The Owls of Pelham Bay Park

     Everyone wants to see an owl and Pelham Bay Park is probably the best place to find owls in New York City. Every year we find Long Eared, Saw-whet and Great-horned Owls in the park. In past couple of years we’ve had Snowy and Barred Owls as well. The Long-eared usually begin arriving in late November to mid-December, the Saw-whets are not far behind. We have resident Great-horned Owls here which have had several offspring.

Snowy Owl sitting on the light pole near the tennis courts at Orchard Beach in 2009. The owl was seen and photographed by Angel Cardenas. By the time I ran over to find it , the owl was gone.

This owl sat in the tree near Bartow-Pell Mansion in the park. He was there every day, for weeks, hiding in the tangles in an evergreen tree alongside the building. Whenever I met someone who wanted to see an owl, I brought them over to see this fellow. Saw-whets were very common here for many years. One year we had 18 Saw-whets in the park. In recent years there have been fewer. They have also become less accessible and seem to hide further up in the trees.

In March of 2009, we had three Great-horned Owls born in the park. Two are shown here, the third is hiding down in the trunk. For the past several years we have watched as the birds nested and had successful offspring. Last year, we could not find a nest. but were able to locate the owls. We’re hoping they will be successful once again. We believe there are two pairs of owls resident here.

Long-eared Owls are usually the first to arrive in our woods. They’re usually high up, but this bird was sunning itself in the morning, one cold January. Photo by Billy Spinks.

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We found this Barred Owl in the late winter of 2010. It was here for a few days and was gone. He flushed easily and was very wary of human activity.