point out to NEWS reporter Barry Paddock that, besides using an outrageous pun, baby ducks are ducklings, not chicks. :cool:

June 28th, 2008, 04:43 AM
You're right.

The story was good enough without stretching it by a couple of lines just to mention Florida and the dog.

June 28th, 2008, 01:33 PM
Cicadas all also making a comeback after 17 years


December 11th, 2008, 01:35 PM
December 11, 2008, 12:57 pm

A Hawk and Its Prey Visit Harlem

By Anemona Hartocollis (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/author/anemona-hartocollis/)

A hawk, with its prey, very likely a pigeon, in the backyard of a Harlem brownstone where New York Times reporters live. (Photos: Josh Barbanel/New York Times)

“Is that a hawk (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/science/topics/birds/hawks/index.html)?” my husband called from the kitchen of our Harlem brownstone the other morning, as I ran to the third-floor window to see.

From my study window, I was about even with a magnificent white and caramel-feathered bird wearing fuzzy pantaloons and perched on a high branch of our towering 100-year-old tulip tree, leafless in the winter. The presumed hawk was ripping beak-fulls of red meat out of what appeared to be a pigeon swooning across the branch, belly up, its little claws sticking straight out like a corpse in the morgue.

Hawks have occasionally drawn headlines for their escapades in New York City.

Animal visits occasionally make headlines in New York City (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/29/nyregion/29animals.html). A few years ago, a clucking chicken appeared (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C04E1DE1E3DF932A15750C0A9679C8B 63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all) in the Queens backyard of a colleague, William Grimes (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/g/william_grimes/index.html?inline=nyt-per). More recently, chickens have appeared on 125th Street. (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/09/15/free-range-chickens-on-125th-street/)

But this was not a chicken, it was a hawk.

We live in Hamilton Heights (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E04E5D61E3DF930A25754C0A9659C8B 63&fta=y), the West 140s, not too far from Central Park in one direction and the Hudson River and New Jersey in the other, but hardly Hawk Central. Sometimes we get police helicopters buzzing overhead, often I hear a distinctive cheeping and run to the window to see blue jays and cardinals, other times the air vibrates with a popular Dominican ballad. We have squirrels, of course, and a diminishing number of predatory feral cats, sadly because they kept the block rat-free. Of course, the feral cats are declining at Kennedy Airport, too, but more intentionally (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/06/03/airport-cat-roundups-resume-as-do-protests/).

But this week, here was a hawk — filling an ecological niche left by the cats, maybe? — among the small cliffs of red-brick brownstone rear walls, chimneys and urban vegetation, not an ordinary accompaniment to our morning coffee. Hawks have their following in New York, (http://urbanhawks.blogs.com/) most recently drawing an audience at Riverside Park (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/28/riverside-park-nest-draws-hawk-watchers/).

Glenn Phillips (http://www.nycaudubon.org/aboutus/staff/), executive director of New York City Audubon (http://www.nycaudubon.org/home/), said that red-tailed hawks are on the upswing in the city, partly because they adapt well to the savanna conditions and because people don’t kill them so much anymore.

Mr. Phillips said:

It wasn’t that long ago that there were bounties on hawks and people killed them just because they were afraid of them. They didn’t like them. They thought they were going to eat their chickens — not that a red-tail hawk wouldn’t eat a chicken.
He added that he had heard such complaints from the Prospect Park Zoo (http://www.prospectparkzoo.com/).

Bird watchers have tracked up to eight pairs nesting in the city, Mr. Phillips said. There was a nest on Shepard Hall at City College, just a few blocks from my house, but this year, Bruce Yolton, a hawk watcher, reported no sign of nesting there (http://urbanhawks.blogs.com/urban_hawks/2008/06/index.html). So my hawk might be the City College hawk, or maybe not.

Pigeons are a favorite food, Mr. Phillips said, though they carry a disease, frounce (http://www.themodernapprentice.com/frounce.htm), that has killed several chicks. Squirrels and rats are good too, and Audbon is planning a spring project to teach building owners to use rat poisons that are safe for birds. A hawk once picked up a small dog in Bryant Park, he said, but generally speaking, pets are not in danger, since dogs and cats are also predators.

As I watched, the hawk remained calm, alternately ripping, swallowing, then showing me its profile, fixing me with its sharp eye. If it could spot a rat or a pigeon from the sky, I was pretty sure it could see me behind the glass. But it didn’t mind. My husband thought the sacrificial pigeon was being eaten alive. I think that was just a breeze ruffing its pigeon feathers. (Among the other sad endings that pigeons face: pigeon-napping (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/08/07/a-bizarre-pigeon-abduction-in-chinatown/).)

I was flattered that the hawk liked our tree, awed by its savagery.

After maybe 10 minutes, it opened its surprisingly large wings and flew away in the direction of the Hudson River, gripping what was left of the pigeon in its talons. A gift for its mate?

I’m waiting for the hawk to come back, but after five days, it hasn’t returned. (The chicken disappeared from Mr. Grimes’s backyard, too. (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A02E2DB1F3FF937A35757C0A9679C8B 63))

Where did it come from? Where did it go?

Pale Male (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/science/topics/birds/hawks/pale_male/index.html), if that was you, forget that snooty co-op on Fifth Avenue (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/11/nyregion/11hawk.html?n=Top/Reference/Times%20Topics/People/M/Moore,%20Mary%20Tyler&pagewanted=all&position=). You and Lola could find happiness in Harlem.


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

December 11th, 2008, 03:29 PM
Last week, just as it was getting dark, I was walking in Central Park and took a shortcut over a hilltop between the Ice Rink and Hecksher Playground. As I rounded a big rock outcropping I saw something out of the corner of my eye, dropping very close from above and followed by a really loud "SPLAT". Looking down I thought, "That's the biggest mess of pigeon sh!t I've ever seen." Looking up I saw that it wasn't a pigeon at all, but rather what seemed to be a teen-aged hawk sitting in the tree above me. Apparently he wasn't too crazy about having his picture taken -- he flew off before I could get a good shot ...


December 11th, 2008, 04:29 PM
Pale Male ???

December 11th, 2008, 06:00 PM
Google it! :)

December 12th, 2008, 03:38 AM
The question was meant to be.

Is the bird that lofter snapped, Pale Male?

But thanks anyway.

December 12th, 2008, 05:44 AM
Pale Male is much older.

December 12th, 2008, 08:50 PM
But maybe one of his offspring (http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_name_for_hawk_offspring) :confused:

December 13th, 2008, 12:49 AM
Chick, fledgling, or if used in Falconry, a young hawk is called an eyas.

December 13th, 2008, 12:56 AM
As opposed to a hatchling?

December 13th, 2008, 01:00 AM
That'll work as well ;)

December 13th, 2008, 01:09 PM
The one I saw is too old to be either a chick or hatchling.

I like eyas.

December 13th, 2008, 01:22 PM
Marie Winn, the author of “Red-Tails in Love: Pale Male (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/science/topics/birds/hawks/pale_male/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier)’s Story,” now turns her attention to “Central Park in the Dark: More Mysteries of Urban Wildlife” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25). Her latest book is more engaging narrative than field guide, accompanied by sparse illustrations, but it is filled with keen insights and appealing anecdotes about bugs, birds and other critters that you generally wouldn’t mind meeting in the park after dark.

From the New York Times.

December 13th, 2008, 07:41 PM
I like eyas.

I thought that eyas wrang a bell (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=43082&postcount=29).

February 17th, 2009, 12:43 AM
Pet Chimp Is Shot to Death After Mauling Woman

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/17/nyregion/17chimp.html?_r=1&hp)
February 17, 2009

A 200-pound pet chimpanzee in Stamford, Conn., Monday viciously mauled a woman he had known for years, leaving her critically injured with much of her face torn away, the authorities said. The animal was shot dead by the police after he assaulted an officer in his car.

The woman, Charla Nash, 55, a friend of the chimpanzee’s owner, was being treated at Stamford Hospital and might not survive, the authorities said.

“I’ve been doing this a long time and have never seen anything this dramatic on a living patient,” said the head of the paramedic crew that treated her, Capt. Bill Ackley of Stamford Emergency Medical Service.

The attack, in the driveway of a sprawling home in a densely wooded neighborhood on the north side of Stamford, also brought a brutal end to the life of the chimpanzee, Travis, 14, a popular figure in town who had appeared in television commercials and often posed for photographs at the towing shop operated by his owners. He had escaped before, and in 2003 playfully held up traffic at a busy intersection for several hours, but had no history of violence, the authorities said. Travis’s social skills included drinking wine from a stemmed glass, dressing and bathing himself and using a computer.

Travis’s owner, Sandra Herold, 70, had raised him almost as one of her own children, but found herself lunging at him with a butcher knife on Monday to protect Ms. Nash, said Capt. Richard Conklin of the Stamford Police, who gave the following account.

Ms. Herold told detectives that Travis was in a rambunctious mood Monday afternoon. He took her keys from the kitchen table, unlocked a door and let himself out into the yard at 241 Rock Rimmon Road.

“He’s going to different cars and tapping on them, trying the doors, a clear indication he wanted to go for a ride,” Captain Conklin said.

Travis would not be lured back into the house, even after Ms. Herold gave him tea laced with Xanax. Ms. Herold called Ms. Nash, who drove over, but when she stepped out of her car at around 3:40 p.m., Travis went at her full force. While it was not clear what prompted the assault, Ms. Nash had markedly changed her hairstyle since the last time Travis had seen her, possibly leading him to mistake her for an intruder.

Ms. Herold tried to pull Travis off her friend, but, Captain Conklin noted, “Sandra is 70 years old, and a 200-pound chimpanzee is much, much stronger than a 200-pound human being.”

Ms. Herold called 911, grabbed a knife and stabbed Travis several times, to little avail. When emergency service vehicles pulled up, Travis fled, leaving Ms. Nash face down in the driveway.

One team of officers combed the woods for Travis, while another formed a protective cordon around the paramedics ministering to Ms. Nash, who Captain Ackley said also suffered multiple broken bones.

After a while, Captain Conklin said, Travis returned and “went after the officers.” He knocked a mirror off the passenger’s side of a police cruiser with one swing of his arm, then ran around to the driver’s side, opened the door and attacked the officer in the driver’s seat.

“He’s trapped in his car,” Captain Conklin said. “He has nowhere to go. So he pulls his sidearm and shoots the chimp several times in close proximity.”

The officer, whose name was not released, was treated for trauma. Ms. Herold was not seriously injured, but was hospitalized.

Travis disappeared into the woods. Eventually officers picked up a blood trail, which they followed back to the house. There they found Travis in his living quarters, a caged-in area with a bed and other furnishings of comfortable captivity. He was dead.

Captain Conklin said that charges against Ms. Herold were unlikely.

“We’ll certainly speak to the experts and the prosecutors,” he said, “but we truly hope that there are no charges. It’s a modern-day tragedy.”

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

February 20th, 2009, 09:56 PM
Zelda’s still hot to trot


Battery Park’s beloved turkey, Zelda.

Zelda, Battery Park’s turkey, was foraging near Battery Gardens restaurant last Friday, the day before Valentine’s Day and a safe nine months from Thanksgiving.

Pat Kirshner, the Battery Conservancy’s director of operations and planning, said Zelda has been a park regular since 2003 and only leaves to search for a mate.

“There’s one in Riverside Park, there’s some in Staten Island and the Bronx,” Kirshner said of the city’s turkey population.

Like most turkeys, Zelda can fly over rivers to other boroughs and last made the pages of Downtown Express when she was spotted on a jaunt to Washington Market Park and Houston St. in June 2007.

She went mostly unnoticed last Friday, but she won’t be in need of a presidential pardon this or any November since she has become a beloved figure in the park. Kirshner said Zelda has an impromptu fans’ club and lunchtime visitors often seek out the bird.

Park rangers have advised the conservancy to let Zelda be and that she’ll stay as long as things are going well.

A Wisconsin tourist who has wild turkeys told Kirshner that they typically live to be about 8, which may mean Zelda is nearing the end of her golden years in the park. Kirshner has noticed age creeping up on Zelda.

“She’s a little less shiny, a little less fluffy,” said Kirshner.

But that doesn’t mean she won’t have time to find at least one more special fellow before it’s time.

— Josh Rogers


April 9th, 2009, 06:16 PM


Last updated: 4:07 pm
April 9, 2009
Posted: 11:47 am
April 9, 2009

Thar she blows!

The whale's fin can be seen in the harbor near the Verrazano Bridge.

A 20-foot whale powered its way into New York Harbor this morning, passing close to the Verrazano Bridge and triggering a massive monitoring effort by cops, the Coast Guard and marine experts.
The huge mammal is thought to be the same as one that nearly beached itself in the Rockaways yesterday.

Though today's animal hadn't been identified by this morning, experts said the Rockaways whale was thought to be a humpback.

"Whatever it is, it's definitely one of the bigger species," said Terry Frady, spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration which was mobilizing a team of experts from Long Island to travel to the scene.

"At this time of year, we see several large whale species around Long Island and close to New York Harbor, but going up a river is extremely unusual."

She said the experts would be looking for obvious signs of illness or injury.

If there is no sickness, she said the animal is probably feeding in a shipping canal and would likely find its own way back out to sea.
A safety zone has been set up around the animal to protect it from boats.

Get More Details From FOX5 (http://www.myfoxny.com/dpp/news/local_news/nyc/090409_whale_spotted_in_hudson_river)


Copyright 2009 NYP Holdings, Inc

April 10th, 2009, 12:56 AM
It's really Kirstie Alley.

May 26th, 2009, 05:27 PM
At the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

Tree Swallow (Martin) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_swallow)

http://img155.imageshack.us/img155/4753/treeswallow01.th.jpg (http://img155.imageshack.us/my.php?image=treeswallow01.jpg) http://img155.imageshack.us/img155/5904/treeswallow02.th.jpg (http://img155.imageshack.us/my.php?image=treeswallow02.jpg)

At the Osprey nest out on the mud flats, a family (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osprey) moves in.

http://img155.imageshack.us/img155/6049/osprey01.th.jpg (http://img155.imageshack.us/my.php?image=osprey01.jpg)

May 26th, 2009, 07:50 PM
I wonder if they're stabilized? :p

May 26th, 2009, 11:29 PM
Well, it's government built housing.

May 28th, 2009, 08:17 PM
From the NYT Cityroom:
May 28, 2009, 1:30 pm They’re Bridge Chicks, and 5 Join the Falcon Flock

By Sewell Chan (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/author/sewell-chan/) http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2009/05/28/nyregion/throgsneck-190.jpgPhotos: M.T.A. Bridges and Tunnels A male chick was born atop the Throgs Neck Bridge four weeks ago.
Five peregrine falcon chicks have been hatched in recent weeks in nests atop the towers of the Verrazano-Narrows, Throgs Neck and Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridges, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced on Thursday.
The Verrazano-Narrows falcons were two females and a male, while the Throgs Neck and Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges each had a male. The Throgs Neck chick hatched four weeks ago, and the other four hatched three weeks ago.
This week, a state volunteer wildlife expert placed metal bands around the chicks’ feet, with numbers to identify and track the birds as they grow and reproduce. Peregrine falcons (http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/peregrine_falcon/id) are still on the state endangered species list, although they are no longer on the federal list.
Urban falcons typically nest atop bridges, church steeples and high-rise buildings, because the high locations enable them to hunt prey, including pigeons and small birds. In 2008, the State Department of Environmental Conservation documented 67 pairs of peregrine falcons living in New York City.
M.T.A. Bridges and Tunnels has taken steps to accommodate the birds. At the Throgs Neck, the peregrine nesting box was moved from the 360-foot Queens tower to the Bronx tower during a 2007 painting project. “We have a good relationship with the falcons because we’re like absentee landlords,” said Ray Higgins, the maintenance superintendent at the bridge, said in a statement. “We set them up with a nice place to live and then try not to bother them.”
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2009/05/28/nyregion/verrazzano-190.jpgThree chicks — two female and a male — were born at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
William McCann, a maintenance superintendent whom M.T.A. Bridges and Tunnels called “the keeper of the nest at the Verrazano,” said in a statement, “The falcons have been on this bridge longer than I have, and I’ve been here 28 years.”
Mr. McCann’s main role, when it comes to the birds, is simply to keep bridge maintenance activities and make sure the birds are left alone.
The falcons’ original box nest was underneath the lower-level roadway until 2000, when a painting project began and containment shrouds were put up. Workers responded by installing two boxes — one atop the Brooklyn tower, the other atop the Brooklyn pedestal. The falcons chose the former, and have returned each mating season.
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2009/05/28/nyregion/marineparkway-190.jpgA male chick was born at the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge.
At the Marine Parkway bridge, the nesting box is located 215-feet above the water, on the Rockaway side of the bridge, inside a World War II-era gun turret.
“Next year they’ll get an upgrade because the wood inside the original box is badly split and it is dangerous for the chicks,” said Carlton Cyrus, the maintenance superintendent for the span.
The birds grow quickly. They are expected to start flying from atop the bridge towers in the next two weeks, “and by July will leave for unknown destinations,” the authority said.

January 17th, 2010, 11:54 AM
phillipobrien2006 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/yojimbot/4280118061/)

Lots of pictures of birds in Harlem in the set.

The elusive drunkass
phillipobrien2006 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/yojimbot/4177795130/)

January 17th, 2010, 12:18 PM
Dude also has stubby fingers.

January 17th, 2010, 01:11 PM
Genus: Tosspot
Habitat: Surburbia

Frequently seen late Friday nights at the migration route, in and around Penn Station.

January 17th, 2010, 01:16 PM
Dude also has stubby fingers.

Perhaps he was caught in a trap at some point.

January 21st, 2010, 03:36 AM
Residents of Throggs Neck Houses fear possums, skunks, but city officials say little can be done

BY Kerry Burke

Many residents of Throggs Neck Houses say these little black and white creatures (above) have taken over yards late at night.

Residents of a Bronx housing project say they are living under siege. They're terrified to leave their homes after dark, and even their dogs aren't safe.

The culprit: skunks.

"If it was just rats and roaches, I could take care of it myself," said Maxine Breeden, 44, a mental health therapist who has lived in the Throggs Neck Houses all her life.

"But these are wild animals. Lots of 'em."

After dark, the renegade scavengers tear through the trash and rule the project's grassy courtyards.

The town-and-country collision has turned into a turf war between dog walkers and white-striped swarms, tenants say.

"Coco was peeing when the skunk peeped his head out of the bush," said Breeden's son, Tyreek Harris, 14, an eighth-grader at Intermediate School 192 who takes his 2-year-old poodle on nightly strolls.

"Next thing I know, Coco was running to me, and I was running from Coco," he said. "The smell was like a punch in the face."

Residents swap antidotes to the toxic terror. Vinegar, tomato juice and industrial-grade disinfectants top the list of remedies.

"In a pinch, I rubbed the dog down with Prego spaghetti sauce," Breeden said with a chuckle. "It was all I had, but it worked."

Skunks aren't the only things that make locals wary of walking after dusk.

"The possums hang from the trees," said Maria Herrera, 27, a stay-at-home mom, recalling her close encounter with a long-tailed pink-nosed marsupial.

"He played dead till my bull terrier, Chico, finished sniffing him - just like in the cartoons."

The invasion began three years ago, when golf course construction at nearby Ferry Point Park kicked into high gear.

The disruption of their natural habitat forced the furry offenders to find safer, if more concrete, pastures, residents and authorities said.

"At first, you couldn't see them, but you could smell them even with the windows closed," said Ivan O'Conner, 71, a retired Army ranger who has lived in the area for more than 30 years.

"Then they were everywhere."

While the humans are anxious to drive the varmints out, wildlife authorities note they're native New Yorkers.

"The Bronx has always had its share of skunks, possums and other wildlife," said Bobby Horvath, a state wildlife rehabilitator and nuisance control agent.

"With all the development, we are encroaching on them."

Tenants complain their calls to 311 and 911 have fallen on deaf ears - and city officials agree there's little they can do.

"The only way we can respond is if the animal is sick, trapped or aggressive," said Richard Gentles of New York City Animal Care & Control, who noted the skunks are hungry but harmless.

"For the most part, they're even more scared of you," he said.

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/bronx/2010/01/20/2010-01-20_add_skunks_to_list_of_bronx_pests__smell_was_li ke_a_punch_in_the_face.html

January 22nd, 2010, 09:35 AM
They're terrified to leave their homes after dark,
"If it was just rats and roaches, I could take care of it myself,"Hands down, I'd rather have skunks and possums than rats and roaches.

January 22nd, 2010, 11:31 AM
A skunk would be my worst nightmare, followed by raccoon.

January 22nd, 2010, 11:37 AM
"If it was just rats and roaches, I could take care of it myself," said Maxine Breeden, 44, a mental health therapist who has lived in the Throggs Neck Houses all her life.

"But these are wild animals. Lots of 'em."It's true. You can just not renew the lease of "domesticated" roaches, and they'll leave.

And rats and roaches are known to be solitary creatures.

February 5th, 2010, 05:46 AM
Coyote on Ice



Veryl Witmer, an amateur photographer who lives on the Upper West Side, was walking past the pond in Central Park on Tuesday afternoon when he noticed something unusual: a coyote. “The animal came out of the Hallett Nature Sanctuary (http://www.centralpark.com/pages/attractions/hallett-nature-sanctuary.html) and walked across the frozen pond several times,” Mr. Witmer writes. “It seemed timid and skittish and kept retreating back to the sanctuary — avoiding humans? It kept a watchful eye on me.” The coyote did, however, find a moment to pose for a more formal portrait.



February 5th, 2010, 01:36 PM
I've seen Racoons on Third Avenue.

