Monday, June 17, 2013

A rare exception to my "this blog is only about Central Park" policy

Young Barn Owls in nest on the lower level of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

My friend Rebekah Creshkoff just got the following message from her friend Tim Higginbotham, who "runs the subway's music buskers program" according to Rebekah.
Most folks are well aware that peregrine falcon families have nested at on the towers of some of MTA’s bridges for years now, and when the chicks arrive every spring they get a lot of press, including in MTA Today, which in the past has featured both photos and video.
But did you know MTA bridges are also providing a safe haven for barn owls?
These dark-eyed chicks were discovered nesting inside a strut on the lower level of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.According to Dan Fortunato, a maintenance superintendent at Bridges and Tunnels, one of our contractors happened upon the fluffy white duo, and Fortunato contacted the New York City Department of Environmental Conservation, as is regularly done on behalf of the falcon families.
 “We will just leave them be, until they fly away,” said Fortunato, in keeping with Bridges and Tunnels’ wildlife-friendly custom.
The nocturnal Tyto alba, commonly called the barn owl, is found all over North and South America.  At night, barn owls hunt by flying low, back and forth over open habitats, searching for small rodents. These owls require large areas of open land over which to hunt. This can be marsh, grasslands, or agricultural fields. For nesting and roosting, they prefer quiet cavities, either in trees or man-made structures such as barns or silos…or the lower level of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge,