Posts Tagged 'Sunset Park'



Raptor Wednesday

It snowed on Saturday. Twice. In between, I happened to be watching several squirrels capering across the park from my window. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught something fly at a bush and then away, turning up to a tree limb. Several squirrels made a racket up there before retreating.
It was a young Cooper’s hawk. Seemed small, so probably a male. Female Cooper’s are notably larger than the males.
He had caught a bird in the bush. I think House Sparrow.

Circled the tree to try get some shots through the branches. The hawk ate unconcerned about the world on the ground, children riding sleds, snow blowers blowing, cars making their awful din.

Raptor Wednesday

This glorious smokestack is the throne of Peregrines. I’ve seen them up here often during the past couple of winters. Not so much during spring and summer, however, when, presumably, breeding keeps them busy. I can see this ‘stack from the home front, but these shots are from much closer, the playground next to Sunset Park High School.
That playground is at 3rd Avenue. The school itself fronts 4th Avenue.
Which is where this male American Kestrel is perching. Right across 4th is an entrance to Green-Wood Cemetery. The expanse of russet on this bird’s chest, with the minimal black dots, suggest that this may be the same bird seen regularly from the apartment, a.k.a View From The Moraine.
Much closer to home, and typically the play ground of the local kestrels, the pipes on this roof also make a good place for an Accipiter to briefly park. Male Cooper’s, I think.

End of An Era

I’ve been blessed with a few years of red and swamp white oaks as street tree neighbors on my way to the subway. A plethora of life forms sucking, chewing, reproducing, and dying on these trees has been visible at eye-level.

Argh, but the contractors recently came through to limb all these up. Now the branches and leaves are well out of reach.

Limbing trees can make their boles stronger, but I’ll wager the impetus for this is parking. Street trees, after all, must make way for cars. Pedestrians on the sidewalks are quite capable of avoiding branches, and now they’ve lost an excellent outdoor schoolroom. One of these blocks isn’t at all residential, and the other has…a parking lot next to the row of young oaks.

Raptor Wednesday on Thursday

Having spotted this Red-tailed Hawk on the roof of my apartment building when I returned home last week, I hurried up the five flights to see what I could see.
The bird was mantling over its prey, spreading out wings and tail feathers.
Classic raptor behavior. We surmise from this that the bird is trying to conceal its prey from others.
Like, um… so it seems a good surmise. This other Red-tail was also a juvenile. I wonder if these were siblings? (Saw four adult Red-tails soaring together over Green-Wood recently; more recently this last weekend, saw three from my window along with a Common Raven, but in the excitement and the cloudy light, I didn’t get any ages.)
Access to our roof is via the stairway bulkhead. The wind was fierce. I didn’t want to go out, which would probably have scared off the hawk. So I held the door to keep it from being banged open by the wind with one hand and took pictures with the other.Here’s the other hawk, the one without the pigeon lunch.
Nicitating membrane, the other eyelid of birds, visible here.
I retreated as quietly as I’d arrived. The neighbor right below this corner could hear the bird screeching. Sometime later, I noticed one of the hawks flying downhill, with a gull behind, the gull probably eager to pick at scraps, if there were any.

Raptor Wednesday

Walking home, the low November sun in my eyes, I was not at first sure that the shape on the corner of my apartment building was. I briefly wondered if there was an architectural flourish I’d never noticed. The silhouette quickly resolved itself. A Red-tailed Hawk.
With prey. And screeching at the other Red-tailed that landed on the parapet nearby. The source of this buteo excitement was a pigeon, probably one of the crew which regularly perch atop this roof.
A very stiff wind was playing havoc with the hawk’s feathers.
Mantling, or spreading wings and tail to shroud the prey, and rending squab, the bird screeched and watched the sky. The other Red-tail, also a juvenile, was still around.

Going to this leave a cliffhanger, or roof-hanger… until tomorrow.

