This black bee was a real brawler, tackling each flower like a linebacker, rolling up and over the flower parts until it was upside-down.
Note the long opera-glove-like sleeves of pollen on the hind legs. These legs have more hair than the other two sets, and these pollen packs are rather larger than you see on most bees who do this (leaf cutter bees, for another example, store pollen on the underside of their abdomen); this and the antenna helped me identify this one. Two-spotted Long-horned Bee, Melissodes bimaculatus. It is supposed to be common in the east, but I think this is the first time I’ve seen/identified one. This is one of the solitary bee species, not social like the non-native honeybees or partially social like some bumblebees.
Over two hundred species of bees have been found in NYC, but honeybees and several species of bumblebees are the most commonly recognized. Yet when you look closer, there’s so much more going on. This one was all over the flowers outside my apartment building.
A local bee motel. There was a wasp checking in, to. This is a rather elaborate one, offering several possibilities for wood- and cavity- nesters. (But don’t forget the ground-nesters!)
The Xerces Society has some helpful hints on building your own to encourage pollinators.
A Carpenter bee (Xylocopa) in the wood of a Parks Department sign at Inwood Hill.
At top, there are holes for birds at both gable ends, and House Sparrows, of course, have moved in.
Spotted my first Honey Bee of the year on the sidewalk by the bus stop, on the sunny side of the street. (Shadow provided by me for better definition in the photo.)
Crocuses are out and willows have cracked open their buds to reveal the fur within. You don’t need a Farmer’s Almanac to tell it’s an early spring.
On a blooming goldenrod, the only visible flower around, a single bumblebee. It was warm enough yesterday for invertebrates, but they have damn few places to feed. This bee did seem a little sluggish, but it was roused by the proximity of my phone camera, and buzzed a short distance away, and then returned as soon as I retreated. (But what are those running down the wire fence, eggs?) This wasp, too, was moving slowly, practically crawling along the sidewalk.
But here was something moving swiftly: a small bird being chased by a Common Raven. At first, I thought it must be a Kestrel, a species I’ve seen go after much bigger birds over its territory; sometimes the tables are turned and the larger bird chases away the little falcon. But binoculars revealed the bird here to be a pigeon. And a second raven joined in the chase. (This must be the pair I’ve seen here since the beginning of the year.) I’ve never seen ravens go after prey before; generally, they are scavengers and carrion-eaters. The chase was dramatic enough to stop a soccer game as the players watched the aerial acrobatics. The pigeon shot into an open-air staircase in the old warehouse, and the ravens followed it in, as if they were all flying into tunnel. After a few minutes, no more than five, the ravens emerged. Had they caught and eaten the bird in that time? Was it squab for Thanksgiving? That didn’t seem like enough time, but then I don’t know how ravens would eat a fresh bird. Raptors pluck away feathers with their down-curved bills and then rip up pieces of flesh with same, but ravens don’t have such bills. Well, whatever happened in there, it was thrilling as always to see these huge corvids, toughing it out in a non-traditional landscape.