Posts Tagged 'birds'



Raptor Wednesday

We interrupt our week of small birds with an eater of small birds: a Merlin. In this case, though, this small falcon was being harried by Blue Jays.Which meant lots of noise, almost all of it from the screeching jays.

Red-breasted Nuthatch Day

Very determined is this bird. The typical procedure is to score a seed from some thick evergreen, fly it to a nearby deciduous tree with ample branches and gnarly bark, and attack!Then repeat.But you know what else is important?Water.Happy New Year.

Red-breasted Nuthatch Eve

If you look closely and follow a line extending from the sharp bill of this Red-breasted Nuthatch, you’ll see a dark round seed, just a tad larger than the bird’s eye, hatched into a crevice of bark.Whack goes the chisel-bill!

Raptor Us

As I turned the corner onto 41st Street across from the park, preparing for the hike up the moraine, I noticed a big bird take off from the slope above the park’s retaining wall. It was a Red-tailed Hawk, of course, and it landed in a London plane tree anchored in the sidewalk. Crossing the street to stand beside the tree’s bole was but a moment’s work for me. The hawk paid no heed to my efforts, nor to three other bipeds passing below. Instead, it swallowed some food in just a few bites. No feathers flew, so perhaps it was a small mammal. The bird was about 15 feet away from me. That’s some FID — flight initiation distance to the ornithologists, a mark of habituation to humans. In fact, the bird hopped down to a lower branch that was even closer to me. It was one of my closest encounters ever with these big raptors, an almost daily sight here in Brooklyn. I’ve been reading Urban Raptors: Ecology and Conservation of Birds of Prey in Cities (edited by Boal & Dykstra). Neither Red-tailed Hawks nor American Kestrels, the most common nesting raptors in NYC, rate their own chapter, but there are lessons to be extrapolated. Adaptability, dietary catholicism, ability to withstand human presence (now, that’s an achievement).

Like for instances:
Last weekend, a young Bald Eagle sailed over the block and down towards the avenue. It was below eye-level for us here on the 4th floor atop the Harbor Hill Moraine. What a thrill! Yesterday, an adult was high overhead Green-Wood. That’s three sightings of at least two different eagles this month within a mile of home.Here’s a shot for ID purposes only, taken through a moon roof. This is a Merlin atop this regular American Kestrel perch one avenue (long) block from home.This antenna, five blocks away, is a more infrequent American Kestrel perch, but only because I don’t pass it all that frequently.A pair of Peregrines. They’ve been seen up here almost every day for months now. This morning: one was there when I first looked at 7:09am;  both there at 7:18am. Only crappy weather keeps them elsewhere. Another Peregrine, in the Bronx this time.And another Red-tailed Hawk, also in the Bronx.

Stay tuned for more raptors in the New Year. I already have the whole month planned for “Raptor Wednesdays.”

Sap Sucker II

Back to this… birch?This time — and it was the same time as yesterday’s Tufted Titmouse, give or take a minute — a White-breasted Nuthatch is partaking of the sapsucker holes.In Green-Wood Cemetery at this time of year, you can go a good distance without seeing any birds. But when you come across them, the otherwise lack of activity gives you ample opportunity to just observe. And listen, of course. As to the nattering nabobs of nuthatches, for instance, a sound nearly omnipresent this winter.
Update: see below for notes about IDing this tree as a Betula nigra.
***

Meanwhile, two years into the Republican assault on life.

Sap Sucker I

Whatever this tree is, it had been roundly tapped by Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers over the years.And the little wells of sap attract others.
For instance:Here’s a Tufted Titmouse in early December. Check out those tiny toes getting footholds in the bark, in the sap holes.
Tomorrow: another visitor at the same time.

Raptor Wednesday

This Red-tailed Hawk sailed past me to land further up a slope in Green-Wood. Had it captured something? As you probably know, most raptor strikes come up empty. But not this time. Was it a thrush?This perch in a pine seemed to be an even better butcher’s block. (It gets gory from here).Visceral even.And within four minutes…It was all done.


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