Posts Tagged 'birds'

Raptor Wednesday

Other (?) Kestrels:This one swooped across our path in Green-Wood, shot across 5th Avenue and disappeared behind the buildings there. It soon emerged with prey in talon. House Sparrow, I guess.We know there are at least two males in the area, because we’ve seen them either together or simultaneously. This shot, from earlier this month, shows a male on the linden so popular back in November. For comparison’s sake, the above is a picture from November. Looks pretty similar, no? Certainly looks like he has less peachy-russet on the breast than our next door neighbor. (Of course, this is why they band birds; we can’t tell apart as well as the birds themselves can.)If I may assume for a moment: he likes this tree because it gives him an almost eye-level view of the upslope fence and bushes against the fence that always seem to harbor some House Sparrows. He made a sortie while I watched. I don’t recall seeing one of these little falcons on the ground before. He looks huge here, but of course isn’t.


A Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica)A line of sapsucker holes. About 3/4″ deep, through the bark.These holes are chiseled out by, in our parts, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius), who drinks the sugary sap and snaps up any insects also attracted to the sweet stuff.

Kestrel Check-In

Check.All these shots are from this week. The last two were on Thursday afternoon. I saw the female feed on small birds, presumably House Sparrows, twice within an hour. She’s packing in the food for egg-laying: remember, an American Kestrel egg represents 11% of the female’s body weight.For raptor friends, the scrape cam is on at 55 Water Street, where Peregrines have been nesting for years now. But now they have a new camera, in color for the first time. It’s like the 1960s! (This is a screen-shot, fyi.) I’ve been checking in around 6-7pm and have seen some mating, some eating, some moving of gravel, as human commuters hustle towards their ferries down below. Thursday, one was still visible at 9:30pm, presumably roosting the entire night. Riveting.

Even More Sharp-shinned

As I was preparing to head out the door last Sunday, the dawn of DST, I glanced out the window occasionally to see if the Kestrels would show up at the crack of dawn. They don’t set their clocks forward, after all. A bird whooshed into the London Plain across the street and hop-skipped-flew up to a perch, its back to me. The sun had not yet hit the tree. And it was not an American Kestrel. Here’s the female Kestrel in the tree later in the afternoon for comparison’s sake. It’s amazing that these birds are using the same tree to perch in.Dawn’s first arrival was a — if not, as I suspect, the — female Sharpie.By the time I got outside, the bird had flown, but as I descended the moraine towards 5th Avenue, I caught sight of her again. Now the sun was on her.What a difference the light makes in how she looks! (All these photo opportunities make me covetous of a camera with a real lens.)

Sharp-shinned Continued


Raptor Wednesday

Sharpie! The little Accipiter, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Accipiter striatus.This was the bird who did not like our male American Kestrel back in the middle of February.But it wasn’t all sortie after sortie.This is a juvenile female. The males are substantially smaller: on average just a midge smaller than an American Kestrel, in fact. The one time I saw a male close up (I was looking through a picture window) I was quite surprised how petit he was. Accipiters have some of the greatest sexual dimorphism in birds: females are generally larger in raptors, but for these forest hawks, the disparity is substantial. There’s actually some overlap in size between a female Sharp-shinned and a male Cooper’s. Some more on this classic field question.

This common name, “Sharp-shinned” isn’t in the least helpful unless you have a bird in hand. (And with those talons, look out!) The “striatus” in the binomial means streaked.

Thryothorus ludovicianus

A pair of Carolina Wrens were exploring a slope in Green-Wood.No crevice went unexplored in the search for insects, eggs, and cocoons..


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