Poison-free rat traps, Rosie and Bobby at sunset - January 31st, 2014

One of the NYU flag poles having a bad day:

I noticed new labels on the rat traps in Washington Square Park today.


I checked and these labels were on several of the traps around me.

As relieved as I was to see them, I did not chalk the new labels up to my or others' efforts to change park administrator Sarah Neilson's mind about the danger the poison bait stations posed to Rosie and Bobby. 

Instead, I knew the park planned to revert to the snap traps by the first week of February (in advance of the Hawks' breeding season) anyway. This has historically been the policy. 

And, as Sarah Neilson wrote to me on September 26th, "We are attentive to wildlife issues in parks and change rodent control methods accordingly. When we see a breeding pair of hawks inside a park or in close proximity to one, we suspend all baiting from the beginning to the end of fledgling season. Fledgling season usually begins in February when breeding hawks begin to build their nest. We then suspend baiting until after the young hawks fledge the nest in late August."

From her email, it seems that Parks follows what I've already railed against as an illogical baiting policy (one endorsed by NYC Audubon) that rodenticide should only be used between the months of September through February. The logic seems to be that the eggs and Hawk babies should be protected between March and August but that it's ok to risk killing the Hawk parents when they're not in the breeding season (even if they live in the park year-round).


I noticed a box of bait station-related product on a lawn at the eastern side of the park. It was unattended that moment:

I then looked for the Hawks at the western side of the park. I saw a contractor walking about with some of the new rat traps.

I approached him as he was setting up one of the traps and asked if his was a snap trap and if it was replacing a poison one. He said yes and that the way it works is he opens the trap, lays down a scented attractant, inserts the snap, then shuts the unit. He demonstrated how he applies the attractant for me. I asked if I could take a photo of the set up and he said, "Sure!"

The snap is the smaller object between the two shells:

I asked if today was the first day of the trap switching and he said no, that they've been replacing the poison units with the snap ones since last Wednesday.

Back at it:

His colleague:

Unfortunately, there were plenty of garbage cans around the park with its lids dangling to the side (a perfect invitation for rats to climb in and gather food):

I saw Rosie and Bobby at once an hour after I arrived at the park.

They were seated atop NYU's Silver Center, facing the park.

Rosie on the flag, Bobby on the railing below her:

Bobby flew south out of the park after five minutes:

Rosie watched him the followed him after a few seconds:

I had a hunch they might have flown to the NYU housing water towers at east 3rd Street so off I went.

Rosie was there, overlooking the courtyard below her:

I glimpsed Bobby flying further west but did not follow him since I wanted to keep an eye on Rosie.

She then flew to another tower further west (Bobst Library on the right):

Rosie flew west again. I lost sight of her. 

I returned to the park.

Bobby flew to the Red Roost Inn twenty three minutes later:

I waited at the roost for another twenty minutes in the hopes that Rosie would join him but she did not.

The city rolling along as usual below Bobby:

Bobby and Rosie seen on Thursday, January 30th

Apologies for posting this update a bit late. Both Bobby and Rosie were seen at the same time by a fellow Hawk-watcher yesterday afternoon. Bobby was perched on NYU's Silver Center while Rosie was on one of her favorite buildings outside the southwestern corner of the park.

One of the Hawks was seen roosting at the "Red Roost Inn" on Wednesday the 29th.

Nature photos from my trip

Although it would have been nice to have seen the Golden-handed Tamarin I showed in my last post in its natural habitat of South America, I truly got a kick out of seeing it and other amazing creatures while at the Dallas World Aquarium last week.

It's not only an aquarium but a combination of several open aviaries, rain forests, and tanks. I have mixed emotions when it comes to zoos and such but have to say the DWA is a remarkably well-maintained facility and the animals and birds appeared to be healthy and happy.

I do not use flash when I take nature photos and didn't even think to ask the staff if I could.  In hindsight I think it would have been OK to do so (and the quality of my photos would probably have been a lot better if I had used flash since we were indoors) but overall I'm pretty happy with how my pics turned out and hope you get a feel of how extraordinary the creatures were. 

Matschie's Tree Kangaroo:

Shoebill Stork:

Red-capped Manakin:

Mystery bird I'll have to spend time looking up but it might have been a female yellow-headed or Red-capped Manakin:

Swallow Tanager:

Another mystery bird:

White-faced Saki Monkeys:

Golden-handed Tamarin:

Citron-throated Toucan:

Saffron Toucanet:

Sleeping Three-toed Sloth:

Emperor Tamarin (I tried to get pics of their faces but they moved so fast!):

Orinoco Crocodile:

Roseate Spoonbills:

A few of the Spoonbills made their way to the rafters:

Red-breasted Toucan:

Golden-handed Tamarin having a scratch:

Turned to the other side to scratch its other leg:

Saki Monkeys (male on the left, female on the right):

The two monkeys above resumed preening each other a second after that photo was taken.

Golden Lion Tamarin:

Antillean Manatee:

A diver swam amongst the creatures, collecting their food rubbish and otherwise checking on things. Arapaima fish are seen on the right:

African/Black-footed Penguins:

Three of the penguins were pretty sleepy as quiet classical music was being pumped through speakers overhead:

I was pretty taken with this little snoozer:

The middle and right-hand penguins were sleepy too:

Freshwater Sawfish:

Bonnethead shark (bird perched above it on the edge of the rock):

Barred Owls:

Morelet Crocodile:

Guiana Crested Eagle (at first I thought it was a Harpy Eagle):


Caribbean Flamingos:

Jabiru Storks:

Puerto Rican Woodpecker:


Blue-necked Tanager:

We also visited Arbor Hills Nature Preserve, a public park located in Plano, Texas.

Carolina Chickadee:

Bigger squirrels than we have up north:

A Dark Morph Red-tail hunted low above the open fields:


Red-tailed Hawk:

Wild Nopales:

Red-bellied Woodpecker:

What was very likely a Hook-billed Kite a very difficult bird to identify:

At first a friend and I wondered if it may be a Hook-billed Kite but now think it could have been a Sharp-shinned Hawk:

Turkey Vulture:

Black Vulture:

A stretch of power lines and open pathway on another side of town: 

Starlings on the wires:

Mourning Dove:

Starling right after lift-off: