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Bald Eagles in Inwood Hill Park

Friday, September 29, 2006

FALCONRY EXTRAVAGANZA on October 1st

Join the Urban Park Rangers and the International Center for Birds of Prey on Sunday, October 1st from noon to 4 p.m. at East Meadow, Central Park (enter at 99th St. and 5th Ave.).
Watch amazing raptors as they dive and soar before your eyes! The following raptors will be featured in the flight demonstration and static display:
Bald Eagle
Tawny Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
Lanner Falcon
Eurasian Kestrel
Yellow-billed Kite
Asian Wood Owl
Eural Owl
Sept 29 eagle update:

A-12 returned to Delaware after spending the summer in Quebec. Last year, he was in Delaware from November until the end of January. We will have to see if this will once again be one of his wintering spots. A-14 left lake Erie and is now east of Monongahela River around Millsboro, Pennsylvania. A-15 is crossing over Lake Champlain and heading towards Vermont.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

2005 Release Update

Here is an update on the 4 eagles that were released last year:
All 4 spent the summer in Canada. As of September 21st, A-11 and A-13 remain in Quebec.
A-14 is moving south and is currently on the Canadian shore of Lake Erie, across from A-17 (2006 release).
A-12 left Quebec and is now along the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania, north of A-18 (2006 release).

Although all our eagles are out and about, we will continue to keep an eye on them via satellite telemetry and post updates as they venture into world beyond Inwood Hill Park.
2006 Release Update

All 4 eagles have taken off!

It was no surprise that A-16, our most active and confident flier, was the first to leave. On August 17th, he crossed the river to New Jersey, to spend the weekend in Montammy Golf Course, and then continued northeast until he reached Lake Ontario around August 28th. He is slowly moving east along the shore.

On September 6th, A-17 began park hopping. He visited Morristown National Historical Park, in New Jersey, followed by Leonard Harrison State Park and Lyman Run State Park in Pennsylvania. By September 13th, he was at Lake Erie. He has not made any major movements since then.

On September 7th, A-15 flew across to the New Jersey Palisades, not too far from A-16�s first stop. She spent some time along the Susquehanna River, south of Binghamton, NY and is currently at Adirondack Park, south of middle Saranac Lake.

The last eagle, A-18, was ready to take off on September 12th. She is currently in southern Pennsylvania, west of the Susquehanna River.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A weekend-in-review update:

All four eagles are relatively inactive these days in the punishing heat. A-16 (Orange) and A-17 (Pink) fly confidently but minimally, returning to the hack platform late each afternoon for food and water. They remain near one another most of the time: on Friday afternoon, A-17 followed A-16's movement very closely in the high shady forest northwest of the platform. While meddlesome A-17 prefers not to be bored, brooding A-16 prefers not to be crowded--and so the two would erupt from time to time in brief bouts of reptilian hissing and bickering as A-17 pushed the limits, and A-16 reset them.

Meanwhile, the two females--A-15 (Blue) and A-18 (Green)--passed much of the weekend in stillness. Bohemian A-15 lingers happily at the hack platform, consuming great heaps of trout daily and wallowing periodically in the shaded water tub. A-18, until Sunday morning, favored a tree near the edge of Inwood's marsh directly downhill from the hack site. Sunday afternoon, she moved low along the shore northwest, toward the Hudson River. When she had attracted a crowd there around 3pm, we made the decision to capture and relocate her.

Hack projects like this one require that we minimize human intervention in the fledglings' natural progress while securing their health and safety. In an urban park on a busy Sunday, with rising heat and the persistent threat of dehydration, it became imperative to remove errant and inexperienced A-18 back to the protection of the hack site, with its fresh water and food. Upon placement in the hack box, which we briefly closed to ensure she would feed and drink before departing again, A-18 promptly gorged herself on a two-pound striper and bathed lavishly--a process she has repeated each day since, alongside the other three.
While the eagles have caused intermittent excitement up at Inwood in recent days, they have passed much more of their time doing what eagles do best: sitting still and quietly in trees. And as the heat wave continues, we expect a great deal more of the same.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Greetings from Ranger Headquarters.

