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Raccoon Remains

Procyon lotorMagic-hour light on road-kill, scavenged, and partially petrified Raccoon (Procyon lotor).Procyon lotorOh, and good morning!

Sundown Mocking

Mimus polyglottosNormally a study in white and gray, this Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) is colored by the setting sun.Mimus polyglottos

Nest Door To The Owl

Accipiter cooperiiNot fifteen feet from the Barred Owl, buried in some Yews, was one of Mr. Cooper’s Hawks (Accipiter cooperii). The hawk was closer to me — I was closer to it than it was to the owl — so it looked substantially larger than the owl, but the owl is a larger bird. Was the hawk hiding from the owl? Accipiter cooperiiEvergreens are great places for birds to roost in winter because of the cover they provide.

Duck Out of Water

Aythya valisineriaI don’t remember the last time I saw a Canvasback (Aythya valisineria). Whenever it was, the bird was in the water. This bright male surprised me on the rocks of Pier 4 at Brooklyn Bridge Park this afternoon. Aythya valisineriaFrom a distance, with a few Gadwall around him in the water and on the rocks, I didn’t think the white blob was alive. There’s lots of weird stuff floating in the harbor, after all, and catching on the rocks with the waves and the tide. Then I tried to remember which ducks were so white. Aythya valisineriaBut once he pulled his head from under his wing… this dark sloping forehead and long tapering bill are distinctive. And so, obviously, is that white “canvas” back (and, out of the water, belly).Aythya valisineriaAnd those eyes! Beautiful and mesmerizing.

This is one of our largest diving ducks. They are usually found in rafts with other Aythya genus ducks like the Scaups. When I posted this bird on the NY state bird list, a correspondent in Ithaca told me there were 50 of them up there amid thousands of Redheads, another duck not so common in NYC waters. I would like to see that.

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Strix varia

Strix variaA hot tip from someone who wishes to remain anonymous clued me into this Barred Owl (Strix varia) located… somewhere in NYC.Strix variaI had to agree to be blindfolded before being led to the site; it was either that or ride bundled into the trunk. This close-up shows what looks like a small delicate bill, but owls actually have large, gaping mouths — the better to swallow their prey whole. Strix variaThe bird was in full sunlight, soaking up that winter warmth. Owls in daylight are often tucked away so they won’t be harassed by their legion of enemies. In fact, I looked hard into the Yews besides this owl to see if there was another. I found something completely different, which I’ll blog about tomorrow.Strix variaThis is one of my best ever views of any owl species, up there with last year’s shameless display of Snowy Owls and the owl ranch down in Texas. Strix variaTurns out they have real bobble heads, turning round and up and down with great facility. Strix variaThe Barred Owl is found throughout the East and across the southern span of Canada, the northern Rockies, and the Pacific NW and up through BC. They are a woodland bird, favoring mature hardwoods in the north and bald cypress in the SE. Their call is famous, a veritable sentence, inevitably described as “Who, Who cooks for you?”

Gowanus

GowanusSome fifty Mallards were hanging out on the Superfund canal last weekend. Prospect Park’s Lake was mostly frozen, but this tidal, briny, self-heating (?) water remained open to waterfowl.

It was a rather active morning: I heard American Crows in the distance and shrieking Blue Jays closer, which made me wonder if there was a raptor about. The Red-tailed Hawk I posted about Wednesday floated by, so that may have explained that (there was a Red-tailed on the very top of St. Agnes yesterday afternoon, too). While I was on the Union St. Bridge, which is where the picture above was taken, the sky filled with Ring-billed Gulls, who roost on the flat roofs in the area. A single Crow flew amongst them and then proceeded to make three swooping dives over the trees on the left middle ground. Usually Crows work in family units, but this one had no back-up and was silent. I’m not sure what it was harassing; a smaller bird did move in the trees on the third pass, but I was too far way to make it out. It may have been a small falcon or hawk. Can’t think what else a Crow would bother with, besides owls, which are unlikely here, and feral cats. foamThe canal’s foaming mire, corralled by the boom, looks grim-ugly; the ducks were floating through it.

Winter

mammal crossingMammal crossing.DendriticDendritic sky.milkweedTenacity.


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