The day before the walk, I checked on the owls after a call from friend Billy, who told me kids had set fire to the area. When I got there, I saw a large swath of mugwort, quite close to the owl’s nest, burned out. Luckily, there were footpaths around the area and they acted as fire breaks, possible keeping a huge area from burning. We observed one owlet in full view sitting on a nearby branch. The other was safely in the nest. All was well.

That evening I received an email telling me that the owls were not visible. Since I was already sitting at the computer, I checked the weather. All three internet sites I used called for showers in the morning. I was no longer optimistic.

    So, when I got up at 6:30, I was glad to see it wasn’t raining, although it was overcast. There were a few sprinkles and then the sun broke through. Thankfully, nobody got lost coming over to the park.

     On the way over to the owl nest, we observed a Monk Parakeet nest but no birds.

We continued walking and arrived at our destination. In the tree cavity we found two owlets clearly visible. Then we found both adults in nearby trees. We stayed quite a while observing the birds. When everyone felt they had enough, we headed out to find American Kestrels, Northern Harriers and a Red-tailed Hawk as promised. We were quite successful getting fantastic looks, quite close, of all three birds. Traveling to and from the nest we located other species as well.


April 15, 2012 8:30 AM

Pelham Bay Park

These are the owlets on April1 4, the day before the walk. I was concerned that the older bird would leave and we would have difficulty finding it.

Here’s our happy group getting ready to leave. Photos by Jane Rothman.

Here we are looking at a Monk Parakeet nest, top left.

At the owl’s nest there was lots of activity and photo opportunity. The scope was helpful in locating the adult owls in the trees behind the nest. The light improved and we all got great views.

In the photos below, we were watching the Harriers, Kestrels and a Red-tailed Hawk. One of the Kestrels landed in a nearby tree and those with long lenses risked their lives to get below it on  very narrow path, between the water and the fence. Thankfully, everyone came back dry

Species Account

Great Horned Owl

American Kestrel

Northern Harrier

Red-tailed Hawk

Great Crested Flycatcher

Savannah Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Hermit Thrush

Barn Swallow

Tree Swallow

American Black Duck


Northern Flicker

Blue Jay

Brown Thrasher

Carolina Wren

Northern Mockingbird

Hermit Thrush

Common Grackle

Northern Cardinal

American Goldfinch

This was a wonderful walk with wonderful people. All of our walks are non- competitive and friendly. Beginners are always welcomed and encouraged. We don’t always get our target birds but we always have fun and everyone leaves with a smile. Luckily the owls were cooperative as were the other raptors in the area. In the coming weeks, during migration, there will be more opportunities for great birding.

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