Friday, April 14, 2006

Central Park: Peregrine Falcons 13-Apr

‘Peregrine Falcon and White-Throated Swifts’
paper, 26.25" x 20"
(click image for catalog)

Thursday night was spent observing a pair of Peregrine Falcons that may actually be nesting this season. Their territory hugs the southeast corner of Central Park. The falcons are seen perching on buildings over Central Park South & along 5th Avenue. One of their favorite's is the General Motors Building. This cliff-like edifice has been the main focus for various Peregrine pairs that have been occupying this territory from as far back as 1996 when I first noticed them in the area.

In the past the main buildings used for perching were the Sherry-Netherland Hotel (S-N), General Motors Building (G.M.) & the Solow Building a.k.a. 9 West 57th St. (right photo):

GM_S-N_02_w198p.jpg Solow_Bldg_01_w198p.jpg

Over the years I've been observing these Peregrines with the hope of discovering their nest site. This would be a new addition to the nesting Peregrine pairs on Manhattan. I've yet to see any juvenile falcons interacting with the resident adults. Maybe this season will be different.

Observation-wise, yesterday was one of the best days. The location of both falcons was noted from the time I arrived at 5:55pm EDT to shortly before I left at 7:20pm. This is unusual since the Peregrines can easily disappear from sight. Gapstow Bridge, just south of Wollman Skating Rink, is where I do most of my observing.

Male Peregrine Falcons are considerably smaller than females. This female is separable from the male not only by size. There are two features that can help ID her in case the male isn't nearby for size comparison. The female is missing a tail feather near the right edge of her tail. This is best seen when she's soaring. She is also missing a primary near the outer edge of her left wing.

I witnessed the following making the evening more successful than usual:

• both male and female were flying together
• for the whole session the location the pair was known
• I noted the time & direction where the male went to roost
• the pair was seen mating on the Solow Building
a possible location for the nest was noted
• there was a Peregrine &mdash pigeon encounter
• a Kestrel passed over the flying pair heading north
• a male Kestrel was hunting near Gapstow Bridge

Gapstow Bridge In The Snow - 1985
Photo by JOE BLY
(used by permission — click image for catalog)

Nesting Location

While observing the Peregrines there was a spot that was revisited by the pair that may turn out to be a nest site. In the past I've noticed places where the Peregrines would disappear to thinking I'd found where they were nesting but juveniles (a key sign to a successful nesting) were never seen.

A favorite perching spot over the years has unfortunately been roped off by management of the Sherry-Netherland Hotel. Management was aware of the Peregrine's preference for these niches. Luckily the falcons are not at a loss for places to perch.

Related items:
• Peregrine Falcon updates — 2006: 13-Apr, 21-Apr, 24-Apr, 26-Apr, 28-Apr, 30-Apr, 4-May, 5-May, 6-May, 7-May, 9-May, 11-May, 12-May, 13-May, 14-May, 16-May, 17-May, 18-May, 19-May, 21-May, 22-May, 23-May, 31-May
Earliest Peregrine Falcon Nest in N.Y.C.?
Behavior of Peregrine Falcons in the N.Y.C. Region
      by Richard A. Herbert & Kathleen Green Skelton Herbert
Obs. of Duck Hawks Nesting on Man-made Structures
      by Horace Groskin