Sunday, March 25, 2007

Park Ave. Peregrines & CZA: 25 March 2007

Peregrine Falcon
(Click image for a larger view)

Peregrine Falcon
(Click image for a larger view)

Recently I spotted some activity over Park Ave. that suggests there may be some nesting in the area north of the Met Life Building.

On March 21st I watched a Peregrine Falcon circling over Park Ave. while I was heading back to work. I followed it to a perch just below the roof of a building. A few openings away from this Peregrine was a second falcon perched on the same level just below the fencing.

Over the next few minutes the Peregrines were seen perched side-by-side with one of them entering the opening and then leaving the site with something in its talons. The whole time spent observing was no more than 20 minutes.

Tonight I stopped by the site to see if there was any activity that could lead to a definitive nest location. Five minutes after settling in I spotted both falcons heading north. The male was in the lead followed by the female. This occurred around 5:10p.

Watching Peregrine Falcons is mainly a waiting game. When I was at the site the day after first spotting the pair it took 4 outings before I saw any activity.

Tonight, after the 5:10p sighting, I waited for 40 minutes before a Peregrine returned to the area. It circled and perched on 320 Park Ave. (the ‘Mutual of America’ building) between 51st and 52nd St. After 5 minutes it flew east to the west tower of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel which is a huge building.

It remained on this perch for 35 minutes. When it left at 6:33p it took the same path as the pair did when I saw them heading north at 5:10p.

I left the area at 6:45p.

The photos were taken with a 420mm (35mm equivalent) lens, hand held with image stabilization. A larger lens mounted on tripod should pull in some nice photos.

Circumzenithal Arc — 5:15p EDT
(Click image for a larger view)

The image above is a circumzenithal arc (CZA) I took this evening. The image was shot at 5:15p. The internal clock on the camera was not adjusted for Daylight Saving Time in case you can see the EXIF information.

The altitude of the Sun at the time of the photo was a bit over 21°. The greatest brilliancy for a CZA is when the altitude of the Sun is 22° which was 5 minutes earlier. CZAs cannot form when the altitude of the Sun is 32° or higher. I wish I took down the time when the CZA disappeared but my focus was on the falcons. An hour before the photo was taken was when the Sun was 32° above the horizon.

Some references for circumzenithal arcs:


Tag said...

Nice catch & good to see you're looking up.

Was the naked eye view as brilliant and colorful as the photograph shows?

Yojimbot said...

For the record, the GM peregrines were nesting at their scrape last year, but all of the human activity from window washers to the installation of the spotlights for the new mac store forced them to abandon the nest.

Ben C. said...

Peter, I'm always looking up but sometimes my allegiances are split. The naked-eye view of the CZA was much better because of the overall brightness of the arc and the background sky. There was no need for a pair of sunglasses to enhance the view!

I saw the CZA at it's brightest a few minutes before the photo was taken which was better than it was at the time I took the photo.

yojimbot, thanks for the reminder. Unfortunately the DEC last year wasn't able to gain access to the G.M. Building until after the Peregrines were chased from their nest location. This year I contacted the DEC as soon as I saw the activity and hopefully we'll get a bead on a definite nest location which hopefully is not on the G.M. Building.

A link to all my observations from last year's failed nesting attempt on the G.M. Building can be found at the bottom of the 1st post from last year — 13-Apr-2007.

All the best.

LauraHinNJ said...

A nest in NYC would be cool!

Ben C. said...


Thanks for stopping by. This pair of Peregrines is possibly the pair that were unsuccessfully nesting on the Met Life building *or* the pair that nested on the G.M. Building last year but were chased off by the activity created by the Apple Store on the ground floor.

Here are a few articles related to Peregrine Falcons in N.Y.C.:
Interview with Chris Nadareski (DEP)
Peregrine Falcons in NYC — “in 2002 there were 16 territories with 12 nesting attempts”
Behavior of Peregrine Falcons in the N.Y.C. Region
Obs. of Duck Hawks Nesting on Man-made Structures