Saturday, December 08, 2007

LEO [s] at Last

Yesterday David Speiser, notable Central Park nature photographer, sent in the photo above, taken on Dec 6, 2007. He wrote on e-birds:

A Long-eared Owl was found by Lincoln this past Thursday. I was lucky
that I had a brief window to take some shots. I understand the
bird/birds are still present today. Not my best pictures but still a Long-eared nonetheless which has been quite rare in CP the last few years.

Ben Cacace was there yesterday and noted that there were TWO Long-eared owls in the location. He noted that the fly-out was at 4:58 pm, about twenty minutes after sunset.

The pair of screech owls reported last week are still present in a fairly public area to the southeast of the LEOs.

FOR THE OWLS' PROTECTION, the exact locations of daytime roosts are not given on a public posting like this one or e-birds. . If you wish to see the owls, get in touch with a regular Central Park birdwatcher who will happily share the location with other birdwatchers and nature lovers.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Eastern screech owl, one of a pair, photographed before fly-out on Dec. 2, 2007, by Bruce Yolton
Two days ago On Tuesday, December 4, Marianne Girds was the only regular owl-watcher at the recently discovered screech-owl cavity in a location owl etiquette prevents me from specifying. The reason for the secrecy is, as always, the protection of the owls from those who would bring them harm. Owls roost in the daytime and are particularly vulnerable to human predation

As you may have read in a previous posting here, there is a pair of owls in that cavity. Sometimes the owls roost in separate cavities, but they always meet up after fly-out.. Marianne sent an e-mail reporting on what she saw that evening. The subject line was: EXCITING OWL EVENT. And exciting it was!

She wrote:

The London Plane cavity did not show any owl until 4:45PM - it was very windy and cold...At 4:57PM the owl flew out to a nearby bare tree SE from the London Plane, AND at that very moment the second Screech Owl arrived (from the East) to meet on the same branch where a MATING took place immediately at the count of 1- 2- 3- . They only stayed for a brief moment and left together flying low West towards the big Spruce.

I was so very sorry that you and the rest of the 'Gang' had to miss this happy event. However, there will be more of the same in the near future.

Happy owling !


PS from Marie: According to Jean Dane, the owls flew out about thirty or so minutes after sunset last night -- December 5, 2007. But because Bruce was there with his camera, they refrained from engaging in any X-rated activities while in view of an audience.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Birds of the season

David Speiser, the photographer notable for his stunning pictures of migrating warblers as well as of his adorable daughter Liliana, has sent in a new batch of beauties. Usually I pick one photo of each species. This time I'm including three--I couldn't pick any one.

The first three are Rusty Blackbirds. The next three are Northern Cardinals. All were photographed in Central Park yesterday, December 4th.

All photos by David Speiser

Monday, December 03, 2007

What's going on with Pale Male and Lola's nest?

Babies on Fifth [in the good old days] --courtesy of

Below, some correspondence in regard to the Pale Male nest-failure situation. I know that John Blakeman has been invited to be part of the decision-making process. Things are beginning to move. But the 2008 breeding season is almost upon us. Please write to your various Audubon reps, or to Glenn Phillips, executive director of the NYC Audubon at and encourage timely action.

Received 11/30/07

Hello Marie,
I've been a fan of your web site and, watching the news of Pale Male and Lola for years.
What is the latest with their nest site? I see the letter dated August 23, 2007, from asking that some adjustments or repairs be made to the nest. Was this done? At least it was something being done to see if that was the cause of their nest failure.
I just spend some time on both your sites looking for an update, but couldn't find it in the archives. I was hoping you would be so kind as to give me a brief update.
Thank you,
Jeannette, PA

Here's another, written last June, followed by a response from Glenn Phillips, executive director of NYCudubon

From: Linda Maslin
Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2007 6:01 PM
Subject: Pale Male

It is clear that the new cradle for their nest is defective and preventing them from reproducing. Comments and excuses from DEC and DEP persons are ridiculous - the cradle should be altered and you should get involved. You should be the champion of Pale Male and Lola - they are famous around the world. You are NEW YORK CITY AUDUBON and should do something positive for them.

Linda Maslin, member National Audubon

Blue Bell, PA

The answer, from the executive director of NYCA:

Ms. Masllin -
I was hopeful that Pale Male and Lola, as ambassadors of NYC's Red-tailed Hawk population, would have a successful brood this year. I was as disappointed as you when their nest failed for the third time, and I agree that it is quite possible that the failures are a result of the nest structure designed by Dan Ionescu based on observations from a large number of experts. I further agree that it is NYC Audubon's role to be a negotiator with property owners on behalf of the birds who are impacted by human activity, and I have every intention to do so in this case before the next season begins.
Glenn Phillips

Executive Director
New York City Audubon
71 West 23rd Street, Room 1523
New York, NY 10010
Phone: (212) 691-7483
Fax: (212) 924-3870

On Nov. 30 Linda Maslin wrote a followup letter: [Hurray for Linda for following up!]

Dear Mr. Phillips:
Below is your reply to my inquiry of June 8, 2007 regarding modifying Pale Male's nest. Has any progress been made on this yet? The new breeding season will be upon us and I don't want to see another year of inaction and nest failure for these marvelous earthlings. I am even planning a visit to Central Park on Dec. 9 hoping to see them with my own eyes!
Thank you for anything you can do for them. I think this whole situation is despicable and has gone on for too long.
Linda Maslin
Blue Bell, PA

Here's the reply she received yesterday:

Hi Linda,
No actions have been taken yet on Pale Male's nest. At this point, NYC Audubon is consulting with a group of Ph.D. scientists who have extensive experience with raptor breeding, to make sure that any changes made to the nest are both necessary and ideal. They have requested an aerial photograph of the nest, which should be taken this week, and will then come to a final judgment about the nest and what, if anything, needs to be done.

If they do determine that the center prongs (or any other elements of the nest) need to be altered, both the building owners and the NYC Department of Environmental Conservation have been very supportive and responsive, so any necessary nest maintenance will be able to be undertaken efficiently.

Thank you for your concern and support!

Jill Crouther
Program Assistant, NYC Audubon

Sunday, December 02, 2007


Photographer and DISCOVERER of not one, but TWO screech owls =

We've been looking for weeks. Bruce discovered an owl two weeks ago, but when its tree was pruned it abandoned that site. Then began a search for the owl's new daytime refuge. On Saturday Bruce found it, not far from the original [pruned] tree. Much to everyone's amazement it turned out to be TWO [count 'em, 2] screech owls sharing that roost hole. And guess what? For Central Park owls, breeding season is right now.

Many more pictures on Bruce's blog