Raptor Wednesday

Blue Jays and Nuthatches are a reliable source of alarm when a Cooper’s is in the hood. This one was out in the open with prey when I followed the shrieks, but soon retreated to the foliage of a beech.
The raptor was plucking.
A few of the prey’s feathers fell down to the road below.
Lunch seems to have been a woodpecker.

Speaking of woodpeckers, our largest, the Pileated, has returned to NYC.


Juncos and Goldfinches eating the tiny seeds of the sweetgum tree.
All over the ground under several old trees.
In hand with one of the pods.
And now for something relatively different: Kentucky coffeetree pods.
So named because these seeds were once turned into an ersatz coffee. Before that, did some extinct megafauna crunch these up along with the green jelly-like goo inside the pods?

Mammal Monday

The quick and the dead.

Just Batty

A Green-Wood gardener called my attention to two Eastern Red Bats hanging from maple leaves in the cemetery last week. These were at eye level. Who knows what was further up…. Looking like old leaves or rotten fruit/cones, this is their day camouflage.
I’ve seen the occasional bat in flight in Brooklyn over the years. There are a couple species found in our air space, and closer to the ground. These, Lasiurus borealis, are the most common. November seems an odd time to see them, but then it has been warmer than usual (when do we drop the “than usual” since this is the new usual?). This is not a species that resorts to bat caves, or mass hibernacula, for the winter. Some seem to migrate, but others may stick around, hibernating inside leaf litter or tree trunks. Here’s some more info.
Remember not to handle bats because of the dangers of rabies.

We’re Back!

Nature blogging is hard work.
We’ll be back to regularly scheduled narrowcasting on the ‘morrow.

T-Day and Counting

I am struck by the case of the now notorious Maine wedding, whose participants took the pandemic to a rural town and killed at least seven people. None of the murdered victims were at the wedding — the insidiousness of a virus is that it spreads beyond one’s kin and ken. Long term care worker’s kid went to the wedding; care worker took it to long term facility, etc. The half of the wedding party who got COVID-19 all survived, as most people who get it do. But this was in August: the wedding party chose to gather in the midst of a pandemic. This is why I call it murder. By the way, the officiant, some kind of religion-huckster who attaches “reverend” to his name, was unrepentant, rushing to a “religious liberty” law firm so that he would have the “freedom” to kill again for his blood-thirsty god.

Something to think about today when millions have traveled for Thanksgiving, militantly defiant against public health measures, unconcerned about strangers as well as their families, with their monstrous disdain for the nation’s overwhelmed frontline hospital workers.

This is particularly interesting on the ins and outs of COVID metrics: weekends and holidays mean drops in data (less people at work, less people testing, etc), so it will take some time for the holiday’s murderous surge to be reflected in the numbers. Took a full month for results of the Maine Wedding Murders to be known, and that was in a state that was then relatively unstressed by the pandemic.

This pieces explains some of the thinking behind taking risks in ignorance. Without experiencing something personally, or leaning about it from a trusted source, many reject the evidence before their very eyes. And when their trusted source is a compulsive liar and con man like Trump (remarkably, many take his word as holy writ)…

Reading this piece, I thought of two things that should have counteracted this “natural” response to the pandemic. One is history. After all, the human species has been here before, many times, over and over again. History can be something of a vaccine to this human tendency to be stupid.

So there’s history, which I analogize to a vaccine because it’s an injection from outside. But I also think of empathy, something that should be at least partially innate, meaning coming from within.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Next year, we’ll get back to partying and feasting with a festive crowd.

This year, we won’t help the virus spread.

Which Plants?

“A small percentage of plant genera support the majority of Lepidoptera” across the U.S. This new study on keystone species shows that “a small percentage of the plant lineages within a region support larval development in the vast majority of resident Lepidoptera.”

“The top 5 genera were Quercus (‘Oaks’), Salix (‘Willows’), Prunus (‘Cherries, Plums, Peaches, etc.), Pinus (‘Pines’), and Populus (‘Poplars, Aspens, and Cottonwoods’).”

“Recent studies measuring how various plant assemblages impact wildlife populations view plants in novel ecosystems in terms of a native-nonnative (i.e., ‘exotic’, or ‘introduced’) dichotomy. Our analyses suggest that this approach is functionally simplistic: native plants, even within biomes, are not all equivalent in terms of their contributions of energy to food webs. Without recognizing the outsized effect of keystone plants on the energy flow through food webs, plant selection for landscape projects that is based only on commercial availability, aesthetic criteria, or dual use such as lumber or fruit production, will be unable to support the richness and diversity of species necessary for robust ecosystem function, even if selections are confined to native flora.”


Overriding the Supreme Court, the Congressional way.

Pandemic Notes

Back in April, we noticed the long white trucks parked down at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal. I guessed they were extra refrigerator trucks to be used as temporary morgues for the first surge of COVID-19 after similar trucks were reported at local hospitals.

That proved to be correct, unfortunately.

The trucks have been there since. I have thought this strange. Shouldn’t they have been sent elsewhere? Like Texas, for instance, where first prisoners and now National Guard troops are working with the overflow of bodies. After all, we in New York set a template for responding to the pandemic, however incompetently; we sacrificed a lot and became a warning lesson for the rest of the country. (A lesson wasted in many places.) Sending the trucks elsewhere seemed a good-citizen thing to do.

Or was NYC just holding on to them in case of another surge?

Yesterday, it was reported that the trucks are actually in use. There are some 650 bodies in them.

Stay Tuned

We’re having technically difficulties here at the ol’ blog factory. I think I’ve ran out of mega, or is it giga-, bytes. Again. Meaning I can’t add pictures.

But, have no fear, there’s a vast backcatalog to peruse. Index to the right.


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