Posts Tagged 'birding'

Raptor Wednesday: Earth Day Edition

In April 1970, at the time of the first Earth Day, there weren’t many Bald Eagles to be found in the Lower 48. Your chance of seeing one over Brooklyn, of all places, was extremely unlikely. Practically fabulous. That they might breed within the city’s limits was an equally outlandish notion. Even before DDT brought them to the brink of extirpation regionally, persecutions had reduced the Bald Eagle population in New York state to almost nothing by the mid-1900s. There were no recorded births after 1955.
Who did the crows chase then?
Last week, I saw a young (still without the white head and tail) eagle over the Sylvan Water, looking like it was coming in to go fishing in the pond. An American Crow set off the alarm and went after the much bigger bird. The two birds swirled a bit before disappearing from my sight. But then, at least one more crow starting yelling. The sound didn’t diminish, as you would expect if they were all flying further away.
Because the eagle had landed. This is only the second time I’ve seen an eagle perched in Brooklyn.
Blue Jays joined the chorus, yelling more at the crows than the eagle, it seemed.
With more wingspan feet than most of us are tall, the bird flew off after a brief perch.
The inner eyelid or rnictitating membrane is closed in this view.
Opening in this view…

A young eagle had been spotted few times by other Green-Wood observers from the beginning of the month. One person got a photograph of the bird in a tree with a fish. The bird was banded, with a silver federal band on the bird’s right leg and one that looked blue on the left. Individual states band on the left leg; these are color-coded and easier to read from a distance. But I couldn’t see the characters on those pictures, put up on iNaturalist.

But last week, I was close enough to get pictures myself that I could read. The band is actually black. R over 7, I found out from the NYSDEC’s Tom Lake, editor of the Hudson River Almanac, was banded on May 11, 2018 in New Haven CT. That’s about 85 miles away via I-95. They can travel much further distances.

They have come a long way since the 1970s. Back then, a conservative Republican (and a terrible person) named Richard Nixon signed into law a slew of important conservation and environmental laws, all being dismantled by his ghastly heirs.

There was a single pair in the New York state in 1974, but they weren’t breeding. A recovery program began in 1976 with introductions/hackings and fostering of nestlings. The species was de-listed in 2007 at the federal level. Today, there are hundreds of breeding pairs in New York.
Earth Day remains a fight.

Raptor Wednesday

If you crossed Rear Window and The Birds
The local American Kestrels making more little falcons. Copulation lasts about ten seconds. Frequency seems to be key. They’ll do it multiple times a day, totaling hundreds of times over the pre-brooding period.


House Sparrows love these stop light support structures. Love them! There’s often a pair nesting in each end.
The male is keeping a very sharp eye on me.
A species hardly ever noticed. This is another male near the nest shown above. Here is another:
They’re awful sociable.

Leaves of Invertebrates

American Robin in the leaves.
Because that’s where the good stuff is.

Now, if this bird could turn over logs:


I can’t stomach watching the Orange Troll in action, but I forced myself to look at his sniffly Gollum-in-a-fright-wig performance last night. What a squandered opportunity, but who expected more after three years of his blustering ignorance, incompetence, and corruption? Word is that the nastiest thugs on his team, business-partner-of-assassins son-in-criminality Jared Kushner and Klan posterboy Stephen Miller, “wrote” that shit. Within an hour of his e-nun-ci-at-ing the address, the White House was walking back three of his pronouncements. More details on his Presidential errors.

By the way, the UK isn’t included in the European ban even though it has more cases than 8 other European nations. But Trump has properties in the UK, nowhere else in Europe. Your health and welfare are irrelevant to this dumpster fire. And these.

Next week, the epidemiologists predict, we hit Italian levels of infection. Here’s some background how Trump sabotaged our response efforts.

Raptor Wednesday

Cooper’s Hawk near the bird feeders. But, as you can see from that bulging crop, already full.
Juvenile. As this bird ages, the chest will transform into russet bars. The eyes get oranger and redder with age, too.
The bird was perched at eye-level about 20 feet off a path. After someone walked by, without spooking the bird, I cautiously walked down the path, too. A few more people passed me as I took photos, including one with a leashed dog. Coop don’t care — which is unusual, since Accipiters are fairly jumpy birds. But you know how digesting a big meal slows you down. And, of course, the park is packed with people, so the bird has probably spent a lot of time around us.


With much of the news entertainment corporations prostrate before Trump, and most Americans getting their information from little bursts of TV junk, it’s good to be reminded how fucking bonkers Trump is, and how his response to COVID-19 had been — and promises to continue to be — a disaster.

Also: Trump and his goons are trying to suppress a intelligence report that shows how the U.S. isn’t ready for a pandemic.

Weekend Birds

Two pairs of Wood Ducks on the Lullwater.
Male Belted Kingfisher above them. Have there been Kingfishers in both Green-Wood and Prospect all winter?
When the light hits a Common (ha!) Grackle just right, look out!
White-breasted Nuthatch.
Pied-bill Grebe.
Some Red-winged Blackbirds are back, and, more importantly, they are making noise.
Mallard and Ring-necked ducks on Sylvan in Green-Wood. Everybody else pictured here was in Prospect.
A trio of Golden-crowned Kinglets were withering and thithering.
Love the touch of red in their stripe of a crown. Impossible (?) to see with the naked eye.

Raptor Wednesday and Gratitude

A new year of Backyard and Beyond is nothing without you, dear readers. And photo-viewers (I know some of you don’t bother with the words)!
Male American Kestrel on the lookout.
And on the… Zorkanian death ray? Actually, it’s an antenna on a MTA building. Relic TV antennas still dot the rooftops here. I can see five from the raptor command post. Our urban Kestrels love them: perching, preening, eating, copulating on them.

Isn’t it amazing how corporate media has been so kind to Trump? Here’s analysis and fact-checking on his blithe ignorance about COVID-19. I don’t watch TV, so I don’t know how much of his naked stupidty is getting out there, but the incompetence of Trump corruption has never been more on display. His minions are prioritizing messaging, not health. 19 Dead in the U.S. so far (4:30pm EST Tuesday). He defunded the CDC. He shut the pandemic professionals out the NSC. He sent in unprotected workers to greet infected travelers. Until Monday, he had no idea that many people died annually from the regular flu and he wondered why the flu vaccine wouldn’t work against this novel coronavirus. Since Monday, he’s been publicly told four times that it will take more than a year to get a COVID-19 vaccine. He ran for office as an anti-vaxxer. Yesterday, he refused to allow moving images of an important briefing, only still photos. And the press continues to bow and scrape.


I was crouching down at Brant-height when the whole company of them were spooked by something. Their runway was in my direction. They took off not far above my head. One of the last to pass above dropped a very compact and intensely green turd, which bounced off my hat and landed in the grass. Thank heavens for winter!


The long campaign by the Right to return the courts to their traditional role as bulwarks of reaction is proceeding apace. There’s now a majority of five reactionary Republicans on the Supreme Court. At lower levels of the federal judiciary, there are all the young monsters the Federalist Society feeds to Trump and the undemocratic Senate. They’ll block even modest reforms, much less the truly necessary ones. The knife of the corporate-authoritarian-fundamentalists is at the throat of all our futures.

Consider this on reforming SCOTUS.

Ring-Billed, Ring-Eyed

Creature Comforts

Common Raven with grassy clump.

Doubtlessly to line a nest with.

On Twitter, I saw some photos from the Bronx, I think, that showed a Raven with a similar bill-full. Remember, the week before, these Brooklyn birds were carrying sticks.


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