Posts Tagged 'Green-Wood'

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.

Raptor Wednesday

Buteo jamaicensisButeo jamaicensisButeo jamaicensis

White-headed Sea Eagle

Haliaeetus leucocephalusYesterday in Green-Wood I was enjoying the sun in a section of the cemetery I’d never been in before when a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) flew overhead. Whoa! The bird was a mature adult; it takes about four years for those white feathers to come in completely on the head and tail. The look is as distinctive as a flag. The bird was flying low and I wondered if it would land nearby. It did.Haliaeetus leucocephalusIt was perched above the Crescent Water in this pine. From here it flew somewhere thattaway. When I eventually got up over the hill, there it was again. These birds are big (31″ length, 80″ wingspan), so they really stick out when up in a bare tree. I was just about to get a focus on the bird for some more pictures when it stretched out its wings. There was a crack, the branch the bird was sitting on broke and plummeted down with a crash as the bird flew away. They can weigh up to a dozen pounds, which is an awful lot for a bird.Haliaeetus leucocephalusI ran into two birders at Green-Wood’s Gothic pile entrance at 5th Ave. who saw the bird leaving the cemetery grounds in a northwesterly direction. This was the first time I’ve seen an adult specimen of the species, whose binomial translates as this post’s title (“bald” is pretty dumb see comment below), actually standing in Brooklyn.

I just read the other day that there about 150 pairs in NJ and 173 in NY. There is a breeding pair on Staten Island, or around Staten Island (recent reports of a pair nesting may be premature; they haven’t produced young over several years of “playing house”). Thoreau, who used the old “white-headed” name for these birds, said about an 1854 encounter with one: “We who live this plodding life here below never know how many eagles fly over us. They are concealed in the empyrean.” But by the 1970s, there was almost nothing to conceal: NY was down to a single pair, and they were unsuccessful at breeding. Bringing them back from the brink (often from upper Midwestern stock, btw) been a great success story, one we must build on.

Lord of All He Surveys

gw2Richard Upjohn’s Gothic-y gate to Green-Wood Cemetery. The Monk Parakeets have colonized it with their massive stick nest. Maybe it reminds them of the Andes?  Myiopsitta monachusOn a recent weekend, the birds were unusually quiet. I spotted half a dozen nearby.Falco sparveriusAnd up there with the lightning rod? Our old friend the American Kestrel (Falco sparverius). That made for sightings three weekends in a row.

GBH

Ardea herodiasA Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) in Green-Wood.

Ardea herodias

***
Today is “Giving Tuesday.” The vast range of options suggestions the desperate straits of our world, as does the fact that these entities have to go a-begging. (Philanthropy, a system in which the very rich set socio-political agendas while avoiding taxes, is the flip side of the day.) As you ponder such things, consider giving a friend a subscription to this blog. It may brighten up their mornings like I know it does some of yours’. Click on “Subscribe” on the upper right. Add their e-mail address. ALERT your friend(s) that they will get a confirmation email to which they have to say yes.

Paper

Dolichovespula maculataAll that remains of that Bald-faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) nest on the memorial I photographed in September. Dolichovespula maculataWhile examining the amazing paper the wasps make to cover their comb, I found something elsenesting between the layers. Oops, sorry about that!

Oak

Quercus rubraI’ve noticed these grapefruit/softball-sized growths on the side of this big old Red Oak (Quercus rubra) before. But on my most recent pass, there was a new one.Quercus rubra


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