Notes for Further Reading and Doing


Rob Jett’s ebook The Red-tailed Hawk Journals: A City Birder in Brooklyn is now available. Rob has been documenting the Red-tails of Brooklyn for more than a decade and tells how he first came to these adventures. It’s a great story.

Liam Heneghan has written a fine essay on the #1000UrbanMiles project he instigated. (I am quoted.)


I’ll be doing two Listening Tours in Prospect Park this spring.
Listening Tour May 4th 6am, with Brooklyn Brainery
Listening Tour, May 10 6am with NYC Wildflower Week

Here are some of my previous musings on these curious mediations
Just Listen
The Listening Tour

Audubon Part II

audubonThe second of three John James Audubon exhibits is up at the New-York Historical Society. These are the original watercolors JJA did for his printer in England. Go! (I snapped a few details before being busted by museum security; since I wasn’t using a flash, I thought it would be ok.)audubonIt was a curious experience to see several species I’d just seen in Texas for the first time, for example Long-billed Curlew, Reddish Egret, and Lincoln’s Sparrow. And…somewhat unsatisfying. Nothing beats the actual individual animal. This, of course, is hardly fair to any representation, but JJA is often much too dramatic — all those twisted neck poses — for me. Not to take too much away from JJA’s towering achievement, however, which remains impressive indeed.audubonThe only dead bird JJA portrayed that wasn’t the prey of another species was this Eskimo Curlew, which has what I think is a haunting binomial, Numenius borealis. (Numenius: new moon, for the shape of the bill, but so close to numinous!) Haunting because the species is now considered extinct, with the last confirmed sighting half a century ago (as someone who was born half a century ago and destined to go extinct myself…). They ate blueberries, people, blueberries! It is of course coincidental that JJA portrayed one member of this species as dead; the birds were plentiful in his day, as were the Passenger Pigeons; this is just one of those damnable ironies of history. All the birds he used as models were dead, the standard operating procedure before photography and binoculars. He was a re-animator.

Snow Goose

snow1A Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens) was on Prospect Lake today. They are not uncommon in Jamaica Bay during the winter months, but don’t visit interior Brooklyn very often. Chen caerulescensAmong the most abundant waterfowl on the continent, Snow Geese are often seen in huge numbers on fallow fields and wetlands.

Texas Testudines

Gopherus berlandieriTexas Tortoise (Gopherus berlandieri). Very fond of eating tender cactus fruit. scutesI also found the skeleton of one of these elsewhere and pulled off a few of the scutes to get some detail.Trachemys scriptaNice to see Red-eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta) in their native region. Trachemys scriptaHere’s a recent hatchling, about the size of dollar coin.Apalone spiniferus emoryiTexas Spiny Softshell (Apalone spiniferus emoryi).Apalone spiniferus emoryiThis one was less than a foot long; they can get much bigger.

And another skeleton: Ornate Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata ornata), I think.7



Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Tyrannus forficatusYowza! Kinda gobsmacking, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Tyrannus forficatusTyrannus forficatus is a backyard bird in Texas.Tyrannus forficatusWe say them every day. They’re the state bird of Oklahoma, too, where my mother was born. See it on the OK quarter. Tyrannus forficatusThe males have longer tails, and more intense coloring. Look for the orange underwings. And those salmon flanks!Tyrannus forficatusThe tail looks absurd, shameless showboating, and in the males the length is probably a marker for females, but these forked tails also make for sharp mid-air acrobatics, stalling and turning, just the thing for taking insects on the wing.Tyrannus forficatusIt’s Earth Day. Of course, here at Backyard and Beyond, every day is Earth Day. I hope you’re subscribing to these posts to celebrate with me.

Bill Strategies

Rynchops nigerBlack Skimmer (Rynchops niger) with Laughing Gulls (Leucophaeus atricilla).Recurvirostra americanaAmerican Avocet (Recurvirostra americana).Limosa fedoaMarbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa).Ajaja ajajaRoseate Spoonbill (Ajaja ajaja).Egretta rufescens, Himantopus mexicanusReddish Egret (Egretta rufescens) and Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus).Numenius americanusWait for it…Numenius americanusNumenius americanusLong-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus).Numenius americanusSome of the birds at an afternoon’s stop at the Hans & Pat Suter Wildllife Refugue in Corpus Christi.Numenius americanusYou know you can subscribe to these posts, don’t you, for free? I hear they are something of a welcome addition to people’s morning emails.


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  • "Son of a beech" Jonathan Swift, college boy, having fun with someone named Wood. Puns being timeless... 6 hours ago
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