Posts Tagged 'Central Park'

Cyanocitta cristata

Blue Jay. Called by Linnaeus Corvus cristatus. Still a Corvidae.

In his five volume Ornithological Biography,* written to accompany The Birds of America, Audubon begins the Blue Jay section with “Reader, look at the plate in which are presented three individuals of this beautiful species, — rogues though they be, and thieves, as I would call them, were it fit for me to pass judgement on their actions.” (Friends, Romans, countrymen…)

*Lucy Audubon helped with the editing (JJ’s Franco-American orthography was iffy; he thee’d and thou’d all his life after learning English surrounded by Quakers), and Scotsman William MacGillivray acted as ornithological editor. MacGillivray’s Warbler (Geothlypis tolmiei), named in his honor, is a West Coast bird that resembles the Mourning Warbler (Geothlypis philadelphia) found (with difficulty) on this end of the country.

Lucy’s Warbler (Oreothlypis luciae), a Sonoran Desert speciality, is not named after Mrs. Audubon, although the 13-year-old Lucy Hunter Baird who inspired the name was herself named after Lucy Audubon. Her father, Spencer Fullerton Baird, was a great friend of the Audubons (JJ named Baird’s Sparrow after him; Coues named Baird’s Sandpiper after him). Lucy’s, the smallest warbler species, was named by J.G. Cooper, son of the William Cooper who was honored with the hawk. Charles Bonaparte named the hawk after Cooper, but Audubon thought he had priority for the naming of this species, calling it after Lord Stanley, so there was some bad blood over this. None spilled, of course… except for the hawks’. This digression could go on…
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Here’s a first draft of what articles of impeachment for Donald J. Trump could look like.

May Day

Some mammals for Monday and May Day.Did you ever wonder why they, and we, are called mammals? I have to admit I never did until last week.
Linnaeus came up with the term Mammalia in 1758, from the Latin mammae, meaning the breasts. This we all know. Yet everything else Linnaeus named is based on male characteristics. His botanical system, for instance, is based on the male sex parts of plants. So why not the hairy quadrupeds and bipeds with three ear bones, fur, four-chambered hearts, etc., too? Why not John Ray’s term Pilosa (hairy animals)? Or, sticking with the milk part, the Lactantia or Sugentia, both of which mean “the suckling ones”? Therein lies a tale which I’m writing for work. We shall return to this question.
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I like the return of May Day as a radical holiday. Get out there and smell the flowers while you act up.

Double-crested

 

Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus): in case you were wondering what the double-crests are. Breeding plumage.As fine an example as any of how optical enhancement can reveal the astonishing beauty of birds. Those eyes!

For anyone sliding into complacency, a perusal of Trump’s latest incoherence transcript will do the trick.

Naturalist Notes

Viola canadensis, a native violet.It was cool, so this Robin (Turdus migratorius) was hunkered down on those blue blue eggs.A Red Velvet Mite of the family Trombidiidae. Predators of the leaf-litter zone, as large as a blood-gorged tick and, being mite-y, rather looking like one.So many vocal White-Throated Sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis) in the Ramble!And a recent sunset.

Hmm

shorebirdThere are some interesting bird figures carved around the Bethesda Terrace in Central Park. Jacob Wrey Mould, an English architect (and linguistic and musician), who worked closely with Olmsted and Vaux, is responsible for these rather exotic creatures.heronWhat would you call them?

As with the Falconer, they’ve seen some serious damage, and the repair work is readily visible.

And speaking of damage, regrettably one of the major topics of the next four years, Trump’s Treasury Secretary nominee is Old Man Potter from It’s A Wonderful Life: a predatory lender.

Spiny Gall

gall2Witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is a good gall-tree. One species of aphid, Hormaphis hamamelidis, forces the tree to make cone-shaped galls on the leaves. The young aphid grows up inside this, protected from its enemies. Another species of aphid, the Spiny Witch Hazel Gall maker, Hamamelistes spinosus, makes the tree make these hard, spiny galls that come off of the twigs.gall1Ken Chaya, who identified these for us, cut a couple of them in half. A spider had taken up residence in one. Another had the white filaments of a cocoon within.
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Have to admit missing most of the White-tailed-Deer-in-Harlem story, for I have no interest in television news ratings-fodder. In response, Jason Munshi-South had a good editorial in the Daily News on the need for a sane policy on urban wild animals.

Central Park Flora

img_1757Recently, we got to join Regina Alvarez, Daniel Atha, and Ken Chaya for one of their Central Park flora expeditions. For three years, the trio have been searching for wild — that is, not planted by the park — plants in Central Park.img_1760Atha, who has travelled the world over collecting plants, uses an elegantly simple set-up for his plant press. Two boards, some newspaper sheets, and adjustable straps. The Waldo Tribune fits perfectly.img_1762This is a Rosa: full identification would come later. img_1763The trio have doubled the number of known grass species in the park, found some very rare Pumpkin Ashes, and cataloged a lot of exotica. The links above will give you more details of their adventures in wild and perhaps not so wild sown plants that make Central Park their home.
groundc2.JPG
For instance: Groundcherry (Physalis) or Tomatillo. In bloom in December. groundc1.jpg

A 20 Point Guide for Defending Democracy. (So many points, four long years.)


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