Lab results are in! The eagles' gender is confirmed: we have two females (A-15 and A-18) and two males (A-16 and A-17).

Here is a special field report from Arthur:

All four eagles are healthy and content, despite the growing heat. On the afternoon of Friday, July 7, Rangers and visitors at the Nature Center's eaglecam console watched Pink (A-17) depart the platform for the first time after vigorous wing-beating. Since then, he has perched in trees at the margins of the soccer field below the hack site, returning uphill at least once to feed. While the first flight is always a milestone, the first return flight is of equal or greater importance to field staff--it indicates to us that the bird is comfortable with its adoptive home, and well-oriented to the park.

On Monday (7/10) afternoon, I tracked A-17 about 100 feet west of the hack platform, and I got two for the price of one: Orange (A-16), who was the first to leave, was perched in a neighboring tree. On Tue (7/11) morning, I found those same two birds as close to one another, but this time several hundred feet in the opposite direction--east of the hack platform. It appears they are hanging loosely together, as young bald eagles will when there is food at stake. They have also chosen particularly shady perches, moving minimally during the hotter hours of the day.

Green (A-18), who was present at the platform yesterday afternoon, is now perched about 75 feet eastward in a short oak tree. She must have made his first flight on Monday evening or early Tuesday morning, preferring, like the others, to make her moves in cooler hours of otherwise hot days. Perhaps she means to follow the other two into the shady canopy they've found.

Blue (A-15) huddles alone now in the only leafy patch of shade she can comfortably reach on foot. She has not flown yet, but we expect that she will soon. She can take her time; while we all enjoy the frenzied excitement of an eagle's first flight, we also appreciate the one who takes a different approach, with time to calculate her moves.

Stay tuned for more news on the eagles as they explore Inwood Hill Park.

Don't forget about other fun activities at Inwood Hill Nature Center:
Join us on July 19th at 1:00 p.m. for the Inwood Hill Boat Dock & Evan Frankel Foundation Boat House Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.
There will be fun summer activities including canoeing, crafts, music and food. Please invite community members whom you think will enjoy this event.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Eagle News From the Urban Park Ranger Central Headquarters - July 3, 2006

Happy 4th of July!!!! There is much eaglet news to flap about....

What could be more symbolic of our independence than the first flight of our new group of eaglets?

Yes, it's true. The latest news is that our eaglet, fondly referred to as "Orange," (due to her/his orange colored wax identifying mark on the shoulder), took her first flight this past Friday. All four eaglets, viewable on our eaglecam on their nesting platform (hack site), have been flapping their wings with vigor for the past week.

It has been a whirlwind of activity! The hack site bars were lifted a week ago Friday, allowing the eaglets to come out of their nest boxes onto the main platform, giving them access to tree branches and a great view of the world out there... The four flapped in place, flapped onto the logs on the platform, flapped themselves airborne...well, an inch or two. The four flapped their way out into the trees, using the large branches that extend from the platform specifically for this purpose. The Rangers at the Inwood Hill Nature Center, and all the visitors, watched one eaglet perform a flapping balancing act on a log; he seemed to be practicing his footwork, just as the lumberjacks do during log roll contests on the river.

But, finally, on Friday, Orange flapped her way into the Big Jump. She went up a bit....then down, as all eaglets seem to do on the way to mastering flight. She glided, bumped and blustered her way onto a tree branch below the hack site.

On the platform, the others peered over the edge...not flapping for the moment....and seemed to decide that, for the moment, they would remain on solid ground....40 feet up in the trees. It's a loooooong way down.......

So Orange is out and about....Flapping from branch to branch....tracked by our eagleman, himself, Arthur Middleton.

Intrepid Arthur, using the latest in radio technology, keeps a steady beep on the eagle as she ventures the hills of Northern Manhattan. Will she flap her way to the Bronx? Will she visit cross the Husdon River to New Jersey? Wherever....Arthur will follow (the radio telemetry has a range of several miles, depending on interference).

