On Wednesday, February 21st, it seemed as if mother nature forgot that summer doesn’t officially begin until June. The temperature peaked at 78° F. Nearly 2,000 visitors decided to enjoy the glorious weather that day, and I was curious as to how the warmth would affect the Garden’s wildlife. I decided to try my luck and see if any animals we don’t normally see in winter might come out for a bit. I was not disappointed.
Today we take a look back at just a few of the animals that have made themselves known—especially in the Perennial Garden—over the last few months. The transition from summer to fall brought out all sorts of characters!
In 2017, we marked the occasion of two young Great-horned Owls fledging after having quite a few adventures during their stay in the Mertz Library nest. This was the same nest built by a pair of Red-tailed Hawks back in 2009, which also happened to be the last year that Red-tails nested at NYBG—until now.
I’m happy to report that there are now three fledgling hawks getting to know their way around our 250 acres. Special thanks to Debbie Becker, our eagle-eyed wildlife expert, for the news! Back in April, she spotted both parents flying overhead. They soon landed in a tree in a heavily wooded section of the Garden, which became their nest. The rest, as they say, is history!
I’ve been lucky enough to follow two of the fledglings around with my camera shortly after they left the nest. It’s fascinating to watch them explore the Garden, and I look forward to watching them grow into effective hunters like their parents.
Some of my favorite photographic subjects here at the Botanical Garden are its resident Great Horned Owls. Since 2009, I’ve had the pleasure of photographing and filming five of their nest sites. Sadly, 2014 was the last year that there were hatchlings here. That’s why this year’s brood was so special. But 2017 saw no ordinary owl nest. This is a tale of epic proportions!
Back in 2009, a pair of Red-tailed Hawks decided to build their nest inside the upper right pediment of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Building. Rose and Hawkeye (the Red-tails that year, who are sadly no longer with us) had three hatchlings that year. It was a big deal for both staff and visitors. Each year since, I’ve always crossed my fingers in the hopes that one day the nest would be used again by our local Red-tails.
And it was used again alright. But by a completely new set of tenants!