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.


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