Friday, June 12, 2009

Our nearest babies

The three baby hawks in Riverside Park that hatched around April 30 are huge. One has already hopped out of the nest to a higher branch several times, and is now an official "brancher". The other two are jumping and flapping -- what we used to call "baby on runway" -- back in the days when Pale Male's nest was active. That was between 1995 and 2004, up to the bleak day the nest was taken down by the 927 Fifth Ave management.

The two remaining nestlings are about to begin exploring the larger world too. Below, three photos taken this morning by Beth Bergman, (check out her blog, link below) followed by a brief commentary by Eli Miller, age 10, who accompanied me to the nest this morning.

Brancher out on a branch

Brancher heading back to the nest for lunch

Two big nestlings and one "brancher" back in the nest at Riverside Park
Three photos by BETH BERGMAN

Friday June 12, 2009:
11:00am: 2 babies in nest preening and grooming --Brancher out on a branch

11:02 Brancher hops to another very thin branch

11:03 Brancher flies back into nest

11:05 nestlings on runway - false alarm

11:10 three birds in nest

11:15 Brancher in nest (?) starts flapping

11:20 - 11:40 lots of false alarms from nestlings

11:45 Brancher hops out again

12 noon Mama hawk arrives in nest to supervise lunch -- a rat.

12:02 Brancher quickly hops back to nest for lunch

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Another raccoon, another event

Photo © Lloyd Spitalnik

Friday, July 24, 7-10pm

Speaker: Marie Winn
Join us for an enchanted evening in Central Park with author, Marie Winn. In celebration of the paperback release of her book, "Central Park in the Dark", Winn will be providing this exclusive presentation followed by a reception and book signing. After the reception, participants will have the opportunity, through guided exploration, to experience Central Park in the dark. Limited to 100.

Free for NYC Audubon members at the student/senior level or above.

Here's a link to the NYCAS website if you want to sign up for this event:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Who is this rare creature?

Photo by Frederic Reichel

Here is a letter I received today:

During a recent visit to AMNH I read about your book "Central Park in the Dark", and remembered that in May, 2008 while walking on Central Park South at the southern end of Central Park in the early afternoon, I saw this creature, which I assumed is a raccoon. In all the years I lived in N.Y. and in all my visits over the past 30 years, I never saw a raccoon, and didn't know they existed in the city. I thought you might be interested in this photo. [see above].
Fredric Reichel
Santa Monica, CA

Here is my reply:

Dear Frederic Reichel,

Thanks for sending that nice photo. Yes indeed, that mysterious creature is a raccoon. We have quite a few of them in Central Park. They may not always be evident on the park's periphery,. But if you walk into the park on a nice spring or summer day, you are almost certain to see one--or two, or perhaps ten. The population of raccoons in Central Park may exceed a hundred!

If you scroll through the archives of this page, you'll find many, many pictures of raccoons -- they are one of our photographers' favorite subjects. And though they're generally considered quite adorable, workers who must keep the park clean are not that fond of these bandit-like critters. That's because they're very good at knocking over trash baskets and then scattering the garbage far and wide, looking for food scraps.

By the way, the first chapter of Central Park in the Dark is all about raccoons.

Sincerely, etc.

PS Why was Mr. Reichel reading about my book at the AMNH? As I did last year, I'm giving a talk at the Museum next month, this time in conjunction with the book's paperback publication. Here's an excerpt from the museum's catalog for July:

Central Park in the Dark with Marie Winn
  • Wednesday, July 8
  • 7 pm
  • Linder Theater, first floor
  • $15 ($13.50, members, students, seniors)

Explore the little-known world of Central Park’s nocturnal wildlife with naturalist Marie Winn, author of Central Park in the Dark: More Mysteries of Urban Wildlife. Learn about the bats, owls, raccoons, spiders, crickets, and slugs that become active in the park after dark and discover where daytime creatures spend the night. After an illustrated talk, follow Winn into the park to see some of these elusive creatures. A book signing is included.

Below, a link to the catalog, if you want to get tickets online: