Baby Kestrels All Over

The sound was like the alarm sounds the kestrels make when there’s a crow or hawk in the ‘hood, the high, fast, cycling sound, only it continued for a much longer period. I heard it consistently for half an hour, and on and off for a good two hours in total.

By the time I got outside it was about 6 a.m. Both birds were hovering above the roof of the block with the nest. I thought there might be a fledgling below them, but I couldn’t see the roof from the street.There was still at least one nestling in the cavity during this same Tuesday morning.But wait! Remember that nest from last year, on 5th Avenue in Park Slope? I’d seen no evidence of activity there this year, but I didn’t spend a lot of time looking (it’s awkward standing on a sidewalk looking up at the top floor of a building). But on this same Tuesday I walked by, and voila! At least two.

Meanwhile, back at #BrooklynKestrels HQ, there was plenty more noise, only I could see nothing. Where the devil were they? Ah-hah! Wednesday’s discoveries: there’s a very large Ailanthus in the backyard behind the nest and the young are taking shelter inside the canopy. The bird on the right is a fledged male. You can just see some of the downy fuzz still on his head. His tail, also, looks undeveloped, the feathers not fully out yet. He was very well behaved, though: many a fledged bird is very vocal about its needs, and it’s all need for young birds. That’s a female on the left working on some prey. His mother?Not a peep out of him. Leg-stretch, though.Thursday. There are three kestrels in this image, although two are hard to see. Male fledgling. Judging from that shortie tail, another fledgling, and this time female.And another female. I don’t see any downy here, but her chest pattern looks different from the mother, so I think she’s another fledgling.

At press time (blog-time), it looks like two females and two males have fledged. Stay tuned to your favorite kestrel station for more… tomorrow!

Blue On Blue

We Interrupt This Blog

I accidentally launched two blog posts yesterday morning. The times are out of joint.

So: here’s a break down of the lies perpetuated by the Republicans about their concentration camps for children. There were more than a dozen contradictory statements by Trump and officials in the last week, including my favorite from the Orange Shitstain about stopping the policy, “You can’t do it by Executive Order.”

While I was writing this Wednesday afternoon, there was a rumor that Secretary of Homeland Lying Nielsen was drafting an order to end a policy that she claimed, just days ago, didn’t exist. Late in the afternoon, Trump performed one of his Executive Order signings, supposedly ending separation. Children will now be imprisoned with their parents. No efforts will be made to reunite those already separated.

Whatever the immediate outcome, the intention of this white supremacist fascist barbarism is clear: cruelty, dehumanization, chaos, outright child abuse — and the stoking of the fear and loathing of the Trumpets, the depraved supporters of this regime. Some of whom, by the way, are already on record on insisting that the camps are actually faked (by the liberal media or aliens or something) and the kids are either photoshopped or “crisis actors.”

“Concentration camps” shouldn’t be too harsh a word: such camps were invented by Americans in Cuba during the Spanish American War and perfected by the Brits in the Boer War, half a century before the Nazis. Here’s the Britannica entry: “internment centre for political prisoners and members of national or minority groups who are confined for reasons of state security, exploitation, or punishment, usually by executive decree or military order. Persons are placed in such camps often on the basis of identification with a particular ethnic or political group rather than as individuals and without benefit either of indictment or fair trial.”

No images have been allowed out of these camps where girls are being held. The propaganda ministry is only showing boys 11 and and older: they want to portray them as potential teen members of MS-13 as part of their racist narrative.

Meanwhile, contractors and “non-profits” (with CEOs making huge salaries) rake in federal money as they profiteer on this horror.

Ever wonder where the killers and monsters come from — like in the “bloodlands” between Russia and Germany during WWII; like during Yugoslavia’s crack-up; like during the Rwanda genocide? — they come from within. Civilians just doing their job, just following orders, just enforcing the law.

This is Nielsen’s second national disgrace, and it has a similar whiff of ethnic cleansing to it. Her only notable previous achievement was being in charge Bush II’s disastrous response to Katrina. (After that she cashed in on the security state bonanza as an in-bred D.C. parasite.)

This morning, I understand that, among 293 minors transported to NYC (unbeknownst to the city) there’s a 9-month-old. Let me mix my totalitarianisms: it’s a kindergulag.
This shitstorm isn’t over. Resources and actions.

Glossy Ibis

The first time I saw a Glossy Ibis was in Jamaica Bay. I didn’t even know we even had ibis in the Americas. There are actually three species found in the U.S. The Glossy, Plegadis falcinellus, gets up as far as southern coastal Maine during the breeding season. The White-faced is a prairie states breeder and the White is a Florida native. An occasional White-faced or White will show up in these parts. This Glossy was on Staten Island recently.Doing a little bathing, a little foraging, in a small pond that looked like it would dry up by the deeps of summer.

Raptor Wednesday

It’s been a while since I’ve had a close encounter with any raptor other than my neighbors the #BrooklynKestrels. On Sunday I walked into this. A Red-tailed Hawk, who had probably bathed earlier and was now grooming, perched fairly low in a dogwood. And nobody was happy about it but me. A pair of Baltimore Orioles and a couple of American Robins were in the tree, too. The song birds chirped loudly and kept flying at the hawk, sometimes striking it on the back and tail and nape, hoping to drive it away. During breeding season, smaller birds will get very bold. (From the archives: non-breeding Blue Jays hitting a hawk on the head.) I don’t think these were more than glancing taps, though. The hawk was unmovable. It continued to groom. A House Sparrow landed in the tree, as did a trio of Common Grackles, but none of these tried to budge the hawk. I thought a Kingbird overhead might get in the brawl, but it just kept going.

It started before I got there and was still going on when I left half an hour later.

Bluets & Forktails

Azure Bluet (Enallagma aspersum) male.Familiar Bluet (Enallagma civile) male.
Familiar Bluet female, one of three color forms for this species. When odonating, you will quickly see that it’s males who patrol the water. Females are often munching away elsewhere, and come down to the water to pair up and lay their eggs in the wet stuff.Orange Bluet (Enallagma signatum) male and female.Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita) male.Eastern Forktail (Ischnura verticalis) male.And another: some definite photographic challenges with these living inch to inch-and-a-half long critters.

Be the Turtle You Want To Be

Snapping Turtle Chelydra serpentina. The females are making their way ashore now to lay eggs. Some will walk a long way, unfortunately attempting to cross roads, so keep an eye out if you’re driving.The clouds were turning on and off the sun.

I’d say this was a medium-large sized specimen. I’ve seen larger ones, true, but I’m not going to call this one small.


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