Posts Tagged 'birding'

Raptor Wednesday

Brooklyn’s airspace can be crowded. On Raven Day, the subject of my last two posts, I watched a Red-tail Hawk and Common Raven chase each other. Another Red-tail joined the fray, but didn’t stay long. Sometimes the R chased the RT, sometimes the RT chased the R.Both birds were quite vocal: hoarse guttural calls from the raven, higher-pitched screeches from the hawk. The Raven really let go with the calls when the hawk was perched.
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Marilynn Robison has an extraordinary essay in the June Harper’s on the necessity, for the wealthy, of poverty. “What really matters here is how people are valued; they are not valued sufficiently to sustain democracy.”

Speaking of democracy, there will be a rally for biodiversity at NYC City Hall this morning at 10. Organizers want the City Council to pass a resolution in support of a UN biodiversity agreement and to take action on local conservation issues.

More Ravens!

Books have been written by the intelligence and culture of ravens. It’s extraordinary to be near these largest of the songbirds, listening to their hoarse chatter. They’ve certainly figured out how to live in urban areas. There’s both the wild, in this case duck eggs, and the domestic, in this case chicken eggs from Costco. After the end of the persecution that forced them into remote fastnesses, they’ve re-bounded, and expanded into non-traditional habitat. The first Common Raven nest sighting I know about in NYC was in Queens. On January 1st, 2015, a pair were cavorting down at the end of 39th Street here in Brooklyn (past the fence, it’s all bay until New Jersey), where I was ecstatic to see them.
The Sunset Park/Green-Wood corridor has been a raven runway since. In 2016, I saw a family of five from my windows. Yes, this one broke off this twig. Experiment/play. All the pictures here are from the encounter last week with a family of six

A.C. Bent, for instance, notes that they are to be found where “they are least likely to be disturbed.” He never met these city-slickers.

Recent Birds

Spotted Sandpiper. A few have been working their way around the edges of the ponds in Green-Wood.Black-throated Blue Warbler.Eastern Kingbird.Hooded Warbler female.Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Female, much plainer than the showy male.Most of our migrants are insectivores, but these big-beaks are seed-crushers.
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George Boorujy’s Gang of Warblers is now available as a print. Very reasonably priced, and buying will benefit the continuation of the Audubon Mural Project.

Red-headed Excavations

This Red-headed Woodpecker kept going in head-first and emerging tail-first to toss wood scraps away. This was in Virginia. It’s unusual to see one of these in NYC, although sometimes juveniles will show up — they don’t have the flag-like color blocking. During the winter of ’13-’14, a juvenile spent the winter in Green-Wood and by April was showing some adult plumage.So these Virginia examples are the first I’ve seen in full adult plumage. Wish I was closer…

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Under the corrupt maggotry of Trump, the fundamentalists are running riot. The extraordinarily punitive anti-woman legislation in Georgia, Ohio, and now Alabama, and the salting of the federal judiciary from SCOTUS on down with radical reactionaries, suggests it’s likely Roe will be a thing of the past in some states. Here is a primer on how to protect yourself when abortion is illegal. Support the National Network of Abortion Funds.

Don’t forget, all birth control is on the Republiban (Republican-taliban) hit-list. Yet maternal health and infant mortality, curiously enough, are not on the GOP agenda. The states with the strictest anti-abortion laws have the worst infant mortality rates. From supporting the death penalty to pouring out more pollution, from supporting for-profit medicine to arguing that dead school kids are the price we must pay for the “rights” of gun manufacturers and lunatic gun nuts, the “pro-life” crowd is anything but.

Raptor Wednesday

An Osprey circled over Sylvan Water looking for sign of fish below. Sylvan Water, haunt of, at various times, cormorants, kingfishers, and herons, was not producing breakfast for this huge raptor.Note the toes, swept back under the tail. When these birds dive, they move their feet forward to strike and grasp their fishy prey.
Shallow water hunters, they don’t go into the water deeply, although you may occasionally see one dunking.
They eat live fish almost exclusively, but as with almost everything you read about birds, there are exceptions. They have sometimes been observed eating carrion (fish, mammal, reptile…).

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A one-two punch on Trump’s continuing assault on democracy and the Republican betrayal of America:

1. The Mueller Report’s clear presentation of Trump, Trump Jr., and the Trump campaign alliance’s with Russians, and the obstruction of justice thereafter.

2. The militarization of civilian politics and the making of the immigration-gestapo ICE, “a loyal official militia.” (That is spying on us, of course.) By the way, did you know Border Patrol was once run by white supremacists?

A Behavioral Note

There are no points for brains when it comes to testosterone. During breeding season, some male birds repeatedly attack their own reflections. They think the reflections are other males. I’ve seen a Rudy-crowned kinglet go after himself in a highly reflective sculpture.Towhees are known for it this, too. This one did it to a line of half a dozen parked cars. This bird was probably nesting or wanting to nest nearby and so wanted all the rest of the Towhees out of the way. Interestingly, he repeatedly flew in from the front end of the vehicles, one after another. The mirrors are pointed backwards, of course, so the bird must have known that it would find “other” birds there. He was particularly obsessed with our car, which had its rear-view mirrors turned inward for parking, NYC-style. There was’t much space in there, and the reflection was pointed inward, yet again and again he flew into the gap.It was hard to get a perch on this weird, shiny, blue towhee…This amok-time is brief, thankfully, since it can be dangerous for the bird. Some things to do about it.

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And another milestone: on May 11th, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere went about 415 ppm for the first time in human history. “Human history” here is not just the few thousand years of written history, it is the history of Homo sapiens. Human beings didn’t exist the last time there was this much CO2 blanketing the planet.

Recent Birds

Look who’s already hatched here in Brooklyn, while birds like Baltimore Orioles have only just begun to build their nests. We have baby falcons at 55 Water St., too. Future eaters of Robins? Ah, well, everybody’s got to make a living.Most warblers keep moving on through to nest further north, but some like the Yellow will nest within NYC. This one has that favorite of warbler morsels, a caterpillar. Wood Thrush, another NYC nester.We stared at each other for a couple of minutes, which is a long time for songbirds/humans.Savanah Sparrow.Hooded Warbler.Ovenbird.

Northern Rough-winged Swallow. Not a bird you see everyday. Seeing it groom is even less of an occurrence. What a view of that sharp line between dusky belly and white vent. That’s a good “tell” in the field.


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