Posts Tagged 'Jamaica Bay'

Let’s Hear It For Humility

“Area Closed/Protected Natural Area.”

Just being a fan of the natural world’s beauties doesn’t mean you’re a friend of nature. Some people think their photography or their bird lists are more important than anything else. But no, they aren’t, not by a long shot. Primary is the care, caution, and respect we pay to the world we’ve done so much to harm. Humility dictates that we come second.

Photographers can sometimes be quite egregious, and bird-watchers get hopping mad about them, but there are also bird-watchers who trample and trespass, pound on trees to stir up owls, play recordings of birds during breeding season, and otherwise throw ethics under the SUVs of their ego and/or their wallets.

How Now, Brown Thrasher?

All three of our regional Mimidae can be found here in New York City. Northern Mockingbirds are year-around regulars, even on the streets and in backyards. The Catbirds swoosh into the parks to breed in spring and their meowing calls and other songs are a major part of the aural landscape of the woods until the fall. But the Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma ruff), as boldly patterned and colored as it is, is not so easily seen.

A good place to spot them is on the western end of the West Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, where they like the thick shrub layer but occasionally pop out into the open. If you’re lucky, you’ll hear them sing. Like the other mimic birds, they are great songsters: their “song is a complex string of many musical phrases (many copied from other birds’ songs, with each phrase typically sung twice before moving on)” to quote Cornell.

Blue Monday

Barn Swallow.
Hirundo rustica. At Bush Terminal Park. Unusually, there was at least one Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) with the Barns there that day. I see Trees more commonly at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, where it’s the Barn who is rare.The blue here is on the greenish side, as it is wont to be depending on the light.But how about some Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)? This is not a bird I see every year, although it looks like they nest in the Jamaica Bay area.Thoreau wrote that the (Eastern) “bluebird carries the sky on his back.” But there’s an awful lot of sky….

Savannah Toes

Passerculus sandwichensisThe touch of yellow between eye and bill here is telling, but did you know that Savannah Sparrows (Passerculus sandwichensis) are also notable for their long toes? Passerculus sandwichensisThose nails look a little long, too. What do you think?

Red-breasted Nuthatches

Sitta canadensisA good number of Red-breasted Nuthatches (Sitta canadensis) have been seen in the region this migration, an irregular occurrence for this tiny species of song bird. I heard some a few weeks ago at Green-Wood, but I hadn’t seen any in the feather until Sunday at Jamaica Bay. Sitta canadensisTwo of them were wheedling pine nuts from cones and taking them to nearby hardwood snags, where they wedged them into crevices in the bark to batter them open with their chisel beaks for the nutmeat within.Sitta canadensisLook in coniferous trees, and if the pines aren’t very big also, obviously, in neighboring hardwoods with bigger branches/anvils.
Sitta canadensis

I must say, as reds go, this is definitely subdued, albeit quite handsome. More fiery was the juvenile Norther Harrier we also spotted that trip; when it rocked in flight towards the afternoon sun, its belly was like a flare.

More Crow

Corvus ossifragusFish Crow, Corvus ossifragus.

Red-winged Blackbird

Agelaius phoeniceusAgelaius phoeniceus.


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