• Robert DeCandido PhD

A mild (50f!) night for more NYC Owls: Van Cortlandt Park (Bronx) for Screechers and Great Horneds..

Updated: Mar 1



17 January 2018

SCHEDULE NOTES! This SUNDAY evening, 21 January (and NOT Saturday night as previously listed) we are meeting at 5pm for an Owl walk at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. For directions to VC Park (Bronx), the Golf Course Parking Lot, see: https://tinyurl.com/y9lbd2lq - For your GPS, the address of the Golf Course: 115 Van Cortlandt Park South, 10471 Bronx. Please don't be late! More details below.

Our bird photos come from Deborah Allen (see her links below), and show birds from NYC taken recently including an Eastern Screech-owl from this past Sunday night's walk at Inwood Hill Park; Dunlin and a Long-tailed Duck at Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx; and Red-bellied Woodpecker and Fox Sparrow in Central Park.

This week's historical notes provide information on (a) the Eastern Screech-owl in NYC in 1905; (b) a March 1922 snippet about the Eastern Screech-owl in Central Park; (c) a 1998 article about an owl walk at Inwood Hill Park, and some natural history observations about the park; (e/f) a marauding owl at night in Douglaston, Queens (1934) that was attacking people...and yes it was an owl, albeit a small one.


The New York Times published an article on looking for owls, and the author seems to be in favor of people searching for them, and sharing info about their location: https://tinyurl.com/ybj2tybu

Finally, if you scroll all the way to the end, there is a series of photos showing a Snowy Owl capturing a Clapper Rail in Connecticut. Thank You to Art Gingert for calling these to our attention, and to Tom Sayers the photographer.


Deborah Allen sends Photos of NYC Birds:


Inwood Hill Park:

Eastern Screech-Owl, Sunday January 14, 2018: https://www.photo.net/photo/18451391/Eastern-Screech-Owl

Central Park:

Red-bellied Woodpecker, Mugger’s Woods, Sunday January 14, 2018: http://www.agpix.com/view_caption.php?image_id=761119&photog=1

Fox Sparrow, Mugger’s Woods, Sunday January 14, 2018: https://www.photo.net/photo/18451392/Fox-Sparrow

Pelham Bay Park, Bronx:

Dunlin (2), Orchard Beach, Tuesday January 9, 2018: https://www.photo.net/photo/18451386/Dunlin-Eating-Worm https://www.photo.net/photo/18451387/Dunlin

Immature Male Long-tailed Duck, Twin Island, Tuesday January 9, 2018: https://www.photo.net/photo/18451390/Immature-male-Long-tailed-Duck

Link to Deborah Allen photos on Agpix site:

http://www.agpix.com/results.php?agid=DeAl12


Central Park Eastern Screech-owl watchers - March 2002


Good! Here are the bird walks for early/mid January - each $10


1. Sunday, 21 January - 9:30am - Central Park - Boathouse

2. Sunday, 21 January - 5pm - Eastern Screech-owls of Van Cortlandt Park (Bronx).Meet at: the Van Cortlandt Park Golf Course parking lot (free! and very ample parking...open until 10pm).For directions to VC Park (Bronx), the Golf Course Parking Lot, see: https://tinyurl.com/y9lbd2lq

For your GPS the address, the Golf Course: 115 Van Cortlandt Park South, 10471 Bronx

We expect to be out about 60 min to 90 min in search of owls. We want to do two sites - if we have enough cars: near the Golf Course and then drive north along Broadway for 5-7 minutes to the Riding Stables (called "Riverdale Stables") parking lot at the very north end of Van Cortlandt Park - and try for owls near there. The VC Golf Course parking lot (stop #1) is also easily accessible via train/bus - call us for help/directions getting to that site. Basically, take the #1 (Broadway local) train to the last stop (242nd street). I will meet people there (park side at 242nd and Broadway) at 4:45 pm (don't be late!!!); we will walk east together (10 minutes through the park). Please let me know by calling or by email that you will be coming by train on Sunday evening so I can look for you (and wait for you). Please please call (pr email me) to let me know to meet you at the train station.

