Tree, Mushroom, Bird

Woodpeckers have unusually stiff tail feathers.
A broken branch of a wizened paper birch. I wonder if the bird knows to follow the mushrooms to the weakest wood? Seems a good bet.
Remind me to take another look soon to see if this hole gets bigger.


My first good look at a Common Raven this year, the sixth year I’ve been watching them here in Brooklyn. Sure, I hear them occasionally, and see them from a distance, but this was relatively close.
This one landed with some food high up in a tree. The bird’s feathers are ready for molt! The remains of a rodent? Rat and squirrel come to mind.


Last May, this little hillock was abuzz with cellophane bees. Their dirt mound nests were all over the place, and the bees themselves were thick in the air.
The next generation is in here now. Four more months to go!
Took these photos yesterday, just before the inauguration.
Not far away was a Persian ironwood tree (Parrotia persica).
These bushy trees are related to the witch hazels, Hamamelis genus, some of whom also start blooming in late winter.
These are small, but delightful.

Raptor Wednesday

Red-tailed Hawk in tuliptree.
Cooper’s Hawk coming in.

The Cooper’s kept a sharp eye on the larger hawk. The latter flew away and was followed by the Coop to another tuliptree some 75 yards away.
Then they returned back to the original tuliptree, so as I was making my way thataway they passed me by overhead.
After a few moments of this stand-off, the Cooper’s flew off.
Leaving the Red-tailed alone.


These two Dark-eyed Juncos were underneath a hickory tree that was absolutely littered with pieces of nut.
A couple of Black-capped Chickadees were doing the same.
Elsewhere: a similar hickory smorgasbord. I supposed squirrels make these messes. There’s still a lot of nut meat here.
Not sure what this one is working on.
Wing of a Dark-eyed Junco. Hickory nuts to bird to bird, the great chain of eating.

Mammal Monday

Dead raccoon’s back foot.
Exterior wanted in. Interior didn’t want the exterior inside. Exterior got in.
Lots of squabbling in the trees now, two three four five squirrels racing up and down, leaping between trees. I saw two squirrels fall recently, one from about eight feet in a squirrel-tussle and one from even higher as a Red-tailed Hawk made a bold attempt to get lunch. Both seemed to shake it off.
This was one of at least seven on three neighboring trees who froze when a Red-tailed sailed low through the trees. Frozen, but not silent. They make a very distinctive sound when they’re threatened or worried like this. This one was still sounding off when I passed underneath.

A Visitation of Grackles, Part II

This one landed in a sidewalk tree and then came down to the sidewalk in front of us.
And went for a snack!
Too fast and too close to get focused on. Something flavored with orange cheese product, perhaps? Junk food is junk food, whoever eats it.

A Visitation of Grackles, Part I

A flock suddenly appeared the other day right outside the apartment. They stuck around for a couple of hours. Here are various members of the group. Yes, snacks were had.
A malfunctioning gutter is a standby bathing and drinking spot for the local Starlings, House Sparrows, and Mourning Doves. The Grackles put it to use, too. About sixteen of them in this photo.

They were not as noisy as they can be in springtime, but some of their delightful calls could be heard.

Scars, Buds, Etc.

What Core and Ammons in their handy Woody Plants in Winter call the “downy line across the top” of the leaf scar of a butternut (Juglans cinerea). The tawny suede-looking thing up there.
Mustache-like, but at the top, or outer edge of the scar.
Now, here’s the genus-mate eastern black walnut (Juglans nigra) for comparison. No mustache.
Sure, a lot of buds and leaf scars are tiny, necessitating magnification, but some are bold. The lustrous bud of American sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), for instance.
This extremely fat red horse-chestnut (Aesculus x carnea), not at all sticky like standard horse-chestnut buds (Aesculus hippocastanum).
Norway maple (Acer platanoides).
This lipstick may be a magnolia.
And this is deceiving. Not buds but the work of Oak Rosette Gall Wasps (Andricus quercusfrondosus) and, of course, the oak itself.

Watering Hole in the Ice

Beckett says somewhere that we spend our life “trying to bring together in the same instant a ray of sunshine and a free bench.” For birds in winter, it’s an open bit of water. The sunshine is gravy.
Back in October I spied on the birds bathing under the little weeping variety of bald cypress by the Sylvan Water in Green-Wood. The other day the pond was mostly iced-over. But under the overhanging branches, a small opening was calling. And Tufted Titmice, Black-capped Chickadees, Dark-eyed Juncos, Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays, and White-throated Sparrows were answering.
For bathing and drinking.
And, in the tangle of branches above, drying and grooming.


Verso Books is offering its U.S. Anti-Fascism Reader, on a century of anti-fascist struggle, available as a free e-book.

This Boston Review piece on the struggle ahead with the white nationalist party is also informative.


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