A skunk would be my worst nightmare, followed by raccoon.

February 8th, 2010, 11:50 AM
February 8, 2010, 10:30 am

They’re Closing In

By THE NEW YORK TIMES (http://wirednewyork.com/author/the-new-york-times/)


In the wake of last week’s coyote sighting in Central Park (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/04/coyote-on-ice/), the following memo was sent out Sunday from the chief of public safety at Columbia University, James F. McShane (http://www.southampton.liu.edu/homeland/senior_fellows.html#14). Lewisohn Hall is at Broadway and West 116th Street.

“While on patrol this morning Post 15 P.S.O. Patterson noticed three animals in front of Lewisohn Hall (http://www.columbia.edu/about_columbia/tour/21.html). Sgt. Galan responded and spotted one animal and identified it as a coyote. Sgt. Gillis contacted 911 and N.Y.P.D. responded. N.Y.P.D. spotted one of the animals and confirmed it was a coyote. The one coyote that was seen by N.Y.P.D. and Sgt. Galan went behind the C.E.P.S.R. build and it is believed exited the campus.
“An additional sighting by facilities was called in to base at approximately 1000 hours this morning. … Patrol units were advised if they see any possible coyotes while on patrol to notify the base and maintain a visual but not to approach the animal.”


Copyright 2010 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

February 9th, 2010, 06:51 AM
Wild chickens rule the roost (and the street) in Highbridge section of the Bronx

Michael Daly


Just some of the 'wildlife' in the Highbridge section of the Bronx: A kitten perches on a wheel
as a rooster - part of a pack of some 36 local fowl - strolls by.


It's a battle for top bird on Edward L. Grant Highway in the Bronx.

If you need a good laugh or just want a happy surprise, visit the 1300 block of Edward L. Grant Highway in the Bronx and scatter some crumbs.
From up and down the Highbridge street, as many as three dozen wild chickens will come clucking.

"They're all over the place," observed Tommy Surdak of Fort Washington Auto Body Shop.

"Did you ever think, in the Bronx?" asked Surdak's wife, Judy.

"Walking up the street like they belong there," said their colleague Danny Quinn.

When not lured by crumbs, some of the chickens roost at the Sanitation Department facility next to the shop. Others prefer a commercial parking lot on the other side, where the more senior birds were once kept in a coop.

The man who ran the lot departed two years ago, leaving the chickens to fend for themselves. They were still better off than the birds at a Wendy's three blocks away, featured by a sign reading, "Spicy Chicken Nuggets."

Some are as dirty as junkyard dogs. All are remarkably trusting for creatures that live outside in even the coldest weather, scrounging to eat.

"They're very friendly," observed Judy Surdak.

One rooster had fine plumage, but Quinn assured me it was no match for one that had gone missing. "The other one is beautiful," Quinn said. "Copper and green."

Another of the roosters crowed. A whole chorus of them welcomes every sunrise here as if this were Kansas.

"They're all crowing," Tommy Surdak said. "And that's a lot."

Quinn looked at the apartments across the street.

"I don't know how those people over there sleep," he said.

Quinn and the Surdaks find chickens waiting at the body shop's front door in the morning.

"They want us to greet them," Judy Surdak said.

At night and during big snows, the chickens seek refuge in a tree across the street.

"They don't bother with the squirrels, and the squirrels don't bother with them," Tommy Surdak said.

Quinn said one hen had hatched a dozen chicks near the body shop entrance. I noted several chickens that were nearly full- grown but still fuzzily lacking in adult plumage.

"My grandkids come down from Vermont, they love it," Judy Surdak said. "I said, 'What do you think, it's only Vermont?'"

Another child who delighted in the chickens was 4-year-old Jack Nuciforo, who fed them chocolate chip cookies.

"They're not afraid of anybody," his father, James Nuciforo, said. "Next thing you know, there'll be squeegee chickens."

The father sent a cell phone picture to his wife's phone.

"What do you have him feeding a pack of dogs for?" the wife asked.

"Pack of dogs?" the father replied. "That's a pack of chickens!"

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/bronx/2010/02/09/2010-02-09_wild_chickens_rule_the_roost_and_the_street_in_ bronx_neighborhood_its_for_da_boi.html#ixzz0f2S4ur eT

February 10th, 2010, 12:34 AM
I've seen a decent amount of chickens in Bedstuy.

February 10th, 2010, 07:29 AM
A day late but,

Happy Alligators In The Sewer Day!


Did you know that today marks the 75th anniversary of the birth of one of New York's greatest urban legends? Yep, the discovery of alligators in the NYC sewer system! Back in November (http://gothamist.com/2009/11/23/urban_legend_uncovered_sewer_alliga.php) we took a look back at the city's history with alligators, dating back to at least 1935 when the New York Times reported on an 8-footer in East Harlem!

This morning a press conference was even held on the steps of City Hall to mark the event—sadly we got word of this at the last minute else we would have definitely been there! Anyway, we hear that at this shindig,

Manhattan Borough President Stringer declared it "Alligators in the Sewers Day." Really! So get out there celebrate.

By Jen Carlson (http://wirednewyork.com/profile/arts_jen) in Arts and Events (http://wirednewyork.com/arts_and_events) on February 9, 2010 5:04 PM

The Legend of the Sewer Gator


In 1935, the NY Times published an article (http://www.sewergator.com/news/nyt19350210.htm) titled, “Alligator Found in Uptown Sewer,” tracing the actions of 16-year-old Salvatore Condoluci and his comrades, who trapped and killed an 8-foot-long alligator found under 123rd Street. Today, at 92, Condoluci still remembers some of the tale, and the Times (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/23/the-book-behind-the-sewer-alligator-legend/) looks back at the urban legend (http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/alligators/a/sewer_gators.htm).

Along with the printed article, former superintendent of city sewers, Teddy May, also had a part in giving the legend legs. He once investigated reports of sightings, relaying his story to writer Robert Daley, who in 1959 published the account in his book, The World Beneath the City. It goes like this:
Alligators serenely paddling around in his sewers. The beam of his own flashlight had spotlighted alligators whose length, on the average, was about two feet. Some may have been longer. Avoiding the swift current of the trunk lines under major avenues, the beasts had wormed up the smaller pipes under less important neighborhoods, and there Teddy had found them. The colony appeared to have settled contentedly under the very streets of the busiest city in the world.No one seems to be certain if the story is fact or fiction, but the belief (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sewer_alligator) is that many vacationing families were bringing back baby alligators as pets from Florida at the time, later discarding them. Adding more documentation to the legend, Times columnist Meyer Berger once wrote that in the mid-1930s, "sewer alligators seemed to thrive below the pavement in rather frightening numbers. They were destroyed systematically and the threat of an alligator invasion died away.”

Other things living in sewers (http://www.sewerhistory.org/grfx/misc/critters.htm): bees, rats, "unknown lifeforms," snakes, and Ninja Turtles (http://gothamist.com/2009/04/23/ninja_power_lights_up_the_empire_st.php).

By Jen Carlson (http://wirednewyork.com/profile/arts_jen) in Arts and Events (http://wirednewyork.com/arts_and_events) on November 23, 2009 1:40 PM


February 16th, 2010, 05:40 AM

Jackie Robinson Park, Harlem (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/jackierobinsonpark)

February 23rd, 2010, 02:44 PM
From the NYPost:
Eagles land - in Harlem (http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/eagles_land_in_harlem_AZfMJte5nHYC5FoURnKgzK)

Posted: 2:59 AM, February 23, 2010
Yes, those are bald eagles -- the national symbols of the United States -- frolicking in the ice off Harlem.
Birdwatcher James O'Brien, who has been looking for eagles off the Harlem piers for the past three years, snapped these rare shots at 145th Street and River Bank State Park.
"Usually, eagles don't come this far south," said O'Brien, 36. If they do, they're tough to photograph because "they don't like to be observed, and if they spot you, they'll fly off."
O'Brien said eagles often fly over the city -- possibly looking for food on Long Island -- but they travel at heights of up to 500 feet, so only pilots see them.

March 2nd, 2010, 01:54 PM
... eagles often fly over the city -- possibly looking for food on Long Island -- but they travel at heights of up to 500 feet, so only pilots see them.

At that height, wouldn't some office workers and even apartment dwellers see them?

March 4th, 2010, 10:40 AM
This coyote at Hudson River Park / Pier 64 was too clever for the NYPD ...

Coyote In Chelsea: NYPD Fails To Capture Coyote On 12th Avenue

Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/03/coyote-in-chelsea-nypd-fa_n_483996.html)

Another day, another coyote spotting.

After sightings at Columbia and in Central Park, a coyote was captured on film running around 24th Street and 12th Avenue early this morning.

While from the footage it looks as though the NYPD had the animal cornered, the "wiley" coyote managed to give the cops the slip.

The coyote was last seen around 50th Street.

March 14th, 2010, 04:15 AM
The Skyline, Where Eagles Roam


video (http://video.nytimes.com/video/2010/03/12/multimedia/1247467340430/city-critic-eagles-in-inwood.html?ref=nyregion)

New York is getting wild again. The cabaret laws are still strict, and the smoking ban is still in place. But in the last few weeks there have been sightings throughout the boroughs of creatures more commonly seen on the Discovery Channel.

A coyote, already a familiar sight in Central Park (http://gothamist.com/2010/02/23/coyote_1.php), took in the late-night scene at 24th and 12th in Chelsea (http://gothamist.com/2010/03/03/coyote_on_the_run_in_chelsea.php). A seal sunbathed on the sand in Great Kills Park, on Staten Island (http://gothamist.com/2010/03/03/dog_encounter_seal_on_staten_island.php). Opossums staked their turf in Brooklyn (http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/brooklyn/wild_possums_loose_in_brooklyn_oFWe0K2x9ti8bIYJhnP 6nL). And a dolphin may have gone for a swim in Newtown Creek (http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/brooklyn/2010/03/04/2010-03-04_dolphin_up_a_polluted_city_creek.html).

No member of any species should go for a swim in Newtown Creek.

Most strikingly, perhaps, bald eagles — those powerful symbols of American strength and solitude — have been making forays into Manhattan, that isle of iniquity off America’s eastern shore.

They make their winter nests up the Hudson River, then commute in for the day, see the sights and grab some fish — which may explain why one of their first sightings was by the Fairway (http://yojimbot.blogspot.com/2010/02/harlem-eagle.html) on 125th Street.

A couple hundred years ago New York State was practically lousy with bald eagles, but by 1976 the population had dwindled to a single pair.

Conservationists began “hacking” them — importing eggs from Alaska, hatching them and releasing the birds into the wilderness. That had a big effect (http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/9381.html), as did the banning of DDT and the protection of endangered species. Today, as many as 250 bald eagles are believed to winter in the lower Hudson Valley.

Glenn Phillips, executive director of the Audubon Society (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/a/audubon_society/index.html?inline=nyt-org)’s New York City chapter, took me to Inwood Hill Park, one of their local hangouts, to show them off. A rocky outcropping in Manhattan’s northwest corner, it’s a lovely spot that seems to have changed little since the settlers came upon it. Follow one of the paths up the hill and you get a clear view of the mighty river.

Beautiful. But not an eagle in sight.

No matter, they’ve been spotted from down on the Hudson River Greenway too, so we headed there and whipped out the scope. That close to the water, you can see so many things that are invisible from up high. But not a bald eagle.

The weather was not helping: the warm temperatures that had New Yorkers prematurely busting out the flip-flops had also thawed the Hudson up north, so the birds had less incentive to make the commute. Having promised a sighting, Mr. Phillips decided to go for broke: into his Zipcar and up the Saw Mill River Parkway. Along the way he pointed out numerous red-tailed hawks — such rarities a few years ago that Pale Male and Lola made headlines (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/science/topics/birds/hawks/pale_male/index.html) — Canada geese, mallards, cardinals, mockingbirds, turkey vultures, lots of black-backed gulls and a golden-eye duck before rriving at Croton Point Park, a very reliable spot for a bald eagle sighting.

Except on that day. No eagles. Same deal at the top of the New Croton Reservoir.

I was tempted to call it a wild goose chase, but I didn’t think the Audubon Society would let me get away with the metaphor. So having just about abandoned hope, we made one last half-hearted stop at George’s Island Park in Montrose.

No big birds on the water. No big birds in the air. But toward the top of a tall tree, barely visible behind a branch, one very big bird indeed.

Triangulating among the telescope, a copy of “Birds of North America” and some old guy who was there for the same reason, however, we at last determined that it was a bald eagle, still too young to have a white head.

Juveniles are a letdown for serious birders, but cold and weary from a long day of searching, I had already concluded that I was not a serious birder. It was lovely to see such a majestic creature, whatever its age, so (relatively) close to the land of crosstown buses and take-out banh mi.

So far no bald eagles have made their winter nests within the city limits, but Mr. Phillips feels it’s just a matter of time. “They’re not wild about being in such close company with people,” he said, “but there are so many eagles in other parts of the world living next to people that I don’t see it as a problem.”

In choosing a home, eagles look for the same things as people, more or less: plentiful fish, a nice tree, subway access, good schools. “As the population continues to expand, you’re starting to see all the greatest of primary suitable habitats are occupied already,” said Pete Nye, leader of the endangered species unit for New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation. “They’re having to settle for secondary or tertiary habitats.”

Just like all those young New Yorkers who get priced out of Manhattan, so they move to Park Slope and get married. Then when their flock expands a bit, they head to the suburbs to feather a bigger nest. That’s not the only similarity. In Croton Point Park I met James Lin, an engineer who lives in Queens. He said that when he was growing up “in the bad old ’70s” he thought the bald eagles were as endangered as his city. Now, he goes out whenever he gets the chance.

“While not as common as pigeons, they appear often enough to get us hooked and returning to this spot for more,” Mr. Lin wrote me later. “In a way, the bald eagle nicely parallels the city’s return from their respective abysses.”

The season for bald eagle spotting may not last long. Whenever it gets cold again, whether now or next year, it’s worth heading to the river and scanning the banks for overburdened patriotic imagery. The journey is a good reminder that for all its over development, New York is still home to a surprising array of wildlife. And that the harder cities push against the natural environment — banishing it ever farther — the more the natural environment finds a way to push back.


May 24th, 2010, 09:05 PM
Here's Zelda again yesterday in Bowling Green, and she looks plump enough for dinner!9521

May 24th, 2010, 09:41 PM
Take her up to Union Square and toss her on that sizzling hot dome: Roast turkey! First come, first served.

May 25th, 2010, 12:01 AM
Squatters' rights?

A resourceful house sparrow feeds her chicks at
their home inside a crossing signal at an
Upper West Side intersection.

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/side_traffic_light_is_sparrows_home_UEPFwdm9RR4vDI oTGJkoqK#ixzz0ouVJgAVS

May 29th, 2010, 01:27 AM
Bird Watching in Central Park (http://wirednewyork.com/parks/central_park/bird_watching/)


June 6th, 2010, 11:56 PM
Adopted peregrine falcons
thriving in new home

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge mother now has brood of five

Peregrine falcon chicks born this spring atop the Throgs Neck Bridge. (Photo: MTA Bridges and Tunnels)

Two peregrine falcon chicks found in an unsuitable nesting place in Queens were relocated to the top of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge's Brooklyn tower where they were welcomed into the nest by a mother falcon already caring for three new chicks of her own.

"The mother took in the adopted chicks without question and has been feeding them and watching over them as if they were always part of her brood," said Verrazano-Narrows General Manager Daniel DeCrescenzo.

Chris Nadareski, a wildlife biologist with the city Department of Environmental Protection who coordinates the city peregrine falcon program in cooperation with the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), said the relocation was necessary because the chicks would have had trouble safely leaving the nest area while learning how to fly.

The two adopted chicks were moved on May 28, and a few days later, the two male and three female chicks were one big happy family.

This means that MTA Bridges and Tunnels, in addition to the Verrazano's two males and three female chicks, is home to a total of 11 new peregrine falcons this year. Four females hatched at Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge in Queens and two more - a boy and a girl - hatched atop the Bronx tower at the Throgs Neck Bridge.

All of the chicks hatched in late April and early May, and banding takes place several weeks later to allow the talons to grow to adult size. Each new chick receives an identification band so they can be tracked as they grow and reproduce.

The city's peregrine nesting program began in 1983 to help replenish the peregrine populations, which were nearly wiped out in the 1960s because of pesticides in their food sources. They remain on the New York State Department of Conservation's endangered birds list.

When the program began only two nests existed in the city: one at the Verrazano-Narrows and another at the Throgs Neck Bridge. Today, the State Department of Environmental Conservation says there are 73 pairs of peregrine falcons state-wide, including 15 pairs in New York City.

Urban falcons like to nest atop bridges, church steeples and high-rise buildings because they provide an excellent vantage point for hunting prey, including pigeons and small birds.

The Verrazano chicks have the most sweeping view of New York Bay from their perch 693 feet above the water at the Brooklyn tower. The Throgs Neck birds are 360 feet up on the Bronx tower, and the new falcons at the Marine Parkway Bridge have the most unusual nest; inside an old World War II gun turret 215 feet above the water on the Rockaway side of the bridge.

MTA Bridges and Tunnels' facilities, which connect the five boroughs of New York City, are the Robert F. Kennedy, Throgs Neck, Bronx-Whitestone, Henry Hudson, Verrazano-Narrows, Cross Bay Veterans Memorial and Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Bridges, and the Queens Midtown and Brooklyn-Battery Tunnels.


June 7th, 2010, 09:44 PM
C.H.U.D's in the sewers!


June 9th, 2010, 07:22 AM
Why Didn’t the Raccoon Cross the Road?



Walk anywhere in New York on a glorious day and you see parents dealing with peril, and potential peril. Kids topple over on sidewalks. Kids fall off bikes. Kids fall off skateboards. Kids fall off jungle gyms. Teeth are chipped. Arms are broken. Noses bleed. Street crossings are fraught with terror.

Such was the case in the dappled sunlight by the Harlem Meer on the roadway around Central Park on Tuesday morning around 9. Bicyclists rounding the curve at the northeast corner of the park bore witness to a typical urban family drama.

Cyclists, runners, a police officer in a scooter and a parks inspector had formed a wide protective circle around a toddler raccoon and its mother, who tried in various and increasingly exasperated ways to get her progeny off the asphalt and back into the leafy green interior of the park.

She tried leading it. She tried cajoling in raccoon language. She tried to grab it and drag it, an attempt that involved a tussle and some raccoon-yelling. She tried feigning indifference, walking off without looking back, hoping her child would become nervous and follow.

Finally, perhaps reassured that the humans at the scene would help make sure her babe came to no harm, she retreated to greenery, watchfully waiting. Her baby headed in the wrong direction, turned around, took a few more steps back toward its mother and stopped. By this point, it was pretty worn out. The road was already nice and toasty from the morning sun. It curled up to take a little rest.

The humans, meanwhile, speculated in three languages about the situation. Although the baby was mobile, it was not walking very steadily. Was it sick? Had it been hit by a cyclist? Had it fallen out of a tree?

The parks department people called the Central Park Conservancy people, who showed up in a little green pickup truck with an animal carrier and some gloves. The little one needed medical attention, they said, but, suddenly docile, it walked of its own accord into the cage.

By 9:25, the bystanders had all moved on. The baby raccoon was on its way, in its carrier in a green pickup truck, to the raccoon equivalent of an emergency room. The mother had vanished into the woods. All signs of the drama were gone. But of course, for the raccoon family and the parks and the conservancy folks, there’s more to come (we have calls in to the latter entities). Will the baby be O.K.? Will the mother ever see it again? Stay tuned.


July 2nd, 2010, 11:45 PM
Bargain hunters? Two deer visit Target in the middle of the Bronx

BY Joe Jackson

The two deer were eventually captured at the loading bay at the Riverdale Target in the Bronx.

Guess Bambi loves a bargain.

Two wild deer got trapped in the parking lot of a Target in the Bronx yesterday and had to be rescued.

A startled delivery driver said he encountered the animals in the service depot of the Kingsbridge superstore around 11 a.m. yesterday and called cops.

"Two wild deer running around a Target parking lot - it's crazy," said Jose Otero, 40, of Morris Park who was delivering bread to the store and dialed 911.

"They were running all over the place. We tried to keep them in there by chasing them back to the fence," he added.

Police said construction workers reported seeing the deer coming down Metro-North railroad tracks adjacent to the lot earlier in the morning.

They had most likely strayed from Van Cortlandt Park, around three miles away.

Carpenter Tom Hogan, 60, of Elmhurst, Queens, works at the Target depot every day.

"I'm amazed to see them so up close in the city," he said. "I've never seen anything like it."

Cops closed off the service area for several hours and eventually sedated the deer, removing them around 3 p.m.

Local resident Janet Bryan, 62, marveled at the scene.

"In the middle of the Bronx - can you imagine?" she said, laughing. "I saw it on TV and I needed to go shopping so I thought I'd come down and see what's going on."

Both animals were taken to Animal Care & Control on 110th St. in Manhattan.

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/07/01/2010-07-01_bargain_hunters_two_deer_visit_target_in_the_mi ddle_of_the_bronx.html#ixzz0saTjWOVJ

July 12th, 2010, 09:01 PM
400 Prospect Park Geese Are Killed

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/13/nyregion/13geese.html?_r=1&hp)
July 12, 2010

They have been a familiar sight around the lake in Prospect Park in Brooklyn: Canada geese, scores of them. To some residents, the birds and their fuzzy offspring are charming hints of wildlife amid the bricks of the city. Recently, when one was found with an arrow through its neck, park rangers tried to corral it to administer first aid.

But then, over the last few days, parkgoers noticed something strange.

