Posts Tagged 'birding'

Ruddy, Ruddy

Oxyura jamaicensisMany ducks sport their breeding plumage over the winter, but the Ruddy Ducks don’t start turning until… about now. This male should have an astonishingly light, electric blue bill and much warmer cinnamon-brown plumage in a month or so.Oxyura jamaicensisA female. She won’t get all peacocky. Ruddy ducks often have their stiff tails raised as here and below.Oxyura jamaicensisA common pose, bill tucked under wing. Note that this one has some of those cinnamon feathers coming in. They don’t breed here, so we miss most of the big show.

Raptor Wednesday

Buteo jamaicensisButeo jamaicensisButeo jamaicensisWhat you don’t see here are the Blue Jays (Cyanocitta cristata) that were buzzing this Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). I may have inadvertently flushed the hawk from some prey on the ground on the hill below me, since when it first landed it looked like it was stretching a piece of flesh between talon and beak. And then the Jays, who are ever vigilant in Green-Wood, were on the bird, making it do a little branch dancing. This hawk is still sporting its juvenile plumage; no red tail yet. Also, the cere, the soft skin at the base of bill, isn’t the yellow of a mature bird.

Common Reed

Phragmites australisIt’s certainly photogenic, if nothing else. You don’t find much life in a patch of Phragmites, although Downy Woodpeckers and, as here, a Black-capped Chickadee in winter extremis, peck and poke among the dry stalks for evidence of invertebrates.Poecile atricapillus

The Goldfinch

Carduelis carduelisA European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) was hanging around the feeders in Prospect Park yesterday, snacking at the thistle favored by American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis). In the colder regions of their Old World range, the E.G. migrates to warmer climes. Here it is probably rather confused. This one is doubtlessly an escapee from some local cage. They show up every once and a while locally, via the pet trade and an open window. It may be legal to have such birds in captivity, but that doesn’t make it right.

Raptor Wednesday Outtakes

Falco columbarius I am of course pleased when I can present a fine photograph of a living creature, but this blog has never been about photography per se. I think of my photos as illustrative and educational tools. I’d like people to think they too could take such pictures, right outside their door or not too far away. No need to go to distant places — or depend on others to go for you or watch it on TV — for startling hits of nature itself.

Above is a Merlin at the extreme of my camera’s lens. Identification was made easy because the bird had been much closer earlier, perching on that raptor-favored tree above Terrace Bridge, and then harried from pillar to post by an ever-growing number of Blue Jays.Terrace BridgeThis is the other end of the lens. The Merlin is on the top right of the tree in the center distance here.Accipiter cooperiiHere’s another quick-moving raptor. I’d just bubbled out the Chip Shop on Atlantic Avenue and a swirling of pigeons over the intersection perked up my hawk-sense. (I really must be careful to not be bumped into by a pedestrian or run-over by a bicyclist or car on the sidewalk, wot?) A silhouette atop LICH caught my eye, but only through the lens could I get any sense of what it was. The talons are suggestive, the just visible bars on the tail, too. Another shot showed a bit of the russet breast. One of the local Cooper’s. westA phone picture. One day recently I heard a Crow cawing just before descending into the Bergen St. subway and then, when I emerged at the end of my trip underground/underwater at West 4th St., I heard another. I glanced around and up and saw a little falcon swoop over 6th Avenue. Three days earlier about two blocks to the north I’d also seen a little falcon overhead. Both days were these overcast winter gray days, meaning there wasn’t much more than a silhouette to see, but I feel pretty confident that the second instance was a Kestrel. Then I saw a Crow flying over Father Demo Square, but the cawing continued to come from elsewhere. All this, of course, with mid-day traffic howling up Sixth Ave. There it was, in the trees of the corner park at Bleecker & Downing. And it was yelling at a Red-tailed Hawk who perched below it. A Blue Jay further up added some vocal alert to the mix, but it’s hard to beat a Crow when it comes to the alarm department. Or all the people who didn’t seem to hear any of this as they walked by.

Winter Work

oneA bare patch in the snow finds Starlings, Robin, and White-thoated Sparrow rooting in the leaf litter. Snow cover definitely makes it harder to find seeds and invertebrates.Zonotrichia albicollisHere’s one of the White-throated Sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis). This species comes in two forms: this is the white-striped, with the strong white stripe along the forehead. Zonotrichia albicollisThis is the tan-striped. This particularly bird flew here:fiveYou can see its footprints leading into this temporary cave created by the snow-bent grasses. I didn’t see the bird emerge the minute or so I watched.

Turdus migratoriusSnowy feet, muddy beak.


Passerella iliacaA couple of Fox Sparrows (Passerella iliaca) were out from under the usual undergrowth they like to kick up in. The species visits us in winter, but not in great numbers. Their russet red plumage is a nice contrast to other sparrow species, and quite tell-tale.
Passerella iliacaThis was an overcast day, and you really want the sun hitting them for the best photos. Open up the pictures for bigger view and see the snow around their bills.


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