After we finish with site #1 near the Van Cortlandt Golf Course, we will find a spot in someone's car for you when we travel to the other nearby location (stop #2: the horse stables - at the north end of the park - about a 5-7 minute drive north from stop #1). We will head north along Broadway to the Yonkers border...we will park at the Horse Stables (plenty of free parking). We might also try for Great Horned Owls here if people are not frozen.

What to bring: warm clothes; I will have a powerful flashlight...and screech-owls often come in close (no need for bins), but a camera would be good. (Please no flash - my flashlight is powerful enough for digital photography - many photographers got great photos last January at VC Park with only the light from my flashlight.) For Great Horned Owls - they are much larger and tend to stay further away...so bins would be good for them. Mostly bring warm clothes. Leave your flash at home (please don't make Deborah and Bob upset)...and for the trails just use a small flashlight or even the light from your I-phone/Smart Phone. --------------

4. Sunday, 28 January - 9:30am - Central Park - Boathouse (Jeff Ward leading this walk)

The fine print: In January/February, our walks every Sunday meet at 9:30am at the Boathouse Restaurant (approximately 74th street and the East Drive on the lake; it is NOT one of the buildings on the nearby Model Boat Pond). Bathrooms are nearby and ok; they open at about 7:30am. On Saturdays we sometimes meet at the Boathouse (74th street and the East Drive) at 9:30am - but check schedule on web site and here because we often go further afield such as NYBG in the Bronx. Our home phone is 718-828-8262...and Deborah's cell is: 347-703-5554. Email is above (= rdcny@earthlink.net). We have a new web site...if in doubt about whether a walk will take place or not, check the web site the morning of the walk: info will be posted on the main landing page as well as the "Schedule" page by 6am the day of the walk, and usually by 7:30pm the night before. If still confused and as a last resort, call us at home - if no one answers it means we left for the bird walk!

We end all our weekend Central Park walks at the Boathouse at about noon - you can get a cup of coffee and a muffin there (around $6 total - coffee is now $2.75). Our Friday walks, we usually end up at (or very near) Conservatory Garden, most often at 106th street and 5th Avenue.



Along the Bronx River (zoo grounds) on 3 February 2014



Here is what we saw last week (selected highlights) with some anecdotal notes and observations. Not all species we saw are reported here - we list the best:

Sunday, 14 January 2018 (start at the Boathouse Restaurant at 9:30am) - compared to last week, we felt like we were in the tropics. Five of us wandered more or less aimlessly in 14f temperature starting at 9:30am. In the Ramble, the bird feeders were full, and the usual suspects (plus two Fox Sparrows) were in abundance, while an adult male Cooper's Hawk landed not too far away. (There was also a Brown Creeper here, and earlier Deborah had seen a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.) We found more Fox Sparrows in Mugger's Woods, but throughout the morning White-throated Sparrows outnumbered them (but these were not abundant either). Walking north towards the Pinetum, Sandra Critelli called our attention to a small bird with a yellow stripe on its head - the beginning of a meager flock (three) of Golden-crowned Kinglets (at least one was a male). With them were two more Brown Creepers (three for the day) all interested in a crab-apple along the Great Lawn. We abandoned hope of going further north to the Reservoir in the strong NW winds (although the temperature had soared to 14.5f by this time), and worked our way south again. I think we were happy to survive, have a cup of coffee at the Boathouse and wait another week to look for birds.

