Raptor Fest 2010: Escape to New York City

Ferringous Hawk

Fierce Ferringous Hawk

I was sitting  in the packed bleachers for Central Park’s 13th Annual Raptor Fest this weekend, when we all got buzzed by a runaway ferringous hawk. They’re like red-tails of Pale Male fame, only bigger. I don’t want to sound like a little kid, but the surprise escape was my favorite part.

Ashleigh Baker, a falconer from Hawk Creek Wildlife Center, captured him about an hour later. The sanctuary had radio telemetry bands on all the flying birds, then Ashleigh tracked him down on foot, trouncing through poison ivy. He made it from the Great Hill over to around the pool after a resident red-tail chased him duringhis show. The resident red tails anxiously flew by a few times, trying to figure out who these new birds were. Ashleigh also rounded up a turkey vulture who took off across the field to see what was going on at a family picnic.

The escapes were fun because they show that no matter how well-choreographed the event is, these birds are still wildlife with their own will. For 13 years Hawk Creek wildlife sanctuary near Buffalo has been hauling a vanload of eagles, hawks, falcons, owls and assorted big bird oddities across the state to give New York City residents a little taste of the wild. Ashleigh said they rounded up the birds around 4 am the previous morning and (aside from the owls) they were so groggy they complied.

The birds started to get excited before the event, noticing the field and handlers. The ferringous hawk particularly kept trying to fly, though tethered. With the help of the Urban Park Rangers, the wildlife rehab center let people see many of the birds close up.  The teeny saw whet owl stared at me from just a few feet away. The center itself is quite a mecca for animal lovers, with far more than just hawks. They have an Andean condor, bald eagles, parrots, a hornbill, foxes, lizards, an otter, a porcupine and a bunch of wild cats (lynx, bobcat, serval, caracal, ocelot).

Check out Hawk Creek

Where to Go to See Weird Birds

Where to See Wildlife Around in Northeast

Related posts:


On the advice of a right whale, we have closed comments for this post. If you have something really important to say, email us and we'd be delighted to reopen it for you. (The whale is only trying to prevent spam comments.)