More of Brooklyn's secret owl family

Fuzzy great horned owl in Prospect Park

Got to see more of the owl family in Prospect Park in the last couple days. And hear first-hand some of the reasons to keep it all hush-hush.

The two owl chicks are still on their tree, “branching,” just testing out their wings with very short hops. Soon they’ll try to fly. Inevitably they’ll wind up on the ground. The only question is whether it’ll be behind a fence in the woods (fine). On a pathway (bad). Or in an open field (horrible). Their worst enemy is people who think they’re helping–they far outnumber people who mean to do the owl harm. And those do exist. Rehabber Bobby Horvath told me how some guy wanted to catch and sell a juvenile red-tailed hawk that fledged on Houston Street.

So today I got to talk with Peter Dorosh the head of the Brooklyn Bird Club,  who does a fantastic blog on birding in Brooklyn. Peter, who works in the park, says that just this year he had to pick up raccoons shot by kids in the park. The protection of owls goes back to 1980, he says, when kids also shot owls in the city. He really did not want Central Park birders invading the Brooklyn territory and another birder who happened on us felt he had to explain that he hadn’t shown my friend Courtney and me the owl.

Another birder said that kids threw rocks at bald eagles nesting in Inwood and that put an end to their nesting there. I don’t find news stories on any of these incidents, which, of course doesn’t mean they aren’t true. My friend Dennis Edge told me how he had seen teenagers shoot at rare birds at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. He helped police catch them and waited around for hours, but after talking with parents, the police just decided not to charge them.

great horned owl chick and parent

I think the bald eagle program, which released 20 of WI’s excess bald eagle chicks over five years, starting in 2002, was meant to bring bald eagles back to the city after September 11th. And I believe it ended because Thomas Cullen, the falconer hired to raise the eagles, which were on platforms behind a big-ass fence, was investigated for their treatment and one death.

Earlier story on the owl

moose Where to SEE MOOSE
pelicanpuffinhummingbird Where to SEE WEIRD BIRDS (All the interesting birds: pelicans, puffins, prairie chickens, vultures, hummingbirds)

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1 comment to More of Brooklyn’s secret owl family

  • http://matthewwills.com/

    Your blog is great. I can see that it’s a big job. Above is the blogger I was telling you about. His blog is called Backyard and Beyond.

    I photographed a tiny (secret) owl last week. It’s on the splash page of my site.

    I have seen bad things happening to waterfowl by kids (and fishing lures). I’ve almost gotten into fights. The government did not help when devaluing wildlife by slaughtering geese. On my site is one of the Great Horned Owls that had a fishing lure attached to it’s foot. It was stuck and barely got away when the park tried to save it. It was never seen again. The mallard that was stuck by fishing lure was saved thankfully by you. Rick waded into the water and freed it.

    Cheers, Peter

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