Posts Tagged 'Green-Wood'

Raptor Week II

Buteo jamaicensisRed-tailed Hawk. Buteo jamaicensis: “of Jamaica,” where the original specimen was taken. The most common road-side and soaring hawk of North America. To recap, the common name is particularly unhelpful when you get a yearling like this one. The brick-red tail feathers don’t appear until after the first year of life, if they’re the one out of three who make it that long. But for the junior varsity team, those stripes on the tail, and the tail’s shortness compared to the bulk of the body, and that whitish mottling on the feathers, are all good signs you’ve got a RTH.img_1036Here’s an adult’s tail-end for comparison.

A bracing morning read: Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau.

Remember, we are the majority! We are Unstoppable Together.

Raptor Week I

Accipiter cooperiiCooper’s Hawk. Accipiter cooperii. William C. Cooper’s hawk. The species was named in his honor by Charles Lucien Bonaparte. Cooper was a conchologist and founder of what became the New York Academy of Sciences. Bonaparte was a Bonaparte, a nephew of the Emperor, and an ornithologist who explored the U.S. in the 1820s. You can’t name a life-form after yourself… you can’t name them at all, really, but it’s a convenient fiction.

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Here’s his “Letter from A Birmingham Jail.” In it King defends the non-violent strategy of resistance to segregation and racism in response to some white clergy who complained that he was breaking the law.


Diospyros virginianaThe calyx of the American Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) is this beautiful cross shape. Diospyros virginianaA few stay on the tree as the fruits come down, but most fall with the fruit. Diospyros virginianaThere’s still some fruit on the trees. Most of it, though, is on the ground, and some of that is well beyond eating stage. We need more possums!

(My intelligence community tells me that the “Date Plum” Asian persimmon (D. lotus) at NYBG holds onto its calyces, giving the tree a tiny-star-studded look.)

Raptor Wednesday

Accipiter cooperiiA Cooper’s Hawk on a winter’s day. JJAudubonHere’s Audubon’s rendition. Normally, I find JJ’s birds on the strangely attenuated side, longer and skinnier than they are, probably a result in his pinning up their dead bodies to illustrate them. But I like his capturing of the patterning on the back here very much.

Another thing I like is Mike Davis, a great American radical. LA has always been his beat, but he has much else to say. This interview in retirement gives a flavor.

Last call: my illustrated lecture at the fantastic Brooklyn Brainery is tonight at 8:30.


Passerella iliacaA couple of the eight Fox Sparrows (Passerella iliaca) I ran into recently. That’s a lot for me. Usually I just seen one or two or a time. Passerella iliacaThese birds nest in the north, that north so radically changing now, in Newfoundland, and upper Quebec, and further west right into Alaska. This is the south they’ve migrated to for winter.


Agents of the petroleum industry are about to take over the government, rather more so than usual. They will lie, deny, and destroy evidence, but the planet continues to warm at an alarming rate. They can’t change that. They can make it worse, though, and leave us even more unprepared.

Read this visceral piece on a veterinary pathologist working on the front lines of the Arctic, where the Earth’s fever is most extreme

Oak Wilt

Damn it! I really wanted to start on a positive note, but the bad news just keeps coming. Oak wilt has been discovered in Brooklyn. This is a lethal fungal infection of oaks and other species, its spores spread by beetles.

img_2116When I was in Green-Wood on Friday, I heard a chipper hard at work. As I got closer, I realized it was grinding up one of my favorite old Red Oaks! That’s about 7 feet of stump still to go. This is the tree whose globular fungal growths, which have nothing to do with the wilt as far as I’ve been able to tell, have piqued my curiosity before. The sixth image down here is what these mushrooms look like when fresh.

Here’s more about the disease.

Oaks are so damn important. Their relationship to a host of life forms, particularly insects and birds, puts them deep within a spreading web of ecological connections (Muir Webs). And we have a lot of oaks here in the city, on the street and in the parks and woodlands.

I mean, it’s a double-whammy: a killer orange fungus soon to be soiling the White House, and a nasty fungal pathogen going after some of our grandest trees.

One More Time

img_1826Because awesome and delightful. When last we saw this Pied-billed Grebe on the Valley Water, ice covered more than half of the pond. The next time, ice covered it all and no grebe was to be seen. The bird presumably took off looking for open water. The water was completely free of ice yesterday, with no grebe in sight.

Even given their meddling, the Russians did not engineer the Presidency for Horrible Orange Man, as a friend calls the horrible orange man. An archaic constitutional system, utterly gamed by the Republicans, and the Democrats’ miserable choice for a candidate combined to do that work quite nicely. Putin remains the gangster-in-chief of a mafia state, however, so for H.O.M. to publicly admire him is disgusting. Masha Gessen, a long-time Kremlin watcher — safer now that she’s far away from Putin’s killers — points out the similarities between these gruesome brothers-in-authoritarianism. “Lying is the message.”


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