Posts Tagged 'birding'

Kestrel Action

This silhouette: large-headed, full-bodied, longish tail. This is the local American Kestrel female. She’s larger and rounder than the male. The pair are mating now. They’ll do this multiple times a day. They can do it hundreds of time a breeding season.More falcon silhouette: long tail, arch of wings, nearly boomerang-like. She was moving from perch to perch in the northwest corner of Sunset Park. That is the famed car service antenna on 40th St. behind her, a Kestrel (and Merlin, Red-tail, crow, N. Mockingbird, Starling) perch behind her. Keeping a sharp lookout.

Spring Flies In

On Thursday, I saw two Phoebes in widely spaced parts of Green-Wood Cemetery. Clouds of insects were visible, too, so we know what these fly-catchers were hunting. The next day, when the temperature got close to 70, reports of Pine Warblers, usually the first warbler species of the year, came in from the cemetery as well. American Woodcock are crashing into the city, too, although I’ve yet to see one. This big fly was out and about, too.

Kestrel Renewal

Well, here they are, kitty-corner from last year’s cornice nest. Have seen no mating as yet, but that sure doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any. Picture above from March 5th.

On Thursday, March 14th, at about 5:30pm, the same set up: both on the chimney pot after she flew there from a nearby roof pipe. Much vocalization from both.

Yesterday, Friday, around 9:15am. Heard first, as if often the case (can’t look out the windows every minute…). The male was stirring up a trio of Blue Jays. He held his own, didn’t budge. The female showed up. She perched on one pipe of a neighboring building, flew to a another pipe on the other side of the same building, and hey! She had prey. Which she clearly cached up there on the roof. Because she dipped down out of sight behind the parapet and reappeared to perch on the pipe on the other side of the building again. (These three photos of her are in sequence). We call this the Solar Building because its roof is filled with solar panels. Last year, it was a definite food-caching site. Presumably the falcons are stashing prey under the panels, where it can’t be seen from overhead.About 2:30pm yesterday, the female was seen eating on the solar bldg. She plucked and snarfed down what looked like a sparrow, the same thing she had up there earlier in the day. At one point, she dropped down to pick up a scrape she dropped. Not wasting anything but the feathers. She’s got to put on lots of weight for egg-making.

A big change from last year’s #BrooklynKestrels story is that the upright dead limb of the London plane tree across the street is no more. It was a regular perch for the falcons. It came down in a snowstorm this past November. Also this year, there’s no sidewalk shed around around our building: this hosted several House Sparrow nests last year, which probably meant the population of this Kestrel prey species was enriched.

One of the Staten Island Ferry’s big orange boats in the background. That’s Upper NY Bay, with the southern end of Ellis Island just visible to the right of the ferry.

Raptor Wednesday

A young Red-tailed launches into the air in pursuit of… a Canada Goose? No, really? Yes, really. There were a dozen geese herding up the hill above Crescent Water in Green-Wood. The hawk raised a gaggle and disappeared from my sight. Then it flew back to this tree, making another pass of the geese as it did so. After this, the hawk gave up on that idea, and flew the other way towards a trio of holly trees brimming with fruit and a big flock of American Robins. Suddenly there are two Red-tailed Hawks coming out of those hollies! The birds made more passes at the Robins, and the Geese. Nobody got caught while I was watching, but it wasn’t for lack of effort.The ponds at Crescent-Dell are now brimming with bird-feeders, so there are song birds all over. RTHs general hunt mammals, but they will eat whatever they can catch. Only, being so big, they are not the most agile or subtle of hunters, like falcons or Accipiters, who are more commonly bird-eaters.This RT was eyeballing one of the feeders. About this time, I noticed an adult RT perched above the Dell Water. Before it was all over, I counted three individual juvenile RTs perched above the Crescent Water as an adult circled overhead.

Hatchin’ Still

We began the winter with White-breasted Nuthatches, and as we near the end of it… three of them were working over this old horse chestnut, whispering amongst themselves. This one kept finding tidbits in this tree cave. On an hour’s walk in very chilly Green-Wood recently, I came across around a dozen of these nuthatches, a count surpassed only by the number of Canada Geese.
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I have a poem in the Winter 2019 issue of Clapper Rail, the magazine of the Brooklyn Bird Club. It’s about a bird.

Raptor Wednesday

A ruckus of Blue Jays, then something large swoops up to land on a branch in the woods. A hawk! But it’s not the expected Red-tailed (Buteo jamaicensis) — one of which was seen just minutes beforehand in the air. This bird calls in a distinctive kee-yar, kee yar! It’s a young Red-Shouldered (Buteo lineatus). (No red shoulders and front until it ages a bit). It flies again, to land surprisingly near the road and a better photographic opportunity, if I can hustle up there subtly enough.This is a juvenile. While Buteo birds share some similarities when young, the Red-shouldered has a pretty distinctive bill: pale blue base, black tip, yellow cere.

I don’t see these often.
Here are few from the archives: a mature bird at Croton Point.
They are pretty distinctive in flight.Now, compare with this:Here’s a young Red-tailed Hawk, in much more sun.

Mammal Monday

Wait, what?This gruesome sight greeted me recently not very far from where a roosting Great Horned Owl was being yelled at by Blue Jays. Suspicion isn’t evidence, but caching of prey is something these big owls do. Especially in nesting season. The male has to hunt more than usual since the female spends so much time on the nest; these birds are some of the earliest to nest and they have to be vigilant about keeping the eggs warm in late winter.

A couple of sources note that the owls will sit on frozen prey to thaw it out.

Red-tailed Hawks will also cache food. So will American Kestrels. I’m sure many other species do, too, but these are the ones I’ve seen do it. And I don’t know if there’s more than one Great Horned Owl here.


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