The geese were gone. Nearly 400 of them.

On Monday, the answer emerged. Wildlife biologists and technicians had descended on the park Thursday morning and herded the birds into a fenced area. The biologists, working with the federal Agriculture Department, then packed the geese two or three to a crate and took them to a nearby building where they were gassed with lethal doses of carbon dioxide, Carol A. Bannerman, a spokeswoman, said ...

July 12th, 2010, 09:56 PM
I wonder why?

July 13th, 2010, 12:13 AM
The answer is just a click (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/13/nyregion/13geese.html?_r=1&hp=&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1278994348-JvvcGi9PvwogqBwA5+nZbA) away ...

Ms. Bannerman said the measure was necessary. “The thing to always remember in this New York situation is that we are talking about aviation and passenger and property safety,” she said. “In New York City, from 1981 to 1999, the population increase was sevenfold.”

The authorities have been thinning the region’s ranks of geese since some of them flew into the engines of US Airways Flight 1549 in January 2009, forcing it to ditch in the Hudson River. Last summer, 1,235 were rounded up at 17 sites around the city and later killed. But the Prospect Park culling appears to be among the biggest, and its scope mortified some residents ...

July 13th, 2010, 07:07 AM
And after all the trouble they took trying to catch it to remove the arrow :rolleyes: :mad::

Gone in the roundup, apparently, was a goose known alternately as Sticky or Target, who was discovered with an arrow through his neck (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/17/goose-with-arrow-in-neck-still-evades-captors/?scp=1&sq=sticky&st=cse) last month. Park rangers tried and failed to catch the bird in a bid to nurse him back to health.

Is there no other way http://wirednewyork.com/forum/images/icons/icon9.gif.

July 18th, 2010, 01:26 AM
Second, and Third, Thoughts Over Killing of Prospect Park Geese


After the killing of nearly 400 Canada geese (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/13/nyregion/13geese.html)in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, many parkgoers railed against the government agencies that had rounded up the birds. Most focused on the morality of the killings.

But Henry J. Stern, a former city parks commissioner, perhaps reframed the debate by suggesting that the reasoning behind the decision to kill the birds might be flawed.

“Are there reasons for singling out the Prospect Park geese for the mobile gas chamber, followed by the landfill?” Mr. Stern wrote on his StarQuest blog. “Does it make any difference if these geese were migratory or non-migratory, or whether they ever left the precincts of the park?”

The policy, as stated by the United States Department of Agriculture, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the city’s Department of Environmental Protection, was to reduce the number of geese within seven miles of Kennedy International and La Guardia Airports. Geese have flown into airplanes, causing millions of dollars in damage.

They also presented a hazard to air safety, which was highlighted when geese flew into the engines of US Airways Flight 1549 in January 2009, forcing it to ditch in the Hudson River.

But Mr. Stern, who was parks commissioner in the Koch and Giuliani administrations, was skeptical that the geese in Prospect Park fell within that seven-mile radius. And so he charted the distance and came up with 9.4 miles – more than two miles beyond what the government agencies had stated.

“The bureaucrats think it’s terrific, but sometimes there’s a slip in the execution of these policies,” Mr. Stern said in an interview.

City Room, using the Internet tool Draft Logic, came up with similar figures: 9.53 miles to Kennedy and 9.23 miles to La Guardia.

Carol A. Bannerman, a spokeswoman for the Department of Agriculture, said this week that officials had calculated 6.5 miles between Prospect Park and La Guardia and Kennedy.

But the precise distance might not matter, according to Paul D. Curtis, an associate professor of wildlife sciences at Cornell University. Canada geese typically fly 12 to 15 miles from their home base, he said. Most of the geese at Prospect Park were resident geese.

“The residents and migrants mix,” Dr. Curtis said. “Local breeding birds fly just as far as the migratory birds.”

He said that resident Canada geese in upstate New York had been banded to see how far they would fly. “They ended up being harvested in Virginia,” Dr. Curtis said.

As for Mr. Stern, he emphasized that he was only asking questions, not passing judgment, and remained neutral on the policy. He also agreed with many that the geese might not be charming, but that they deserved a defense.

He has been referring to the geese as “the Prospect Park 400.”

“These are not the Mother Teresa of all creatures,” he said. “These are animals that get in the way. They’re very territorial, and they hiss and bite. There are reasons not to care for the geese. But it’s a question of judgment if you use the mechanical powers of the human race to exterminate them or use less than lethal measures.”

About 75 people gathered Saturday evening in a vigil for the Canada geese at the park, including State Senator Eric L. Adams and City Councilman Brad Lander. Many of them held photos of geese and goslings and signs that read “Why?” and “Rest in Peace, Geese.”

“This can’t happen again, in the middle of the night for the government to sneak in and be bigger than the people they represent,” Senator Adams said. “That’s not the city I want to live in.”

Mr. Lander encouraged protesters to call 311 — after all, he said, a crime had been committed.

As the politicians and protesters spoke, a single goose swam a lonely vigil nearby.


July 23rd, 2010, 08:42 PM
State Plans to Eliminate 170,000 Canada Geese


The 2009 plan that state and local authorities have been following to reduce the number of Canada geese living in New York State by two-thirds.

It’s a doomsday plan for New York’s geese.

A nine-page report (http://documents.nytimes.com/ridding-the-new-york-skies-of-geese) put together by a variety of national, state and city agencies shows that officials hope to reduce the number of Canada geese in New York to 85,000 from 250,000.

That means that roughly 170,000 geese — two-thirds of the population — will be killed.
The nearly 400 geese gassed to death this month after being rounded up in Prospect Park in Brooklyn — as well as an unknown number of other geese killed in New York City in recent weeks — were but a small part of the ambitious overall goal outlined in the document, which was obtained by City Room.

“The state of New York has close to 250,000 resident Canada geese, which is more than three times the state’s population goal of 85,000,” the report states. It is unknown how many have been killed so far.

The plan, according to a high-level official at the United States Department of Agriculture, was a result of five months of meetings between February and June 2009, after the crash of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River. Canada geese hit both of the jet’s engines, causing the splashdown.

Those attending the meetings that yielded the plan included officials from the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the National Park Service and key staff members from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s office, the official said.

He said that politicians peppered officials from the Department of Agriculture with questions about the science and asked how many goose strikes had occurred and the danger they posed. They learned that there have been 78 Canada goose strikes over 10 years in New York, and that those strikes caused more than $2.2 million in aircraft damage.

The plan was written with the approval of everyone at that table, the official said, including this paragraph:

“The captured geese are placed alive in commercial turkey crates. The geese would be brought to a secure location and euthanized with methods approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Euthanized geese would be buried.”


July 23rd, 2010, 08:48 PM
Better the geese should go than the people on airplanes.

I hope they kept the geese to feed the homeless.

July 23rd, 2010, 10:10 PM

July 23rd, 2010, 10:24 PM
Imagine a store full of people trying on various undies that go right back on the display shelf, direct from the changing room.

July 23rd, 2010, 10:26 PM
... roughly 170,000 geese — two-thirds of the population — will be killed ... The geese would be brought to a secure location and euthanized with methods approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Euthanized geese would be buried.”


I hope they kept the geese to feed the homeless.

Precisely. What about Roast Wild Goose?

July 31st, 2010, 12:43 AM
Why We Can’t Eat Slaughtered GeeseGood question.

...the idea is to keep them from flying into the engines of jet planes...
Better the geese should go than the people on airplanes.

Exactly how many geese cause accidents such as that on the Hudson River :confused:.

“What they are trying to do is make an unnecessary act seem charitable,”...Agreed. Unnecessary. And diverting attention from the unnecessary slaughter in this way is underhanded.

“We knew all along that there was a lot of opposition and that taking the meat from the geese and using that meat to feed the hungry by donating it to these two food banks would temper the opposition,” he said. Would it? Still unnecessary.

But if they must...

Why We Can’t Eat Slaughtered Geese


The Canada goose, according to those in the know, tastes like a dark, tender cut of smoked chicken.

That’s Canada goose from elsewhere in the country, mind you, where birds killed as part of government plans to shrink the goose population are plucked, frozen and distributed to food pantries. Food banks in Pennsylvania, for example, received 900 pounds of goose meat this year. Geese were also donated this summer to food banks in Maryland and Oregon.

But in New York State, geese that were killed this month were double-bagged and thrown in landfills. Among them – the total numbers have not yet been released – were nearly 400 geese from Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

The mass goose kill in Prospect Park — the idea is to keep them from flying into the engines of jet planes — set off outrage on City Room, where many comments railed against the killings, but others wondered: If we must kill them, why don’t we feed them to the homeless?

The official answer to that question came from Farrell Sklerov, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Environmental Protection. He said that the state doesn’t have a way of testing the geese for toxins and has not figured out how best to process the meat.

New York, Mr. Sklerov wrote in an e-mail, doesn’t have “sufficient guidelines that pertain to the oversight of the safe preparation or donation of geese to food pantries or soup kitchens.”

A high-level official at the federal Department of Agriculture elaborated, saying that city and state officials have waited six years for the New York State Department of Health to report on the safety of New York bird meat.

“We’re looking for a letter somewhere along the lines that says Canada geese are safe to eat, or that one should consume only a certain amount of Canada goose a month, kind of like the state does with fish,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Other states, however, haven’t had a problem with slaughtering the geese for food.
In central Oregon, the Bend Park and Recreation District convened public meetings on ridding Canada geese from city parks.

There, officials ultimately decided to kill 109 geese with carbon dioxide, which is how New York geese were killed this month. The gas doesn’t make the meat unsafe, according to a spokesman for the American Veterinary Medical Association, who said it was often used to stun poultry.

Don Horton, the executive director of the Bend park district, said the geese were sent to a slaughterhouse, where they were processed and smoked, at $15 a bird.
“For us, the cost was not exorbitant, but if you’re killing 2,000 birds, the cost gets interesting,” Mr. Horton said.

He said he was confused by New York’s stated concern that the birds might not be safe to eat. “These are the same geese hunted by hunters all the time,” he said.

In Pennsylvania, wildlife killed because it has been deemed a nuisance to crops or parks must be donated to food banks.

“The state permit states that the geese shall be donated to a food bank or a shelter – that is a requirement of the permit itself, so they have to abide by that, or they lose the permit,” said Jason DeCoskey, who oversees special permit enforcement for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Mr. DeCoskey said the Department of Agriculture had a contract with a plucking house in southern Pennsylvania.

Deer make up the bulk of wildlife killed, he said, and when they are, “the U.S.D.A. will automatically call to find out if there are any needy families nearby to get them the meat.”

But for some, donating the geese to food banks doesn’t make up for their deaths.
In central Oregon, where the killed geese provided more than 1,000 hot meals, residents lashed out against the food bank director for accepting the meat.

Patrick Kwan, the New York State director for the Humane Society of the United States, also disagreed with the gesture. “What they are trying to do is make an unnecessary act seem charitable,” he said.

In Oregon, Mr. Horton saw it another way.

“We knew all along that there was a lot of opposition and that taking the meat from the geese and using that meat to feed the hungry by donating it to these two food banks would temper the opposition,” he said.


August 1st, 2010, 10:40 AM
The entire discussion is a load of bureaucratic shit. The birds need to be killed because they threaten aviation. The homeless need to be fed (goose is delicious). The guardians of health can butt out

August 1st, 2010, 11:47 PM
One plane went down in a freak accident, out of a million take offs and landings. This is not a basis for goose genocide. I take as many planes into and out of NYC as anybody. I am willing to take my chances. We humans share this planet.

August 2nd, 2010, 01:34 AM
We share the planet? Since when?

Parking lots, shopping malls, expressways, corporate parks, landfills, reservoirs, suburban developments... we only "share" these spaces with things we consider pests because we haven't figured out how to kill all of them without pissing too many people off.

August 2nd, 2010, 05:36 AM
The birds need to be killed because they threaten aviation.

Poppycock. No "need" or quantifiable justification at all. The rest of what you said is reasonable.

We share the planet? Since when?

Possibly not the point being made (?). We all (should be allowed to) live here.

August 2nd, 2010, 08:34 AM
Possibly not the point being made (?). We all (should be allowed to) live here.Unfortunately, we're the only species [OK, maybe beavers too] that significantly changes the environment, upsetting balances developed over eons.

It seems obvious that the geese population around NYC has increased dramatically over the last several decades. We've removed most natural predators that would have kept the population in check. Beyond airline strikes, their aggressive behavior drives away other bird species. Any longtime visitor to the Jamaica Wildlife Preserve (especially in Spring) would be aware of this.

As for bird strikes on airlines, there seems to be a tip-of-the-iceberg attitude, but it's debatable that bird strikes are a significant problem when measured relative to other hazards to airline travel.

Myths & facts:

August 2nd, 2010, 10:26 AM
Interesting statistics, but still...

It's all our fault, and we punish the birds.

Fortunately, the birds can't kill us if we get in their way.

We have the choice to take our chances, but the birds don't.

We're supposed to be the clever ones.

August 2nd, 2010, 02:54 PM
Well, it's more a question of survival than morality.

I have to fly, and I like to stay alive.

Goose could say the same, but I'm not a goose.

August 3rd, 2010, 04:57 AM
Well, excuse everyone else for living :p :D.

It's not a moral issue, just common sense.

Nor is it a matter of survival. The odds are not stacked against us.

October 4th, 2010, 10:28 AM

October 4th, 2010, 12:33 PM
This fellow is very happy he's not a goose.

http://img685.imageshack.us/img685/3637/birdbath01.th.jpg (http://img685.imageshack.us/i/birdbath01.jpg/) http://img64.imageshack.us/img64/8378/birdbath02.th.jpg (http://img64.imageshack.us/i/birdbath02.jpg/) http://img826.imageshack.us/img826/9736/birdbath03.th.jpg (http://img826.imageshack.us/i/birdbath03.jpg/)

October 22nd, 2010, 08:37 PM
Albino Squirrel Spotted In Prospect Park



November 21st, 2010, 04:51 AM
Wrong time of year for this behavior, guys... From NPR -

Thanksgiving is not good news for turkeys. But lately, some turkeys are fighting back. After being hunted almost out of existence more than 100 years ago, wild turkey populations are on the rise. In the Northeast and Midwest, a lot more of these large — and at times, ornery — birds are setting up their roosts in suburban backyards.
Roberta Schnoor, a resident of Brookline, Mass., says she first started seeing the turkeys in her neighborhood outside of Boston a few years ago. Initially, she just noticed one large male turkey — a tom. But then she started seeing more. A flock started roaming backyards or walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic. And, Schnoor says, "They became progressively more aggressive."
The turkeys started chasing kids and joggers down the street. Neighbors would laugh watching the lawyer or pediatrician who lived next door being chased by a gobbling mob of birds.
When it happens to you, it's much less amusing.
Wild turkeys have been reintroduced with great success over the years, along with other native birds, such as eagles and hawks. In 1950, there were about 350,000 wild turkeys nationwide. Today there are around 3 million, and some are unexpectedly turning up in suburbs and city parks — anywhere they can find trees that drop acorns or other nuts or berries.
Wildlife experts say that birds who get accustomed to suburban life apparently start to see people as other turkeys, often displaying aggressive social behavior in attempts to establish their "turkey dominance."
The same experts advise people to intimidate back — though that can be hard to do with a 30 pound bird that's jumping on top of you and flapping its wings.
Schnoor's neighbor Louise Dionne was attacked by a large male tom. It jumped on her back, beating its wings and scratching at her with a talon that turkeys have on their leg. She made it to a neighbor's house after kicking the turkey in the chest.
She now keeps a stick near her front door to protect herself from the unpredictable birds. The larger, more aggressive toms that were in the area have since been run over by cars or otherwise met their end, and the remaining smaller birds are not as aggressive.
But "you still don't trust those turkeys you see now," Dionne says. "It doesn't take much for them to go berserk."
"If they're chasing children," she says, "[the children] could run into the road and get hit by a car. I mean, I train my kids well. If a ball rolls into the street, don't get it. But if you're panicked and running away from a wild animal, you could run into the street."
In response to complaints — and pleas for help — the town of Brookline distributed pamphlets telling people how to handle aggressive turkeys.
Massachusetts wildlife officials also offer advice. One effective method: Establish a little "turkey dominance" by giving them a good whack with a broom or chasing them with an open umbrella.
Wildlife biologists also say that feeding the turkeys can encourage them to feel at home and start getting territorial and aggressive. So don't feed them.
Most of the aggressive behavior tends to happen in the spring during the breeding season, according to biologists. But Brookline residents said turkeys were chasing joggers, cyclists, kids and even cars at other times of the year, too.

November 21st, 2010, 12:25 PM
Tippi Hedren take note ^ :eek:

[hoping some CGI wizard can figure out how to switch out gulls with turkeys]

Not quite like I remember it ...


Interestingly the original script had a different ending than what was seen in theaters ...


November 27th, 2010, 03:53 PM
Squirrel Killer Terrorizes Washington Square Park

AnimalTourism.com (http://animaltourism.com/news/2010/11/23/squirrel-killer-terrorizes-washington-square-park?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AnimaltourismNews+%28AnimalTo urism+News%29)
November 23, 2010

ALLEGED SQUIRREL KILLER (http://animaltourism.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/IMG00027-20101112-1252.jpg)

Squirrel lovers around New York City’s Washington Square Park say there is a killer on the loose. A woman is letting her two big dogs kill squirrels. Everyone from the wildlife rehabilitator community to dog people, Bernie Goetz (subway vigilante/squirrel lover) to Parks Enforcement Police is now on the lookout for the willowy brunette and her dogs.

At least five squirrels have been killed so far in front of Greenwich Village park goers and one turned up with broken legs. Area squirrel lovers think her name is Lena, that she lives on Barrow Street (someone followed her home), visits the park at 8 and 5 and has two dogs, a German shepherd and a shepherd mix.

“As I walking through the park, I came upon people gathered around a dying young squirrel,” said a local licensed wildlife rehabilitator who treated two of the injured squirrels. “[The] chess players saw the dog attack. The woman and dog had just left the park.”

One squirrel with two broken legs was found near the Hangman’s Tree and taken to a veterinarian that specializes in wildlife. “He has two broken legs, which Dr. [Anthony] Pilny set. ”With luck, he’ll have use of at least three, but is going to have a hard recovery.”

Killing or hunting wildlife in city parks is illegal, but very hard to catch. The fine is $1,000. Park managers know about the problem, as does Parks Enforcement Police. The problem is that the PEP officers are the ones to make arrests, but there aren’t enough of them to patrol the small parks. ”Lena’s dogs kill so fast no one could possibly stop them before more squirrels die,” says the rehabber. But park officials say that if someone sees her call 212-387-7676. If they could get her to just stop letting her dogs kill squirrels I think it would be a victory.

I’ve been on both sides of the dog-squirrel war. My dog Jolly desperately wanted to eat squirrels. I would let him stare, follow and imagine how delicious the squirrels might be. But he was always on a leash and under my control. Part of why I got into wildlife rehabilitation was to make it up to the squirrels we doubtless scared. Jolly was a very special dog and he loved just watching the baby squirrels I cared for. Yes, he was probably imagining them as squirrel veal, but he held back and just stared.

If you’ve got any dog sense, you can let your dog enjoy watching squirrels without killing one of the few wild animals to thrive in Manhattan.

November 27th, 2010, 03:57 PM
Washington Square Park Horror as Dogs Maul Squirrels

DNAinfo (http://www.dnainfo.com/20101127/greenwich-village-soho/greenwich-park-horror-as-dogs-maul-squirrels)
By Gabriela Resto-Montero
DNAinfo Reporter/Producer
November 27, 2010

GREENWICH VILLAGE — Squirrel-mauling dogs have sickened Washington Square Park—goers and forced officials to launch undercover operations to catch the illegal hunters' owner.

The Parks Department has undercover officers in Washington Square Park following reports that a woman was letting her dogs attack and kill the park's squirrels.

The department issued a summons to an unidentified woman who other park goers reported this month was letting her two large dogs off the leash to hunt down the critters.

"Our parks enforcement patrol has deployed additional patrols and undercover officers to the park, and they are prepared to issue additional summonses for injuring park animals if she is observed encouraging her dogs to kill squirrels," said Philip Abramson, a Parks spokesman.

The Parks Department would not identify the woman.

Park Enforcement Officers reportedly found five dead squirrels and one who survived an attack with broken legs, the blog Animal Tourism first reported.

The official cause for the woman's summons was for leaving her dogs unleashed within the park, Abramson said.

Park goers said Wednesday they were glad the woman was cited.

"That's disgusting," said Julie May, who takes her dog, Laila, to the dog run at the south side of the park every day, of the alleged attacks.

Dogs are not allowed off the leash anywhere else in the park. A $1,000 fine can be issued for hunting, trapping or wounding an animal in a city park.

Copyright © 2009 - 2010 Digital Network Associates dba DNAinfo.com

November 27th, 2010, 04:42 PM
I'm surprised she isn't on youtube.

January 19th, 2011, 05:24 PM
January 19, 2011, 10:35 am

Hawk on the Mend, but Still Grounded

By ANDY NEWMAN (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/author/andy-newman/)

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2011/01/19/nyregion/19hawk-cityroom/19hawk-cityroom-blog480.jpgErik Olsen/The New York Times
The red-tailed hawk after his injury in the atrium of The New York Times Building last Thursday.

A brief update on the juvenile red-tailed hawk who smashed into a window (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/13/exclusive-an-avian-emergency) in the glass-walled atrium of The New York Times Building last week: An X-ray showed that his wing is not broken and his prognosis remains good, but six days after the collision, he is still not flying, said the rehabilitator on Long Island who is caring for the bird.

