Posts Tagged 'birding'

Raptor Wednesday

Summer is quiet when it comes to raptors, unless you have American Kestrels breeding down the street.But now fall is in the air. This Red-tailed hawk perched on a #BrooklynKestrel landmark recently. One of the local falcons, now days generally heard more than seen, was not happy about it. The kestrel’s alarms calls got me to look outside.
Coast Guard ship in the harbor beyond.
Another day, another RT or the same one? This building is just to the left of the one with the chimney pot. Someone’s observation on iNaturalist pictured one just down the street from here yesterday.
This one dropped down to the roof here three times from various perches around. Came up with nothing. What was the attraction?
Balancing on one leg is not unusual, but usually the bird will bring the other leg up into the breast. Here it just hangs down. It’s raptor contrapposto!

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Something I wrote on the origins of the general strike.

BioBlitz Notes

Birds are hard to capture with phone cameras, the standard way people enter information on iNaturalist. I led two bird groups of Macualay Honors College students on the BioBlitz Saturday. This is the only picture of a bird I put into iNaturalist. We tallied birds seen the old fashioned way, with paper and pencil.

Macaulay the honors program at CUNY. They do a BioBlitz every year for their sophomores. This started in 2012 when the in-coming dean, a primatologist, was dismayed to see the one science course sparsely attended. A BioBlitz is a survey of lifeforms over a specific time-span. Every year the blitz has been in a different location in the city. Up to five hundred students take part. The data they help collect is used throughout the year in their classes. Here’s what we found.

This year they divided the blitz between Green-Wood and the Gowanus Canal area. In one of these things, volunteers, or in this case students, accompany educators, naturalists, etc., to search and record. You’ve seen some of the moths I photographed during the night component; there was another moth unit and a bat team that night as well.

The students were not particularly familiar with the common birds, although they all knew what a pigeon was. We had good views of a Great Blue Heron and Red-tailed Hawks, both the perching one pictured and another flying a few minutes earlier. There were lots of warblers out and about, especially American Redstarts. A northeast wind bought a fallout of migrants to town. Following these through binoculars takes some practice. The sight of a Belted Kingfisher bought a real smile of joy to the face of one young woman, an Indian-American — a dozen species of kingfishers are found in India.

My 3pm group was a quartet of the most insect-phobic humans I’ve ever seen. They were terrified of flying things, doused themselves in citronella, and one even jumped away when I pulled a cicada exuvia off a tree. It wasn’t a surprise: knowing how jumpy they were, I announced that it was coming — a hollowed out exoskeleton, lifeless, harmless — but no matter. (I was nervous around bees until after graduate school, so there is hope.)
While looking for birds, the motion of large dragonfly can easily catch the eye. This looks like a Shadow Darner, a species I’ve never seen in Brooklyn before.
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On the absolute necessity of cities for biodiversity.

Raptor Wednesday

First off: we’ve had near daily American Kestrel sightings or hearings here at the H.Q. But today’s specimen sightings come from Green-Wood Cemetery.
A female atop what may be the largest obelisk in a cemetery full of them. (Curious how Christians went in for this paganism in Victorian times.)
Now here’s a male atop the flanking towers of the 25th St. gate.
What was most interesting here was that this bird flew into the Monk Parakeet colony’s nest.
He flew out soon enough, but then he flew to another entry, and perched there momentarily. Then he went into the nest.
Some five or so minutes later, he emerged to sit and look out for a spell. Then he went back inside.

Middle of the day. Parakeets yelling their heads off, as they are wont to do most of the time but particularly when there’s a threat about. The parakeets remained unseen during this time, so presumably they were hollering from inside what I presume is a multiple cavity nest/colony.

What was going on here amongst these long-lost cousins? (Falcons have been found to be more genetically related to parrots than they are to other raptors.) Predation? Monks Ps are only a little smaller than American Kestrels. Seems like challenging meal and a fight against a society, the parakeets being such colonial critters. Nest raiding? In late August? Scouting out a nocturnal nook? Amidst the loudest birds around?

Thoughts?

Catbird

Migrating, breeding, molting, migrating. While Gray Catbirds are resident year around along the Atlantic Coast up into Massachusetts, the vast majority leave NYC and head south come the fall.
Before that, they molt into their basic, non-breeding plumage. This one in Prospect Park is in the midst of shaking out the old and growing in the new.
Really wanted a photo of the bird’s cinnamon vent — it’s secret underside, if you will — but that didn’t happen. In the first and second pictures, you can just see one of those underside feathers.
You have to search hard to see one of these during the winter here, but then comes that day in the spring and suddenly they’re everywhere, mewing and squawking.

An Ecosystem

On Monday, we started with cicadas. I’ve been trying to get a photo of a Cicada-killer Wasp with her six mitts on a cicada. Thrice now laden-wasps have zipped by me, white underside of their prey visible, but I haven’t been quick enough with the camera. ONce they land, the wasps are quite quick into their nests.
And here’s why, maybe. A Northern Mockingbird beat me to the scene! Almost as soon as the wasp landed her prey at her nest, this bird flew in and grabbed it.
Flying off to a nearby tree, the bird then proceeded to break the bank, or smash the exoskeleton of the cicada. There was much jabbing to get to the meat within.
The bird ate most of this morsel.
And took the rest to this one’s sibling, who was further up in the tree and unseen. But not unheard.

A Bigger Cowbird

I don’t know if this is one of the Brown-headed Cowbird chicks I saw in the last couple of weeks.

If not, it would be the third one I’ve sighted this summer. I’d never seen one before this summer.
As in the other cases, I heard this youngster calling for food before seeing it or its host Chipping Sparrow surrogate parent (who is glimpsed in the background of these shots).

Raptor Wednesday

There is no mistaking a mature Red-tailed Hawk, at least in this part of the country. And there is no mistaking the sounds of song birds upset by the presence of such a hulking predator. Four Northern Mockingbirds were fidgeting in this tree around the hawk. On a nearby obelisk — cemeteries! — a Chipping Sparrow was raising the alarm, too.


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