Wildlife feeders, including a performance artist dressed as a pigeon, sing protest songs at the gates of City Hall on Tuesday. (Photos and video by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
With a full wildlife feeding ban expected to start this summer in city parks, animal rights activists rallied against the Parks Department’s proposed ban on Tuesday on the steps of City Hall.
Bronx resident Lucia Maria led the rally with her group, Bronx Animal Rights Electors, and said that the mayor had responded to a caller during Brian Lehrer’s “Ask the Mayor” segment on March 22, saying he would more closely examine the opposition to the ban. However, he has since approved of the ban, agreeing with the Parks Department’s argument that feeding birds and squirrels is also feeding the city’s rat population.
“The mayor made it sound as if city parks were over-run by hordes of wildlife feeders who littered parks with all kinds of debris from balls to balloons to bottles to old shoes,” Maria said. “It’s true, parks are littered with these items, but they are not from bird or squirrel feeders. The truth is that less than one percent of park-goers feed birds or squirrels. Of this percentage, most of the people who do feed them are senior citizens, the disabled and families. These are the people the Parks Department and the mayor now want to label as criminals.”
The early hawk catches the mourning dove in Stuyvesant Town during a local Christmas bird count. Despite poor weather conditions, participating birders still saw some unusual birds. (Photo by Ron Lulov)
Local birders conduct annual avian search
Despite truly miserable weather on Sunday, December 16, a team of devoted birders made their annual jaunt through Stuyvesant Cove and Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village to do their part for the annual city bird count. One of them, Stuy Town avian expert Anne Lazarus provided Town & Village with the official count from the walk as well as some birds seen earlier by participants throughout the week. (16 different species on count day, 14 during count week, for a total of 30 kinds of birds.) This was far fewer than usual for the tree-filled neighborhood, but due to the nonstop rain, Lazarus said it was one of the most difficult birding days she’d ever seen.
While at the Cove, “Low tide looked more like an approaching high tide. The wind and pelting rain did not help,” she said.
The day’s sightings included an immature Cooper`s Hawk as well as an adult Cooper`s Hawk with its prey, an unfortunate mourning dove, secured firmly in its talons as it perched on a sweet gum in Stuy Town not far from the 16th Street entrance to the First Avenue Loop.
The Department of Conservation said this lizard won’t be able to survive long in the cold. (Photo by Valerie Nilsson)
Update: We showed the photo of the lizard to a source at The Bronx Zoo who believes it is a fake due to the way it’s positioned.
By Sabina Mollot
Earlier in the week, Valerie Nilsson, a woman walking through Stuyvesant Oval spotted what appeared to be some kind of lizard in a patch of grass. However, the three-foot-long creature appeared to be so still she wondered if it was a toy or prop someone had put there as a prank. Later noticing it was gone, she posted a photo she took of the lizard on the local Facebook group Stuyvesant Moms to ask if anyone else had seen it.
So far, no one had and Stuyvesant Town management has said no one has reported it as a missing pet.
Town & Village sent the photo to the New York State Department of Conservation, where a spokesperson said based on the photo it appeared to be a Monitor Lizard in the Varanidae family of lizards.
A resident spotted this brown and white owl on Monday as it perched on a railing by the mezzanine of 525 East 14th Street. He told Town & Village that he’s seen lots of different birds in the neighborhood but the owl was an unusual find in the city. The resident, Mario, who didn’t want his last name mentioned, also noted that he wasn’t expecting to capture this little guy on camera in broad daylight but pulled out his phone and managed to get some shots of the obliging raptor.
Upon seeing the photos, Anne Lazarus, a longtime birder who leads bird watching tours in Stuyvesant Town and Stuyvesant Cove, identified this visitor as a Northern Saw-whet Owl, noting the lack of ear tufts.
“The Northern Saw-whet Owls have been showing up this year,” said Lazarus, adding that a few have been spotted in Central Park. Additionally, despite its size, the owl seen in Stuy Town is not a baby, but an adult, with Northern Saw-whets being one of the smallest owl species in North America. They are comparable, size-wise, to robins.
In recent years, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village has had some surprising animal visitors, including a lost coyote and an injured bat. Rumors of raccoons have abounded, but on Sunday, Peter Cooper resident Suzanne Silber got photographic evidence of one such masked marauder in broad daylight, as it scarfed down a snack.
Silber said the raccoon was eating what appeared to be Veggie Booty or similar dried stick snacks that were scattered on the lawn. Asked about this, ST/PCV General Manager Rick Hayduk said the food had been thrown on the lawn by someone, attracting the attention of the raccoon. He added that management’s environmental services partner has set some traps to try and catch the critter. The traps will only be out for a week or two, though since the raccoon has already appeared to move on from the property on its own.
Silber originally posted the photo on the ST-PCV Tenants Association’s Facebook page, where another commenter reported seeing the little guy on Monday night near 3 Peter Cooper Road, coming from the fountain area. Yet another TA account poster snapped a photo of presumably the same raccoon spotted Monday night on East 22nd Street between First and Second Avenues.
Management has tried to deal with the issue through signage, but the squirrels have continued their M.O. of approaching people anyway, and looking at you like this. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
Just when you thought it was safe to unwrap your Snickers bar in Stuyvesant Town, reports have surfaced of another child getting attacked by a squirrel. Last Thursday, in its weekly newsletter to residents, StuyTown Property Services stated that a child was scratched when a squirrel leapt out of a garbage can.
Because of this, management is asking residents not to feed the local wildlife anywhere on the property. SPS also not so subtly alluded to the fact that residents have been ignoring its rule about not feeding squirrels within 50 feet of the playgrounds specifically for children’s use.
Now, along with the signs, if a resident is spotted by a public safety officer feeding the critters near any of those five children’s playgrounds, he or she will be told to stop, a spokesperson for management told us. The rep added that the scratch received by the child wasn’t serious.
A suspected bird-napper was caught in the act on Stuyvesant Town surveillance footage. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Wildlife advocates are in a fowl mood thanks to a ring of pigeon-nappers. The bird thieves have been trapping the ubiquitous New York bird from local parks recently and selling them for target practice out of state, including to customers in Pennsylvania. Neighborhood resident and wildlife advocate Andrew Garn expressed his concern for the birds at the recent community council meeting at the 13th Precinct on Tuesday.
“I know it sounds like a joke,” Garn admitted after a smattering of laughter from meeting attendees. “But this has been going on in the neighborhood for years.”
Garn, a photographer who took an interest in the birds’ plight about two years ago after photographing them for about eight years, said that the trappers catch the birds by putting down feed and using spring-loaded nets. Garn lives in Stuyvesant Square and although he noted that this is an ongoing problem throughout the city, he said it is especially prevalent in parks in his neighborhood.
While Stuyvesant Town has become known for its wildlife, in particular its famous black squirrels, on Sunday morning, the complex was visited for the first time by a coyote.
The coyote, a young female, which has been named Stella by Parks officials and has since been captured and released into a wooded area in the Bronx, had likely traveled south into Manhattan.
She was captured on the property on the Avenue C side by police officers, who then brought her to Animal Care and Control, where she was given a clean bill of health.
Meanwhile, a Parks official T&V interviewed about the incident said that coyote sightings in the city are becoming more common, and she expects that this trend will only continue. Just a couple of weeks ago, another coyote was found in Riverside Park, and in 2011, another coyote had wandered into Tribeca.
Sarah Aucoin, director of NYC Parks’ Urban Park Rangers, said the coyote’s visit last weekend was “not entirely unexpected.
“We know that many coyotes have been expanding their range,” she said. “Not in Stuyvesant Town obviously but New York City provides a good habitat.”