“Its attitude is coming back, it’s eating well, but it’s not beating its wings, so we’re thinking it’s still in pain,” said Bobby Horvath of Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation (http://www.facebook.com/pages/WINORR-Wildlife-In-Need-of-Rescue-and-Rehabilitation/113685721999067) in Massapequa. Mr. Horvath said that the bird, who is about 7 months old, could have damaged a ligament.

Last Thursday afternoon, the hawk apparently flew into the five-story-high internal courtyard at the Times building on Eighth Avenue and 40th Street to hunt, flew into windows (http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/13/a-bird-collision-in-our-midst/) at least twice while attempting to leave and fell stunned to the ground.

(Officials at New York City Audubon (http://www.nycaudubon.org/home/) said that such collisions at the building were a regular occurrence and that they were working with building management to address the problem.)

Mr. Horvath said that the hawk was passing his days in a 15-by-20-foot, 10-foot-high outdoor cage along with four other injured hawks, doing not much at all.

“It’s just choosing to rest for the time being,” Mr. Horvath said. “Can’t force him to do anything he doesn’t want to do.”

Mr. Horvath said that after a collision, birds could take varying amounts of time to recover, from a few days to weeks, and that he was not concerned. “I expect it to come around,” Mr. Horvath said. “When a bird gets injured like this, it’s not out of the ordinary.”


January 20th, 2011, 04:59 AM
Sightings of Missing Love Bird Lola Reported Around the Country

Lola, the longtime companion of Central Park icon, Pale Male, is presumed dead, but DNAinfo hasn't given up hope.

By Olivia Scheck

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http://s3.amazonaws.com/sfb111/story_xlimage_2011_01_R1975_Upper_East_Side_Pale_M ale_and_Lola_Nest_01182011.jpg

MANHATTAN — Birdlovers from Manhattan and beyond are holding out hope for Lola, the legendary red-tailed hawk who was presumed dead after disappearing from her perch near Central Park last month.

Nearly a dozen readers have reached out to DNAinfo since we published a story about Lola's apparent demise on Tuesday, claiming to have spotted the beloved hawk in the Bronx, New Jersey, and even Atlanta, Georgia.

Lola had been the long-time companion of Pale Male, a male red-tailed hawk who has watched over the park since 1991 and was even the subject of a PBS documentary (http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/pale-male/introduction/2422/). For nine years the two shared a nest atop a Fifth Avenue Co-Op, but Lola has not been spotted since Dec. 18, 2010.

http://s3.amazonaws.com/sfb111/story_xlimage_2011_01_R9760_Upper_East_Side_Pale_M ale_and_Lola_on_Tree_0118201.jpg
Lola (l.) and Pale Male (r.)

While Pale Male appears to have rebounded quickly — reportedly taking up residence with a new female — many members of the DNAinfo community have yet to adjust to the transition.

"The Hawk is definitely still alive, and I just spotted it this morning in my neighbor's tree in Oakland, NJ," reader Shana Gordon insisted via e-mail Wednesday morning. "Just wanted to let you know it has ventured to Oakland, NJ in Bergen county, but is very much still alive!"

Another reader from New Jersey wrote to report a possible spotting in Bayonne.
"I have been seeing a hawk in Bayonne, NJ for the last month," the reader, Gene Woods, said via e-mail. "I have never seen such a bird in Bayonne and now this may make sense... It is a beautiful bird and I hope that it may be the one."

An especially promising sighting was reported to DNAinfo on Wednesday afternoon by Kips Bay resident Karen Firerman.

Firerman, 35, said she was enjoying a snow day with her nieces at her sister's apartment on 87th Street and Park Avenue, when a red-tailed hawk perched itself on the windowsill. That was on Jan. 7, 2010.

"We were sitting at the counter eating pizza and all of a sudden we looked out the window and we saw this bird," she said over the phone on Wednesday. "It was like the coolest thing I've ever seen."

Firerman, who works in real estate, managed to snap a photo of the hawk on her cell phone. But it wasn't until her husband sent her the DNAinfo article about Lola's disappearance that Firerman made the connection.

While birding expert, Robert DeCandido, confirmed that the bird in the photo was, in fact, a red-tailed hawk, he said he did not believe it was Lola.

"It looks like a juvenile if anything because of the yellow eyes…so that would rule Lola out right there," DeCandido explained, though he said he would need to see the bird's tail to be sure.

"I get a lot of emails from people who've spotted red tailed hawks on their balconies," the biologist, who leads bird-walks through Central Park added.

Fierman was disappointed but not distraught to hear the expert's proclamation.

"It's ok — I'm not upset," she said upon hearing the news. "I just hoped it would be her."

Legendary Central Park Hawk Lola Goes Missing, Presumed Dead (http://www.dnainfo.com/20110118/upper-east-side/legendary-central-park-hawk-lola-goes-missing-presumed-dead)
Pale Male's partner of nine years, Lola, has mysteriously gone missing and some presume her dead.


January 25th, 2011, 08:31 PM
Mystery Surrounds Exotic Bird Rescued Near Columbia University

Updated 30 mins ago

January 25, 2011 7:57pm

A multi-colored bird that looked as if it belonged in a jungle was plucked from the frigid streets of Morningside Heights.

http://s3.amazonaws.com/sfb111/story_xlimage_2011_01_R4942_Mystery_Surrounds_Exot ic_Bird_Rescued_Near_Columbi.jpg
An exotic bird rescued Saturday near Columbia University appears to be peach-faced lovebird, shown here, which are native to Africa. (Flickr/randyforrest)

By Leslie Albrecht

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

UPPER WEST SIDE — An exotic bird rescued from the frigid streets of Morningside Heights this weekend has left a multi-colored mystery in its wake.

The jade, tangerine, scarlet and azure bird, which looks from a photo as if it belongs in a steamy jungle, was discovered by Jon Chapman, a 27-year-old management consultant, on West 114th Street about 5 p.m. as the temperature dipped into the 20s.
Chapman, who lives in New Jersey, handed the bird off to a Good Samaritan student at Columbia University, who promised to take the animal to a reputable veterinarian.

News of the wildlife encounter was first reported by the Oxford University Press blog (http://blog.oup.com/2011/01/exotic-bird/?utm), then by Gothamist (http://gothamist.com/2011/01/24/saved_bird_or_captured_bird.php#comments), prompting a small flurry of concerned comments and guesses as to the bird's species.

It's now believed that the bird is a peach-faced lovebird, which are native to southwest Africa, but it's not known where the bird came from or what happened to it after its rescue.

Chapman didn't get the name of the animal-friendly student who took the bird, but said in an e-mail Tuesday he wished he had so he could find out if there was a happy ending for his newfound feathered friend.

http://s3.amazonaws.com/sfb111/story_lrgimage_2011_01_R7866_Mystery_Surrounds_Exo tic_Bird_Rescued_Near_Columbi.jpg(Photo by Jon Chapman)

"I had assumed this was a semi-frequent occurrence in the city, but I am comforted by the fact that so many people have shown interest in the plight of this stray bird," Chapman wrote in an e-mail Tuesday.

It was the bird's insistent, nervous-sounding chirping that first attracted Chapman's attention. The series of short, high-pitched chirps seemed to be a call for help, Chapman said in the e-mail.

"When I looked down to see the bright colors, coupled with the fact that he was alone rather than with a small group like most small birds in the city typically are, it became clear that he was lost," Chapman said.

Lovebirds are known for their affectionate personality and thirst for companionship, which is why they're often kept in pairs, according to Animal-world.com.
Chapman said the bird didn't resemble the Quaker parrots who mysteriously disappeared (http://www.dnainfo.com/20100824/washington-heights-inwood/mystery-surrounds-disappearance-of-wahi-quaker-parrots) from Washington Heights last year.

Chapman said he leaned down and stuck out a finger for the bird to hop on, but instead the bird flew up and perched on Chapman's friend's shoulder.

Chapman scooped the bird into his warm hands and went to look for help. As the cold minutes ticked by, the feathered creature seemed to grow weaker and chirped less frequently, Chapman said in the e-mail.

Chapman met the student who offered to care for the bird on the southwest corner of the Columbia campus.
It's a good thing the bird was taken to safety when it was, said Karen Heidgerd, practice administrator at Animal General vet hospital on Columbus Avenue and West 87th Street.

Heidgerd, who didn't treat the rescued bird, said it sounded as if the bird was a pet who escaped from a nearby home. Stray exotic birds usually don't fare well on the street, Heidgerd said.

They may find a lamp post or other nook to warm themselves, but because they've been fed by humans their entire lives, they lack the food-gathering skills to survive, Heidgerd said.

"They're not native to this country, so usually they live in cages in houses," Heidgerd said. "They don't do well in the cold, they can't forage, and most of them don’t know how to feed themselves."

A bird like the one rescued Saturday would last "a couple of days max" exposed to the elements, Heidgerd said.

A search of Craiglist lost and found bird postings didn't turn up any possible matches.

Though not a bird owner himself, Chapman said his brush with the bird made him consider getting one as a pet. "After the encounter, the thought of owning one has crossed my mind; he was a charming little guy," Chapman said.


Baby Hawks Stretch Their Wings in Riverside Park (http://www.dnainfo.com/20100902/upper-west-side/baby-hawks-stretch-their-wings-riverside-park)

For newborns, they're pretty independent. Less than two months old, two baby red-tailed hawks in Riverside Park are already venturing out of mom and dad's nest as they learn to fly. [DNAinfo]
Mystery Surrounds Disappearance of WaHi Quaker Parrots (http://www.dnainfo.com/20100824/washington-heights-inwood/mystery-surrounds-disappearance-of-wahi-quaker-parrots)

A nest of Quaker parrots in upper Manhattan was wrecked last week, leaving the two-story-high roost torn in half and empty, and fans of the local celebrity flyers wondering what happened

Read more: http://www.dnainfo.com/20110125/upper-west-side/mystery-surrounds-exotic-bird-rescued-near-columbia-university#ixzz1C6J55JfG

February 8th, 2011, 08:24 PM
Beautiful owls :).

Northern Manhattanites Get Armchair Views of Wildlife

Nature loving residents in Inwood and Washington Heights are excited by recent wildlife sightings outside of city parks.

By Carla Zanoni

http://s3.amazonaws.com/sfb111/story_xlimage_2011_02_R5399_Wildlife_Sightings_in_ Northern_Manhattan_282011.jpg
The long-eared owl puffed up when it first saw Inwood photographer Suzanne Abbott.

http://s3.amazonaws.com/sfb111/story_xlimage_2011_02_R6244_Wildlife_Sightings_in_ Northern_Manhattan_282011.jpg

http://s3.amazonaws.com/sfb111/story_xlimage_2011_02_R6810_Wildlife_Sightings_in_ Northern_Manhattan_282011.jpg

slide show (http://www.dnainfo.com/20110208/washington-heights-inwood/northern-manhattanites-get-armchair-views-of-wildlife/slideshow/popup/59029)

INWOOD — Hundreds of acres of parkland draw residents to the parks of Upper Manhattan all year round in the hopes of catching a glimpse of wildlife.

But lucky residents of the area don't even need to leave the comfort of their own homes to spot a feathered or furry friend.

Over the past week, an owl was spotted on an air-conditioning unit in Inwood and residents have tweeted about a "wolf howl[ing]" in Washington Heights — although many believe the sound came from a stray dog. Inwood residents and gardening enthusiasts John Emmanuel and Wakako Matsushita spotted a red-tailed hawk in the courtyard of the Park Terrace Gardens co-op in Inwood, according to Park Terrace Gardens Review, a blog about the apartment complex.

Emmanuel and Matsushita said that what appeared to be the same hawk was photographed by another Inwood resident Christopher Camp this week. The hawk had landed several times over the past two months in the courtyard, they said.

Matsushita caught a glimpse of the bird from her living room window and then was able to take the hawk's picture as it rested on a maple tree.

"My immediate thought was 'Wow, it's cool! This must be the one of them which lives in the park,'" she wrote in an e-mail. "I immediately took my binoculars out to see the details and then started taking photos [from] inside my apartment."

Last week, neighborhood photographer Suzanne Abbott also captured some rare, close-up photos of a long-eared owl sitting on her air-conditioning unit, according to Gothamist (http://gothamist.com/2011/01/29/photos_long-eared_owl_chills_out_on.php?gallery0Pic=1).

"This morning as I raised my window shade I was greeted by a Long-Eared Owl across the way," she told Gothamist. "He has been there all day and I have spoken to the Park Rangers who said that these owls are very rare in New York and very skittish so it is unusual to see them up close like this."

Over the summer, skunks, raccoons and a mandarin duck caused a stir in Northern Manhattan, and in the spring of 2009 a seal was spotted in the waters along Inwood Hill Park.

For all of the excitement, park rangers say the migration of wildlife from city parks to city streets and courtyards is a positive development that shows the improving health of urban wildlife.

For outdoor enthusiasts who have a living room view of the wildlife of Upper Manhattan, there is an added benefit to having birds of prey fly so close to home.

"it's a good thing," Park Terrace Gardens resident Matsushita said. "They eat rodents ... this Red-tail in the courtyard was turning the head left and right and probably looking for food."


February 15th, 2011, 04:41 AM
New Female On Fifth Avenue

After Lola disappeared in December, a fairly dark female appeared on the scene. After a few weeks, this relationship didn't work out and she left the park.

Pale Male now has a second "girlfriend". They seem to be much more of a couple and I wouldn't be surprised if she becomes the permanent mate.

http://urbanhawks.blogs.com/.a/6a00d83451c30169e20147e28f63cd970b-800wi (http://urbanhawks.blogs.com/.a/6a00d83451c30169e20147e28f63cd970b-pi)



March 25th, 2011, 07:03 AM
Urban Farm Shaped Like a Turkey Opens in Battery Park

The farm's bird shape pays tribute to Zelda the turkey, the park's most famous resident.

By Julie Shapiro
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FINANCIAL DISTRICT — Something new is growing in Battery Park.

This spring, the Battery Conservancy is launching its first-ever Urban Farm at the Battery, an enormous community garden that will stretch across 1 acre of the Great Lawn.

"It's here for anyone who thirsts to get their hands in the soil," said Warrie Price, president of the Battery Conservancy. "Please come — we need help!"

In a playful nod to Zelda the turkey (http://www.dnainfo.com/20101124/downtown/battery-parks-resident-turkey-draws-crowds-on-eve-of-thanksgiving), the park's most famous resident, the farm will be shaped like a bird. Designer Scott Dougan crafted a bamboo fence to enclose the farm, which will trace out the contours of the beloved turkey, from beak to tail feathers.

Price said Zelda, who has lived in Battery Park since 2003, recently stopped by the farm to poke around the massive piles of soil that just arrived.

The idea for a farm came from Millennium High School students, who asked last fall if they could plant a vegetable garden in the park, Price said. The initiative soon sparked interested at other nearby schools, and Price said she has already signed up more than 450 students from kindergarten through 12th grade who want to participate.

Price has also reached out to local restaurant owners, who may grow produce and herbs for their dishes, and she is eager for downtown residents to claim some of the 80 plots as well.

"This is here for the community," Price said.

The farm will officially launch with a ceremony April 11 at 10 a.m., but volunteers are already spreading the soil and preparing it for plants, Price said.

The conservancy hopes to harvest up to three crops a year. Early planting options include arugula, cucumbers, mint, radishes and turnips, which could all be ready to eat by June.

The farm stretches along State Street, in the part of the park that was torn up several years ago for the construction of the new South Ferry subway station. Price sees the garden as a way of healing the land after all the disruption.

The farm will likely stay in place through the end of 2012, but then the area will go under construction again, to become part of the park's new bikeway and perennial garden.


March 25th, 2011, 11:26 AM
Construction has started on the Carousel, just to the south of the garden discussed above.

March 25th, 2011, 11:50 AM
Zelda better start doing laps around the park. She's starting to look very Thanksgiving-y.

March 25th, 2011, 12:59 PM
It's no wonder - I know for a fact she loves bagels.

March 26th, 2011, 07:17 AM
Zelda the zoftig.

March 26th, 2011, 07:03 PM
Kosher turkey.

March 28th, 2011, 10:01 AM


March 28th, 2011, 10:12 AM
And now an Egyptian Cobra on the loose in the Bronx! No worries though, he's been found in the Primate House..........


March 28th, 2011, 10:28 PM

March 30th, 2011, 07:42 AM
A tongue-in-cheek Twitter user giving "updates" on a missing deadly Egyptian cobra now has some 35,000 followers.
The 20in (50cm) venomous snake escaped from New York City's Bronx Zoo on Friday, and is yet to be found.
In one tweet, BronxZoosCobra (http://twitter.com/BronxZoosCobra) says: "On top of the Empire State Building! All the people look like little mice down there. Delicious little mice."
In its Twitter account, The Bronx Zoo (http://twitter.com/TheBronxZoo) - which has some 6,000 followers - admits it is currently "the snake's game".
The identity of the person behind BronxZoosCobra's tweets has not been revealed.
Citing the animals from the animated movie Madagascar as inspiration, the "snake" claims to be a huge fan of Tina Fey, but is not so keen on Donald Trump or those who work on Wall Street.
Listing location as "Not at the Bronx Zoo", it has "visited" tourist attractions including the High Line, the museum of Natural History and Ray's Pizza.
One of the more recent posts played on New Yorkers' fears of the scaly escapee.
"It's getting pretty cold out. I think it's probably time to crash. Oh look, an apartment window someone left open just a crack. Perfect!"
Zoo officials said on Monday they were confident the adolescent Egyptian cobra was hiding in a non-public area of the Reptile House but conceded that finding it would be difficult.

April 9th, 2011, 12:55 AM
Meanwhile, Pale Male Is Taking His Cues From Hefner



Enough of Violet and Bobby, live from the nest — you know, the red-tailed hawks at New York University with the video feed. Inquiring minds want to know what’s with Pale Male and all the girlfriends.

The Ann Landers of red-tailed hawk sociology, as John Blakeman calls himself, cleared his throat and talked about mate-swapping.

Apparently Pale Male, the red-tail with the Fifth Avenue address, has been doing that lately, Mr. Blakeman said, even though it “violates everything we know about red-tails.”
Ah, yes. It’s spring, and you don’t have to be Tennyson to fancy that some New Yorkers’ thoughts will turn to Pale Male’s love life.

There is a lot to report.

Lola, Pale Male’s mate from 2002 to 2010, is out of the picture. She disappeared during the winter. No one seems to know why. It might not have been pretty. Consider this: “One of Pale Male’s former females was found dead on the side of a highway in New Jersey,” said the author Marie Winn, who has been keeping tabs on Pale Male since the 1990s.

Let’s leave “The Sopranos” out of this, O.K.?

So what has life after Lola been like? Pale Male was not down in the dumps for long, unless he swooped by a landfill for dinner, but this is about his hunger for the opposite sex. “As ever, because Pale Male is a real stud, a new female showed up almost instantly,” Ms. Winn said.

That was the one the Pale Male-watchers called Ginger.

But just when things seemed as steamy as that sex club on “Law & Order: S.V.U.” the other night, Ginger became an ex, or so the birders speculate — suddenly she was nowhere to be seen, and there was someone new: Pale Beauty. (Some birders called her Paula.)

Then she, too, was gone, replaced by “the one there now,” as Ms. Winn described the female that has been keeping company with Pale Male. Some birders call her Lima, but others wonder if she isn’t really Ginger. Pale Male’s girlfriends are not banded, Ms. Winn said, so there is no way to double-check their identities.

For his part, Mr. Blakeman has enough experience in the advice-for-the-lovelorn business to anticipate the questions. Like Ann Landers, he is a Midwestern oracle. He lives in Huron, Ohio, “halfway between Cleveland and Toledo, at almost exactly the same latitude as New York City.” But he has followed red-tails from Alaska to Maine, and he can guess what question is coming next.

“You’re going to ask whatever happened to Pale Beauty, why she disappeared so quickly,” Mr. Blakeman said. “There’s a 99 percent certainty she passed. She crashed into something and died, or more likely she consumed a poisonous animal, and that did her in.”
“All the textbooks say, and all we raptor biologists believe, they’re mated for life,” Mr. Blakeman said. “We know, especially with red-tails, they pick up a new mate with the passing of a former mate.”

The birders have an eye out for eggs in the nest atop a 12th-floor ledge at 927 Fifth Avenue, at 74th Street. With all that activity, there must be some eggs by now. But so far, no.

“They are trying,” said Rik Davis, a photographer who keeps an eye on the Fifth Avenue lair. “It’s late in the season already, but it can go late. It did last year over at Riverside Park. Two hawks there had babies that hatched but the nest blew out in the wind, and they mated again and had babies. So it can be late and turn out fine.”


June 24th, 2011, 05:32 PM
June 23, 2011, 7:20 pm

Hundreds of Geese to Be Killed in Coming Weeks, City Says

Ruby Washington/The New York Times

Between 700 and 800 Canada geese are expected to be rounded up from parks in and around New York City and killed in the next several weeks, the city Department of Environmental Protection said Thursday afternoon.

The city will not say which parks, however, or when.

But Prospect Park, currently home to about two dozen geese and a round-the-clock “goose watch” patrol aimed at thwarting a repeat of last year’s extermination, is not one of them.

The department released the names of several parks where the 2010 goose roundup was so effective that it said there was no need to do another one this year. They include Prospect Park in Brooklyn, where 368 geese were rounded up last year and killed in the name of airline safety; Douglaston Park Golf Course in Queens (109 geese rounded up last year); East River State Park in Manhattan (67 geese); and Roberto Clemente State Park in the Bronx (55 geese).

