Posts Tagged 'birding'

For Want of a Tail

Geothlypis trichasA female Common Yellowthroat warbler (Geothlypis trichas) absent all her tail feathers. A small bird made even smaller. She may have lost them all at molt, although that’s usually a progression not a sudden loss. Or maybe a cat got her? Geothlypis trichasWhatever the case, she was doing fantastic work grabbing larvae and adult bugs, even a moth. Managed to fly out of the way of a yoga dude so in tune with the universe that he didn’t notice.

Magic Hour Bird & Feathers

Some bird identification challenges: img_9816A.) Spotted at distance about 45 minutes before sunset in Prospect Park two weeks ago.featherB.) A single feather found in Green-Wood.feathersC.) Also in Green-Wood sometime later, with quite a few others of its kind. Somebody was plucking.

Doves on the Roof, Aloft If Not Aloof

Zenaida macrouraOn a glass roof. A not bad illustration of the anisodactyl pattern, the three toes forward/one back arrangement of some bird feet. Passerines, the song birds, also known as perching birds, have this layout. The members of order Passeriformes make up half of all bird species. Doves, however, even with the same toe-pattern, are members of the order Columbiformes.

Meanwhile, the zygodactyl pattern, with two forward/two back, are seen in woodpeckers, parrots, owls, Osprey, and others. There are other layouts as well. Ostriches are unique in having only two toes.Felis catusWe were cat-sitting. The screened porch had a glass roof, a good containment pod for this invasive species. Cardinals, Robins, and Jays were some of the other avian life forms noted outside. A surprise was a quick visit by a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird, who was checking out the unopened red honeysuckle flowers.

Our close proximity to Prospect Park meant we saw Common Nighthawks over the Long Meadow about one hour before sunset on two nights: there were six overhead at once on Sunday.shadowAnd in the afternoons, the shadows of doves…

Wood Duck

Aix sponsaA female Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) through several layers of wild. There were at least seven on the Pools recently. Aix sponsaTwo of the males. All the males were out of their harlequin breeding feathers, in eclipse plumage, and looked like abashed clowns who had trashed an orphanage after wiping off the greasepaint.

It looks like this species is becoming a regular breeder in Prospect Park… if a couple of years can mean “regular.”

Color of Light

Agelaius phoeniceusSame Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus), same camera/settings, different light.Agelaius phoeniceus


IMG_9461This large wind vane on a building on Hanson Place and South Elliot is one of the delights of downtown Brooklyn. It is a sight rapidly being overshadowed by the generic glass towers rising rising around the neighborhood, which make the borough look like Anywheresville.

Three things:
1. This actually does move, which, for a roughly 5′-6′ arrow, is kind of impressive.
2. Why is it slightly bent?
3. I did not have my camera when a Peregrine Falcon, which had been flying around the tower of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, landed on the rooster.

Here is your correspondent–not, I trust, your corespondent–looking up on the way to a dinner party. peregrine1Keep your eyes on the sky!

SI Surprise

Haliaeetus leucocephalusThis time of year, one visits Mt. Loretto Unique Area, a NYS DEC property on Staten Island, for the rich plethora of summer plants and insects, with some good birds thrown into the mix.

But as soon as we got out of the car the other day, we noticed two big dark birds in the distance behind the church on the other side of Hylan Blvd. Vultures, right? (This made me think that I have not seen a lot of vultures this summer.) But but but… no. Not vultures: too brown, flapping too much, not holding their wings in that vulturine dihedral… wait a sec! Yes, eagles. A mature third bird, with white head and tail, definitely put the frosting on that cake. All three were briefly perched on the old brick chimney near the church. IMG_9367An Osprey mixed it up with them. Here it’s buzzing one of the young eagles. Primarily fish-eaters and scavengers, Bald Eagles are not averse to taking young Osprey right out of the nest.

You may recall that last year there was breaking news that Staten Island was hosting a Bald Eagle nest. That may have been somewhat premature; it seems as if the birds were just practicing nest-building.

The two dark birds now are subadult, but I’m not practiced enough to tell how old they are. It takes five years or so to get that full white head and tail. I don’t know if we’re looking at a nest that produced two youngsters this year, but it sure looks like it. Let me know if you know more details.

Haliaeetus leucocephalusLater in the afternoon, while we were watching young Common Terns begging for food on the beach, we saw the trio of eagles again. Some terns went after them, one on one, so much smaller than the eagles. We were close enough to see one of young eagles wheel to its side and flare its great claws, which are as big as human hands, at the fearless terns.

UPDATE 8/10: I’ve gotten some confirmation that these are two yearlings. Congratulations, Staten Island!


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