NYC Resources311Office of the Mayor

Official Website of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation

Washington Square Park

The Daily Plant : Friday, August 23, 2002


Photo By Spencer T Tucker

If you haven’t yet heard, northern Manhattan’s Inwood Hill Park is alive with the sound of eagles. Little baby bald eagles to be exact. BP has helped Parks outfit each eaglet with tiny radio transmitter or “backpack” so that the Rangers can keep an eye on the birds. Up to this point, with help from Fairway Market, these little rascals have been fed pound upon pound of dead Salmon. Though this is a good system for making young eagles stronger, it does nothing to teach them the tactics of the hunt. Enter the fish pen.

The Urban Park Rangers are about half way through a project that will turn 75 square feet of Inwood Hill’s Salt Marsh into a fishing pen. This pen will afford the eagles a safe place to learn the skills of hunting, while at the same time, provide the curious NYC public a place to go and view their new neighbors up close.

But this is not just any fish pen. The eagles of Inwood Hill Park will be the first to try out the brain child of the Urban Park Rangers. This pen is made initially of a 75’ by 75’ squid net. The net, whose holes expand from 2 to 6 inches, will be weighted down on four sides by anchors submerged in the silt of the salt marsh. Along the edges of the net, floaters will be attached to create the sensation that the net free floats in the marsh. With the water pulling down on the net, its center will fall conveniently into a small channel that runs through the salt marsh, providing water for the fish in the pen even when the marsh is at low water levels.

At this point of the project, visitors to Inwood Hill Park are probably staring at the salt marsh in confusion as only stage one has been finished. Within the last week, the Urban Park Rangers erected the perch that the eagles will use to rest upon before, between, and after hunts. The perch stands, 4’ x 4’ x 16’ in a T formation and is hammered 8 feet deep into the silt of the marsh. In a natural setting the eagles would use overhanging tree limbs and rocks that sit on the waters edge for this purpose. Since those resources do not exist at the salt marsh, the rangers have done their best to provide the eagles with something applicable.

Once finished the pen needs to be filled with friendly little fish. All the fish in the pen will be at least 9 inches in length, and a majority of them will be caught by Urban Park Rangers in the water bodies of Inwood Hill. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will also be providing fish for the eagles pen from their on going fish surveys. The eagles diet will change significantly once they begin to use the pen. Up to this point, the eagles have been fed mostly salmon from the fine people at the Fairway Market, but the pen will be filled with a variety of Hudson River fish including mackerel, bass, and bluefish, sure to make beaks happy. New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Earth Conservation Corp helped make this eagle reintroduction possible.

Visit the Bald Eagle page and watch the eagles on Parks' live web cam!

Written by Jeffrey Sandgrund

Spencer T Tucker

Spencer T Tucker began working at Parks on January 22, 2001 and in that time he has become as recognizable to many of us as the Parks leaf itself. You know who he is…that curly haired guy with the camera stuck to his eye. From ribbon cuttings and groundbreakings to award ceremonies and tournaments, Spencer T Tucker has amassed a collection of over 50,000 parks-related pictures, including the above profile silhouette which he created for himself.

Growing up just outside of Philadelphia, Spencer often visited New York City with his family. On one such trip when he was just 11 years old, Spencer was in Washington Square Park and saw it filled with college students. It was then that he decided he would go to NYU. And in 1999 he graduated from NYU with a Double Major in Photography and Anthropology.

This fall, a selection of Spencer's work will appear in an Arsenal Gallery show entitled "The Green I See: Portraits in New York City Parks". Running from October 30, 2002 to December 5, 2002, this show will feature Parks employees and patrons with the parks of New York City as the backdrop.


"Big shots are only little shots who keep shooting."

Christopher Morley

Directions to Washington Square Park

Know Before You Go

ParkWashington Square Park

NYC Parks is currently undergoing a thorough inspection of all trees in Washington Square Park. The last inspection occurred roughly two years ago and immediate hazards were identified and resolved. As of August 8, our Manhattan Forestry unit will be pruning approximately 270 trees over several days. Additionally, there will be one removal of a 32-inch pin oak with root rot in the northwest section of the park to ensure public safety.

Was this information helpful?