Deborah's Bird Notes for the morning: https://tinyurl.com/y79eb7vo ---

Sunday, 14 January 2018 (Eastern Screech-owls at Inwood Hill Park/Manhattan - start at 5pm) - now there are crazy people and there are crazy people. This is the brief story of the latter. No one but people who are fascinated by owls come out at dusk when it is 18f and very windy along the Hudson River to maybe have a brief look at a little bird such as an Eastern Screech-owl. But let me back track a bit: two even crazier birders (Ms. Deborah and rdc) arrived in mid-afternoon to wander along the shores of Inwood looking for the one Canvasback duck that had been reported here earlier (no luck). We did see a pair of Peregrines perched atop the apartment buildings, and flying in the area with the male catching a small bird over the water. Nearby, a Copper's Hawk (immature) was soaring towards the forest via the baseball field in the very strong winds. We returned to our car and blasted the heat all over us and waited for the one crazy person who wanted to see owls. Imagine our surprise when 20 or so folks ultimately arrived. Through the years we have learned that owls do this to people...Anyway, we had better not disappoint anyone lest the crowd forces Bob to jump into the nearby river. So off we went, and as you probably know by now we quickly pulled in one Eastern Screech-owl but heard calls from another not far away. These little owls often turn their heads while calling making it difficult to pinpoint exactly where they are perched. Fortunately the second bird (another gray morph) landed a few inches from the first...and we had the first confirmed pair of Eastern Screech-owls in more than ten years on Manhattan Island. We also tried for Great Horned Owls (that nested here within the last five years), but had no luck - although we did not make too much of an effort because people were freezing in the dark at that point...and I am not allowed to give mouth to mouth resuscitation to lawyers (at least one was on the walk). We vowed to do one more walk for screech-owls and great-horns in February - so stay tuned. So with people running happily back to their cars, I tried to say good nite... but everyone had worn so many scarves and heavy hats/coats that I had no idea who anyone was...except for the lawyer. That person was disappointed...there were no injuries or casualties tonight - and no fighting either. What is happening to our NYC bird walks?

Deborah's Bird Notes for the evening (scroll toward end): https://tinyurl.com/y79eb7vo


HISTORICAL NOTES


The Screech Owl (1905) Megascops asio

I BELIEVE the Screech Owl is the only one of the raptors that still breeds within the city limits of New York, and in a few years more this bird will have retreated before the advances of suburban homes, street rail ways, and electric lights to more secluded quarters, never to return. It is yet possible to find one or two pairs each season nesting in some old orchard or in the woods covering the hills, or, as locally known, rocky hills, back of Creedmoor, in the Borough of Queens. The nesting site of the Screech Owl is some cavity in a decayed tree, an old knot-hole, or some former home of a Flicker. The eggs, five to eight in number, are pure white and nearly round in shape. The bird's food consists of mice, small reptiles and insects. It is a useful bird and should be protected. I sometimes see one or more Screech Owls during August evenings on the lawn about my house or perched upon trees or telegraph wires. These are evidently young birds from a nearby brood. ==============================================

March 1922. Eastern Screech-owls in Central Park. The guardians of Central Park spend much time on "tree dentistry," filling the accessible cavities with cement to prolong the life of the trees. But little "scops asio," our common screech owl, finds plenty of holes to creep into, despite these sylvan dentists. He sometimes perches on a stunted tree in the yard of an apartment house on East Eighty-seventh Street, and joins his melancholy quaver with that of the local cats.

Only a week ago, I saw two screech owls perched in a tree directly over the heads of the pedestrians near the Metropolitan Museum. Nobody seemed to notice these birds, and they remained undisturbed for hours. There is something peculiarly tramplike in the appearance of an owl by daylight. Those half-closed slits of eyes have a sinister look about them; those ear-tufts, though not truly auricular appendages, appear to listen covertly, and everything says plainly enough that the bird knows that it is a mere vagrant from the realm of darkness. Several screech-owls live throughout the year in the northern part of the park, where there are plenty of hollows in the big trees.

By dusk, no doubt, the wanderer was flitting moth-like over the woods of New Jersey, for he would never stay with us. But during the night, our resident screech-owls doubtless prey upon the small birds of the park, and also, it is to be hoped, on the mice and rats, which are getting all too common there.

And so, even to the most casual observer, it is evident that our warblers and other tiny passers, en route for the Carolinas, or northward bound on the wings of Spring, are not safe, even in Central Park. They are always in danger of, "the arrow that flieth by day," and that is the sharp-shin or his like; and of the "pestilence that walketh in the darkness, and that is none other than quiet, little "scops asio." Henry Marion Hall ================================================

Owls and Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan [1998]

As darkness falls, a burly man lugging a boom box heads into Inwood Hill Park followed by a group of others. Your heart could sink at the prospect of Manhattan's last stand of real forest, tucked away in the northwestern corner of the borough, being desecrated by loud music. But hold on. The fellow in front is Michael Feller, the parks department's senior naturalist. He is leading a nocturnal tour of the 190-acre park. What happens next is, to say the least, not typical of Manhattan night life.

