NYC Raccoons and Red-tails in Winter

Snow frosted the city yesterday.

Broadway and Riverside split at 107th Street, looking lovely

The water towers wore white skull caps.

A crow surveys 109th Street from atop a water tower

Esau was on the alert for wildlife


but the park was quiet

Steps lead toward the river

The retaining wall is always beautiful, and especially so with a dusting of snow.

Raccoons live here.

The entrance to the large raccoon den is once again piled with snow.

I once saw six raccoons emerge from this hole in the wall.

It’s been over a month since I’ve seen a raccoon here, and I’m starting to worry. Raccoons in northern climates pack on the fat in autumn so that they can spend less time foraging in the coldest days of winter and more time curled up in their den. They don’t actually hibernate, but they may sleep away several weeks of bitter weather, living off their fat stores and waiting for milder days. It’s been a cold and snowy winter, so maybe my Riverside Park raccoons are just dozing away the cold and dreaming of spring. But still I worry. (Check back soon for an update on raccoon rabies in NYC.)

Sledders were out

Traipsing up the hill

as were walkers

A man strolls in an only-in-New-York fuchsia faux-fur coat

ice dancers

Olympics pairs, they are not

and a single cross-country skier

Heading south

as well as a passel of happy dogs.

Happy but headless snow dogs

No birds to be seen yesterday.

Branches empty of animals

Unlike Sunday, when a hawk devoured a songbird on the bare ground beneath the retaining wall

Red-tail takes a break from pulling entrails

The snow had finally melted in parts of the park

Back to work

and the hunting was good

Do you mind? I'm eating here.

After a few minutes, the hawk soared over my head, so low that I ducked to avoid contact with the carcass gripped in his talons.  He swooped up to a branch high above the ground in search, perhaps, of privacy from paparazzi like me

Alone at last

And there, finally taking the hint, I left him to his meal.

Explore posts in the same categories: 2011, Birds, February, Hawks, In the City, NYC Parks, raccoons, Riverside Park, Wildlife/Natural History, Winter

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17 Comments on “NYC Raccoons and Red-tails in Winter”

  1. […] rural areas, Red-tailed hawks dine mostly on rodents, but here in the city they are frequently seen eating pigeons and songbirds in addition to rats, squirrels and […]

  2. Dawn Fine Says: guys sure are getting more than your share of snow this winter…Great that you go out in it anyway..and never know what you will see when you go out walking! :)

    • Just thinking that although the snow is now gone (it’s taken me so long to respond to comments!), it’s hard to know for sure when winter’s over. I’ve experience a couple of major April snowstorms. Still, it FEELS over and the days are long now.

  3. The hawk photos are wonderful.

    I have walked along Central Park in this area and enjoyed the trip down memory lane.

  4. Georgia Says:

    Great hawk photos!

  5. Charlotte Says:

    May I just comment on Daddy-o’s comment; he sees you the way we do only he expresses it like no one can. Love walking upper west side with you.

  6. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Steve Creek and Out walking the dog, Out walking the dog. Out walking the dog said: NYC Raccoons and Red-tails in Winter […]

  7. Bill Says:

    Quite an adventure, and apparently a very long walk. I loved the retaining wall photos. Think about how long it took to build them by hand!

    I also liked the ice dancers. Very poetic.

    Don’t worry about the raccoons. They are pretty dormant right now. Lots of fat to hold thru the winter and they will be out and about in another couple of weeks.

    Can’t wait to see there photos!

  8. Karol Omlor Says:

    I really enjoy all of snowy photos, but especially do I like keeping tabs on you Melissa and Esau.

  9. daddy0 Says:

    Endlessly amazing, beautiful, surprising. You see the world the way the rest of us wish we could.

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