Updated: Feb 28, 2020
27 March 2019 - COYOTES of NYC
Bird Notes: we start our spring bird walk schedule this week: Friday at 9am (Conservatory Garden); Saturday and Sunday morning at 7:30am and 9:30am (Boathouse Cafe.) Monday walks will begin 8 April (8am/9am). Please consult the Schedule page of this web site for more details. In late April through mid-May, we will be adding Tuesday and Thursday evening walks starting at 6pm, led by Ms. Sandra Critelli.
The talk of the town these last few days has been about NYC Coyotes, and not birds, because of our sighting on the Sunday (24 March) bird walk. See Deborah's photo below of the first Central Park Coyote since 2010 (the latter's photo is above, also by D. Allen).
I first became aware of Coyotes in NYC when I found one resting in the woods of Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx in circa summer 1996. These Canids appeared in NYC at about the same time that Deer and American Turkeys established themselves in some of our parks - and the once common Ring-necked Pheasant disappeared. To get to the Bronx was simple: walk south on the tracks of the MetroNorth train from the suburbs to the northern reaches of the city. But Coyotes have also been spotted at Breezy Point (Queens), and even further east on Long Island - so they are also crossing major bridges. Indeed coyotes have been seen just outside both the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels in Manhattan (mentioned in Historical articles below). From my point of view, Coyotes can have a detrimental effect upon predatory birds, particularly nesting Great Horned Owls and other large raptors: Coyotes eat the same food (rats, squirrels, rabbits, ducks), and in larger quantity.
In our Historical Notes we send reports of Coyotes in NYC mostly from 2010 to the present. The earliest articles from 2006-2009 cast the Coyote as a potentially dangerous animal hidden in our midst. Since then, the media and public's perception has changed: "How do they survive in NYC? How can I see one?" Somewhere in the middle view is the NYC government who will tolerate Coyotes in the outer boros - Coyotes raise pups annually in Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx at a know location. On the other hand, the appearance of a Coyote in Manhattan still sets off a "posse" mentality and stampede to catch the outlaw Canid at all costs. We present a range of views below.
The most complete list of popular and scientific articles about Coyotes in NYC and Long Island: https://tinyurl.com/y3cgnuhc
Coyote first seen by William Perro and Deborah Allen on the bird walk of Sunday, 24 March 2019. The Coyote is climbing the rocks just below Belvedere Castle - photographed by Deborah Allen from the Dock on Turtle Pond.
Good! Here are the bird walks for late March
All Bird Walks in Central Park - $10
1. Friday, 29 March at 9am - meet at Conservatory Garden (105th st./5Ave)
2.***Saturday, 30 March at 9:30am - meet at the Boathouse Restaurant in Central Park. 3.***Sunday, 31 March at 9:30am - meet at the Boathouse Restaurant in Central Park.
*** On mornings when two walks are scheduled, you can do both walks for $10/person...you get two for one. OR you can do either the 7:30am or the 9:30am for $10... The Boathouse Restaurant is located at 74th street and the East Drive within the park.
Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/ya65n5a8
Any questions send them our way: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 718-828-8262 (home)
A statue at Van Cortlandt Park [Bronx] commemorating a female coyote killed on the Deegan Expressway in 1995. NYC's first Coyote was seen in Woodlawn Cemetery (Bronx) in 1994. Richard Perry/The New York Times
The fine print: On Saturdays and Sundays, our walks meet at 7:30am and again at 9:30am at the Boathouse Restaurant (approx. 74th street and the East Drive). Please note: the Boathouse is not one of the buildings that surround the nearby Model Boat Pond - people make this mistake all the time!. On Fridays we meet at Conservatory Garden (105th street and 5th Avenue - walk down the steps and walk straight ahead for the far side. If worried, ask someone to direct you to the men's restroom - we meet 10 meters from that location. On Mondays we are at Strawberry Fields - meet at the Imagine Mosaic - that is approx. 72nd street about 40 meters inside the park from Central Park West. On Thursdays we meet at the Dock on Turtle Pond - for all of these meeting locations check this web site - there is a full page devoted to meeting locations!
Our home phone is 718-828-8262...and Deborah's cell is: 347-703-5554. Email is above (email@example.com). If you are lost and trying to get to the bird walk, call Deborah's cell phone...but remember on weekends there will be 2-3 other people calling who are also lost - please be patient! If in doubt about whether a walk will take place or not the morning of the walk: check the main landing page of this web site as well as the "Schedule" page - if the walk is cancelled, information will be posted there by 6am the day of the walk, and usually by 11pm 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 walks (except Fridays) at the Boathouse at about noon; you can get a cup of coffee and a muffin there (around $6 total). Walks last about 3 hrs (less if hot or rainy), and you can leave at anytime - we won't be offended. If you need directions/help to your next destination, just ask someone on the walk - we are a helpful group.
