Almost too cold for birding - January 23rd, 2013

Today was the second day of freezing temperatures in the area. It was about 19 degrees when I visited Central Park today. Of course, it really felt like 7 degrees thanks to the wind!

Grand Army Plaza was almost completely empty of tourists and anyone else for that matter. But what I noticed right away was the lack of carriage horses and drivers that usually line the park. It was really weird not having them around.

I saw an ASPCA vehicle parked where carriages line up in the plaza. I wondered if maybe a law passed the day before banning the horse-drawn carriage industry in the park and if the enforcement officer was there to ensure the law was being followed.

When I got home tonight I researched this and learned that carriage horse drivers are forbidden from working their horses when the temperature drops below 18 degrees.

From that link:

Q: What is the ASPCA doing to help the New York City carriage horses?
A: The ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement department assigns agents to check on these horses regularly. The agents make sure that the horses are receiving proper care, that administrative requirements are being met, and that cruelty laws are not being violated.

Q: It is illegal for carriage horses to work when it is too hot or too cold? What are the laws regarding weather conditions?
A: Carriage horses may not work when the air temperature reaches 90 degrees in the summer or falls below 18 degrees in the winter. Currently, there are no regulations that factor in humidity or wind chill.


Obligatory shot of The Plaza nest:

A Great Blue Heron was standing still across The Pond:

One leg tucked in and feathers fluffed for warmth:

A Black-crowned Night Heron was not far away, also keeping still in the cold:

Different view of the Great Blue:

I still hadn't seen either of the Plaza's Red-tailed Hawks until I heard one calling out to my left.

I turned and saw the tawnier one flying around at building level:

It disappeared east of the park, east of 5th Avenue.

Back at Grand Army Plaza: