Saturday, February 24, 2007

Bald Eagle on Reservoir 24-Feb-2007

Bald Eagle - juvenile
(Click image for a wider view)

Update 9-Apr-2007: I've spoken to a number of birders from Central Park who have birded there awhile and/or know the history of sightings in the park and the consensus is that this is the first confirmed sighting of a Bald Eagle landing in Central Park!

Update to original post: added a full frame image to show the amount of cropping and some additional details surrounding the reservoir. The eagle was spotted at 8:30 am and left shortly after finishing its meal at 9:20 am. The image is taken from the east looking towards the west.

[Click ‘Read More...’ below if you are on the main page.]

DATE: Saturday, 24 February 2007 (7:50a-2:20p)
LOCATION: Central Park - reservoir to south end of park
OBSERVERS: Omar Morales, Ben Cacace

Even though the reservoir was almost completely frozen over we decided to take a trip around the running track. The only open water on the reservoir continues around the 'fountain' in the SW quadrant. In this opening were ~50 Canada Geese, 6 American Coots & several Ring-billed Gulls. It's unfortunate I didn't make an exact count of the gulls.

As we made our way along the east side of the reservoir heading north I noticed the gulls had just lifted off the reservoir. I always look for raptors in the sky when this happens since this is sometimes the reason for the scare. This time the reward was a juvenile Bald Eagle carrying one of the Ring-billed Gulls. The eagle started climbing a bit but then started settling into descending loops and finally landed out in the middle of the reservoir on the ice.

It was almost immediately joined by 3 crows waiting on scraps.

We didn't spot the eagle arriving but saw it shortly after the gulls lifted. It already had the Ring-billed in its talons.

Also seen were 6 Red-tailed Hawks. Both sets of adults from the 5th Ave. nest and the Trump Parc nest. A Red-tailed was seen north of the reservoir. On my way to the south end there was a juvenile RT feasting on a pigeon just east of the Falconer's statue.

Red-tailed Hawk — juvenile
(Click image for a larger view)

The male Northern Pintail continues on The Pond at the south end of the park.

** Total species - 33 **

'Infrequent' migrants [1 spp]:
+ Northern Pintail - 1 male on The Pond at S end of park

'Less Common' migrants [3 spp]:
+ Bald Eagle - 1 juvenile (probable 1st year) on the reservoir's ice feeding on a Ring-billed Gull
+ Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - 1 heard near Chess & Checkers House
+ Fox Sparrow - 1 just N of Swedish Cottage W of Shakespeare Garden

'Common' migrants [13 spp]:
- American Black Duck - At least 6 incl. 4 on the lake plus 2 on The Pond
- Northern Shoveler - At least 12 on the lake
- Ruddy Duck - At least 3 on the lake (2f/1m)
- American Coot - 6 continue on the reservoir
- Northern Flicker - 2 incl. 1 female near Locust plus 1 male on Sheep Meadow
- White-breasted Nuthatch - At least 6 throughout the park
- American Robin - 2 in The Oven (Ramble)
- Eastern Towhee - 1 male around Strawberry Fields
- Song Sparrow - 1 on N edge of Turtle Pond
- White-throated Sparrow - Several dozen throughout the park (~100)
- Red-winged Blackbird - 2 adult males around Evodia Field feeders
- Common Grackle - At least 2 dozen (~24)
- American Goldfinch - At least 4 around Evodia Field feeders

Year round residents [16 spp]:
- Canada Goose - Approximately 50 in open water near the reservoir's fountain
- Mute Swan - 4: 2 on the lake plus 2 on The Pond
- Mallard - Approximately 100 on the lake plus 100 on The Pond
- Red-tailed Hawk - 6: 1 N of reservoir, 2 adults: 5th Ave nest, juv feeding near Falconer's statue, adults: S end nest
- Ring-billed Gull - Several dozen on the lake including several on the reservoir before the Bald Eagle arrived (~48)
- Rock Pigeon - Several dozen (~80)
- Mourning Dove - Several throughout the park (~6)
- Red-bellied Woodpecker - Several seen and heard (~4)
- Downy Woodpecker - Several seen and heard (~5)
- Blue Jay - Several throughout the park (~12)
- American Crow - 3 on the reservoir interacting with Bald Eagle while waiting for scraps
- Tufted Titmouse - At least a dozen throughout the park (~12)
- European Starling - At least 12 throughout the park
- Northern Cardinal - At least 4 in The Ramble
- House Finch - At least 2 dozen around Evodia Field feeders (~24)
- House Sparrow - At least 3 dozen (~36)


Yojimbot said...

Cool post! It was a great day for eagles. Now I know why the gulls always scatter at the sight of one!

Ben C. said...

yojimbot, Yes it was a great day for eagles. I saw the photos you took at Croton Point Park and was impressed by your own Westchester ‘Raptor Force’ outing. The flight shots of the Nothern Harriers are especially appreciated. The captures of the 2 Bald Eagles was also nice to see. [Link to post on ‘The Origin of Species’]

BTW, this may be a first for Bald Eagle landing in Central Park. We'll have to wait for the oral histories to start trickling in. I look forward to other reports on BEs in Central Park.

bruce said...

Great shot Ben.

Ben C. said...

Bruce, Thanks for the feedback. I've added a full frame image to show how much cropping was necessary.

Donegal Browne said...

Ben, congratulations, wonderful sighting. I particularly liked the full shot as it shows the birds are in Central Park and the juxtaposition of the child with the Bald Eagle and the Crow. As I've been watching crows of late I find that the one next to the Eagle is looking uncharacteristically respectful.

Ben C. said...


Thanks for leaving a comment. I thought a cropped shot without showing the eagle 'in matrix' would not have been that convincing. I added the full frame shot to show both the original size of the image to help show the eagle in context.

See you around.

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