Posts Tagged 'birding'

Woodcock Wednesday

 Scolopax minorAs I finished photographing the leaves I posted yesterday, I heard a leaf being crunched behind me. I turned and saw this Woodcock (Scolopax minor) wobbling along. Before the bird settled down, I had a fine view of its beautiful cinnamon-tinged belly.
 Scolopax minorThis has been the third weekend in a row I’ve seen Woodcock in Green-Wood. A week ago, there were half a dozen. This past Sunday, this was the only one I saw, or heard. Green-Wood is a good place to avoid the Woodcock hunting season in NYS.

Autumn Continues




Borough Kestrels

Falco sparveriusThis male Kestrel zoomed up to the top of Green-Wood’s Gothic Revival gate while a Red-tailed Hawk circled overhead. Then it made an unsuccessful dive at a Monk Parakeet, a bird roughly its own size. I’ve noted Kestrels up there before.IMG_4706This one found the lights and goal posts of the football field at Floyd Bennett Field good for perching.Falco sparveriusHere the bird has just eaten… something. It must have been a beetle. Whatever it was, it dove down from the lights to pick it off the ground and then brought it up to the goal post (score!) to dispatch it quickly.Falco sparverius


Buteo jamaicensisThe broad-winged hawks of the genus Buteo are named after the Latin name of the Common Buzzard. If that sentence doesn’t open up a can of Annelida, I don’t know what will. Buteo simply means “hawk.” There is a North American species called the Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus). Here in the U.S. “buzzard” is another name for either of our two vulture species — the English colonialists were not familiar with such soaring carrion-eaters in the old country, so they slapped a name they knew on them. That was Buzzard, from the Eurasian hawk known to the systematists as Buteo buteo. “Buzzard” itself comes from the French busard.

The pictured bird is our most common hawk, the Red-tailed (Buteo jamaicensis). Having seen B. buteo in its native range, I can say these big soaring hawks act rather similarly. Those broad wings are perfect for soaring overhead on the thermals in great loops over the landscape, eye-balling the prey below.

Too Perfect


Sharpie on the Prowl

Accipiter striatusA Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus), eyeballing everything that moves above, before, behind, below. Waves of song-birds were stirred up by this slim raptor, the smallest hawk species in North America. This may have been the same bird I saw on three more separate encounters that day, racing after prey.Accipiter striatusSharpies, as they are affectionately known, are one of the more unfortunately-named birds. Sharp shins? Accipiter striatusThese hawks migrate in large numbers (11,000 were recorded on a single October day in Cape May, NJ) and aren’t resident in the city, preferring forests and forest edges. Their larger genus-mates, the Cooper’s Hawks, are more likely to be found in the city and suburbs. You will notice that both this bird and the cited Cooper’s are juveniles: the mature birds will have blue-grey wings, red eyes, and reddish-orange breast feathers. I rarely see adults of either species in the city.

Size is often hard to scale with these birds. There is extreme sexual dimorphism in Accipiters, the females being as much as a third larger than the males. Cooper’s are larger than Sharpies, but the male Cooper’s is not much bigger than the female Sharp-shinned. They are one of the classic identification challenges in bird-watching. I once saw a male Sharp-shinned perched on a spike in a yard and was struck how very petite it was, slightly larger than a Blue Jay or Kestrel. Based on that, I’d say this was a female.

Winter Wren

Troglodytes hiemalisThe day began with a tweet from the City Birder of a photo of a dead Winter Wren (Troglodytes hiemalis) killed by a cat in Green-Wood. So I was pleased several hours later to see two live specimens.

They were living up to their genus name, Troglodytes, going into the nooks and crannies of this retaining wall. The bird’s small, upright tail looks unnaturally abbreviated here, but this is how they roll.

The two birds were not happy to see each other, chasing and squawking when one got too close to the little cave the other was exploring, but they were relatively tolerant of me. Of course, they should flee from all mammals as a matter of course.


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