Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Red-phase and Gray-phase Screech Owl couple in the Ramble --12/6/05
Photo by Bruce Yolton

At some point in November, 2005, a red-phase screech owl was discovered in a Ramble cavity -- one of the Project X owls finally accessible to birders for regular observation. [I tell about Project X and the story of the Central Park screech owls in Central Park in the Dark]

People began gathering at the cavity day after day. By December, another owl roost had been located, this one used by a gray-phase owl. By the beginning of December, 2005 the two had become a couple --- very exciting.\

That 2005 owl couple is seen in the photo above. You'll have to read the book to find out what happened next. Hint: Just at that time a Great Horned Owl came into the park for a prolonged visit. But the story ended in total tragedy when a dead owl was found in the park by a passer-by on March 27, 2006. It was a red-phase screech, obviously Little Red.

We haven't had a red screech owl in Central Park since then. The owl couple successfully breedingsince 2005 in the northern part of the park is gray, and their offspring in all previous years have also been gray.

Here's the NEWS:
Last week a local rehabilitator [with the Park's approval, I assume] released a screech owl he had been nursing to health into a Central Park woodland.
WE HAVE ANOTHER RED SCREECH OWL in the park! So keep your eye out for this beautiful creature.

PS I'm off to Pennsylvania tomorrow morning, staying until Sunday, 10/26.
I'll be back in this space on Monday, 10/27.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The silver lining

Cooper's Hawk, October 18, 2008

The Fall migration is just about over, but that doesn't mean the end of birdwatching in Central Park until spring. On his website, Bruce Yolton continues to provide evidence of Central Park's richness as a wildlife habitat throughout the year, not only during the famed migration seasons. Not only does he present photos of local and visiting hawks, [his blog is called Urban Hawks] but he keeps track of unusual birds that show up once in a blue moon: yesterday's Vesper Sparrow is a good example. . And come owl season he'll continue to provide amazing coverage of all ongoing owl stories. On his blog's Archives you can check out years of owl photos

Two days ago, for instance, Bruce wrote:

There was a Cooper's Hawk in the Ramble of Central Park today. It was one of our first really crisp fall days, and we should have Cooper's Hawks in the park from now until Spring. It was one of my first surprises, when I started bird watching in the park, that Central Park is the winter home of many birds.

And yesterday, the Vesper Sparrow, a rare bird for Central Park!
Both photos by Bruce Yolton

Here is a link to Bruce's blog:
Put it on your Favorites, if it isn't already there.