Snow Goose at the north end of Central Park (Harlem Meer) by Deborah Allen on 24 March 2019
Here is what we saw last weekend (brief highlights)
Sat-Sun 23-24 March (Boathouse Restaurant at 9:30am) - forget about Saturday - that was a complete disaster. Why? Winds were steady 25-30mph with gusts to 45mph...and it was cold (45f) and overcast mostly. We were blown around the Ramble and if it wasn't for Matthew Benoit PhD finding an Eastern Phoebe near the Summer House (Ramble), we could have asked, "Why are we here? Who thought of this walk?"
The weather on Sunday had improved: the winds were gone and the skies were sunny. As I list the best sightings, most people would believe it was an amazing walk: Bill Perro spotted two adult Bald Eagles chasing one another over Fifth Avenue just over the tree-tops. We first caught sight of them at about 75th street, and watched them come up (and then disappear) at 79th street. One eagle headed east and then north; while the other adult must have headed west toward the Lake because all the Northern Shoveler Ducks flew over our heads at the south end of the Great Lawn and made rapidly north for the Reservoir. A few minutes later, at the Dock on Turtle Pond while part of the group were discussing foxes in NYC, Bill Perro (and Deborah to be fair) saw what looked to be a German shepherd dog climbing the rocks below Belvedere Castle. It was a Coyote, the second one we have seen on our walks (the previous was in early February 2010). Here is a story about the sighting: https://tinyurl.com/yy4abb93
A big thank You to Bill Perro who saved an otherwise uneventful Sunday walk with two great sightings... Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Sat-Sun, 23-24 March: http://tinyurl.com/y6cbhpnj
Snow Goose at the north end of Central Park (Harlem Meer lawn) by Deborah Allen on 24 March 2019
HISTORICAL NOTES - COYOTES in NYC
Why Coyotes Are Flourishing in New York City
May 20, 2015
New York Magazine
Since 1995, coyotes have been seen in every borough but Brooklyn.
When a coyote turned up in Middle Village, Queens, on April 27, it was generally received as a freakish incident — but it wasn’t even the first sighting of 2015. This spring alone, the animals have appeared in Battery Park City, loping around the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in Chelsea, and on the roof of a bar in Long Island City. Like so many predators, they may be better suited to the urban environment than you’d expect.
How Many Are There?
The Queens sighting (see account below) is the latest in a burst of activity. But the first New York coyote in living memory was reported in 1995, when one ran onto the Major Deegan and was hit by a car. Since then, they’ve been seen in every borough but Brooklyn. Chris Nagy and Mark Weckel, scientists who run the Gotham Coyote Project, put the permanent population in the high teens.
Their Urban Habits
Coyotes are not strictly nocturnal, but in urban settings they quickly shift to living by night, allowing them to explore and hunt in relative quiet. “They’re wandering, and [suddenly] all the people wake up and these cars start driving around,” Nagy says, explaining how they turn up abruptly on residential streets. “They’re stuck.”
Well, Technically, They’re Not All Coyote
What we get here are called “coywolf” — about a third Eastern or red wolf, plus a lot of coyote and, sometimes, some ordinary dog thrown into the genetic mix. Coywolf do well here, explains Jonathan Way, a researcher and founder of Coywolf Research, because they eat small mammals, like rabbits and rats, and nearly all their natural competitors, like cougars and bobcats, are gone. They are a sort of predator-gentrifier of the East Coast, and their next turf is Long Island, which they — like most immigrants — may eventually reach through the city.
And Where Are They?
Motion-detecting coyote cams installed by Nagy and Weckel have established that they live in four parks: Van Cortlandt, Pelham Bay, Ferry Point (all in the Bronx), and Railroad Park (in Queens). Human observers have seen them in Central and Riverside parks as well as Battery Park City, La Guardia Airport, Co-op City, and even Stuy Town. In 2010, one was spotted by the Holland Tunnel and captured after a wacky chase through Tribeca.
Motion-detecting cameras have located coyotes in four New York parks.
Why So Many This Year ?
Hard to say for sure, but Way suggests that the brutal winter was a factor. Coyotes are known to follow rivers, and ice floes may have provided a pathway for them to hop across streams. Gotham Coyote Project is expanding a program to DNA-test scat samples, which can both establish the animals’ origins and definitively count them.
Wait — How Do They Get Into Manhattan?
Maybe on the ice, but most likely the way a lot of us did: via the bridges. Nagy says they tend to follow train tracks and pedestrian paths. The Queens animals may have come over the Bronx-Whitestone.