Mr. Feller's group hikes into the narrow valley called the Clove. It is dominated by tulip trees soaring to 100 feet, their high canopy shattering the starlight. This kind of verticality could be confused with a redwood grove of the Northwest. Mr. Feller flicks on the boom box. It's now 9:20 P.M. Out of the tape drive comes a high, arching whinny, pure and sweet. If a mare could sing Puccini, this would be its voice. Mr. Feller turns off the boom box. The group waits and listens.

At first, there is only the layered, sotto voce drumming of crickets and cicadas. Then, from the high ground to the west, comes what at first sounds like a distant echo. He replays the tape several times. The answering whinny comes closer. Suddenly, a pair of ash-gray wings swoops low over the group, swift and silent. It's a screech owl, ready to challenge the electronic trespasser on its hunting territory.

Another screech owl makes a sortie so low over Mr. Feller that he instinctively rubs the back of his neck. ''He's ticked off at us,'' he says. Moments later, a third owl appears on the branch of an oak. Its eyes, caught in the beam of Mr. Feller's head-mounted flashlight, are golden yellow and hard as marbles.

No other Manhattan park is known to play host to a family of screech owls. Neither is any other park in the borough quite like Inwood Hill. The others are distinctly urban places. Their beauty, even when they are verdant, may have been enabled or enhanced by artifice and engineering. At Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, or on the overlooks of Fort Tryon Park, you always know you're in the city. Trekking over the slopes of Inwood Hill Park, though, you are simply in the woods.

''You could define this as Manhattan's wilderness,'' Henry J. Stern, the Parks Commissioner, said one morning, sitting on a bench under a sweet gum tree at the Isham Street entrance to the park. ''It's also the park that nobody knows.''

Mr. Stern grew up a few blocks away in the Inwood section, on Post Avenue. His father, a Boy Scout enthusiast, owned a tent store in the neighborhood on Nagle Avenue. Mr. Stern said one of his earliest memories was of playing at the Beak Street entrance to the park, while his mother sat with other mothers and chatted. Running just 300 feet from Seaman Avenue before dead-ending in the park, Beak Street is the borough's shortest mapped street above Canal Street. Aficionados of intact Art Deco apartment houses will love Beak Street, along with dozens of others in Inwood.

In his most feeling tribute to his boyhood days spent in Inwood Park, Mr. Stern said gratefully: ''I never got beat up here. This was not a fighting park. Neither the Jets nor the Sharks would have been comfortable in Inwood Park.''


Timber in Revolutionary War

There is nothing scrubby about Inwood Hill's forest, which makes it easy to mistake it for virgin growth. But most of the timber there was cut down during the Revolutionary War by British troops and Hessian mercenaries who used it for firewood and fortification. They had driven Colonial forces from this strategic spot, as well as from Fort Tryon to the south, on Nov. 16, 1776. They did not leave until 1783.

After the Civil War, several great estates were built on Inwood Hill, including an Italian-style villa belonging to Isidore Straus, the retail tycoon who went down on the Titanic. The Refuge of Mercy, an Episcopal home for unwed mothers, was also built on the crest of the hill, overlooking the Hudson River. It was, presumably, suitably removed from the rest of the city to give the young women privacy. Ornamental trees planted then still flourish. Frederick Law Olmsted, the park designer, recognizing the value of this terrain, recommended that development be restrained. Public-spirited landowners, notably the Dyckman, Isham and Payson families, deeded large tracts to the city. In 1916, Inwood Hill became a public park.

The most dramatic approach to the park is from the north, along 218th Street, a five-minute walk from the 215th Street subway station on the IRT's Broadway local. You will come upon a complex vista unlike any other in Manhattan.

To the north, on your right, is the Harlem River on its final leg before joining the Hudson in the swirl of Spuyten Duyvil. The sheer cliff on the far side, threaded at its base by Metro North tracks, defines Marble Hill, its heights studded with ungainly apartment buildings. Straight ahead is a tidal lagoon. Bordered by swamp grasses, it is the only accessible salt marsh in Manhattan and a magnet for water birds. Off to the left are low rolling athletic fields where soccer is the favored sport.

Straight ahead, Inwood Hill itself juts into Spuyten Duyvil, which is spanned by the Henry Hudson Bridge, its steel gridwork painted bright red. Beyond that is the low-slung Amtrak bridge, part of the shoreline route to Albany. The final piece of this complex tableau is the noble New Jersey Palisades, looming up a mile away across the Hudson.