As for our other eaglets....please visit them on the webcam, online or at the Inwood Hill Nature Center. For those of you who have not yet visited, Inwood is a magnificent 196.4 acre park with hills and huge trees overlooking the Hudson River and the Harlem River Shipping Canal (218th and Indian Road in Manhattan). Click on the "About Inwood" icon on the first webpage of the Urban Park Ranger Eagle Program. Come for a canoe ride, or an eagle tour, or much, much more.

As for the eaglets....Whatever may happen next, we are prepared.

Unflappably Yours,
Ranger Central Headquarters

Monday, June 19, 2006

Baby EAGLES in Manhattan! Year Five begins...

On June 2nd 2006, four bald eagle chicks, approximately five weeks of age, arrived from The State of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and were placed in their "hack box" nest in Inwood Hill Park in Northern Manhattan. Prior to arrival, the eaglets received their certificate of health from a veterinarian specializing in raptor medicine at the Raptor Center of the University of Minnesota. Each eaglet was then outfitted with Federal and State leg bands for identification. In their hack boxes, the eaglets are enjoying a daily meal of fresh fish provided by Fairway Market. Under the watchful eyes of the Urban Park Rangers, these amazing birds of prey are learning to call Inwood home. Once they master the art of flying, they will join the other wild eagles in the area. You can see the eaglets 24/7 by viewing our web cam. Just click on the webcam icon on this page. Watch the eaglets as they develop from fuzzy nestlings into confident fledglings.

Be the first to know. Brag to your friends about this REALLY COOL website. Come visit Inwood Hill Park, and steer the eaglecam in person. (Great time to call your friends and family, tell them to get on the internet and pull up the webcam. You can take them on a 360 degree tour of the eagles and what they can see from their hack box in the treetops -- just by twisting the eaglecam joystick. Ask a Ranger on site for details). Come to Inwood and meet the Rangers running the Eagle Reintroduction program.

Thank you BP America for generously supporting the Urban Park Ranger Eagle Program!

Get to Know Your Eagle Vocabulary Words and Terms...
Hacking - a method adapted from the ancient art of falconry and used for releasing birds of prey into the wild. This method simulates their natural fledging; food is provided daily while the young raptors make incrementally longer and stronger flights eventually becoming independent.

Hack box - elevated enclosure used in the hack process as the site of feeding and shelter for the developing raptors. Inwood's hack box measures 16x16x16 feet and is 40 feet up in the trees.

'Branching' - the brief stage of development in which young birds begin hopping among nearby branches but are not yet fully flighted

Fledging - the period when the birds begin incrementally longer flights leading up to full independence from their parents or in this case, their foster parents.

'Footing' - Young raptors must learn to use their most important tools, their talons. So you may see them grabbing and playing with branches etc as they build dexterity and skill with their feet.

Stooping - once raptors are very confident in flight, they can dive or 'stoop' to make rapid descent from the sky.

Soaring - many raptors and other birds use rising and shifting air currents to travel the skies at a high vantage point for effective foraging.

Thermals- the rising columns of warm air soaring birds use to minimize flapping, thus helping them conserve energy.

Telemetry- the tracking equipment used, attached as a backpack to the birds which allows us to monitor the health and safety of the young birds throughout the summer and the early years of their dispersal.

Leg bands - State and Federal identification bands attached to the birds' legs.

Preening - the daily self-grooming process by which all birds keep their feathers in order so that they can forage and fly skillfully.

Scavenging - young eagles are especially opportunistic and will feed on almost whatever meat is available--even if it's already in another raptor's feet.

Dispersal - Moment when the young birds scatter and decide to leave; and in the case of our bald eagles, that moment is usually in the first cooler days of September.

Migration - the seasonal non-random movements of many animals to more favorable climates and feeding areas. Young eagles' movements are sometimes characterized as nomadic and aimless but they are at least loosely migratory and as the birds grow older they demonstrate a more predictable yearly pattern.

NOW YOU ARE AN EAGLE EXPERT!


Stay tuned for more updates...

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