Posts Tagged 'Green-Wood'

Raptor Wednesday

Red-tailed Hawks are the Old Faithful of NYC raptors. I see them regularly from my windows, passing parallel to the moraine or swirling over the flatlands below. This was one of two in the same tree in Green-Wood recently. Mating and nesting season is a “go”!Here’s a Prospect Park pair, moments after mating. Note the difference in belly plumage: individual Red-tails have a lot of unique characteristics (all birds do, but it’s much easier to see on the larger specimens). Female left, male right. He’s also a little smaller. The birds had been perched about a 100 yards apart, looking in opposite directions. The female flew to a tree near the male and started to make the noises that must mean, “hey sailor!” because he flew right over. Bird copulation is quite brief for most species, a few seconds long; they may mate multiple times during the day, though, and dozens if not hundreds of times during before brooding.

So, to recap:

The President of the United States and members of his administration and current and former associates are under investigation by the FBI for collusion with Russia.

The Russians are sitting on the information hacked from the RNC.

There is no basis for the President’s wild claims that President Obama put a “tapp” on his phones. And, true-to-form, Trump is double-downing in support of his reckless lie, red-meat to his sociopathic fans.

Meanwhile, the GOP’s horrendous Stripping of Health Care from Americans Act has actually made a couple dozen Republican reps nervous. Go get ’em.

Scolopax minor

The first of three American Woodcocks seen on the Brooklyn Bird Club’s Woodcock walk in Green-Wood last weekend.Same bird from the other side. A dozen people walk by stealthily…. The sun came out. But it’s at dusk that these non-shore shorebirds do their magic. The males begin to vocalize repeatedly with a peent/beent call. Then they fly into the air, to descend with a twittering made by their wings. The ladies are impressed by these displays. The whole song and dance can barely be seen in the gloaming, but it can be heard, and we shall listen Sunday night (rain-checked from the original schedule).This one was just about two feet away from the one above, but harder to see. The leaf had just blown onto the bird’s bill before I snapped this. Since then, we had a storm, and in the last couple of days dozens of these birds have been spotted around the city. They’ve no place to hide. Just goes to show you how many of them are here, and how well hidden they usually are. But, exposed to predators like the city’s plague of feral cats, and food hard to get to in the frozen ground (they use those long bills to probe the soil), this unveiling can’t be good for them.

Great Blue & the Democracy of the Heart

Lo and behold, on a recent day I scanned the little islet in the midst of the Sylvan Water and found this Great Blue Heron. Had the bird stuck around all winter? (We’ve have very few days with frozen water). I did see a GBH sail across the Sunset Park plain back in January, heading for the harbor or beyond.

This is particularly compelling: the notion of “cognitive elite” and the political uses of calling your enemies stupid. I have definitely committed that sin.


Gymnocladus dioicusVariation on a Kentucky Coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus) pod.

“Listen to them! The children of the night. What music they make.” Ok, Bela Lugosi’s Count D is talking about the Transylvanian wolves, but Brooklyn has some interesting early spring night musicians, too. Join me on a Brooklyn Brainery expedition to the edges of the borough to listen for spring peepers, choral frogs, and American Woodcock doing their mating flights on the 18th. It will be cold and dark and we will be depending on our ears more than our our eyes, for a change.

Of a feather

featherHave you been keeping up with the our ever-expanding knowledge of bird evolution? The linked summary is a good place to catch up on these fascinating discoveries and hypotheses. The findings have been, uh… flying off the fossil beds in recent years and they have turned over old certainties.

The barred pattern on the feather pictured, found recently in Green-Wood all by itself, is characteristics of most raptors and owls. That certainly reduces the possibilities. I think it might be from a Red-tailed Hawk but I’m not ruling out an Accipiter.

Such raptors, at the top of the food chain, are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning. And Trump’s Interior Secretary’s first official act this week, after he dismounted from his horse? Undoing the ban on lead ammunition and fishing tackle in our national wildlife refugees. Against all the science and reason, Zinke served his sociopathic and biophobic NRA masters ahead of the land, water, and citizenry.

Lead’s a particularly nasty poison. And it’s left to pollute the environment by the ton by hunters and fishers, to the detriment of millions of birds and other animals that die from lead poisoning each year. Lead-tainted carrion is the reason the California Condor recovery project is still so iffy. But that’s not all: lead-poisoned meat affects the very hunters who bag it, and their children.

Lead has devastating effects on brain development, cognition, and learning: could this be a perverse way of guaranteeing future GOP voters?

Hot February

cherriesYesterday, in Green-Wood, some Cherries and a Red Maple were blooming already.Acer rubrumRecord-breaking temperatures raise the bar to the new normal. A nice review of climate change now. People, from the rotting orange head of the regime on down, can say it doesn’t exist; they can suppress research; intimidate scientists; but they can’t change the radical, wide-ranging effects of climate change on the planet, in human societies, and down the block. But, by sticking their heads in the sand, they sure can guarantee worse effects. Acer rubrumimg_2984


Liriodendron tulipiferaThe twigs right now! The twigs! Green, red, orange, brown. Spring is coiled for the spring.

This is our old friend Liriodendron tulipifera. Look at those leaf scars! The bundle scars, too, are nice and obvious. In the Native Flora in Winter course I just took at NYBG, some species’ bundle scars were damned hard to see, even under magnification (magnification is a necessity in this endeavor).

Here’s how Harlow describes these in his key: “terminal buds with 2 outer scales; flattened, glabrous; leaf scars nearly circular; bundle scars numerous, scattered in an irregular ellipse.” Core and Ammons: “Leaf scars alternate, large, round; bundle-scars many, in an irregular ellipse; stipule-scars linear, encircling the twig.”

Hey, we’re doing Where the Wild Things Are again on Tuesday.


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  • Osprey are loud. But nothing beats the falsetto meow-roar of the Indian Peafowl. 12 hours ago
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