Posts Tagged 'birding'

Here Come the Collared-Doves

eucdOr at least one of them. Eurasian Collared-doves (Streptopelia decaocto) were released in the Bahamas in the 1970s. They soon made their way to Florida and then spread out through North America, except for the Northeast. But it’s only a matter of time. An outlier has been hanging around Chelsea Piers in Manhattan for a week or more. You can just see the black line on the nape of the neck that makes the “collar” — it doesn’t go all the way around. Otherwise, this bird is rather similar to the native Mourning Dove, if a bit larger. Its white tail feathers and dark wing-tips in flight also help differentiate it.

Green Heron Junior

Butorides virescensMy eyes were intent on the edges of the pond, alive with damsel- and dragonflies, so I didn’t see this young Green Heron (Butorides virescens) until it darted away on foot. It didn’t go very far, though. I watched it for a long time as it stalked back and forth along the pond. Butorides virescensThe heavy streaking on the white breast is characteristic of a young bird’s plumage, but the real giveaway here is all the downy fluff still blowing about on the head. Butorides virescens Where was the nest? The parents? Was it already on its own? It hadn’t developed much fear of humans yet; I was about fifteen feet from it, another civilian walked by as I stood there. It was working on its hunting skills:Butorides virescensGrabbing an Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera) from the air.

The Prospect heron nest we were watching last month failed. I heard there were several young one day and the next nothing. Raccoons or rats may have gotten to them. It was a very low nest, not as high as they usually build them. As always, the city is a tough neighborhood to raise your young.

Three More Osprey

Pandion haliaetusThree young Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) bracketed by their parents at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refugee last week. They are on the verge of flying, and what flights! Soon, if they survive the hurdles of fledging and learning to hunt on their own (catching your first big fish must be something!), they will be venturing south into the unknown for the first time. One JBWR Osprey has been satellite-tracked to Venezuela, a journey of about two weeks. Wish these young ones luck. The first year is the hardest.

Alarms will sound

I was struck by the extraordinary amount of bird noise I heard all around me. It’s late in the breeding season, so the territorial and mating songs are mostly done with for the year, but the air was still full of bird calls. Cardinals, Starlings, Mockingbirds, at the least, coming from several trees around me. And then I noticed the cause of all the ruckus:Buteo jamaicensisA Red-tailed Hawk perched overhead. One Mockingbird made repeated forays nearby, flashing the white stripes on its wings, buzzing loudly, and landing just about two feet from the bird on the edge of the bare branch the hawk perched on. The hawk seemed to pay no attention to all the fuss. Here it does some belly grooming amid the hullabaloo.

All Gape

nestlingI spotted this nestling, a bird still too young for its eyes to have opened, earlier today. This is probably an American Robin, and would seem to be a second brood for the season. In early spring, birds this young need to worry about being too cold. That wasn’t an issue in today’s tropical, pre-hurricane atmosphere.


heronsGreat Egret (Ardea alba) and Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) aligned in Woodlawn. The Great Egret was quite vocal when it flew: a guttural barking. No songbirds these. Note that these two birds are in the same genus: “egret” and “heron” are basically synonyms; the Latin “ardea” means “heron.”Ardea albaIn Green-Wood. The correspondence between the white feathers and white petals of the water lilies, the yellow bill of the bird and the yellow centers of the flowers, gave me much to contemplate. gbhThe Great Blue a little later, when I turned around and saw its silhouette away up there.

Tern, Tern, Tern

Sterna hirundoA Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) at sunset on Pier 5. The last of the days light is shining right through the nares or nostrils of this bird’s bill.

Common Terns now nest on the old piers on Governor’s Island: 100 chicks were banded there last year. Tomorrow, the It’s Your Tern Festival will be celebrating this resurgence of harbor life (even if none of the terns are actually ours).

Bird Sex

Larus argentatus smithsonianusBird sex is usually a very brief affair, a quick connection between cloaca. They may make this contact many times over the course of a day, or three, but the actual hookup itself is a matter of seconds. Sperm is transferred without benefit of a penis (except in the case of ducks and a few other species). Someone somewhere has called this the “cloacal kiss,” which is less than poetic if you know your Latin (a cloaca is a sewer). But these Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus smithsonianus) on White Head on Monehegan went at it for a good long while, as bird sex goes, a minute or two. Larus argentatus smithsonianusLarus argentatus smithsonianusAnd afterwards, there was some post-cloacal bonding. wh1Meanwhile, this was another situation nearby. The Double-Crested Cormorant flew in to see if, maybe, there were any, you know, eggs! lying around to snack on? The gull made a lot of noise, the Cormorant did a little bobbing and weaving; when the gull refused to budge, the Cormorant flew off.

Red-tailed Hawks

Buteo jamaicensisSpot the three young Red-tailed hawks in this nest.

More Maine Birds

Setophaga pensylvanicaAn exhausted Chestnut-sided Warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica) looking for food amidst the festering seaweed of Lobster Cove on Monhegan Island.EmpidonaxAnd here’s one of the Empidonax flycatchers in the same spot. These flycatchers are impossible to tell apart unless they vocalize.Bombycilla cedrorumThere were big flocks of Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) over Monhegan, sometimes landing near by. Podiceps grisegenaA Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena) in full breeding array was near the long breakwater in Rockland. You may remember the winter plumage birds who visited Brooklyn this winter.Passerculus sandwichensisA Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis); from this angle, the yellow above the eye helps to ID this species.Somateria mollissimaA pair of Common Eider (Somateria mollissima): male above, female below:Somateria mollissima

Piranga rubraSummer Tanager (Piranga rubra)


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