Everyone knows that, back in 1626, Peter Minuit bought Manhattan from the Indians for $24 worth of trinkets. But few know where the deal was struck. Right here, according to a tablet on a large stone, Tablet Rock, also known as Shorakapkock Rock, near the 218th Street entrance to Inwood Park. An ancient tulip tree grew at this spot, said to be the oldest living thing in Manhattan. Indians held powwows, with dances and chanting, under this tree every September right up until it was finally cut down in 1938. They also held canoe races in the river. An Indian named Princess Naomi, always dressed in Indian clothing, once kept a trinket shop beside this spot.


The Indian Caves

Within a few steps of entering the park, you are in the Clove. Almost magically, any and all signs of the city are shut off. A steep, rockbound hillside rises to the right. Its rock ledges and overhangs are known as the Indian Caves. Many artifacts of the Shorakapkock Indians of the Delaware tribe have been found here. This year's mild winter invited an early arrival of Dutchman's-breeches and other spring ephemerals, which precede the leafing of the trees. The Clove's season of copious dogwood also came early. May brought on ferns, jack-in-the-pulpits and Solomon's seal with its dangly little flowers. Last to appear are the highest blossoms, the pale white ones of the tulip trees. As summer deepens, blackberries and wineberries ripen along the path. They are delectable.

''In geology, form and species, what you have here is close to a Southern Appalachian bowl forest,'' explains Adrian Benape, the parks department's Manhattan chief. What's extraordinary about that comparison? Only that Mr. Benape is standing a few blocks from two subway lines and not even a mile from the infamous drug-dealing zone of Washington Heights.

The path upward through the Clove is blocked here and there by fallen trees and narrowed by bushes, including poison ivy. Old-fashioned street lamps, installed in the 1960's, are all broken, as they are throughout the park. And they will stay that way.''They can't be defended against vandals,'' Mr. Stern explained. ''And without them, the park is more rustic.''

As for those fallen trees, the idea is to let them become havens for small creatures. The single biggest boon to Inwood Hill Park in recent years was the blocking of its narrow, paved paths. They were just wide enough for car thieves to drive into the wilderness, where they could strip the cars in peace. Stanchions now prevent their entry.

Walking higher, you will leave behind the tulip trees, which prefer the fertile soil of the valley floor. Oaks, maples and black locusts now predominate. You will also see a pair of the largest copper beeches in the city, their smooth-skinned, bulbous trunks more than 14 feet in diameter. They flank what may also be the city's most ancient ginkgo. Mr. Benape estimates its age at 150 years. There are few evergreens in Inwood Hill forest.

The smooth schist outcropping at the western crest of the park, elevation 210 feet, is protected by a chain-link fence. Step through the giant hole in it, and you will be privy to an unimpeded and almost unsullied view of the Palisades all the way up to the Tappan Zee Bridge, 15 miles away. The only unwanted intrusion at this overlook is the steady rumble of traffic from the Henry Hudson Parkway below.

William Exton, a former trustee and treasurer of the Municipal Art Society, tried to keep Robert Moses from cutting the parkway through this woodland. ''I can still remember Moses saying that the view from the road would be outstanding,'' Mr. Exton recalls in ''You Must Remember This,'' Jeff Kisseloff's oral history of Manhattan. ''I said, 'Yes, but the view of the road would not be.' When we finally got a hearing, the trees were already cut down.'' Miraculously, the separate north and southbound parkways do no fatal damage to the park.

Just behind the overlook is a pleasant high meadow, once the site of the home for unwed mothers. Jane Schachat, director of upper Manhattan parks, says, ''Everything is blooming a week or two early this year.'' Right now there is joe-pye weed with its fuzzy pink top clusters. As high as seven feet or even higher, this plant can go head to head with any New York Knick. In summer the meadow is also swept with goldenrod, daisies, wild roses, milkweed and jewelweed, attractive to hummingbirds migrating south. ''They're very fond of the jewelweed nectar,'' says Todd Miller, who was an urban park ranger in Inwood for five years.


