NOGO-A-GoGo

There’s a system of four letter codes birding banders/ringers use to identify bird species. It’s usually made up of the first two letters of the bird’s common name, which is frequently two words long. Thus NOrthern GOshawk is NOGO. Just what you needed, right? Three things to call ’em: a common name, a scientific binomial (in this case: Accipiter gentilis, the noble hawk) and a particularly “in” code. NOGO baby!

Anyhow, a young Goshawk was seen last month in Prospect Park. Then it was seen again, and again. And again! Goshawks are the rarest of the three Accipiter species in the Northeast. The female can be as large as a Red-tailed Hawk. They are rare even in their boreal and mountain ranges. They are extremely rare inside the city.

The adults are quite distinctive, but this one is a youngster. First year birds look somewhat like a juvenile Cooper’s, only on steroids.I went into the park in the very late afternoon. There was something in that tree! Well, it wasn’t the Goshawk because this bird was an adult Accipiter — the russet barring, the red eyes — a Cooper’s Hawk. Carry on. Several other birders were loitering below the previous evening’s Gos perch. One of them had startled a Woodcock earlier. Very startle-able, Woodcocks. But the vigil was for naught, unless you count the rising moon, which was very nearly full. And I do, I do!

A fat moon rises
As we wait for a Goshawk
In leftover snow.

A call went up. There! But that relatively short tail… it was a Red-tailed Hawk. Nearly two hours later, the Cooper’s was in the same tree. Had it been there the whole time? It flew off right after sunset. The Red-tailed Hawk flew by soon, too, in the same general direction. They both looked like they were leaving the park. To roost in somebody’s back yard?

The Robins and Cardinals were singing their sunset hearts out.

Oh, wait, that NOGO? No go.

Twilight’s roaring birds
Are enough to keep me warm
After the snowstorm.
A wanderer does not care
If he sees the Snow Leopard.

But one keeps going into the mountains anyway. Three, four, five times, and then… stay tuned.

2 Responses to “NOGO-A-GoGo”


  1. 1 Susan March 19, 2017 at 10:46 am

    Continue sharing your wonderful adventures Matthew


  1. 1 Accipiter gentilis I | Backyard and Beyond Trackback on March 27, 2017 at 7:02 am

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