Posts Tagged 'Jamaica Bay'


Zenaida macrouraHere’s a variation on a common sight: a young Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura). Zenaida macrouraNote how much darker it is than an adult. You might almost want to make it another species, although there aren’t really any other options on this end of the country.


Colaptes auratusWe’ve been lucky enough to catch the changing of the guard at this Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) nest a couple of times. Parent flies to hole, perching outside. Other parent bird flies out. First parent scoots in hole.Colaptes auratusThat black mark, the malar, on the cheek means this is the male. He spends a minute looking out before tucking deeper inside. Soon there should be some frantic shuttling of food to the nest by both adult birds.



Troglodytes aedonJamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge bakes in the summer sun, with only a few shady areas in the north and south “gardens” along the eastern edge of the West Pond trail, but there is so much wildlife activity out there right now it’s worth putting on a big hat and lots of sun-screen. Corvus ossifragusI’ve been blogging recently about the things seen on trips out there. Colaptes auratusSome sights I didn’t get worthwhile pictures of: a fledgling Waxwing begging for food; a Great Egret snagging and swallowing some kind of snaky creature out of the bay; a Tricolored Heron waving its wings as it hunted; Glossy Ibises gliding into the grasses; Black Skimmers cutting through the water with their longer lower bills. Crows and raptors crossing the marsh lands are frequently intercepted by territorial Red-winged Blackbirds. This one in the distance was irritating an Osprey, which was right next to its own nest. Pandion haliaetusThere are four Osprey nests visible from the West Pond trail, two at the limits of one’s optics, but one with very good views of three youngsters. Only one has its head up at the moment.Colaptes auratusThere’s lots of nesting and post-nesting activity going on.Troglodytes aedonThis nest box has a House Wren going in — but not via the front door; note the cut-out in the corner on the side.Troglodytes aedonHere’s another House Wren on another box. That stick will not fit into the hole. Nycticorax nycticoraxAnd so many herons: Black-Crowned and Yellow-crowned Night Herons, Snowy and Great Egrets; Little Blue and Tricolored Herons. Haven’t see a Great Blue on recent trips… but one flew by the apartment recently.

Local Warblers

Setophaga ruticillaSpotting an American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla) male at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge recently was a surprise. There was actually another nearby, too. The bird-list put out by the NPS says they are “probable nesters” there; the state breeding survey, more recent, has them confirmed. Setophaga ruticillaThis was news to me. Nice to see a “revival” of migration’s wonderful colors.Setophaga petechiaAnother warbler breeding all over the place at the Refuge is the Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia). Setophaga petechiaThis I knew about: it’s hard to miss them, both visually and aurally. You can also find Common Yellowthroats at JBWR now, but these three species seem to be the extent of it, warbler-breeding-wise.



IMG_8654An adult American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) sticks out of the landscape like a sore bill.
Haematopus palliatusSand-colored young American Oystercatchers, however, are not so easy to see or photograph. Haematopus palliatusBut they, or their parents, or all of them combined, sure do make a lot of noise.

That Yellow Crown

Nyctanassa violaceaLet’s get a little closer, shall we…?Nyctanassa violaceaThere is definitely some yellow in the Yellow-Crowned Night Heron’s crown.Nyctanassa violaceaWe’d see it better if the sun wasn’t so bright. Because I could hardly have been closer: I was in a blind, less than ten feet from the bird.


IMG_8698The sun will rise to its highest point in the sky today here in the northern hemisphere, meaning you will cast your shortest shadow of the year.

Look at those miniature suns at the edge of the path… Opuntia humifusaCloser: Opuntia humifusa, Prickly Pear Cactus, now blooming. This is the only native cactus in our part of the country. The plants favor the sandy soils of the coastal plain. Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is where I await their blooms each year.


Melospiza melodiaSong Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) absolutely owning the place.Melospiza melodiaThere are a good number of Songs nesting at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, which is part of Gateway National Recreation Area.IMG_8587Another was singing on top of this Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) nest box. There’s probably a whole family of swallows in there behind the parent seen poking out.IMG_8703The same situation several days later at another Tree Swallow nest box, on the opposite end of the West Pond. (This time the light was with me.) This Song has a bug in its mouth.

The nest boxes are very convenient places to perch. Not to mention nest: Tree Swallows and House Wrens are really making use of them out there.

Barn Swallow and Others

Hirundo rusticaFinding a swallow isn’t so hard, but finding one taking a breather sure is.Hirundo rusticaBarn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) breed in various places in the city; this female was at Bush Terminal, so I’d be willing to bet there’s a nest nearby. A couple of years ago, I watched another pair gathering mud for a nest under a pier at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Tachycineta bicolorWe have five species of swallows breeding in NYC. Tree Swallows can be seen nesting in the boxes at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge this time of year, but they also appear in our parks, so one may assume they make nests in local tree cavities, the old-fashioned way. The photo above was taken on Governor’s Island, where new nest boxes and meadow welcome them.

There are colonies of Bank Swallows on Staten Island‘s southern shore, where the terminal moraine turns into cliffs along Raritan Bay. Northern Rough-wing Swallows also breed on Staten Island (they like bank-sides as well, but will use other crevices, for instance in walls); they were also found breeding on Governor’s Island a few years ago, an expansion that hopefully continues. And SI also has a famous Purple Martin colony. (Actually, there’s more than one: I found some other SI Purple Martin houses occupied during the Great Cicada Year of ’13.)

House Wren


Troglodytes aedonTroglodytes aedon, the House Wren. Don’t think I’ve so noticed or appreciated the yellow of the lower part of the bill before.Troglodytes aedonHard to miss when they’re singing, characteristically from an open, exposed spot above their territory. This year, I’ve seen/heard them in Jamaica Bay, Native Flora Garden, and Prospect Park. Last year a pair were nesting in the back of a light fixture over an entrance to the Midwood in Prospect.Troglodytes aedon


Bookmark and Share

Join 679 other followers
Nature Blog Network