Nature & Science

Castle Clinton's location, at the tip of Manhattan, doesn't exclude the area from having wildlife. There are a few species of birds and mammals that thrive in a city environment.

grey squirrel
Grey Squirrel


Grey squirrel Sciurus carolinensis

The eastern gray squirrel has predominantly gray fur but it can have a reddish color. It has a white underside and a large bushy tail. Particularly in urban situations where the risk of predation is reduced, both white- and black-colored individuals are quite often found. Grey squirrels can grow from 17 -20 inches long. In New York City there are very few predators that the squirrel has to worry about. The occasional hawk or owl is its only predator.

norway rat
Norway rat

Brown rat or Norway rat Rattus norvegicus

One of the largest, it is a brown or grey rodent with a body up to 10 inches long, with a similar tail length. Thought to have originated in northern China, this rodent has now spread to all continents, except Antarctica, and is the dominant rat in Europe and much of North America-making it the most successful mammal on the planet after humans.

Red-tailed Hawk
Red tailed hawk


Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis

Breeds almost throughout North America from western Alaska and northern Canada to as far South as Panama. Males can weigh from 1.5 to 2.9 pounds and measure 18 to 22 in. Females can weigh between 2 and 4.4 pounds and measure 20 to 26 inches in length. Red-tailed Hawks generally prefer to wait on a certain perch and swoop down on prey. They will also patrol open areas in flight. Diet consists of small mammal's birds and reptiles

Male Kestrel
Male Kestrel

Kestrel Falco sparverius

The male and female of this species vary greatly. The male kestrel has bright blue-grey marking on the head and wings, with rust color predominant, also spotted along the wings and head. Female is has the same rust coloring but lacks the blue-grey color. Very small falcon averaging only 7-8 inches long. Hunts by hovering or perching on tree branches. They range year round over the United States and spend summers breeding all over Canada north to Alaska. Eats small animals including grasshopper, dragonflies, voles, mice and other small birds.

peregrine falcon
Peregrine falcon

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus

Adult peregrines are slate-grey above and pale below, marked with horizontal stripes on the underparts. Immature peregrines are brown with vertical streaks on the under parts. All have wide dark cheek patch or "mustache" mark below the eye. Diet consists almost exclusively of medium-sized birds, the Peregrine will occasionally hunt small mammals, small reptiles, or even insects. The Peregrine Falcon has a body length of 13-23 in and a wingspan of around 31-47 in. The male and female have similar markings and plumage. The female measuring up to 30 percent larger than the male. Males weigh 0.97-1.7 lb and the noticeably larger females weigh 2.0-3.3 lb.

Last updated: March 11, 2019

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