Unmistakable Feathers

The loudest avian voices during winter here are the Blue Jays. They will often mob a raptor, shrieking stridently and even attacking. It’s as good a raptor-alert system as any: attend the noisy Jays and you may very well find a Red-tail or a Cooper’s in the tree or shrub with them.
They aren’t just doing it for kicks. They know who eats them. These feathers were the remains of one under a pine.

The world warms to an unprecedented-in-human-history degree, but there can still be cold snaps like the recent one in Texas. (As always, the old slave states are the base-line of inhumanity and brutality that the white supremacists and their oligarchic masters work to return us all to.)

Meanwhile, the authoritarian-tech oligarch octopus in India, among other places.

The Advanced Guard of Spring

The House Sparrows are staking out their claims.
Right next door, the Starlings are proclaiming their nest sites as well.
Full-throated singing from a House Finch.
A Song Sparrow being a little more subdued but still giving the syrinx a go. And, not pictured, a Northern Cardinal belting it out from the top of a tall tree.


A magnificent Merlin in the sun.
I must say, this one looked awfully big. I mean, for a Merlin.
Females do run larger, as in many of the raptors.
Look at those long falcon wings!

She was looking this way and that, that way and this. Down below, in the same tree, a squirrel moved about. Merlins mostly eat birds. “Pigeon Hawk” is an old name for them; the binomial Falco columbarius nods also to the pigeons. Prey can include anything from kinglets and gnatcatchers to woodcock and green-winged teal. Chimney Swifts have even been recorded! Bats, toads, grasshoppers, dragonflies, pocket gophers… squirrels — Bent doesn’t specify what species of squirrels.

Red-shouldered Redux

This time, the bird is perched on one foot, with the other held up in the feathers and just peaking out.
In the Dell, where there are several feeders, hence song birds, hence potential meals.
Buteo lineatus means striped hawk, evidently for the stripes seen on the wing from above (?). These birds are renown as snake-eaters; one of the first I ever saw was perched up in a tree eating a snake at Great Swamp NWR. But like all the raptors, they’re flexible in what they’ll eat.

A couple of times recently, I’ve found a Red-tail Hawk (here the bird above) shadowing the Red-shouldered.

Raptor Wednesday

A Red-shouldered Hawk.
Immature. No red “shoulders” yet.
But a smattering of russet under the wing.
And a touch of red to the tail feathers, too.
Like an immature Cooper’s, this immature Red-shouldered has streaking all the way down the front. Red-tailed Hawks usually have a band of streaking across just the belly.

It’s fairly unusual to see a Red-shouldered in the center of Brooklyn in the non-migration seasons. This one has been around for a few weeks. It was seen yesterday, too.

Cooper’s Hawks

Looks like it’s a birthday week of raptors. Here’s a Cooper’s Hawk with nictitating membranes in action.
This bird was pointed out by half a dozen Blue Jays screaming bloody murder.
An hour later, on the other side of Green-Wood. Same bird? Maybe, maybe not. This one dropped down out of sight behind a yew and then emerged on the ground on the other other side of the tree before flying further away.
Earlier that day, on the edge of Sunset Park.
The day before, in a tree a little bit closer to the apartment.

All immature birds. How many individuals? At least two?

Sharp-shinned Monday

I still find the Accipiter Dilemma (or is it a Conundrum?) tricky. Cooper’s Hawks (Accipiter cooperii) are larger than Sharp-shinned Hawks (Accipiter striatus), but, with the extreme sexual dimorphism of these species, a male Cooper’s is about the size of a female Sharp-shinned.
This bird, however, was tiny. Blue Jay sized. A male Sharp-shinned Hawk.
Square tail, not much head projection beyond the wings, etc., but frankly it was the size that called it.

I don’t see these boys often. Here’s a female seen locally in February, 2018. Here’s some more from March of that year. And still more.

Red-tails on Sunday

Two different Red-tailed Hawks eye-balling each other. The one on the ground has a couple of red feathers in its tail, on the way to full adult plumage.
This one, seen about 15 minutes later, is showing a lot more, if not all, red. Ok, so that’s three distinctive birds…
I had a dozen Red-tailed sightings on this two hour walk in Green-Wood. Three in the air at one point. But how many individuals that added up to, I can’t say.

The Years Go Marching By

It’s harder and harder to age in this savage republic. Even as a long-in-the-tooth perpetual adolescent, I’m not in much of a celebratory mood this year, but here are some birthday posts of yore:

2020: bathing beauty.

Wait, I did another birthday Red-tailed Hawk in 2019?

It fell during Kestrel Week in 2018.

2017: tree rings.

{In 2016 I repeated 2013, see below.]

2015, in Dante’s Italian.

Very minimal, 2014.

In 2013, I had some fun scavenging literature.

Skipped 2012 all together.

2011, the first use of Dante.

This blog started in March, 2010.

3.5″ long pocket knife in the center of this enormous stump, presumably a tuliptree, as in the photo in the middle of this post. Sad to see these giants go.

More Winter Birds

Yes, please!
There was that winter bird count several years ago that tallied only a single Black-capped Chickadee in Kings County, a.k.a. Brooklyn. This winter has been much more chickadee-ee-ee.
White-breasted Nuthatches, too, have been plentiful.
I love the noises they make. A couple of them quietly chipping with each other; a lone making a hell of a chatter for such a little bird.

Another case of clustering, flocking birds on snow-free patches.
The “red belly” glimpsed.
Saw this one after my Winter Woodpeckers post went up.


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