But officials both of the city environmental protection department, which orders the kills in city parks, and the federal Department of Agriculture, which counts the geese and captures them, refused to say which parks would be the targets of roundups.

“One of the U.S.D.A.’s priorities is to reduce the stress on the animals and make the operation as stress-free as possible,” said Farrell Sklerov, a spokesman for the city environmental protection department. “And so the locations are not given out in advance.”

Referring to threats from animal-rights advocates to interfere with the roundup, Mr. Sklerov said the authorities “don’t want lots of people looking around or gathering.”

A spokeswoman for the federal agriculture department, Carol Bannerman, said she had no information on where and when the department’s goose collectors would be working.

Friends of Animals announced last week that the organizers of the Prospect Park goose watch had “amassed a list of nearly 100 supporters who are on call to receive a mass text message and phone call at any hour of the night if the U.S.D.A. is spotted by stakeout patrollers and who are able to come to the park immediately to defend the geese.”

The goose watch, the group noted, is “committed to protecting the geese of Prospect Park, New York City and beyond.” Edita Birnkrant, New York director of Friends of Animals, said that at Prospect Park, the goose watch had been prepared to storm the scene of a roundup with whistles and other noisemakers to disperse the geese so that they could not be captured.

Ms. Birnkrant said Thursday evening that goose watchers were prepared to interrupt roundups at Flushing Meadow-Corona Park, where she said there were more geese this year than last, as well as other locations.

“We will definitely restrategize with this information,” Ms. Birnkrant said.

Last year, a total of 1,676 geese were rounded up and killed in New York City and western Nassau County.

© 2011 The New York Times Company

June 30th, 2011, 07:43 AM
Canada Geese Rounded Up in Inwood Hill Park, Witnesses Say

Two people reported seeing geese being rounded up by officials in Inwood Park Tuesday morning.

By Olivia Scheck and Carla Zanoni

http://s3.amazonaws.com/sfb111/story_xlimage_2011_06_R5731_Geese_Rounded_Up_in_In wood_Hill_Park_Witness_Says.jpg

http://s3.amazonaws.com/sfb111/story_xlimage_2010_07_R2870_Geese_Killed_For_Safet y_Precautions.jpg

INWOOD — A distraught dog owner saw a group of geese rounded up in Inwood Hill Park Tuesday morning, part of an effort to prevent the animals from interfering with planes overhead.

"I started to move in their direction to scare them off to try to save them when one of the men told me that if I interfered with the capture, he would have me arrested," the heart broken witness and Inwood resident Suzanne Soehner, 64, first wrote in a post on neighborhood blog InTheWoodNYC.com (http://www.inthewoodnyc.com/). "If I hadn't had the dogs with me, I would have accepted that challenge."

Soehner said she was walking in the park on Tuesday afternoon when a "convoy of trucks" entered the park made up of a van, a "flatbed filled with what looked like huge milk cartons," a truck with canoes in the back and a black SUV filled with police officers.

Soon after arriving, workers entered the salt marsh off Indian Road and began rounding up the birds.

"I said, 'This is supposed to be a wildlife refuge, why is it that the solution to every problem seems to be killing?'" she said.

Inwood resident Sam Denno also witnessed the round up Tuesday afternoon and said he was dispapointed that the goslings he and his children have been watching grow since the spring were taken away.

"City rounded up for slaughter the #Inwood Hills geese including a dozen goslings this morning," he tweeted. "This explains why no more eagles. #bastards."


June 30th, 2011, 08:14 AM
Oh come on.

I agree that this is not a great solution, but the problem is simple. These geese no longer have any predators AND they are not migrating to Canada during the summer anymore.

We need to either start raising wolves again (say goodbye to your toy-dog population) or find another way to "encourage" them to fly north, otherwise it is not just the planes that are effected.

They RUIN any athletic field in a matter of days. These birds eat a TON of grass in short order and then commence to poop it all out all over any open space, road, sidewalk or athletic field.

Killing them may not be the best response, but nobody is offering up any altenative solutions OR are willing to PAY for the more expensive ones.

I thought the Goose meals were a good idea, but I remember hearing something about the geese having some parasites or diseases that make them undesirable....

Aside from the fact that using a shotgun in prospect park might be a bit "inconvenient", is there any reason why there is no hunting season for these suckers in the major metro area?

June 30th, 2011, 10:54 AM
People don't really hunt any more like they used to. It's out of style.

June 30th, 2011, 11:07 AM
Geese aren't just a nuisance for humans; they're a threat to other species in the area. Very aggressive, and they tend to take over an area. They're a big problem at the Jamaica Wildlife Preserve, a rest stop in the Atlantic Flyway.

June 30th, 2011, 11:17 AM
Nice looking birds but they are out of control. They were introduced to the UK in the 1950s and have become a big-time nuisance there.

June 30th, 2011, 11:31 AM
A lot of people have an urban-duck-pond mentality about wild birds. Out in the wild, most of them don't survive to reproduce.

It's our own fault. Predators get eliminated because they're the most dangerous to humans. So prey reproduce to unacceptable numbers. People might have a different viewpoint if they saw what goes on in a balanced environment. Our famous 5th Ave hawks weren't appreciated by some of the area residents, not because of the nests, but the partially eaten pigeons dropped onto the sidewalk.

To me, all these geese in city parks isn't the natural world; it's a distortion.

June 30th, 2011, 12:36 PM
I am all in favor of keeping all of the geese alive.... so long as their "defenders" put one up in their apartment.

July 1st, 2011, 04:22 AM
It's our own fault. Predators get eliminated because they're the most dangerous to humans. So prey reproduce to unacceptable numbers.

That says it all. We cause the problem and then do something unpalatable to fix it. Expediency for human beings, whichever way you look at it.

Not quite the same, but it reminds me of human beings introducing rabbits and cane toads into Australia, with disastrous results and equally unpalatable remediation.

To me, all these geese in city parks isn't the natural world; it's a distortion.

Agreed. And human beings need to become cleverer about how to deal with it in the urban environments we create.

August 3rd, 2011, 03:24 AM
From BBC news -

A peacock has become the latest animal to capture the imagination of New Yorkers after escaping from a city zoo.
The male bird was later spotted perching on a window ledge at an apartment building in the upmarket Fifth Avenue area.
In a statement, Central Park Zoo said the exotic escapee did not pose a risk to anyone.
In May a peahen, a peacock's female counterpart, fled the Bronx Zoo.
The peahen managed to strut around the Bronx for at least a day before it was rescued by a garage owner.
'Sophisticated bird'Since escaping on Tuesday, the peacock has so far spawned two Twitter feeds - @CentralPeacock (http://twitter.com/#!/CentralPeacock) and @BirdOnTheTown (http://twitter.com/#!/BirdOnTheTown) - which have already attracted hundreds of followers apiece.
In a statement, Central Park Zoo said it hoped the bird would fly back to its home, but if it did not they would retrieve it.

August 3rd, 2011, 07:36 AM
^ The resident/s living here would've got a shock looking out the window:



August 3rd, 2011, 02:04 PM
They were going to do a whole piece on it on "The Early Show", but shortly before they started, he flew back to Central Park.

Awwww, less fluff for the morning "n3ws". :p

August 31st, 2011, 11:23 PM
Great news! Zelda the resident turkey of Batter Park survived Irene! Here is a photo of her, captured by the Broadsheet, the day after the hurricane:


Zelda sometimes strolls up and down the Esplanade, and is welcome neighbor. You go, girl!

September 1st, 2011, 12:26 AM
Zelda crossed Battery Pl on her way to the Ritz Carlton. Halfway across, she decided she didin't want to go to the hotel, and returned to the sidewalk while traffic waited patiently.

Further up the street, Zelda encountered an unnamed squirrel acting cute for a family with snacks. Having dispensed with the squirrel, she enjoyed a free meal.


Suddenly, I lost all interest in Zelda.


September 1st, 2011, 12:33 AM
Zelda's looking a little long in the beak.

September 1st, 2011, 01:18 AM
considering the average lifespan for an eastern wild turkey is only 3 to 4 years...

September 1st, 2011, 07:40 AM
She looks wild-turkeyish. A few years ago, she looked like Thanksgiving-Wednesday.

October 20th, 2011, 12:20 PM
My First Helping of Canada Goose
By Sarah Elton

When my father called to say a friend of his had pulled up with the carcass of a freshly-killed goose,
and that he planned to cook it for family dinner, I was more than a little hesitant


When I told people I was planning to eat a Canada Goose, they looked at me as if I'd said I was roasting a rat for dinner. The wild Branta canadensis is ranked down there with the pigeon and the seagull as one of North America's most loathed birds. And for good enough reason. A flock of geese flying in formation might look beautiful from a distance, but these birds cause problems, crowding parks and public space and polluting waterfronts with their waste. Many farmers hate them too. A group of hungry geese searching for seed can trample a newly-planted field in mere minutes, wasting the crop. Their reputation both city-side and in the country is so bad that, when, over the years, officials have suggested culling the flocks and then offering the meat at homeless shelters, the response often has been outrage at the idea of forcing on the poor the indignity of eating a Canada Goose.

Because of their flanneur-like loitering, a goose might seem an easy snatch, but it takes skill to nab one.

But ask a hunter and it's a different story: Those in the know call the Canada Goose the roast beef of the skies. There are people who prefer to hunt geese over other game, and, on both sides of the border, paid hunting tours are organized to stake out the birds. In an excellent short story set in Toronto, three struggling newcomers to Canada salivate at the sight of the food wandering around the city's parks. The punch line comes when they catch a few geese one dark night and cook them up. As the narrator says after dinner: "Well them geese taste good."

These divergent opinions have led to a debate: Should we eat the Canada Goose?

I recently jumped into the discussion when my dad called to say that a hunter friend had pulled up with the carcass of a freshly-killed goose -- blood, feathers, guts, and all. He said we would be cooking it for the next family dinner. To be honest, I was hesitant. I am locavore-inclined and eat domesticated fowl of all sorts -- I adore duck and am particularly fond of a lightly poached duck egg -- but there was something about eating a wild goose that made me stop. Was it that I had seen too many of them paddling around polluted lakefronts? Or maybe it was their predilection for foraging on the pesticide-saturated lawns of golf courses? It was as if the Canada Goose's close association with human activity meant there was something unclean about them. Sure, on the one hand they were wild, but because they like to wander in all sorts of icky places, eating one of the birds sounded just as appetizing as eating a back-alley pigeon.

So I called up a goose hunter.

Drake Larsen is a researcher in sustainable agriculture at Iowa State University who happens to be an avid hunter and who bags well over a dozen Canada Geese a year. He learned his passion for waterfowl hunting from his dad, who called his kids after the birds: Drake is named after the male duck, and his siblings Teal and Woodie after two different species. Canada Goose and venison are the main protein sources for Larsen and his wife. The day I called, he had been out on a goose hunt. "They're so yummy," he said. "It's good, lean, rich meat. I find they are similar to a good cut of beef."

It turns out that goose meat is just as versatile as beef, and the best way to cook it depends on the season. In the fall, the geese have not yet fattened up for winter. Their meat is lean and does not lend itself to roasting. Larsen slices open these fall birds and pops out their breast meat. They he cooks the breasts like steaks, stir fries them, or even grinds them to fill casings and make Canada Goose sausage. A winter bird, however, is fatter and is ideal for roasting. Larsen said his colleagues at work really enjoy a pulled-goose sandwich that he prepares in a slow cooker at the office.

And not only are the birds good to eat -- they are also fun to hunt. Because of their flanneur-like loitering, a Canada Goose might seem an easy snatch, but it takes skill to nab one. To catch a goose, Larsen will set up a flock of decoys designed to attract the attention of his prey in an area near to where the geese congregate. Then he lies down amid the faux geese, waves a black flag to get their attention, and practices his goose calls. "Ducks have a simple language. Geese have more of a vocabulary," he said. "If [the geese] were coming toward me, I'd do a soft, slow, rhythmic honking. But if they were sideways, I would do a more distinctive pleading like 'Turn here! Turn here!' I find the calling is the invigorating part."

While my dad isn't a hunter, he is a pretty handy guy, so he was able to pluck, skin, and gut the goose himself. It did take him five hours and, when he was done, the lawn was covered with a fine layer of goose down. My mom decided to slow-roast the goose upside down in red wine. The smell of the cooking meat was rich and fragrant, but when she pulled the bird from the oven, it had a dark, shriveled quality and I still wasn't convinced that eating the goose was a good idea.

Then I took a bite. The meat was dark as liver, and earthy too, but not greasy or gamey. It was delicious. Aside from the lead shot my husband found embedded in his dinner, the Canada Goose made for a delicious meal and even our kids loved it. As for the debate about whether or not to eat the birds, I now wholeheartedly fall into the eat'em camp. This summer, Canada Geese that strayed too close to New York City's airport were culled and shipped to Pennsylvania to be offered in food banks there. But if Manhattan's chefs knew how scrumptious those birds were, there's no way they would have left the island.

Copyright © 2011 by The Atlantic Monthly Group

October 20th, 2011, 02:00 PM
The only thing I am wary of is parasites.

Pesticides are also a concern. They really did not touch too much on that in the story there....

October 20th, 2011, 05:48 PM
Then you should worry about chicken that isn't free-range.

October 21st, 2011, 08:30 AM
Who says I don't?

October 21st, 2011, 11:04 AM
so much for lunch...

October 21st, 2011, 11:05 AM
Whatever doesn't kill you, makes good sausage.

November 5th, 2011, 04:03 AM
Michael Budano is fearless. As a teenager in East Harlem, he polished the shoes of mobsters like Frank Costello and Joseph Valachi without blinking an eye.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2011/11/05/nyregion/JPTURKEY/JPTURKEY-articleInline.jpg (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/05/nyregion/wild-turkeys-are-nuisance-on-staten-island.html?_r=1&hp)
Kirsten Luce for The New York Times

When, determined to gather evidence, Mary Jane Froese raked up turkey droppings and feathers, her haul totaled 112 pounds.

But the unwelcome visitors that trot and strut around his Staten Island neighborhood do sometimes make him nervous.
“I had one under my car last week,” said Mr. Budano, 71, a retired traffic manager for the subways. “I had to chase him out with a broom. But they can become vicious.”
The creatures that have unnerved Mr. Budano, and many of his neighbors, are wild turkeys: scores of them have invaded the streets surrounding the South Beach Psychiatric Center on the eastern shore of Staten Island.
These are the urban sidewalks of New York, residents like to remind visitors, not some rustic patch of woods.
“In New York City you worry about roaches and rats, not turkeys,” Mr. Budano said.
One of his neighbors, Mary Jane Froese, 64, a hairdresser, was so worked up by the turkeys roosting in her red maple tree that she decided to gather evidence to back up her grievances. So she raked up their droppings and feathers, put the harvest in eight plastic bags and weighed the bags on her bathroom scale. The total came to 112 pounds.
“It’s not that I don’t want them,” Ms. Froese said. “I don’t want the amount of them.”
Even though flocks of turkeys are occasionally spotted in wooded areas around the city, the adjoining neighborhoods of Dongan Hills and South Beach are the only spot where wild turkeys have become a rampant nuisance, according to the State Department of Environmental Conservation. There are at least 100 there, if not double that number.
Residents complain that the turkeys eat their shrubs and garden vegetables, frighten small children and snatch cookies out of their hands, wake families up before sunrise and cross the streets in indolent flocks that seem impervious to impatient drivers.
The fact that Thanksgiving is around the corner has elicited about as much compassion as the crows received in the Alfred Hitchcock horror movie “The Birds.”
“I hope they’re not the same species,” Fara D. Mitchell, 35, an elementary school teacher and lifelong Staten Islander, said of the birds and her holiday entree. Turkeys carved up for the holidays are breeds cultivated from the wild turkeys that were domesticated more than 100 years ago, but their descendants have been bred to have different features and are so heavy they are unable to fly.
So far the state has tried unsuccessfully to prevent hatching by searching out nests and smearing the eggs with corn oil. Residents have been advised to scare turkeys off with water hoses. Nothing has worked. A survey of 775 houses in the affected area, conducted by the state in January, found that 61 percent of respondents reported seeing turkeys daily, 57 percent feared striking one with their cars and about half said they had to clean up droppings.
The state has rejected efforts to transfer the flocks to more rural counties, where turkeys normally forage — but where the Staten Island flocks, officials fear, might not adjust well after acclimating to a human habitat. The Staten Island turkeys cannot be hunted, either, because they are protected with prescribed seasons and areas, none of which are within the city limits.
How wild turkeys got to Staten Island is a subject of contention. Residents often hark back to the sheep and vegetable farms that were prevalent on the island 50 years ago. But state officials insist that the turkeys are not indigenous and that in 2000, nine turkeys were deposited on the sprawling grounds of the psychiatric center “by a local resident who had held them in captivity.”
The turkeys have since multiplied and can be seen by the dozens foraging on the center’s broad lawns. The strawberry-red wattles under the turkeys’ chins and their iridescent feathers make them stand out from the Canada geese grazing nearby. The turkeys have also leaped or flown over the fences and now often roost in trees in the yards of private homes.
“I’m an animal lover, and I don’t want them killed for no reason,” Ms. Froese said as four brown-and-green-feathered turkeys sauntered by her sidewalk. “I want them placed somewhere else — upstate.”
Other Staten Islanders have similarly conflicted feelings. Connie Budano, who with her husband, Michael, moved to Staten Island 12 years ago from Brooklyn, said she enjoyed seeing the turkeys because they made her “feel like I’m on a farm somewhere.” Her husband even likes to show them off to their grandchildren when they visit, feeding them Cheerios.
But endearing as the birds can be, the bottom line, in Mr. Budano’s words, is they “make a mess.”
Kristin Fitzpatrick, a risk manager for Staten Island University Hospital who was having a cigarette break across from Mr. Budano’s home, called the turkeys “rude and slow” and said they “walk like idiots.”
Ms. Froese showed a reporter the backyard shrubs where four years ago she found 16 eggs, 13 of which hatched; the garden where her father no longer plants the tomatoes, zucchini and basil he cultivated for half a century; and the pine tree the family christened “Turkey Condo” because of the many roosting birds. Ms. Froese no longer plants cabbages on her property.
“I plant it, they eat it,” she said. “They’re pretty to look at, but I don’t want them living with me.”

November 7th, 2011, 08:50 AM
Solution = doggies.


November 9th, 2011, 05:45 PM
BY MATTHEW LYSIAK (http://www.nydailynews.com/authors?author=Matthew Lysiak)
Wednesday, November 9 2011


Fran Russo and daughter Julianne watch as turkeys make themselves at home on their lawn in Ocean Breeze, S.I.

The wild turkeys of Staten Island have multiplied and grown ornery a year after officials vowed to keep the birds in check, residents say.
Ocean Breeze residents said they’re sick of sharing their streets with the menacing gobblers.
“I’m scared. The turkeys keep coming and coming and coming. They never stop,” said Suloa Perasevic, 37, of Ocean Breeze.
“The officials told us last year they would solve this problem, but now it’s a year later and there are more turkeys, not less,” Perasevic said.
Perasevic, a handyman, said the feathered pests have gotten so curmudgeonly that he and his wife are afraid to let their two daughters, ages 5 and 1, play in their yard.
“The turkeys are bigger than my children, and they aren’t afraid of people or even cars,” he said.
Officials at the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the agency responsible for controlling the turkey problem, refused to comment .
Perasevic purchased a sonar machine to shoo the birds away, but his plan backfired. “ They didn’t mind it one bit,” he said.
DEC officials have come up with numerous ideas to control the turkeys, including killing them. But locals say nothing has worked and scoffed at a “turkey survey” sent to 775 households in February.
“How stupid can you get? Why do they want to know my feeling about turkeys?” said Fran Russo (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Fran+Russo), 55, who has lived in Ocean Breeze for nearly 25 years.
Russo (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Fran+Russo) has a seasonal idea for turkey control. “They should look out or they will become someone’s dinner,” she said.
Now some residents have taken matters into their own hands. Around Thanksgiving hungry residents can be seen scooping up the turkeys up and driving away with them, according to Russo.
"I've seen people grab them and put them in their cars always around Thanksgiving time. They are turkeys. It's Thanksgiving. They should look out or they will become someone's dinner," said Russo.
The turkeys can get mean, according to Russo.
"They are like the neighborhood gang," said Russo.
"They can be aggressive. I one time saw a man at the red light taunting a turkey. His window was down and he was making noises at it. Next thing you know the light turned green and the turkey started chasing the car down the street, pecking at it."
Ocean Breeze's turkey terror began in 1999 when a local resident liberated her nine pet birds at nearby South Beach Psychiatric Center.
There are roughly 100 turkeys in the neighborhood, acvording to the DEC, though locals think it might be in the thousands.
"The turkeys have multiplied since last year. They are street wise. They are city turkeys. They know how to survive," said Russo.
"These turkeys are out of control," said Angela Foster (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Angela+Foster), 63, who first noticed the invasion a decade ago.
"The filthy animals are like a gang. They take over the street and yards and poop everywhere. It's disgusting."
Packs of turkeys strut slowly along the tree-lined residential streets near Liberty Ave. and Mason Street.
Standing 2 to 4 feet high, they meander between houses and linger for hours outside some homes.
City law protects wild turkeys from hunters.
At Staten Island University Hospital, patients and staff routinely dodge the birds gathered outside the doors.

November 10th, 2011, 11:51 AM
Time for a Staten Island turkey hunt? Just in time for Thanksgiving.

November 10th, 2011, 12:09 PM
Turkeys get organized.