Even a Flying Squirrel

One September, Mr. Miller decided to have a close encounter with the hummingbirds. ''I crawled under a patch of jewelweed and lay down flat on my back,'' he said. ''Then I took off my shirt to blend in better. The first one that came by was eight inches from my head. Another one came, and I could feel the air motion from its wings.''

Mr. Miller also reports spotting a rarity in the city, a nocturnal flying squirrel. He even once saw what he had first thought was a juvenile fox but now believes was a small coyote. The park, Mr. Miller points out, is also a great place to observe butterflies.

If you turn right at Tablet Rock, the path climbs northward along the dramatic Spuyten Duyvil shoreline. Chestnut oaks, whose leaves are ringers for those of nearly extinct real chestnut trees, are rare in the city, but not here. They favor the shoreline rocks.

Passing under the Henry Hudson Bridge and rounding the south shore of Spuyten Duyvil, you will come to an unexpectedly serene cove. You can sit on the rocks at the water's edge and watch the Amtrak trains go by. Or see the bridge swing open for pleasure boats. You can even make your way to a strip of sand, bordered by spartina grasses, that must be the city's smallest beach. Surely, it is the most private.

Continuing south, you will come to a footbridge over the railroad tracks. It takes you to quite a different Inwood Park: a flat, six-block-long string of athletic fields along the river, including a shoreline promenade. It ends at the foot of Dyckman Street, once the terminal for a ferry to Alpine, N.J.

It has been replaced by a new recreational pier. If Inwood forest made you forget you were in the city, you will remember it here, a lively gathering spot for Hispanic families on weekends. A variety of fried seafood is available at Dyckman's Landing, an outdoor restaurant on the pier.

Like a teen-age romance, the rush from the first tramp in Inwood Hill Park is hard to forget. When Michael Feller came to work in Manhattan, after a stint in the Brooklyn parks, he said, he was depressed. ''My friends told me to buck up,'' he said. ''But it was hard. Then I came to Inwood Park.''

The magic works on even New Yorkers who have seen it all. Deputy Inspector John Romero, commander of the 34th Precinct, which includes Washington Heights and Inwood, went along on one of Mr. Feller's nocturnal park tours. Up on the west ridge, Inspector Romero got a priority call on his cell phone. He moved a few steps away from the group. Then, speaking quietly but with uncloaked excitement, he said: ''Hey, Chief, you'd never guess where I am right now. On top of Inwood Mountain!''


Hunting a Savage Bird in Queens [1934]

Patrol Douglaston with Rakes and Clubs for Creature that Attacked Passerby

Woman's Face is Gashed

Five Other Victims Reported - Dr. Blair Suspects Screech-owl is 'Protecting' Nest

A vigilante committee formed to hunt down a savage night bird that had attacked at least five persons along 241st street Douglaston [Queens], within the last five nights, patrolled the vicinity for at least five hours last night without catching a glimpse of the marauder.

Just before the vigilantes turned out, the mysterious bird - which is believed to be a screech-owl - chalked up his sixth victim. He was Charles Taylor, a student at New York University. Taylor reported that the bird struck him while he was crossing the lawn to his home. He ducked and the bird skimmed past his head.

The bird's other victims, all neighbors on 241st street in the Douglaston Park sector, were Arthur L. Stemler of Bankamerica; Russell Cardigan, a stock broker; Mrs. Earl R. Evans, 23 year-old housewife; Peggy Noone, 13 year-old daughter of John B. Noone, assistant treasurer of Standard Brans; and William MacDonald.

The Vigilantes Set Out

The vigilantes, about twenty strong, assembled at Mr. Cardigan's home before nightfall. They were armed with lawn rakes, rug beaters, tennis racquets, an assortment of clubs, and even one bayonet and one rusty machete, souvenir of the Cuban insurrection. Henry M. Ferguson, a bank engineer, wore a Prussian helmet. Earl Trangmar, director of marketing research for Metropolitan Life, had another steel hat and carried the machete.

Up and down the street they marched, using unarmed decoys to lead the way, while the rake or strong-armed men carried up the rear. Joseph Spiro, owner of Douglaston's taxi fleet, hooted at intervals. Once his imitation was so realistic that a vigilante swatted him with a tennis racquet.

