Posts Tagged 'birds'

And by the way…

Setophaga pinusSayornis phoebeIt’s spring! A Pine Warbler (Setophaga pinus) and Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) herald the season in Central Park today.

Signs and Meanings

SalixHamamelisEranthis hyemalisSturnus vulgaris“‘You know my method. It is founded upon the observation of trifles.'” ~ A.C. Doyle.

Raptor Wednesday

Falco sparveriusA rumor of an American Kestrel being heard and seen on Montague Street had my falcon-senses tingling Saturday. Exploring one of the alleys south of Montague, I faintly heard one of the birds, almost subliminally, just enough to make me look up: the little jet sliced the sky in half. Around the corner — voilà! — this female Falco sparverius was perched atop St. Borromeo. This is a fine falcon perch; the accretion of droppings up there suggest other birds like this venue, too.

This was one of three Kestrels sightings I had in the last week. (This could be the same bird I saw in Brooklyn Bridge Park.) Another female was in Green-Wood. News this morning of a pair in Red Hook suggests this, the most common of city raptor species, are getting busy.


CorvusThere are two species of crows here and along the East Coast: the American and Fish. It is hard to tell them apart by sight, but their voices are distinctive. Since this one wasn’t vocalizing, I can’t be sure which one it was. Fish Crows (Corvus ossifragus), as their name suggests, are usually associated with bodies of water. CorvusThis bird was photographed at Floyd Bennett Field, part of the Jamaica Bay NRA, where I have heard both species. Not sure what’s being eaten here; has a look of carrion. Corvus brachyrhynchosCloser to home, I often see or more usually hear American Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) over my neighborhood. Corvus brachyrhynchosOn Saturday, I watched three gathering nest material around Joralemon St. Two of the birds were picking up sticks from some kind of wintery vine that had crawled up the side of a house and reached over the top. The third bird was… what, acting as lookout, scout? Crows often maintain multi-generational family units, with a yearling or two sticking around the help the parents with raising a new generation. It is rare to see a lone Crow — “one is for sorrow” according to the old rhyme, but pshaw to that!; look closer, that lone black bird could be a Raven. Corvus brachyrhynchosThe Crows returned to this spot several times over a few minutes, suggesting the nest location was close. But the blocks of Brooklyn present a fortress wall to those who would explore the inner wildernesses of collective backyards. IMG_0955However, there was an unusual break in the street front around the corner, and we saw the crows flying into the conifer here in the background. One of the spring-blooming Witchhazels (Hamamelis) is flaring yellow.

Raptor Wednesday

Buteo lagopusThis was my winter of the Rough-legged Hawks (Buteo lagopus). I’d never seen these tundra-evolved raptors before, but the good, cold, blistering winds from the north brought them down to the coast of Long Island, possibly in larger numbers than usual, where they searched for grasslands similar to their northern habitat. Floyd Bennett Field. In two of three trips specifically to see these birds, I was graced with several views. The last time I was there, there were at least two of the light morphs (they also come in a dark morph).

They hunt like Kestrels, hovering over the ground as they face the wind and beat their wings to say in place. There was a female Kestrel there as well, much smaller, of course, which made the comparison in the wing. In addition, there were a couple of Red-tailed Hawks and at least one Coopers. At nearby Marine Park, a Peregrine and Northern Harrier (another species that hunts over grasslands and dunes) were seen at the sunset. There was a mystery bird in the distance that may have been a young Red-shouldered Hawk, but opinions differed here. So six or seven species of diurnal raptor, all in Brooklyn, within a few miles of each other.

A few minutes after sunset, a Short-eared Owl flew 360 degrees around us.

There has been some grumbling about the winter. Yes, we can all celebrate the thaw and spring’s arrival now. But winter has its glories, which may be even more glorious for the discomfort experienced while attaining them.

Ravens Making Ravens?

Corvus coraxRemember when I saw a pair of Common Ravens flying and courting over a quiet (on the weekends) piece of the Sunset Park waterfront? It was a fantastic experience. I’ve been out to Bush Terminal Park several times since New Year’s Day, but didn’t have any luck in seeing the birds again until this weekend. I had, however, been hearing reports from others visiting the area who had seen the birds, so I knew they were still around. When I saw a tweet from the City Birder on Sunday about the birds gathering nesting material, I was out the door like a shot.

Arriving at Bush Terminal Park, a flock of gulls almost immediately took off, making me think they were fleeing from me. But there was a subadult Bald Eagle coasting overhead. The wind was fierce and cold, making all the birds move laterally along the coastline. (And making it really difficult to keep my camera steady!) I followed the eagle in my binoculars, towards a crowd of airborne gulls facing the buffeting wind. And there were the Ravens, seemingly hanging in the wind, jet black against the gray and white gulls.

I watched them return to the concrete pier three times to gather sticks, then fly along the coastline towards the north. Actually, only one would carry the stick. They have to be crafting a nest, sampling sticks for size, etc. If successful, this would be the first time this species has nested in Brooklyn since… well, the Pleistocene? (Traditionally, the birds were mountain and other upland breeders, but they have been making headways into urban areas, with Queens being the beachhead in NYC.)
Corvus corax

1843 All Over Again

IMG_0674Green-Wood Cemetery is large, its paths many. Recently I came across this and remembered I’d been here last May, but not since. The remains of the nest are still relatively protected. Robins will sometimes use old nests to build new nests atop of, so perhaps this coming May I’ll remember to return again and see if this nook is being used again. Note also the whitewash; nestlings know to aim away from the nest, but not evidently the difference between the wild blue and the wall.


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