New York Daily Photo Analytics

Monday, December 17, 2007

Peregrine Falcons

On an excursion downtown I ran across this sign proclaiming the reemergence of the peregrine falcon in NYC. Until the middle of the 20th century peregrines ranged from Alaska to Georgia. But in the 1950s and ‘60s, the pesticide DDT found its way up the food chain. The birds that peregrines hunted fed on insects contaminated with DDT. Due to biomagnification, DDT accumulated in the peregrines, causing their eggs to become too weak to even support the weight of the mother incubating her eggs. The eggs shattered before fledglings could hatch. By the time DDT was finally banned in 1972, there was not a single peregrine falcon left east of the Mississippi. The reemergence of the peregrine is considered an environmental success story. I became interested in birds of prey in NYC several years ago when, like many other New Yorkers, I learned of the red-tailed hawk Pale Male (and his family) which had nested on a prime building on Fifth Avenue. I made frequent trips to the Boat Basin area of Central Park to spend afternoons, along with many others, watching the antics of the Pale Male. But problems ensued and the situation became a huge international story for the city - if you missed it click here for links and a posting with a photo of my own sighting at my bedroom window downtown of a red-tailed hawk - a real lucky photo op which itself got quite a response from birders and local residents. I was surprised to find this tiny patch of green (in the photo) at the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge and learn that it was a prime spot for sighting falcons. I also was not aware that this is a Greenstreet property - part of a huge $391 million, ten year initiative to plant street trees in all possible locations, creating 800 new greenstreets, and reforesting 2,000 acres of parkland. The initiative is part of PlaNYC: " a blueprint for New York City to attain sustainable growth and improve the quality of life in the face of escalating population projections. The Mayor’s plan—shaped by input from environmental, business, community, and legislative leaders as well as thousands of New Yorkers—details 127 initiatives within five key areas of the city’s environment: land, air, water, energy, and transportation. Components of the plan include increasing access to open space, cleaning up contaminated lands, improving water quality through natural solutions, achieving the cleanest air quality of any big city in America, and reducing global warming emissions by 30%." It sounds great. Let's hope it's not just hot air :) ...