Mosquitos came and went, leaving their mark on the vigilantes. A group of youngsters strolled by chanting, "Who's afraid of the big bad bird?" Wives hooted from suburban doorways. Patrolman George Ludwig was summoned by a grouchy neighbor to drive the rowdies away. And there wasn't a chip out of the man-eating bird, not a single hoot, even of derision.

Finally the vigilantes broke up. Their wives and unsympathetic friends saw that they got their bird - but not the one they were seeking. Their initial defeat did not, however, change their stories of the savagery of the feathered attacker.

All six attacks were on Snell Boulevard and Rushmore Avenue. The heavy foliage of the Maple trees on both sides of the street hides the marauder by day, and at night serves as a leafy ambuscade, whence at any moment, a winged fury with blazing eyes and nerve-shattering screech may drop upon an unprotected head.

Mr. Stemler was the first to have an encounter with the "Douglaston Devil." The next victim was Mr. Cardigan. When he told his story the next day to commuters, they joked about it so mercilessly that he determined to capture the bird. He is the organizer of the vigilantes.

Mrs. Evans was attacked shortly before midnight, Saturday. She and her brother, Mr. Tyrell, had gone for a walk. Hardly had they left their home at 46-54 241st Street, when the bird flew down. They beat it of but it returned to the attack. It flew at them five times and then disappeared.

What the Bird is Like

"I could not see the bird clearly at all," Mrs. Evans said. "It seemed dark and had a wingspan of about sixteen inches. It kept flapping its wings in my face and shrieking and trying to get at my eyes."

Other persons in the neighborhood could add little to that description except that the bird seemed soft and furry.Dr. W. Reid Blair, curator of the Bronx Zoo, said he believed the nightbird would prove to be a screech-owl with a nest in the vicinity. ============================================== Marauding Bird Again Foils Posse' [1934]

Douglaston Youth takes up the Hunt with Beanshooters and Rifles, but in Vain.

Archers Stalk Attacker

Scoutmaster and Broker, One who was Scratched, Get no Glimpse of Angry Owl.

For hours last night [June 1934], the youth section of the Douglaston section of the vigilantes of Douglaston, Queens, laid down a barrage in the leafy recesses above 241st Street, in an onslaught against the savage night bird that has attacked at least five persons.

With beanshooters and slingshots, buckshot and low caliber rifles, even putty blowers made effective by adding phonograph needle darts to the expelled pellets, about twenty school children carried on the hunt begun by an equal number of adults on Sunday night.

Though they got no chance to aim at where the bird was, for the marauder never appeared, they took every opportunity to shoot at where the bird might be. And, like the older hunters of the night before, who had been armed with lawn rakes, rug beaters, tennis racquets, clubs, a bayonet and even a machete', they failed to even ruffle a feather. A charmed life was attributed to the bird by harassed householders.

Russell Cardigan, a stock broker, who was one of the victims of the bird, joined the younger hunters at a late hour. Mr. Cardigan appeared with Raymond Newberry of 6 Carolina Road, a scoutmaster, and both were armed for business with bows and arrows.

For two hours, Mr. Newberry tracked his quarry - at a distance of course; Douglaston residents don't like to have their trees climbed promiscuously - with Mr. Cardigan ready to send a trusty shaft into the man-scratching bird, believed to be a screech-owl.

Whether the winged enemy was aware of the scoutmaster's reputation as an archer or not, it successfully hid its tracks and remained within the shelter of its wispy hide-out. Mr. Newberry unstrung his bows with a grimace of disappointment. Unlike the younger recruits in the ranks, he had not even got a shot.

Mr. Cardigan was less despairing. He was going to play Indian all right, he said; he had to make a good dare to Mr. Newberry. But then he was going to swat with a six-foot bow. He demonstrated. The bow-string gave a wheezy screech. The owl, if it heard it, probably cocked an eye. ======================================= Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD www.BirdingBob.com

Follow us on Twitter: @DAllenNYC =========================================================================================

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The following photos of a Snowy Owl capturing a Clapper Rail were taken by

Tom Sayers on 12 January at Stratford, Connecticut.

Tom Sayers on 12 January 2018

Tom Sayers on 12 January 2018

Tom Sayers on 12 January 2018

Tom Sayers on 12 January 2018



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