Posts Tagged 'Bronx'

Raptor Wednesday

A Red-tail miscellany.On this day, there were three at the same time; a pair of perched adults and an airborne yearling.Here’s a pair on an overcast day. Note that fist.When the light is right, and the bird is over a year old, then there’s no mistaking a Red-tailed Hawk on the east coast even at some distance. That’s some red tail.January, by the way, is not too early for these big birds to be courting.

While we’re on the subject of small birds

This Golden-crowned Kinglet, spotted just over a month ago in the Bronx, seems to have escaped notice in the photo file until now. So, have at it! And this. Same day, same place. I think it’s a “wild” House Sparrow nest, but will certainly entertain alternative theories. When they do nest out in the open, House Sparrows weave great, confused balls of material. If you examine the nooks and crannies they usually colonize, you’ll find them stuffed with nesting material a la a hoarder. When we had a sidewalk shed up around the two sides of our corner building for most of last year, there were at least three H.S. nests in-between the I-beams holding up the elevated platform.Slate-colored Dark-eyed Juncos: female in foreground focus, male in background blur.

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A noteworthy examination of how historic populism has been perverted into an excuse for Trumpism.

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.”

Red What?

The red head of the Red-bellied Woodpecker is a bold flag in winter. But it’s not the “Red-headed Woodpecker” because that name goes to another species, which has an entirely red head as an adult, not just this mohawk-like swath of color. This is a male, the color going from the nape to the bill. The female of Melanerpes carolinus doesn’t have red on the very top of the head. The nominal belly is rather more subtle. Here’s a glimpse.

By the way, that’s a sweetgum tree, a good place to look for birds in winter. Those death-star seed pods are loaded with small seeds.

Chickadee-dee-dee

An energetic Black-capped Chickadee barely pausing in action recently.Poecile atricapillus.One Christmas Bird Count a few years back, not a single one was sighted in Brooklyn. These birds are so familiar, especially at bird feeders, that their absence was disconcerting. Thirty-four were counted at this year’s Brooklyn (Kings Co.) CBC. (This one was, however, spotted in the Bronx.)

Date Plum

Diospyros lotus is in the ebony family of plants. The bark is very similar to its genus mate, Diospyros virginiana, the American persimmon. As are the calyces. The subject of today’s post is the date plum or Caucasian persimmon, which is native to a swath of territory from Spain to southwest Asia. Diospyros, the genus name, is Greek for god’s fruit.

“What journal do the persimmon and the buckeye keep, and the sharp-shinned hawk?” ~ Henry Thoreau

Beechdrops

Beechdrops or Epifagus virginiana is a parasitic herbaceous plant. It doesn’t have chlorophyll. The plant taps into the roots of a beech to siphon off sustenance.
Epifagus means “upon beech.” This is a winter view: these stalks will persist through the season. The small summer flowers are white and purple; they are evidently pollinated by ants. Although termed parasitic, the plants are not harmful to their beech tree hosts.


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