November 10th, 2011, 12:25 PM
This is about as close as I could find (http://www.facebook.com/OccupyTurkey) :cool:

November 28th, 2011, 05:18 AM
Battery Park's Resident Turkey Enjoys Quiet Thanksgiving

By Jill Colvin


http://assets.dnainfo.com/generated/photo/2010/11/story_masterimage_2010_11_R1213_ZELDA_BATTERY_PARK S_TURKEY11242010/image640x480.jpg


(see article (http://www.dnainfo.com/20111124/downtown/battery-parks-resident-turkey-enjoys-quiet-thankgiving)for more pics)


DOWNTOWN — At least one turkey in the city doesn't have to worry about making it onto a Thanksgiving plate.

Zelda, Manhattan's resident wild turkey (http://www.dnainfo.com/20101124/downtown/battery-parks-resident-turkey-draws-crowds-on-eve-of-thanksgiving), spent her Thanksgiving morning lazily munching on bird seeds in Battery Park, where she's lived for the past eight years, thrilling tourists, entertaining park staff and enduring one too many Thanksgiving jokes.

"She does not appreciate cranberry and gravy jokes,” said Pat Kirshner, director of operations and planning at the Battery Conservancy, which helps care for Zelda.

Staff aren’t quite sure where the turkey came from. She first appeared in 2003, when the Gardens of Remembrance was planted in honor of 9/11, and she's been there ever since.

While the average turkey rarely lives past six years (that is, if it doesn't end up served alongside stuffing), Zelda, whose age is unknown, is already older than that, making it safe to assume she's likely getting near the end of her life.
And it's beginning to show.

While Zelda's thick feathers are still a deep brown, her head and feet have grayed. She now waddles slowly through the park, picking for worms and dozing in the shade of the playground, hiding under benches and jungle gym slides. Zelda has laid eggs, but she’s never had any turkey boyfriends or baby chicks.

"She's sticking a little closer to home these days," Kirshner said. "She's really old for a turkey. She's slowing down. She's not looking quite as shiny as she has in the past."
For passerby who don't know about Zelda, her presence is quite a sight — especially on Thanksgiving Day.

"That's wild!" said Ben Yetman, 32, who spotted the feathered creature while walking his dog, a Border terrier named Don Julio, Thursday morning.

"I thought she escaped from someone's table!" he joked, adding that he didn't think she had much to worry about from hungry parks-goers who might be thinking she would look better on a plate.
"She survived for seven of these, so I think she's pretty skilled," he said
Rich San and Joy Lapid, visiting from Virginia, were just as surprised to spot the turkey while they were hunting for a view of the Statue of Liberty. But as they tried to snap a photo, Zelda started ambling toward them, sending them running.

"I've never really seen a turkey. I didn't know what it was!" said San.

Park staff said that Zelda, who has a turkey-shaped farm in the park designed in her honor (http://www.dnainfo.com/20110324/downtown/urban-farm-shaped-like-turkey-opens-battery-park#ixzz1edmRYgFG), sleeps in a nest in a tree near the playground, high above the park and usually comes down around 6:30 or 7 a.m. She spends her days foraging for food and exploring, especially near a new carousel being built near the Staten Island Ferry terminal entrance.

Zelda was named after the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was also supposedly found wandering the park after a nervous breakdown.

Chet Heald, a park supervisor who has worked in the park for a year and a half and has come to know Zelda well, said she's generally a friendly turkey and gets along with park visitors, though she gets nervous when people get too close.

"She keeps her distance," said Heald. He and other staffers keep an eye on her, feeding her wild bird seed and making sure flocks of pigeons don't get too close.
"She's just a part of the Parks family," he said.

He especially appreciated having a turkey around while he was working on Thanksgiving Day.

"Let's hope there's one when I get home," he said.


December 1st, 2011, 02:29 PM

January 27th, 2012, 05:07 AM
Madison Square

(home of Carol Willis, founder, director and curator of the Skyscraper Museum (http://www.skyscraper.org/home.htm))



February 3rd, 2012, 10:51 PM
In Brooklyn and Manhattan, Owl Watchers May Have Their Day


Junior, a male great horned owl admired for his resemblance to Jack Nicholson,
at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx last January.

If owls represent wisdom, as folklore dictates, then perhaps Brooklyn and Manhattan are no place for sages.

The great horned owl, one of the largest and most powerful raptors in North America, has not successfully nested in either borough since records started being kept over 100 years ago.
But this year, two pairs have raised hopes among birders, exhibiting pre-nesting behavior — roosting together, mostly — in Green-Wood Cemetery and Prospect Park in Brooklyn and Inwood Hill Park in Manhattan.

In fact, the great horned owl population across New York City is slowly expanding, though exact numbers are difficult to come by because the birds are so good at hiding, said Bob DeCandido, otherwise known as “Birding Bob,” who leads birdwatching walks throughout the city.

A great horned owl couple at the
New York Botanical Garden in 2009.

Great horned owls – just one New York animal species among many enjoying an urban resurgence – prefer big trees, so their habitat has increased as the woodlands in the city’s parks have grown older. They also have plenty of food to eat, like rats, squirrels, rabbits and skunks.

“Old-growth woods, big tree cavities, reasonable prey base,” Mr. DeCandido said, describing the owls’ nesting needs.

Birders are hoping the great horned owl’s New York story could become a 21st century version of that of the red-tailed hawk, a similarly sized raptor that was believed to have never bred in modern-day Manhattan until the arrival of the celebrity bird Pale Male in the early 1990s.

“You could consider them almost alter egos of one another,” said Mike Feller, the chief naturalist for the city’s parks department. “One is the daytime top predator in its particular habitat and the other is the nighttime top predator.”

Mr. DeCandido said that last year there were at least a half dozen pairs in the Bronx — in Pelham Bay Park and Van Cortlandt Park and in the New York Botanical Garden — along with one in Queens’ Alley Pond Park and several on Staten Island. A nesting pair was also observed on South Brother Island just offshore from the Rikers Island prison.

“They’re big birds — they need about 200-plus acres,” said Debbie Becker, a naturalist at the botanical garden. She has named all of the nesting owls she’s seen at the garden over the past 26 years, including “Robust,” a huge female, and “Junior,” who bears a passing resemblance to Jack Nicholson circa “The Shining.”

In Manhattan, individual great horned owls have occasionally made brief appearances, but there have been no confirmed nests going back to the 19th century. On Dec. 17, though, an “Owl Prowl (http://www.nycgovparks.org/events/2011/12/17/whoooo-goes-there-an-owl-prowl-with-mike-feller)” in Inwood Hill Park led by Mr. Feller turned up two great horned owls hooting to each other, a sign of courtship.

On a recent Friday, just before the owls would have begun the nesting process, Mr. Feller went back but could not find them. Nonetheless, he said there was a “good possibility” that the pair in Inwood Hill Park would lay eggs this year.

The following Monday, in Pelham Bay Park, he spotted a great horned owl roughly 70 feet up in the hollow of a bare tree. The owl, about two feet tall with a white bib and large ear tufts, glared straight ahead with big, cat-like eyes before silently flying to a nearby tree branch. A few minutes later, it then took off out of sight.

“Mission accomplished,” Mr. Feller said.

In Brooklyn, a pair of great horned owls showed up about four years ago, and has since tried to nest at least twice in Green-Wood Cemetery and once in Prospect Park, where they laid eggs last year (http://citybirder.blogspot.com/2011_03_01_archive.html). They have not succeeded yet, local birdwatchers believe, in part because of intrusion from humans and dogs.
The Brooklyn owls have been seen roosting together again this year.

“If you find a nest, you don’t want to tell the whole birding world,” Mr. DeCandido said. “Do your best to keep it a secret until the bird fledges.”

Experts also caution against standing near nests, and against imitating the owl’s vocalizations, as this can disrupt courtship and cause stress. Young owls on the forest floor are being guarded by the parents and do not need human assistance.

“A great horned owl would probably fight off a German shepherd if that was the situation,” Mr. Feller said.

Barn owls and screech owls are known to nest (http://www.nytimes.com/1998/07/24/arts/a-walk-on-manhattan-s-wild-side.html) across the city, but not in any great numbers.

These days, Mr. DeCandido noted, there are more than a half-dozen red-tailed hawk nests in Manhattan. And if they can do it, the thinking goes, the great horned owls can, too. Mr. DeCandido said he hoped to be able to show more people the glory of the owl in the years to come.

“Owls do something to people,” he said. “People are fascinated with them.”


April 15th, 2012, 10:16 AM
Zelda update: Just saw her strolling past the Korean deli in Battery Park City. She seems to have slowed down with old age, but then so have I, so best for me not to judge. Sorry, didn't have time to take a photo, as was heading off to work.

April 21st, 2012, 02:54 AM



May 12th, 2012, 05:24 AM

24 Magnificent Photos Of Manhattan Peacocks To Take The Edge Off Today

(photos by Katie Sokoler/Gothamist)





May 14th, 2012, 10:25 AM
New story:

"Rabid Peacock Attacks Tourist"

August 30th, 2012, 09:43 PM
knightmare6 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/knightmare6/7890674670/sizes/l/in/pool-63919873@N00/)



Yes, it's true... whales and dolphins have been spotted in the waters of Rockaway, New York!

If you're interested in setting sail in search of these beautiful mammals, hop aboard The American Princess for a Whale Watch / Dolphin Watch Adventure Cruise.

Beginning June 20, 2012 through August 31, 2012 every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (*Three new dates added: Fri 9/7, Sat 9/8 and Sun 9/9 *) join us from 12:00 PM Noon to approximately 4:00 PM for a relaxing cruise and what promises to be an amazing site. Leaving from Riis Landing (Rockaway, Queens New York).

October 13th, 2012, 12:25 AM
In a Shoebox, an Owl and a Mystery


Daniel Avila/N.Y.C. Dept. of Parks and Recreation Someone dropped off a
saw-whet owl at the parks department’s headquarters in Central Park on Friday.

A man walked into the parks department’s headquarters in the Arsenal in Central Park on Friday afternoon and handed over a shoebox.

“He didn’t stay, he didn’t give a name,” said Vickie Karp, a parks spokeswoman. “He just said, ‘Here’s an owl.’”

The man said the owl had flown onto his property in Sea Gate, Brooklyn, several days ago and had been sitting on the ground for a couple of days, Ms. Karp said.
The owl (see video below) was small. At first, parks workers thought it was a fledgling.

But Rob Mastrianni, an urban park ranger for the department who specializes in raptors, immediately recognized it as an adult northern saw-whet owl, a species that only grows to a height of 7 or 8 inches and to a weight of about 3 ounces. Saw-whets live in Canada and sometimes spend the winter in New York.

The owl refuses to fly, but the reason was not immediately clear, Ms. Karp said. Sometimes when saw-whets are frightened, she said, they will simply stay very still and appear very calm. The owl, dubbed Owl Jolson, has been turned over to rehabilitation experts at the Wild Bird Fund.



October 13th, 2012, 06:51 PM
That owl is sooo cute!

Today when peeking through the shades on my terrace door, I was fortunate enough
to catch a glimpse of this Ruby Crowned Kinglet!
He was foraging on the tiny dried flower heads on the planted silver mounds.
One of the smallest birds found in North America-this one was only about 3" long.
(sorry for the bad pic)


October 14th, 2012, 12:17 AM
Yes, I love owls, and he/she's a sweetie being so small.

Wow, it really is amazing to see what wildlife can live in a big city. Not what I would've expected on a terrace in the middle of Manhattan.

October 15th, 2012, 11:02 AM
Owl Jolsen....


October 15th, 2012, 04:29 PM
scu, the photo is perfectly ok.

October 31st, 2012, 07:21 PM
Zelda, The Wild Turkey Of Battery Park, Survived The Storm


Photo courtesy of Michael Cyr

It's not surprising that Zelda—the wild turkey of Battery Park that escaped her journey onto the West Side Highway unscathed in 2004, survived the Frankenstorm. This afternoon Michael Cyr, who manages the food kiosks in Battery Park for the Cleaver Company and the Green Table in Chelsea Market, sent over the above photo of Zelda in the park today.

A little background: Zelda has been in the park for nearly a decade, and was named after F. Scott's wife Zelda Fitzgerald, because during one of Mrs. F's many nervous breakdowns she went missing and was discovered in Battery Park.


November 4th, 2012, 05:44 PM
That playground at Battery Park got trashed in the storm. A big old tree right in the middle came down and is taking up most of the play area.

November 4th, 2012, 06:46 PM
Interesting how trees either tipped over including the roots or the trunk was snapped in half.

November 9th, 2012, 10:55 PM

Raccoon Takes Shelter at Queens Library During Hurricane Sandy

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska





Children coming to the Queens Library at Baisley Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/baisleypondpark) in South Jamaica named the animal "Mr. Rocky Books" after the raccoon found its way into the library's atrium last week during the worst of devastating storm.

The kids built the animal a carboard-box home and have been keeping him company by reading him books through a window separating the children’s section from the atrium, which is a small garden in the middle of the library building.

Neighborhood volunteers discovered the animal hiding under a shrub when they came to clean up after the storm.

“The kids love him,” said Joanne King, communications director for the Queens Library system. “For now, everyone is happy to have him as a guest, but he can’t stay. It’s a wild animal.”

King noted no one knows how the racoon got into the atrium, which is accessible to staff members who have been refilling his food and water.

King said that if the racoon is unable to find his way out on his own, the library will consult with wild animal experts for help.


November 13th, 2012, 10:52 AM
They should bring him in and give him rabies shots so he does not "love" one of the kids too much.

I love raccoons myself, but they are PESKY little buggers (they get into EVERYTHING!)

November 13th, 2012, 05:14 PM
Yes they look so cute and innocent...

November 13th, 2012, 05:43 PM
They should bring him in and give him rabies shots so he does not "love" one of the kids too much.

Or at least make sure the kids get eye exams.


November 14th, 2012, 04:15 AM
^ LOL :D!

Thanks for that laugh of the day, Zippy.

November 16th, 2012, 12:40 PM
I went to a wedding at the Central Park Boathouse once. The party room at the boathouse has a deck that raps around from the lake back into the hill behind the building. Well apparently theres a family of racoons that live under the deck. They seem to have no fear of humans, and come out from under the deck to take handouts. They were very cute, especially the younger ones, but I tried not to get too close to them.

November 16th, 2012, 03:33 PM
There are some skunks living in the Heights that I see from time to time. It's at night, and I'm rarely open to hanging around them long enough to take photos, though.

November 23rd, 2012, 06:37 AM
Battery Park Turkey Survives Hurricane Sandy and Another Thanksgiving

By Jill Colvin





Zelda, Battery Park's beloved resident turkey (http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20111124/downtown/battery-parks-resident-turkey-enjoys-quiet-thankgiving), managed to survive Hurricane Sandy, despite widespread damage across lower Manhattan, and will live out another Thanksgiving far from the stuffing or gravy bowl.

Parks officials believe the elderly hen, who many hadn't expected to make it another year, rode out the storm by clinging to the tree she often sleeps in, as flood waters gobbled up the rest of the park, staffers said.

“They have those powerful feet. They just clamp down on the branch," said Pat Kirshner, director of operations and planning for the Battery Conservancy, which oversees the park and helps Zelda survive.

The storm ravaged the small playground where Zelda often hangs out, ripping one of her favorite trees out by its roots, crushing jungle gym equipment, and tossing colored wooden pieces around.

A Parks Department staffer said Zelda was missing for about five days, but emerged unscathed.

“She's a wild bird. She knows what she’s doing. She had her wits about her,” said Kirshner. She emerged “a little bit hungry. But she weathered it just fine."

On Thanksgiving morning, a cautious Zelda was spotted roaming around her usual stomping grounds in the park, where she's lived for the past nine years, thrilling school kids, confusing tourists, and enduring one too many Thanksgiving jokes.

“People can't believe it. They don’t know what she is," said Kirshner.

Asked how she'd managed to survive the storm, Zelda cocked her head slightly to the side and then went back to pruning her feathers in the shade of a jungle gym slide.

Staff aren’t quite sure where the turkey came from. She first appeared in 2003, as staff were planting the Gardens of Remembrance in honor of 9/11, and she's been there ever since.

While the average turkey rarely lives past six years (if it doesn't end up on a dinner plate), Zelda, whose age was unknown when she arrived, is already older than that — making her ancient in turkey time.

And time is taking its toll.

Zelda had a rough summer, Kirshner said, including a problem with one of her eyes. On Thursday morning, she looked grayer than last year, walking slowly around the still-closed playground, picking for seeds and hiding under damaged benches and jungle gym slides.

“She's slower and doesn't look quite as sleek and as shiny as she used to,” Kirshner said.

Still, she earned stares from passersby shocked to see a real, live bird on Turkey Day.

“Oh wow! That’s so funny,” said Marie Bernes, 23, a student at the University of Virgina, who is originally from France, and spotted Zelda making her way through the park.

Park staff said that Zelda, who has a turkey-shaped farm in the park designed in her honor (http://www.dnainfo.com/20110324/downtown/urban-farm-shaped-like-turkey-opens-battery-park#ixzz1edmRYgFG), sleeps in a nest in a tree near the playground, high above the park and usually comes down around 6:30 or 7 a.m.

She spends her days exploring and foraging for food, searching the lawns and gardens for seeds, bugs and grubs. She sometimes heads to the nearby Battery Gardens Restaurant, where she likes to admire her own reflection in the glass.

Zelda, who was named after the wife of novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, has laid eggs, staffers said, but she’s never had any turkey boyfriends or baby chicks.

Kirshner said they'd at one point considered looking for a mate, but decided against it.

“We really don't want to get into the turkey husbandry business,” she said.

Plus, she said, if Zelda were unhappy, she could simply pick up and leave.

“There are a lot of single old birds in the city," she noted, who do just fine.


December 26th, 2012, 08:21 PM
Oh god, how sad. The whale's suffering is very hard to witness.

Grim Prognosis for a 60-Ton Whale Stranded on a Beach in Queens


Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
A 60-foot fin whale washed up on the Jamaica Bay beach at Breezy Point, Queens, on Wednesday.

Updated, 7:25 p.m. | There it sat on the sand at Breezy Point Wednesday morning in the misty drizzle, gray and improbably massive, flippers slowly flopping, mouth bobbing open and shut in the lapping tide.

It was a whale, a 60-foot finback, “the banished and unconquerable Cain of his race” as Melville called it, looking almost robotic and entirely surreal on a stretch of Queens shoreline still littered with debris from Hurricane Sandy, with Brooklyn’s blocky shore skyline looming beyond.

As evening fell, the whale, severely underweight even at 60-some tons, was alive, but its breathing was slowing, and it was not long for this world, rescuers said.

“Unfortunately, this animal is so emaciated, there’s nothing we can do,” said Kim Durham, rescue program director for the Riverhead Foundation on Long Island, the region’s official rescuer of stranded marine mammals.

Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
The whale is severely emaciated and is unlikely to survive, experts said.

The whale was spotted on the shore of Rockaway Inlet, near Beach 216th Street (https://maps.google.com/maps?q=beach+216+st+and+palmer+dr,+queens+ny&ll=40.557243,-73.918676&spn=0.022563,0.042615&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&hnear=Beach+216th+St+%26+Palmer+Dr,+Queens,+New+Yo rk+11697&gl=us&t=h&z=15), around 10:40 a.m. What is wrong with it and why it came here were not clear. The finback, also known as a fin whale, an endangered species (http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/9366.html) and the second-biggest whale after the blue whale, is one of several types found in the waters off New York Harbor.

Whales approach the city’s shores on occasion, and it rarely ends well. In 2007, a small minke whale appeared near the mouth of the Gowanus Canal but soon died (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/19/nyregion/19whale.html). Robert DiGiovanni Jr., the Riverhead Foundation’s executive director, said that big whales struck by ships sometimes turn up in the harbor, but “it’s unusual” to see a whale the size of a finback come ashore. In 1964, when a 52-foot finback corpse turned up in the Hudson off 79th Street, The Times wrote that “seafaring folk along the river say they had never heard of whales, dead or alive, in those waters.”

The prognosis for beached whales, particularly of this size, is always grim, said Mendy Garron, a marine-mammal rescue coordinator with the National Marine Fisheries Service.
“When large whales strand, it’s very difficult,” she said. “The minute they get on the beach they’re being compromised because their internal organs are being crushed by their weight.”

If the whale dies, disposing of its body will also be difficult. Assuming the whale is necropsied, its body will be so carved up that towing it out to sea and dumping it will not be possible, Ms. Garron said.

Finding a place to bury the remains in an urban area can be hard (a finback that washed up in the Hamptons in August was buried in the sand (http://www.27east.com/news/article.cfm/Hampton-Bays/434696/Dead-Fin-Whale-Washes-Up-On-Hampton-Bays-Beach)). If the whale has to be euthanized, Ms. Garron said, such large quantities of toxic drugs would be used that the carcass would become an environmental hazard. Finding a landfill for 60 tons of biological waste is expensive.

Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
The whale’s face and other parts of its body were abraded as it struggled on the beach.

“It can be a logistical nightmare,” Ms. Garron said. The 1964 whale was towed 35 miles out to sea, fitted with 500 pounds of explosives, and blown up (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/549818-1964-dead-whale-in-hudson-towed-to-sea-and-blown.html). Ms. Garron said that method was off the table.

The appearance of the doomed whale in a coastal neighborhood devastated by water and fire during the hurricane drew crowds of onlookers, who watched as volunteer firefighters hosed down the animal to keep it hydrated.

“It’s always another adventure,” said Rosemary Keegan, 66. “After everything else we’ve had out here, you don’t know what to expect.”

Some residents first seemed hopeful that the whale might somehow make its way back out to sea, but as fog rolled in and the rain mixed with snow, the mood grew somber. One by one, the whale-watchers peeled away from the beach, leaving the giant, heaving animal, growing ever more still as day faded away.


