by Mike Hays
For 200 days each year, Steve Sachs photographs birds of prey. He watches raptors on his way to work, on his days off and on weekends, too.
Some of Steve’s favorite observation spots are secret places which he will not share. Locally, you will find him facing the Palisades, watching nesting falcons high up in the rocks near the half-mile mark at Nyack Beach State Park. In the fall, Steve climbs Hook Mountain where he counts migrating hawks every Wednesday.
A photographer since the age of 10, Steve has shot just about everything, including weddings and Grateful Dead concerts, and most recently, a Hall and Oates concert at Forest Hills and the Clearwater Festival at Croton-on-Hudson.
He became interested in raptor photography almost by accident. During a Long Island Sound boating trip with a friend, they found an osprey nest which gave Steve the opportunity to photograph the birds up close. He was so taken by the osprey’s orange eyes that he started visiting hawk migration sites in Pennsylvania. In 2000, he discovered Hook Mountain. His initial hawk pictures showed the birds as tiny specks. That changed after acquiring a 500 mm lens for his camera that allowed closeups from far away. Getting the perfect shot isn’t as easy as it looks: it takes a lot of arm strength to hold a large lens steady while pointing up in the air.
A keen observer of bird behavior, Steve studies everything, from the long-term mating habits of falcons to how a red-shouldered hawk feeds large frogs to its fledglings. One Wednesday morning at the Hook, I asked him if falcons ever attacked ducks for food since they are relatively large, and he answered, “rarely.” Almost right on cue, we saw a falcon swoop (and miss) a pair of ducks.
Over the past eight years Steve has been posting his world famous photos on Facebook every day. In 2017, his work was included in Birds of Prey by Pete Dunne. Steve’s photos are now on display at Kaplan Hall on the SUNY Orange campus in Newburgh through the end of July.
Birds of Prey: Hawks, Eagles, Falcons, and Vultures of North America: Pete Dunne, Kevin T. Karlson: 9780544018440
Michael Hays is a 30-year resident of the Nyacks. He grew up the son of a professor and nurse in Champaign, Illinois. He has recently retired from a long career in educational publishing with Prentice-Hall and McGraw-Hill. He is an avid cyclist, amateur historian and photographer, gardener, and dog walker. He has enjoyed more years than he cares to count with his beautiful companion, Bernie Richey. You can follow him on Instagram as UpperNyackMike.
Nyack People & Places features photos and profiles of citizens and scenes near Nyack, NY. Sponsored by Weld Realty.
Raptors photo credit: Steve Sachs. Photos of photographer Steve Sachs were taken by Mike Hays.