The Coyote in My Backyard in Queens 
By Rose Sieb, of Middle Village, Queens, as told to Jen Kirby of the New Yorker
At first I thought it was a stray dog. I went outside and actually called out and said, “What are you doing here?” Then I look, and it doesn’t look like a stray dog. And then I came in — and I looked out of the window and the police were all over! They couldn’t catch him.
The second time I saw him, I called the police right away, and I called my neighbor and told her, “Look out the window, watch out where he goes, so when the police come we can give them a little hint where to look.” We watched, and he had a beautiful home behind my shed. There’s a fence there — you can’t see nothing, not even from my side. You really have to go behind the fence and look over. Everything was normal. I didn’t see any damage. He could have been there for days. Who knows? I used to have a German shepherd — she would have defended herself. My daughter has dogs, and thank God they were not here.
Honestly, I really felt sorry for the poor thing. He had no place to go, no food. We took all their habitat away. I mean, they got to go someplace. The city, it’s not the right place, but he’s okay — you know, he’s actually a female. They tested her: no rabies. It was a beautiful animal.
Coyote on Ice [Central Park]
4 February 2010
By The New York Times
Veryl Witmer, an amateur photographer who lives on the Upper West Side, was walking past the pond in Central Park on Tuesday afternoon when he noticed something unusual: a coyote. “The animal came out of the Hallett Nature Sanctuary and walked across the frozen pond several times,” Mr. Witmer writes. “It seemed timid and skittish and kept retreating back to the sanctuary — avoiding humans? It kept a watchful eye on me.” The coyote did, however, find a moment to pose for a more formal portrait.
Both photos by Veryl Witmer in early February 2010
Coyote In Riverside Park Forces NYPD Out Of Slowdown
Gothamist - 11 January 2015
A "feisty" coyote (!) was on the run in Riverside Park last night until police officers and Animal Care & Control apprehended her. A cop explained, "It’s been running back and forth from 72nd and 79th streets and Riverside Drive. We’re just trying not to hurt the little guy."
The Post reports that a person noticed the coyote around 9:30 p.m. Thirty minutes later, the NYPD's 24th Precinct confirmed via Twitter, "Yes- There is a coyote in the UWS tonight (in Riverside Park). We are currently doing our best to humanely trap it. Will update shortly." Then, at 12:30 a.m., the 24th Precinct Tweeted a photo, "Coyote safely tranquilized and removed to Animal Care & Control," praising the 20th Precinct and NYPD Special Operations and adding, "Sorry for the delay-took a while. Had it corralled inside fenced-in BB court, but so cold out, the tranquilizer in the darts kept freezing!"
Apparently the coyote "she kept trying to jump the [court's] fence," and one cop cracked to the Post, "We knew it had to be a girl. Because she was so feisty."
Coyotes have been spotted in NYC in 2010 and 2011 but they have been in suburban New York and NJ recently. The NY State DEC says:
Coyotes provide many benefits to New Yorkers through observation, photography, hunting, and trapping; however, not all interactions are positive. While most coyotes avoid interacting with people, some coyotes in suburbia become emboldened and appear to have lost their fear of people. This can result in a dangerous situation. A coyote that does not flee from people should be considered dangerous. Coyotes in residential areas can be attracted to garbage, pet food, and other human-created sources of food. Coyotes can associate people with these food attractants. In addition, in some cases human behavior has changed to be non-threatening to coyotes (running into your home after seeing a coyote is behaving like prey). In short, people may unintentionally attract coyotes with food and people may behave like prey. Add to the mix people intentionally feeding coyotes and the potential for a coyote attack becomes very real.
The coyote is supposed to be released into the wild but the 24th Precinct seems attached [Twitter feed]:
“NYPD Emergency Services did a great job & the coyote is unharmed (although now she is a little sleepy). The question is: What to name her?”
Jen Chung in News on Jan 11, 2015
Coyote on the loose in Jamaica [Queens]
AnnMarie Costella,Chronicle Reporter
25 November 2009
City officials are hoping to trap what they believe is a coyote like this one, reportedly running around the huge Jamaica housing complex. Coyotes are typically found in deserts and low valleys, but one such animal or a close cousin, has found its way to the urban area of Jamaica where it has been spotted by the residents of the sprawling Rochdale Village co-op housing complex.
City officials are hoping to trap what they believe is a coyote like this one,
reportedly running around the huge Jamaica housing complex
They are not very common, but it does happen, said Richard Gentles, a spokesman for New York City Animal Care and Control. We have seen them in parts of the Bronx and Central Park.
NYCACC officers have set up two traps in parking lot 3B where the animal has reportedly been lurking. The area runs parallel to a densely wooded region next to the Long Island Rail Road while on the other side motorists cruise along Bedell Street.