March 23rd, 2013, 02:39 AM
Beautiful and amazing.

The Awesome Journey of Coley the Osprey


Kirsten Luce for The New York Times
Coley and his mate, on their nesting perch in Jamaica Bay.

A fish hawk named Coley reunited with his mate off the coast of Queens this week on the first day of spring. His spiky brown crest was slightly ruffled, but otherwise, he seemed surprisingly poised after completing his northern migration.

He did not flinch at the din of a Delta jet approaching the nearby runway at Kennedy International Airport.

Wherever that plane was coming from, its trip had undoubtedly taken less time than Coley’s.

Over 15 days, he had clocked about 2,600 miles, starting from Ciénaga Pajaral (http://www.jamaicabayosprey.org/2013/03/let-the-adventure-begin.html), or Bird Marsh, on the northern tip of Colombia.

On Wednesday evening, a ranger at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (http://www.nyharborparks.org/visit/jaba.html) spotted the female eating a fish on the nest, perhaps gifted by Coley as an act of commitment.

Coley is offering researchers an extraordinary view of the hunting and flying patterns of ospreys, fish-eating raptors with five-foot wingspans.

As part of a two-year project (http://www.jamaicabayosprey.org/about-the-project) spearheaded by the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy (http://www.nyharborparks.org/), the three-and-a-half-pound brown bird with a white breast was equipped with a harness attached to a solar-powered GPS device. It was about the size of small matchbox, with a 10-inch antenna sticking out the back.

Uli Seit for The New York Times
Coley, newly outfitted with a GPS device, in May 2012.

For 16 hours a day, it records the location, altitude, speed and direction of the bird.

“These birds know where they are going and do not waste any time getting there,” said Bob Kennedy, an osprey expert and science adviser for the harbor parks, who outfitted Coley with his one-ounce backpack last May (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/02/nyregion/at-jamaica-bay-wildlife-refuge-tracking-an-osprey-via-gps.html).

Dr. Kennedy, whose chronicle of Coley’s adventure is at www.jamaicabayosprey.org (http://www.jamaicabayosprey.org/), said he believed that the bird had made the journey before, but many mysteries remain.

“We know a whole lot more about migration than we do 50 years ago,” he said. But how they navigate – using land features, the Earth’s magnetic force, celestial and solar cues, or a combination of these methods – is not exactly clear.

“Prior migration experience probably plays an important role as well,” he added.

Coleman P. Burke, a founding board member of the harbor conservancy who invested $25,000 in the endeavor, about half of its total cost, has been anxiously monitoring his namesake’s progress.

“He’s facing headwinds and bad weather,” Mr. Burke said. “This is not a simple drill.”

View Coley the Osprey’s Complete Migration North, 2013-03-05 to 2013-03-20 (https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=206254992628379003842.0004d87166980a1d2d2d 6&msa=0&ie=UTF8&t=h&ll=25.641526,-76.464844&spn=53.825653,84.375&z=3&source=embed).

On March 8, Coley completed the most challenging leg of the trip (http://www.jamaicabayosprey.org/2013/03/safely-across-the-caribbean.html), 440 miles from La Guajira Peninsula in Colombia to the extreme southwest coast of Haiti, entirely over water. Counting the miles he flew to reach the Colombian coast and the distance he flew after reaching Haiti, he logged over 530 miles of nonstop flying in 34 hours.

Osprey have made a vigorous comeback in recent decades after the population was nearly decimated by the use of the pesticide DDT in the 1950s and ’60s.

Kirsten Luce for The New York Times
The female osprey returned to the platform with additional nesting materials on Thursday.

Dave Taft, who is the National Park Service’s coordinator for the wildlife refuge, which is part of Gateway National Recreation Area (http://www.nps.gov/gate/index.htm), recalled when a breeding pair of osprey was a rare site (http://www.nytimes.com/1990/09/18/science/osprey-raise-fledglings-in-new-york-refuge.html).

Today, the refuge is home to about 15 man-made nesting platforms, with additional bird-created sites on channel buoys and telephone poles, a sign of the bay’s environmental health, Mr. Taft said. Last summer, about 25 baby osprey fledged successfully.

And when the adults return for mating season, “we’re so happy to see them,” he said. “But finally, we hope to answer the question, where do these birds go?”

Because of a long breeding cycle (http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Osprey/id), ospreys are among the first birds to migrate north for the sea

Now that Coley and his mate have reunited, they will reaffirm their bond with aerial courtship displays. They will bring offerings of fish and nesting materials to their aerie. If this pair reproduces successfully, they could be warming three or four eggs before mid-April.

For a moment, the nest – which is three feet tall, weighs over 100 pounds and was practically untouched by Hurricane Sandy – was empty on Thursday morning. While Coley explored the salt marsh cordgrass, his mate ventured out of sight, returning a few minutes later with a slim twig she then tucked into the pile.

“It’s dangerous to anthropomorphize,” said Mr. Taft, but he allowed that it was possible that the bonded pair was experiencing some sense of relief that they had made it back for another year in Jamaica Bay.

Google Earth via The Harbor Conservancy Coley’s route north, from Colombia to New York. Click to Enlarge (http://www.jamaicabayosprey.org/jbowp/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/coleys-full-migration-spring-2013-labels.jpg)

Coley by The Numbers: March 5 – March 20, 2013

Total journey: 15 days and 7 hours
Average flight speed: about 20 miles per hour
Average miles per day: 166
Average altitude over land: 300 – several thousand feet
Average altitude over water: 100 to 300 feet
Longest distance over land: 225 miles
Longest nonstop flight, mostly over water: 530 miles
Longest ground stay: 2 days due to inclement weather in Virginia


March 25th, 2013, 05:36 AM

Today's hawk and squirrel show in Tompkins Square Park

(click to enlarge)

https://lh3.ggpht.com/-RgxqlxEm9eY/UU5V7Wfb4qI/AAAAAAABx44/Xl87HuCHV1E/s400/SAM_0029.JPG (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-RgxqlxEm9eY/UU5V7Wfb4qI/AAAAAAABx44/Xl87HuCHV1E/s1600/SAM_0029.JPG)

https://lh3.ggpht.com/-BqfnlL0wQ0Y/UU5WEqM4vzI/AAAAAAABx5A/UUFF4BzkGR4/s400/SAM_0039.JPG (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-BqfnlL0wQ0Y/UU5WEqM4vzI/AAAAAAABx5A/UUFF4BzkGR4/s1600/SAM_0039.JPG)

https://lh3.ggpht.com/-bU0pzgRfCJk/UU5WI80FGQI/AAAAAAABx5I/_5R6P-s84U8/s400/SAM_0037.JPG (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-bU0pzgRfCJk/UU5WI80FGQI/AAAAAAABx5I/_5R6P-s84U8/s1600/SAM_0037.JPG)

Photos by Bobby Williams.


March 25th, 2013, 02:24 PM
"What youse doin' in our park there birdie?"

"I is here to warn yas that me and the udder rodents don't like youse hangin out, capiche?"

"Now this is just a word all friendly like, you hear? We's don't wants you to have no 'accidents' out here on your own..."

June 17th, 2013, 06:37 PM
Night Heron


I see them a lot. I think I'm being stalked.

June 17th, 2013, 08:37 PM
Nice shot.

June 17th, 2013, 09:59 PM
Just don't go out at night.

November 2nd, 2013, 08:27 PM
Blue Heron at the Hallett Sancuary


December 11th, 2013, 08:31 AM
I should damn well think so :rolleyes: :mad:.

Whooo's humane: New York City airports to end owl slaughter

A day after the Daily News revealed that the Port Authority had put the adorable snowy owl on its kill list, the agency announced a change of heart. It will now ‘move immediately toward implementing a program to trap and relocate snowy owls that pose a threat to aircraft at’ city airports.

By Rocco Parascandola and Bill Hutchinson

Tracy-williams-photography/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Snowy owls like this one can fly a little easier near New York City airports, now that the Port Authority will end its kill plan.
The Port Authority is putting a screeching halt on killing the snowy owl at New York airports, bowing to pressure from animal lovers who are angered that the birds were being blasted with shotguns.

A day after the Daily News revealed in a front page story that the PA had put the adorable white owl on its kill list, the agency announced a change of heart.

RELATED: SNOWY OWLS ADDED TO PORT AUTHORITY'S KILL LIST (http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/snowy-owls-added-port-authority-kill-list-article-1.1541823)

“The Port Authority is working with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to move immediately toward implementing a program to trap and relocate snowy owls that pose a threat to aircraft at [John F. Kennedy] and LaGuardia airports,” the agency said in a statement Monday night.

“The Port Authority’s goal is to strike a balance in humanely controlling bird populations at and around the agency’s airports to safeguard passengers on thousands of aircrafts each day.”

RELATED: BOSTON AIRPORT TAKES DIFFERENT APPROACH TO SNOWY OWLS (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/boston-airport-takes-approach-snowy-owls-article-1.1541847)

A source familiar with the agency’s policy told The News that the authority’s “wildlife specialists” started exterminating the owls Saturday, gunning down three at Kennedy Airport that day alone.

The agency said that over the past two weeks, five planes at JFK, Newark and LaGuardia airports were struck by snowy owls.

The PA won’t have to look far for a new home for the trapped birds. Long Island businessman Donald Gelestino, 45, is offering 170 acres of land he owns in Sullivan County to use as a haven for the owls.

A source The News that Port Authority 'wildlife specialists' started exterminating the owls Saturday,
gunning down three at Kennedy Airport that day alone.

“Even in the hunting world, you don’t shoot a snowy owl,” Gelestino said.

It was unclear Monday if the PA would take Gelestino up on his offer.

Audubon New York and NYC Audubon sent a letter to the Port Authority Monday objecting to its plan to eliminate owls.


January 12th, 2014, 01:30 AM
Wow, beautiful.

Long-Eared Owls, Built for Stealth, Often Go Unnoticed


Francois Portmann A long-eared owl in Central Park in December.

The long-eared owl’s plumage is a tapestry of warm and cool grays, tawny browns and chestnut highlights. Some of nature’s most lavish camouflage, it is as close to bark as a bird can produce.

Slender, especially for an owl, the long-eared (Asio otus) strikes a cryptic, leaning posture while perched. Its silhouette is further obscured by conspicuous ear tufts that extend the smooth curve of the owl’s head into one of the best imitations of a broken branch found in nature. If disturbed, the bird can stretch out its already slender proportions, and raising its ear tufts, disappear, Cheshire cat-like, leaving only a pair of searing yellow eyes looking down from a tree.

The owl’s jagged markings adorn soft feathers, which are intended, in part, to absorb flight noise. Even the flight feathers (or primaries) are edged in soft wisps, which make the bird’s hunting silent and deadly. A mouse’s worst nightmare, owls like the long-eared can hunt in utter darkness, using keen eyesight and hearing heightened by a fascinating bit of anatomy. The long-eared’s “ears” are actually feather tufts that scientists believe evolved in owls to break up their outlines. The position of the actual ears bears no relationship to the location of the feathered ones.

Instead, the owl has ear openings along the outer edge of its facial disk (the radar-dish-like frame of an owl’s face), one closer to the top of the head and one closer to the bottom. This gives the bird a sort of three-dimensional hearing — it can accurately measure the minute difference in time required for sound to reach one ear as opposed to the other — and through this means, locate the smallest rodents in the largest fields.

Long-eared owls are strictly nocturnal, preferring to roost by day under thick cover, often in evergreens like hollies, cedars and pines. Winter visitors to New York City, the birds make great neighbors, often unnoticed in densely populated places like Central Park or Pelham Bay in the Bronx.

A long-eared owl will use a roost for days, even weeks at a time if left undisturbed. Though the owl is well camouflaged, its leavings are not. Experienced bird watchers look for “whitewash,” the owl’s dried excrement, which can be obvious even in dark woodlands. Lacking teeth, owls swallow their prey whole, so bones, hair and other undigestibles are packaged neatly into one- to two-inch pellets and regurgitated. Find several of these under a winter pine tree and you have a bird to look for.

It is unfortunately easy to harass owls. Often, their preferred perch turns out to be at or near eye level, which leaves them subject to both accidental and willful disturbance. Owls will often allow observers a very close view, appearing uninterested. Research indicates this is not true. The bird’s faith in its camouflage is its main protection. A harassed bird will often suddenly abandon its perch, forcing it into the open air, where it becomes a target for blue jays’ and crows’ persecution. Observe an owl respectfully, with binoculars, from a dozen or more feet away, and it may afford you the pleasure of another visit.


January 18th, 2014, 01:51 AM
Skunks on the rise in Central Park

By Aaron Feis and Natalie O'Neill

Photo: Shutterstock

Skunks are multiplying in Central Park and spraying their stench at helpless Manhattan pooches.

Park officials are baffled by the outbreak of the stinkers, saying sightings have spiked in recent weeks.

“We are trying to figure out what’s attracting them,” said one worker who patrols the park daily. “So far, we can’t seem to figure it out.”

One of the crass critters attacked a poor pup in the park near West 67th Street and Central Park West on Thursday morning — a day after another dog was sprayed nearby.

Neighbors, who use the park for off-leash hours before 9 a.m, are irked by the invasion, saying the foul air disrupts their play time.

Gail Lustig, 67, who was pup-sitting a pal’s 1-year-old dog, Pierre, had to reroute her walk on Thursday.

“I’m very concerned. I think I’ll walk him on the street,” Lustig said.

“It’s weird . . . It’s the first time I’ve ever smelled one in the park,” she added.

New Yorkers have reported skunks in The Bronx and in Riverside Park in past years, but the creatures have been rare in Central Park, parkgoers said.

“You see a raccoon in Central Park every now and then, but never skunks,” said Alex Christian, 44, who was walking his 5-year-old Doberman pinscher, Joanie, Thursday night.

“I’ll keep her on a leash now. That way she can’t ‎chase [the skunks],” he said.

Another parkgoer said, “In the last four years of being in the park almost every day, I have never seen or smelled a skunk . . . We’re going to have to be really careful.”

The city Parks Department has no plans to boot the skunks.

“As a general policy, NYC Parks does not interfere with the natural habitat of skunks and will not relocate healthy skunks found in a park,” it said in a statement.

“Skunks are part of the wildlife of New York City.”

The stinkers have been spotted most often on a path across from Le Pain Quotidien eatery in the park, witnesses said.


January 18th, 2014, 08:58 AM
LOL correction

January 20th, 2014, 11:44 AM
We have them all over BPC. I guess they wandered over from Battery Park.

January 22nd, 2014, 03:12 PM
We have them all over BPC. I guess they wandered over from Battery Park.

Does raise an interesting question of how an animal that was not in CP has now made an appearance.

Getting there is a feat no matter how they managed it? Navigating streets at night? On a truck of some sort?

January 23rd, 2014, 12:29 AM
Skunks like urban areas. They also like grubs. On a semi related note, I saw a woman in a skunk coat recently.

January 23rd, 2014, 10:34 AM
The people that track all the city critters say that skunks are everywhere, but I've only seen them in Inwood. Maybe that makes sense.

Dogs have a sharp sense of smell. Great horned owls don't smell so good. I mean they don't smell so well; the skunks don't smell so good. So for the owl, the skunk is a non-stinky tasty meal, and easy to spot with that white stripe.

Skunks probably seek groundcover protection from their biggest threat, and they are somewhat nocturnal, which coincides with dog off-leash hours in Central Park. I'd give a day's pay to see a CPW dog-parent, latte and croissant in hand, getting a good skunk spray.

Skunk southern migration?

Two years ago:
If owls represent wisdom, as folklore dictates, then perhaps Brooklyn and Manhattan are no place for sages.

The great horned owl, one of the largest and most powerful raptors in North America, has not successfully nested in either borough since records started being kept over 100 years ago.

But this year, two pairs have raised hopes among birders, exhibiting pre-nesting behavior — roosting together, mostly — in Green-Wood Cemetery and Prospect Park in Brooklyn and Inwood Hill Park in Manhattan.

In fact, the great horned owl population across New York City is slowly expanding, though exact numbers are difficult to come by because the birds are so good at hiding, said Bob DeCandido, otherwise known as “Birding Bob,” who leads birdwatching walks throughout the city.
A great horned owl couple at the New York Botanical Garden in 2009.Debbie BeckerA great horned owl couple at the New York Botanical Garden in 2009.

Great horned owls – just one New York animal species among many enjoying an urban resurgence – prefer big trees, so their habitat has increased as the woodlands in the city’s parks have grown older. They also have plenty of food to eat, like rats, squirrels, rabbits and skunks.http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/03/in-brooklyn-and-manhattan-owl-watchers-may-have-their-day/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

We have them all over BPC. I guess they wandered over from Battery Park."Woman, fetch my squirrel rifle. I'm needing a new cat."

The last thing I remember is turning around, and seeing a large black form moving toward my head. I thought it was one of them varmints jumping at me, but realized at the last moment it was a frying pan.

January 25th, 2014, 12:09 AM
Not quite as cute as other marsupials.

Opossums Are Unloved, Yet Hard to Resist


Cody Pope, via Wikimedia Commons Opossums might be on the list of New York’s least
loved animals, but it is hard to resist their appeal.

The Virginia opossum is more closely related to kangaroos and koalas than to the rats and rodents with which it is frequently compared. North America’s only native marsupial, the opossum is probably more frequently observed in New York City trash cans than in New York City parks.

And though their unsanitary services might place opossums on the list of New York’s least loved animals, it is hard to resist their appeal. Perhaps it is that pointy white face, or the wide, toothy grin of 50 undifferentiated teeth (a primitive marsupial characteristic), but the smile looking up from the bottom of the trash can is like a mischievous child’s. It is easy to anthropomorphize, but an opossum wants an approval it will probably never get from us.

Staring at a Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is like collapsing the history of mammalian evolution into a single moment. Mammals like these were scampering through the underbrush while dinosaurs ruled the earth, and with hard-won perseverance, they maintain several very primitive characteristics.

Baby opossums are born naked and blind, about the size of honeybees, after a gestation of just under two weeks. They face their first challenge immediately: a climb to their mother’s marsupial pouch. An opossum may bear up to 24 joeys at a time, but she has only 13 nipples.

Life is hard for these animals, and a 3-year-old opossum is an old opossum. To make up for this brief life span, opossums begin to bear young at 10 months and never stop, producing multiple broods annually if conditions permit.

The animal’s most famous talent, “playing possum,” is not a voluntary response to a threat. If hissing, lunging or baring its teeth does not ward off a problem, an opossum actually faints from stress. Physiologically, the opossum shuts down, balls up its front feet and goes limp. It may even drool from its open mouth.

If this drama fails to dissuade a predator, it can exude an ill-scented, greenish mucus from its anal glands to heighten the impression that it has died.

If it is hard to imagine a predator fooled into believing an animal who was snarling and fighting just moments ago is actually a rotting carcass, consider that there is no shortage of opossums in North America. The subterfuge must work at least some of the time.

It is interesting to note that the drooling, drunken behavior of a bluffing opossum often fools humans into believing it is rabid. For reasons that are poorly understood, opossums are highly resistant to rabies, and are far less of a threat than raccoons or skunks. Of course, it is never wise to be close enough to any wild animal to find out. It is also wise to seek medical attention for any scratch or bite from an opossum.

Because these marsupials have a range that extends from Mexico to Canada, it is not surprising that all five boroughs of New York City and its surrounding suburbs are home to them. Opossums do not hibernate and can be observed at bird feeders, parks and your garbage pails through all four seasons.


February 22nd, 2014, 12:40 AM
A Sharp-Eyed Squirrel, Leaping Into the Darkness


Animals Animals/Earth Scenes The flying squirrel does not actually fly — it glides.

Few of us ever get a good view of a flying squirrel, but then again, not many of us know they truly exist. Not unlike its cartoon depiction, as the brainy, be-goggled sidekick of Bullwinkle the Moose, the Southern flying squirrel is an impressively well-adapted resident of New York City. With a preference for older beech and oak woods, these squirrels are primarily nocturnal. An uncommon habitat and our very urban instinct to avoid late-night walks through obscure woodlands make finding one a deliberate effort.

The flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans) does not actually fly — it glides. When a squirrel leaps from its perch in a tall tree, it spreads its limbs, stretching out its two patagia (thick, furred membranes that extend from its wrists to its ankles). In this way, a squirrel less than 10 inches long (including a tail almost half that length) can, in a single bound, cover 150 feet or more, gliding through the treetops effortlessly.

A nighttime jump through a dense canopy of leaves and branches requires keen senses, and the squirrel is suitably equipped. The enormous, soft brown eyes that make them so irresistible to humans are actually a significant part of the squirrels’ survival strategy. A squirrel triangulates with movements of its head before making its longest leaps, suggesting an advanced spatial sense.

The squirrels are also equipped with some of the longest whiskers in the squirrel world. These long vibrissae point forward in flight, assisting in the navigation of the tight spaces among leaves and branches. The whiskers are also useful for negotiating small crevices and nesting cavities, where little or no light ever shines.

The squirrel’s flattened tail is more accurately described as a counterbalance than a rudder, and can break away, like the tails of some lizards and salamanders. An attacking predator may be left holding only a piece of writhing tail, rather than a tasty squirrel meal, if it grabs it at the wrong spot. Unfortunately, unlike lizards and salamanders, a flying squirrel cannot grow its tail back; it simply adapts to its loss.

It is hard to say how many flying squirrels populate New York City’s five boroughs, but surveys by the parks department in conjunction with universities and environmental groups have identified the tiny squirrels in Forest Park and Alley Pond Park in Queens. Inwood Hill Park in Manhattan also has a verified population, as do Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx and Blue Heron Park on Staten Island. Squirrels may also glide through Pelham Bay Park’s older woods, and any of several of Staten Island’s older forests.

