Posts Tagged 'birds'
According to my iBirds UK app, this is a representation of a Great Tit (Parus major), which is not to be confused with the Bearded Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Crested Tit, Marsh Tit, or Willow Tit. Good gravy, that’s a lot of Tits.
I found this on top of a gravestone in Green-Wood Cemetery. I wonder what the story there was.
Meanwhile, I expect to find some real Tits in England in the coming weeks. (Hmm, I hope that’s not misinterpreted; bird-watching can be a tricky pastime.) Among other adventures, I plan to team up with Mark Wilkinson of The Badger’s Eye at the London Wetlands Centre, which I am really looking forward to.
Posts of a mostly photographic nature will continue here, through the magic of the interwebs, as the spring was full of riches…
Tags: birds, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Bridge Park, trees
The Juneberries (Amelanchier sp.) are nearly ripe, and that means the birds are starting to devour them.A Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum). Unexpected. Later I found four in a tree on the mezzanine that is Squib Park. Here’s one of these crested beauties:
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) nest throughout eastern North America, but in both the first (1988) and second (2008) Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State, none were found to be breeding in NYC. (As the City Birder, who found this nest, notes: it’s certainly possible that previous nesting was just missed because of the tininess of both the birds and the nests.) That changed last year when one (the males do not stick around) nested in Prospect Park. This year, in a different location, there’s another.These hummingbirds typically make their nests of thistle and dandelion down held together with spider silk and/or pine resin. (It sounds like a magic spell.) They attach pieces of lichen and/or moss to the exterior, probably as camouflage. A clutch is 1-3 eggs; note how (relatively) tall the nest is, making for a deep, narrow pocket for the eggs. Lightweight spider silk, one of the strongest materials, is also amazingly stretchy: this nest will expand with the newborns as they grow.
Tags: birding, birds, Brooklyn, Prospect Park
That mud-daubed Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) nest is occupied.
Before I began watching birds, I could identify a bare few of them: cardinals, robins, mourning doves, “sparrows,” things seen on bird feeders or everywhere. One day in the late 1990s when I lived on the top floor of a Park Slope rowhouse, I noticed a small dark bird moving quickly through the tree out back. We were almost eye-level, that bird and I. The bird looked blue-black on top and white underneath, and I’d never seen anything like it before. It was a very active animal, and I found it difficult to get a good clean view of it, yet it was quite distinctive. There were little patches of white on its blue wings. This was one dapper creature, with its own handkerchief accent. (I used to think I picked up that description from Roger Tory Peterson, but it isn’t in his classic field guide, so I don’t know where it came from.) I had no idea what it might be, but I eventually discovered it was a male Black-throated Blue Warbler (Setophaga caerulescens). I have seen a good number of them since. They are not uncommon, if you look, this time of year. The other day, though, I happened to see one through the binoculars from above, which isn’t the usual perspective on a warbler. There was a rusty purplish to the wings. I’d never seen this detail before.
A baby Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata), I’d guess, from those blue wing feathers that were just pushing out. Falling from the nest is not uncommon these days.Is there anything less life-like than a dead song bird? Hard to say what happened to this female Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula), which was laying besides a tree, far from glass.
Tags: birds, books, horseshoe crab
I didn’t make it to the beach to witness the annual rites of spring of the Horseshoe Crabs (Limulus polyphemus). But I did manage a virtual trip with this beautiful book. Life Along The Delaware: Cape May, Gateway to a Million Shorebirds by Niles, Burger, and Dey, with photography by van de Kam, was published by Rutgers University Press last year. It’s a coffee table book with luscious photographs, but also one with a scientific bent. Indeed, even a point. The Bay is one of the most important ecosystems on the East Coast, but isn’t nearly as well-known as the Chesapeake. It’s especially important for shorebirds in migration, those epic flights to and from breeding grounds in Arctic Canada. For at least since the last ice age, this migration has coincided with the annual Horseshoe Crab breeding season. Massive amounts of Horseshoe eggs fed these long distance migrants, providing a vital half-way point. After more than a century of slaughtering Horseshoes for fertilizer, bait, and medicine, there are now many less Horseshoe crabs. Hence, less birds. A subspecies of Red Knot (Calidris canutus) in particular has been hard hit. These birds are known to fly six days straight (songbirds migrate during the evenings only, resting and eating during the day); indeed, before starting from Patagonia, Red Knots shrink their digestive systems to lessen their weight (mirroring the ability of birds to shrink their gonads once breeding season is over). The easily digested, protein-rich Horseshoe eggs are vital to the survival of the Red Knots. This is the main story told in this book, but it’s not the only one. It’s thoughtful, up-to-date, and, as noted, extremely well-illustrated.
Two punks from Bergen Beach were recently busted for poaching horseshoes from Jamaica Bay. Telsons should to driven into their gonads. They were caught pretty much by accident, by NYPD detectives testing night-vision gear in a helicopter. Park Police have a boat, but it remains tied to the dock.
Tags: birding, birds, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Bridge Park
Nice contrast between the altricial young of the American Robin, with their eyes closed, featherless, and quite helpless, and the precocial Mallard ducklings, who are ready to rock (and swim, forage) almost instantly. Note how much bigger-looking the background bird is in the Robin nest: could this be a Cowbird or just an earlier hatch?
I have amped up the technology. These are from a PowerShot SX50 HS, which has a MUCH better lens than my workhorse PowerShot G9. I’ve been testing on these easy birds. The rather more difficult Marsh Wren of earlier this week was a capture with this new rig.
Tags: birding, birds, insects, Prospect Park
At first they rise like little puffs of smoke from their ground nest. Then more and more of them emerge, small and unwieldy fliers, swarming into the humid air. They are termite reproductives, and a swarm of them brings birds to gobble them from the air. Stand there and watch as barn and tree swallows and chimney swifts zoom in on them, at eye level, acrobatic fliers whose wings you can hear they are so close. Maneuvering easily around you, they will rise as the mass of termites rise until they are much higher up. On or near the ground, meanwhile, are hopping, darting, “flycatching,” birds — warblers, thrushes, catbirds, tanagers — the bonanza seems to bring everybody out for a feast, regardless of their usual foraging habits.Although caste-structured social insects like ants, termites are actually more closely related to cockroaches. They were formerly classified as order Isoptera, but based on morphological and DNA evidence are now Blattodea.
For many are called, and most of them are eaten.