Coyotes are generally nocturnal animals; most of our sightings have been at night. They usually prey upon small animals such as raccoons, squirrels, dogs, cats etc... However, we do advise anyone using the lots in that area to remain alert and notify public safety if this animal is sighted, read warning notices that have been posted in each of the buildings.
One public safety officer who would not give his name said that he had seen the coyote and that it looked young, while one resident recalled that the animal had gray eyes. But for the most part those living in the complex said that they hadn't encountered the coyote, but were nonetheless concerned about the news of its discovery.
I am scared for the children because I don't know if they attack humans or just squirrels, said resident Joann Johnson who was pushing her 16-month-old grandson in a stroller and has lived in the complex since 1974.
Animal Care and Control is not convinced that the creature is indeed a coyote and is still considering the possibility that it may be a stray dog, but whatever species it turns out to be, they are still asking residents to take precautions. It could end up biting someone or attacking a pet, Gentles said.
It could get hit by a car and cause an accident and, of course, you have to worry about any disease transmissions as well.
Gentles advises residents to be observant and make sure that dogs are kept on leashes at all times and that cats are kept indoors.
I doubt that someone will encounter this animal, if it is a coyote, because they are pretty stealthy and keep to themselves, said Michael Pastore, director of field operations for NYCACC.
But if individuals do come face-to-face with the animal, they should avoid sudden movements or making eye contact with it. Moreover, they should not run because that may trigger the prey instinct of the animal. Instead, they should slowly walk away.
The long, rectangular, white wire traps have been baited with dog food and are almost entirely concealed by a black plastic covering, which is used to mimic the atmosphere of a den and is designed to provide the animal with a level of comfort while minimizing outside distractions.
Animal control officers in the area will observe the site and check the traps a few times daily. The length of time it will take to capture the animal depends on whether there are other food sources in the area to entice it or if it is scared away by people, according to Gentles.
Once the animal is caught, and if it is healthy, NYCACC will work with the Department of Environmental Conservation and the city Department of Health to determine the best course of action for the animal and the public.
The DEC has jurisdiction over wildlife and would determine if and where the animal would be released, and the DOH would determine if it should be tested for rabies.
"If the animal is not healthy, it is usually in its best interest to humanely euthanize it", Pastore said.
Scott Silver, the director of the Queens Zoo, added that residents should be no more concerned about the coyote than they would be a skunk, raccoon or possum all of which can be found in Queens.
It is extremely rare for a coyote to attack a human being, but it is not completely unheard of, Silver said. Coyotes want to stay away from people.
Silver says that coyotes are venturing into areas where they have not been typically found before not because they have been displaced but rather because they are looking for new places to live where they don't have to compete with existing populations.
The Queens Zoo has four coyotes in captivity, one of which was caught in Central Park back in 2000. Silver, however, would not say whether the zoo would take the Rochdale coyote if it is captured.
It's hard to introduce a coyote into a new pack so it would be premature to speculate about whether the zoo would take it, Silver said. Let's just hope they catch it and it can be safely released into the wild.
Rochdale Village residents who are concerned about the coyote can request a public safety escort to and from the parking lots. The housing complex's management could not be reached for comment.
Coyote pup caught in Riverdale [Bronx – 17 July 2008]
By David Greene
Publication: City News
A 6-month-old coyote pup, roaming outside the grounds at the Horace Mann School in Riverdale, managed to escape a police manhunt, but was captured blocks away by a video
Police were first called to the W. 246 Street school at just before 11a.m. on Wednesday, July 9 , after the coyote was spotted by security guards at the school; a short time later it was spotted and cornered by Garden State News (GSN) cameraman Gary Marks of White Plains.
Riverdale resident Bruce Furman said of the drama, "A little before lunch, I guess, I see these lights at a house up the block ... It was the special service cops and they had a dart gun, and they were running through people's backyards looking for a coyote."
Furman added, “I’ve never seen a live one except in a zoo, and you know what? They look like every other junkyard dog."
After the coyote's capture, in the driveway of 512l Post Road, Marks recalled, "It was just walking down the street when I pulled my van up to the driveway." Marks would also place a garbage can in front of the inclined driveway, and would run to either side of the can the coyote went to in his attempts to get away."
The coyote is captured by Animal Care and Control field operations specialist Nelson Guzman
After a 2-hour wait, Nelson Guzman, a Field Operations Specialist with the Center for Animal Care and Control (CACC) arrived and quickly and humanely captured the animal with a special pole with a wire at the end of it, called, "an animal control pole."
After the capture, Guzman would say, " It was an easy catch, relatively easy.