Flying squirrels eat a wide variety of foods, from acorns and beech nuts to fruit, mushrooms and even eggs or nestling birds. But as a general rule, they are drawn to open water, so finding woodlands near a source of fresh water is often critical to finding a flying squirrel.


April 9th, 2014, 10:25 AM



May 10th, 2014, 06:21 AM
Update on the Baby Red-Tailed Hawks at N.Y.U.


In a nest overlooking Washington Square Park, two juvenile red-tailed hawks are beginning to poke their heads above the messy tangle of brown branches.
At three weeks old, the hawks have white downy feathers that are beginning to turn gray.

Video of the baby hawks on May 7, 2014 by D. Bruce Yolton/urbanhawks.blogs.com

This is the third brood for Rosie and Bobby, the hawk couple who were once stars of the live-streaming raptor drama broadcast from inside the office of John Sexton, New York University’s president. (Bobby’s first mate for the first season of the Hawk Cam (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/category/hawk-cam-live-from-the-nest/), Violet, died in December 2011 (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/29/violet-the-red-tailed-hawk-is-dead/).)

The pair of eyases, or baby hawks, are currently learning how to defecate outside the nest, a phenomenon known as “slicing (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/27/baby-hawk-faq/).” They are constantly feeding on rodent and pigeon carcasses that their parents haul up to the 12th floor of Bobst Library. As many as 15 times a day, the mother hawk will tear off chunks of animal flesh for the nestlings to eat.

Earlier this year, the university applied a nonreflective film on the window to minimize disturbance from human traffic inside the office, which also prevented the Hawk Cam from producing an acceptable image, a university spokesman said.

This year’s hawk family can be viewed only from the park below.

“It’s a different experience,” said Christopher James, who works for the university’s sustainability department. “Less intimate, but somehow more natural-feeling.”

D. Bruce Yolton/urbanhawks.blogs.comFeeding time on the nest.

Both eggs hatched within about 12 hours of each other, the first coming out of its shell during the early hours of April 17, Mr. James said.

Across the city, hawk nests are squirming with fuzzy bobble-headed babies, according to D. Bruce Yolton, who has been tracking about a dozen sites for the Urban Hawks blog (http://urbanhawks.blogs.com/). The Upper East Side denizens Pale Male and Octavia have three babies (http://urbanhawks.blogs.com/urban_hawks/2014/05/three-for-pale-male-and-octavia.html).

At N.Y.U., the baby hawks Orla and Silver, as they are called by some, will spend the next few weeks with their parents, getting used to their wings. Soon, they will venture out onto the sandstone ledge to practice what’s called “jump-flapping,” where they will catch an inch or two of air to prepare for the day when they will leave the nest.

Typically, juvenile hawks fledge, or take flight, between 42 and 46 days (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/23/f-a-q-about-fledging-hawks/) of life, which would mean an approximate liftoff date during the last week of May.

In an e-mail, Dr. Sexton said, “their annual return and the birth of the baby hawks has become almost as much a part of spring semester at NYU as Commencement. And for those who are worried about the well-being of the hawks now that hawkcam can no longer operate, let me offer some reassurance: my wonderful colleagues Ena Prince and Nancy Gessner watch the adult hawks and their two babies… well… like hawks…”


September 23rd, 2014, 04:04 AM
No existing relevant threads in New York Metro section.

It's hugely disappointing that they felt the need to euthanise the bear.

Black Bear Kills Rutgers Student During a Hike in New Jersey


Darsh Patel and four friends were in a nature preserve Sunday.
Daniel Freel/The New Jersey Herald, via Associated Press

A Rutgers University student was killed by a black bear over the weekend, the police said on Monday, the first such recorded death in New Jersey since the 1850s.

The student, Darsh Patel, 22, and four friends were hiking on Sunday in the Apshawa Preserve in the northern part of the state, about 40 miles from New York City. They encountered a black bear, which began to follow them, according to the police in West Milford, a township that includes the preserve.

The friends told the police they scrambled to get away from the bear, all running in different directions. Four of the men later found one another, and they called the police to help search for their missing friend, according to the authorities. Mr. Patel’s body was found about two hours later.

“Evidence at the scene indicated that the victim had been attacked by a bear,” the West Milford Police Department said in a statement.

Investigators added that a 300-pound bear was found at the scene and was “immediately euthanized.”

Efforts to reach Mr. Patel’s family on Monday afternoon by phone were unsuccessful.

Mr. Patel was a senior at Rutgers from Edison, N.J., and was majoring in information technology and informatics. In a statement, Richard Edward, the university’s chancellor, said, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones and to all his friends and fellow students at Rutgers.”

No one has been killed by a bear in New Jersey since 1852, according to a 2010 report on black bears by the State Department of Environmental Protection.

However, Larry Ragonese, a spokesman for the department, said that the black bear population had recently “grown out of control,” especially in far northern New Jersey. Black bears have caused some injuries to humans, including an attack in 2011 where two boys were hurt in northern Sussex County. There have been 146 dangerous encounters with black bears through Sept. 20 this year, the department found in a report (http://www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/pdf/bear/activity_ytd14.pdf).

The growing population prompted the state to institute a black bear hunting season in 2009, which has lowered the population to between 1,800 and 2,400 bears.

“People confuse black bears with grizzly bears, and black bears are not generally as aggressive,” Mr. Ragonese said. “But they are still wild animals that need to be treated with respect and distance.”


October 6th, 2014, 05:36 PM
Dead Bear Cub Found in Central Park, Authorities Say


By Janon Fisher (http://www.dnainfo.com/about-us/our-team//janon-fisher) and Sybile Penhirin (http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/about-us/our-team//sybile-penhirin) on October 6, 2014 3:03pm

CENTRAL PARK — A black bear cub was found dead under some bushes in Central Park Monday morning, authorities said.
The animal, which had injuries to its side, was found by dog walkers at about 9:45 a.m. at West 69th Street and West Drive.
Detectives are trying to determine the cause of death, according to the NYPD.

"We have no idea where it came from," Central Park Conservancy (http://www.centralparknyc.org/) spokeswoman Elizabeth Kaledin said. "It's extremely unusual."

The Wildlife Conservation Society (http://bronxzoo-staging.wcs.org/educators/school-programs.aspx), which operates the Central Park Zoo, determined that it was not a bear from the zoo,
spokeswoman Mary Dixon said. The organization will perform a necropsy on the animal.

Police said the cub appeared to have been cut.

"We're always extremely distraught when any wildlife is injured," Kaledin said.

Florence Slatkin, 79, said she and her friends made the discovery while walking their dogs Monday morning.

She said she first noticed an unattended 10-speed bike.

"When we got closer we spotted the head of a dead animal on the back wheel of the bike," she said.
"I saw its eyes and I thought it was a dead raccoon and then I thought it was a dead dog.
I didn't go too close but I think the mouth was open and bloody. It's very upsetting"

The bear could have been there for a while, said Lucas Altman, 43, who lives nearby.
Altman's black Labradors were sniffing around the same spot Sunday night and had to be pulled away, he said.

"It's very sad," he said. "I'm very surprised."

"It's shocking," said Upper West Sider, Shelly Friedman, 56.
"I walk around that path every day. I don't ever think about finding a bear in Central Park.
It's mind-boggling."

October 9th, 2014, 08:49 PM
[RIP Zelda, my neighbor]

Zelda, the Resident Turkey of Battery Park, Is Feared Dead


Zelda in Battery Park in 2006. She took dangerous strolls.
OCTOBER 8, 2014

Zelda, the famed wild turkey who made Battery Park in Manhattan her home and drew a devoted local following for more than a decade, is feared to be dead.

The plumed denizen of the park has not been seen since a wild turkey was run over by a car last month while strolling down South Street near Pier 11, Nicole Brownstein, a spokeswoman for the Battery Conservancy, said on Wednesday.

Ms. Brownstein said a U.P.S. worker and a custodian on South Street told interns on Sept. 26 that they saw sanitation workers scooping up the turkey’s body that day. The group waited almost two weeks to announce her death, fearing a case of mistaken identity. But Zelda, the only known wild turkey in Manhattan, has not been seen since, she said.

“We waited to see if she would show up and she didn’t,” Ms. Brownstein said.

Before what is believed to be her sudden demise, which was first reported by Curbed, Zelda spent her days in Battery Park perched among the tree branches. She often flew down to peck at seeds and chase away smaller birds, and made regular appearances at conservancy events, where she mingled with other bipeds before retreating to the trees to roost.

Risking peril, she sometimes strayed from the park and ambled into traffic, presumably in search of a mate.

She appeared in Battery Park in 2003, and much of her life before then remains a mystery. Officials believe she flew south into Manhattan from the Bronx in 2002, and never looked back. She was spotted in Riverside Park, and made her way south through Central Park before finally settling on the southern tip of the island in Battery Park.

Since then, life had been just gravy. She was named for Zelda Fitzgerald, the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was known for wandering around Battery Park during her nervous breakdowns. She fattened up on dried corn and seeds left for her by visitors and park caretakers. An official once described her as “portly” for a female turkey.

Flocks of wild turkeys, or Meleagris gallopavo, are common in New York City, where they have flourished under the protection of a hunting ban, but Zelda was one of the few to call Manhattan home.

She survived Hurricane Sandy in 2012, as well as the bread fed to her by well-meaning visitors who were unaware that it would upset her stomach.

Her death follows that of a 6-month-old bear cub that was found dead in Central Park, the apparent victim of a hit-and-run. Questions about how the cub got to the park, who brought her there and from where remain unanswered.

October 16th, 2014, 04:54 AM
Resorts World Unveils Stunning Images, Videos of Jamaica Bay


Photos: Don Riepe (http://www.littoralsociety.org/index.php/chapters1/northeast-chapter/jamaica-bay-guardian)


November 26th, 2014, 10:32 AM


November 28th, 2014, 08:24 PM
Growing Herds of Deer Aren’t Welcome at New York Parks


A deer this month in the Greenbelt on Staten Island. The animal's population in that borough has soared, from 24 in 2008 to 763 last winter.
Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Buck’s Hollow, in Staten Island’s Greenbelt (http://www.nycgovparks.org/greening/natural-resources-group/the-country-in-the-city/staten-island-greenbelt), might sound like a natural home to whitetail deer, but the New York City parks department is doing its best to keep them out.
The department, which is restoring the forest in the area, has surrounded six acres with eight-foot fencing intended to keep the deer away. In the past year, workers removed invasive species like Japanese honeysuckle (http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact/loja1.htm)and Chinese wisteria (http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/node/470) from the parcels. Next year, the department will enlist volunteers to plant 8,000 trees and shrubs — native species like red maple, beech, cherry, sweet gum and spicebush. The plan is to keep the fence around the four plots of land, called exclosures, until the saplings are 10 feet tall or big enough to survive the deer’s voracious appetites.
Deer are a relatively new presence in Buck’s Hollow, which is named after the Dutch word for goat, bok (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/latourette-park-and-golf-course/history). While the city has a robust population of small mammals like raccoons, groundhogs and skunk, deer were scarcely seen in the five boroughs before 2000.
“Deer like to eat anything,” said Katerli Bounds with the New York City parks department, shown
next to an exclosure fence intended to protect saplings from the animal.
Karsten Moran for The New York Times

As recently as 2008, a state count of deer on Staten Island put their numbers at just 24; the animals were believed to have swum from New Jersey. But that number has exploded: An aerial count of the herd last winter, using infrared technology, put the number of deer in the borough at 763.

The deer population is also taking off in the Bronx, where the animals wander in from Westchester County’s woods. Park officials will carry out an aerial survey there this winter, focusing on Pelham Bay Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/pelham-bay-park) and Van Cortlandt Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/VanCortlandtPark), which both have large expanses of woods.

Once they are counted, the city will have to figure out what to do about them, since the animals can destroy the understory in woodlands, present a hazard on roads and serve as hosts for the ticks that carry Lyme disease.

“We recognize that deer are a sensitive issue,” said Jennifer Greenfeld (http://www.nycgovparks.org/news/daily-plant?id=22405), the parks department’s deputy chief of forestry, horticulture and natural resources. “It’s a sweet, calm mammal when you see it in the woods, and it’s hard for people to reconcile the fact that something that appears lovely has a negative side.”

The influx of deer is of particular concern to parks officials who in recent years have worked to remove invasive species in woodlands and replace them with native trees and shrubs, as they are doing in Buck’s Hollow.

The Greenbelt, a 2,800-acre network of contiguous and mostly natural parks, offers ideal habitat for deer. There is plenty of fresh water in the form of ponds, as well as the 15-acre Great Swamp. There is cover in the form of dense trees and shrubs to make them feel safe. And there is food.

“Deer like to eat anything,” said Katerli Bounds, a parks official who was pointing to a wineberry bush in Buck’s Hollow. “See all these flat, clipped tops? That’s deer.”

An exclosure fence on Staten Island. Besides damaging park vegetation, deer are also posing a threat on city streets. A new task force is looking at ways to control the population.
Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Centuries ago, the animals had natural predators, like wolves and mountain lions. Today, New York State relies on hunting to manage the population. But because of the dense human population in New York City, hunting is prohibited.

Deer harm the forest in two ways. They can eventually destroy the understory by nibbling on saplings and shrubs (a process known as “browse”), and they also rub their antlers against the bark of developing trees, chipping away at the protective layer.

Traffic accidents are also on the rise. This past summer, there were three collisions involving deer in one location on Hylan Boulevard alone. As a result, the Transportation Department will rotate an electronic sign warning “Be Alert for Deer” through several locations. The first spot is at Rockland and Brielle Avenues, next to the Greenbelt Nature Center (http://sigreenbelt.org/).

State Assemblyman Joe Borelli, a Republican whose district includes the Greenbelt, said the department should instead install permanent signs in those locations. And he believes that the city should move to thin the deer population.

“Every option should be looked out at, whether it is successful methods of birth control or lethal culls,” he said. “Something needs to be done, clearly.”

A new task force made up of representatives from several city agencies and the State Department of Environmental Conservation is studying how to control the deer population. At the very least, city officials want to alert the public not to feed them and to be careful on nearby roads, especially at dawn and dusk when deer are most active.

The most severe tactic would entail a lethal cull — reducing the population with professional sharpshooters, something that has been done in Philadelphia and Washington. Parks officials say they do not want to rule out any solution, though the discussion is just beginning.

But some people seem to be taking things into their own hands. Parks employees have spotted platforms, like those used by hunters, in the woods of Pelham Bay Park, for example. “It’s a public park; it’s not legal and it’s definitely not safe,” Ms. Greenfeld said.


January 19th, 2015, 01:35 AM
Meet the Mutant Squirrels of City Hall Park

By Jon Campbell

The "melanistic" black squirrels in City Hall Park get their unusual color from a recessive gene.
Jon Campbell, Village Voice

Walk through City Hall Park in Lower Manhattan and you'll notice several things. There are the people in suits who are usually in a hurry. There are tourists — lots of them. As it is quite a lovely outdoor space, there are a number of trees. And then there are squirrels. More squirrels than seems natural.

Some of those squirrels may seem unusual. They're not the typical, boring, grayish-brown rodents we all see hopping from branch to branch outside our windows. They're jet-black with maybe a tinge of red. Good-looking squirrels, really.

They're not a different species, though they might look that way. The black squirrels are just standard, run-of-the-mill Eastern Grays with a relatively rare genetic trait called melanism that makes them extra dark. And there are a lot of them in City Hall Park.

It's not clear exactly how rare the trait is, but the melanistic variety of Sciuris carolinensis typically don't appear in large concentrations. Except, that is, in isolated parks like this one. It's a result of what urban ranger Sunny Corrao calls the "island effect."

"Because the park is surrounded by this very heavy urban area, the squirrels are staying within the park," says Corrao, who works for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. "So in a sense, it's like an island."

In a place like New York City, where patches of prime habitat like City Hall Park are isolated, Galapagos-style, by concrete and cars and dogs in tiny sweaters, squirrels and other wildlife tend to stay put. The interbreeding produces more of the black squirrels, hence our urban flocks.

But there are other, more awesome reasons why melanistic squirrels might be more common in an urban environment. While they're comparatively rare outside major cities, some biologists believe that black squirrels may have been the norm several centuries ago, before large-scale deforestation (http://squirrelmapper.org/geography). Today's woodlands are much less shady than the virgin stands of old-growth, high-canopy forest that used to cover the Northeast. And in environments with more sunlight, "squirrel gray" might offer better camouflage. But cities, with their tall buildings, may mimic the darker environs of the early continent. According to Corrao, it might also be that cities simply have fewer predators, so camouflage isn't as important anyway.

"There's something in that environment that makes it so being a darker color isn't necessarily a negative trait," she says. According to Corrao, parks in the outer boroughs seem to have lower concentrations of squirrels with the unusual color, but the city doesn't track the population, she notes.

There are populations of melanistic squirrels in other parts of the city, too. There are the famous ones near the Stuyvesant Town developments on the Lower East Side. And there's a cluster on Long Island that has been studied (http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/black-squirrels-long-island-article-1.307077) by middle school students. There are also cinnamon-colored squirrels (http://www.nytimes.com/2001/04/05/nyregion/for-squirrels-cinnamon-is-now-the-new-black.html) and the occasional white one (http://www.thewildclassroom.com/biomes/speciesprofile/deciduousforest.html).

And as many will undoubtedly point out — especially the Canadians lurking here among us — there are some places where the black squirrels are quite common. Canada is apparently crawling with presumably very polite melanistic squirrels. Some data suggests (http://animaldiversity.org/site/accounts/information/Sciurus_carolinensis.html) that darker fur might offer an evolutionary advantage, holding heat as much as 18 percent more efficiently, so it would make sense that they'd be more common in colder climates. Some of the city-dwelling Canadian squirrels are also famous, like the ones in Queen's Park in Toronto.


New Yorkers seem to have been fascinated by black squirrels for years. They've been making the paper since at least 1902, when a woman was caught trying to smuggle a baby black squirrel out of Central Park, only to be caught by an attendant. As the Times reported way back then, "regretfully she pulled her hand out from under her cape, [Ed: her cape!] and snugly nestled in it was a little squirrel, black as coal."

A man identified only as Arsenal Director Smith ordered that the baby squirrel be added to the zoo in Central Park. Smith also wanted the squirrel treated like royalty, declaring that it "should be well taken care of; that it should be fed on nuts cracked for it, and be given plenty of milk in the hope of keeping it alive for the purpose of adding it to the menagerie family."

"They are very rare, these black squirrels," Smith told the paper. "I never saw one in my life before, and I have seen a good many curious animals. It is a freak of nature."

After the Times wrote about the mysterious caped woman's attempt at squirrel theft, one reader — a Canadian — wrote in to complain about the paper's ignorance. The letter is downright un-Canadian in its rage.


They take their squirrels seriously up there.


January 21st, 2015, 05:29 PM
They're also pretty tame. Go there with a bag of nuts, and you'll have a bunch of instant friends.

March 21st, 2015, 12:40 AM
I can't believe I've just discovered this Art Deco gem :o.

East Village Red-Tailed Hawks Move to Avenue A to Build New Nest

By Lisha Arino on March 20, 2015



EAST VILLAGE — The neighborhood’s red-tailed hawks — who were displaced from their home on Avenue B because of an upcoming building renovation — have found a new place to call their own and could start laying eggs next week, local birdwatchers said.

The hawks — nicknamed Christo and Dora by neighborhood birders — have recently been spotted at the Ageloff Towers on Avenue A between East Third and East Fourth streets, where they are building a nest on a 12th-floor air conditioner.

"I just think it’s an amazing thing to have and I hope they stay," said Eddie Falcon, a handyman who has worked inside the building for more than 30 years.

The raptors originally settled into the Christodora House on East Ninth Street and Avenue B last year and hatched three offspring (http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20140623/east-village/baby-red-tailed-hawks-prepare-leave-east-village-nest) from a nest built on a seventh-floor air conditioner. Residents regularly saw the hawks hunting rats, pigeons and squirrels at Tompkins Square Park.

But last month, bird watchers noticed that the hawks’ nest had been removed twice and replaced with metal spikes (http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20150211/east-village/birders-alarmed-over-hawks-nest-removal-near-tompkins-square-park), apparently to discourage the raptors from nesting on the unit.

The building’s property manager said the nest was removed so that the air conditioner could be repaired. A facade renovation scheduled to begin in April also made the space less than ideal for the hawks, she added.

Rob Mastrianni, an East Village resident and an urban park ranger who keeps track of Manhattan’s birds of prey, said Christo and Dora began nesting at the Ageloff Towers earlier this month, a move that has delighted some of the building’s residents.

“It’s kind of neat to have [hawks] come all the way down to us, and our very building. I mean, he had a lot of other buildings to choose from,” said the raptors’ new next-door neighbor Robert Bryan, who has lived in the Ageloff Towers since 1976.

The owner of the 12th-floor apartment could not be immediately reached for comment.

Mastrianni called the move "bittersweet." He was happy to see the hawks settle into a new, nearby location, he said, but worried about future fledglings, which are usually “very clumsy” when they begin to fly.

“Avenue B was kind of a quiet street, just a couple of wing beats away from the park,” Mastrianni said.

Avenue A, on the other hand, is a much busier street and he worried that young birds still learning how to fly could end up on the ground or by the bus stop across the street, he explained.

"Maybe they'll just fly to the roof of the building across the street, the Key Foods," he said hopefully.

Mastrianni said the nest has grown to a good size and is now visible from across the street, which means the hawks will probably start laying eggs in about a week or two. The incubation period is about 30 days, he added.