Monthly Archives: July 2016

Falcons, Egrets, and a Surprise Osprey


Sunset view on NYC Audubon Summer Eco Cruise. Photo by author July 2016.

Today was a good day. But Wednesday was a great day, because the waters of New York City offered up an antidote for the news cycle.

En route to the Brothers Islands via NYC Water Taxi, I saw my first, second, and third peregrine falcon arcing over the United Nations. Tumbling and swerving, these fierce birds of prey were training one of their offspring in the ways of pigeon hunting.

These formerly (at least somewhat), famously polluted waters host egret and heron roosts. Cormorants are also relatively common and begin to feel ordinary while on the water.

It is quite incongruous to see elegant white birds gliding against a golden-bright pink sunset while being within sight of Rikers Island. I learned that snowy egrets, in addition to being smaller than great egrets, fly in groups and have yellow feet.

My trick for remembering those distinguishing traits?

Yellow snow. Snowy egrets have yellow feet.


Old buildings hosting an osprey nest on South Brothers Island. Photo by author July 2016.

I saw my fourth peregrine falcon harassing three osprey (again assuming two parents and one juvenile), chimney swifts earning their moniker, and a veteran naturalist jumping up and down with excitement at finding a previously unreported osprey nest.

It was a great day.


Bats & a Heron

I used to watch bats at sunset growing up, especially on my grandmother’s farm. During my last visit, there were no bats to been seen, with their unlikely bodies belying graceful acrobatics.

It had been a long time since I’d seen any, both as a product of my current location and the devastating white-nose syndrome. I remember once when my mother rescued a bat which I believe had been unfortunate enough to get entangled with a cat; that was far and away the closest I had been to one and sadly my memories are the fuzzy ones of a child.

It did my heart good to see them in Denver, coming in as the sun set, tumbling over the lake and skimming the surface, taking a drink to go. It was just light enough to see their translucent wings when they dove at the right angle.

The words are not doing it justice; the only image is in my brain. Instead of bats, I have a picture of a more solitary target, the black-crowned night heron, with a characteristic stocky hunch.

Black-crowned night heron in Denver Botanic Gardens. Photo by author, beauty by design, 2016.


Enter a caption

Sparrows in the Airport

airport_sparrow.jpgHey Mr. House Sparrow, how did you end up in the Denver airport? Can you get out voluntarily? Are you stuck? Will you be removed by airport employees? Where do you take your dust baths? Where do you get water? Do you have a nest in the airport?

Questions I expect will remain unanswered.

Other animals in weird places recently included a chipmunk in an apartment complex staircase. He kept trying to dive under closed doorways but was able to be herded outside despite his valiant attempts to dart back up the staircase past my bulky presence.

Wildlife in weird places-a reminder of all we have taken over and how tenuous our grasp might actually be.