Raptor Wednesday

A parade of Falco species!
Last Thursday afternoon and
then again Monday morning, a Peregrine (F. peregrinus) was atop St. Michael’s eating what looked like pigeon. (This butcher’s block, the highest perch for blocks, is two avenue blocks and one street block away from our apartment, approximately 500 meters/1640 feet, so these through-the-scope views leave much to be desired.)
A Merlin (F. columbarius) has been seen atop PS24 (1.75 avenue blocks by two regular blocks away) several times in the last weeks. Last week, there was one here and at the same time another perched on a much nearer tree, while in between, an American Kestrel (F. sparverius) was perched atop the antenna noted below. While visible from the apartment, this perch, on a mess of antennas, isn’t worth photographing from here. This photo was taken while walking to the subway station.

This past Monday morning, Peregrine and American Kestrel were seen the same time, then later Peregrine and Merlin at the same time, but the trinity trifecta of Peregrine, Merlin, and American Kestrel all at the same time remains elusive so far (yes, we’re pretty spoiled here in the raptor seat at the top of the moraine).
A male American Kestrel has been spotted almost daily (sometimes more than once per day) on the car service antenna (one avenue block by one street block away). This male is very russet-breasted but rather lightly marked with spots. (Photo from street-level.)

Across the street from this tall antenna, used by a car service, is a regular old TV antenna, unseen from our apartment but visible from the street. I got off the bus a block away from it last week and immediately spotted him up there, plucking prey. The feathers drifted down onto 40th St.
This is a photo from the apartment. The male Kestrel on the left, the Merlin on the right. The Kestrel was on the taller perch first, flew down when the Merlin showed up. Merlins are slightly bigger than Kestrels, with sexual dimorphism. Also, the left-hand antenna is not parallel with the main one, it’s angled away from us.

For completists, there is a fourth falcon species in this half of the continent. Gyrflacon (F. rusticolus) is generally a more northern bird. Long Island (we’re at the fish-shaped island’s western end) is within infrequent range, but I’ve never seen one in North America. (The West has the Prairie Falcon (F. mexicanus), another species I’ve never seen.

Raptor Wednesday

Summer is quiet when it comes to raptors, unless you have American Kestrels breeding down the street.But now fall is in the air. This Red-tailed hawk perched on a #BrooklynKestrel landmark recently. One of the local falcons, now days generally heard more than seen, was not happy about it. The kestrel’s alarms calls got me to look outside.
Coast Guard ship in the harbor beyond.
Another day, another RT or the same one? This building is just to the left of the one with the chimney pot. Someone’s observation on iNaturalist pictured one just down the street from here yesterday.
This one dropped down to the roof here three times from various perches around. Came up with nothing. What was the attraction?
Balancing on one leg is not unusual, but usually the bird will bring the other leg up into the breast. Here it just hangs down. It’s raptor contrapposto!

***

Something I wrote on the origins of the general strike.

Raptor Wednesday

This is a young male American Kestrel. He brought some bird prey to this balustrade recently, and left it on the right hand corner. You can just see the lump. It was there for more than an hour as he flew here and here, perching here and there as well. Now, this building has been used as larder for two breeding seasons, but the falcons usually leave prey on the roof, under, I presume, the solar panels. The parapet prevents me from seeing the exact locations, but I suspect they know not to leave meat exposed. Too many sharp-eyed corvids about for that. Junior here probably has to learn the hard way.Another brightly spotty male. He zoomed past the Gothick entrance to Green-Wood, causing the parakeets to holler in fury. Perched atop a tree, he was the target of a Northern Mockingbird, who made several passes at him. Then he circled in ever widening circles overhead, moving off towards the northeast and actually chasing after a Chimney Swift, twice. Now, Falco cousins, the Hobbys, are supposed to be able to catch Common Swifts (Apus apus), which are bigger than our Chimney Swifts (Chaetura pelagica), but I think it would pretty unusual for an American Ks to catch a healthy CS. Another reason I think this was a young kestrel. Trying things out.

The last five mornings I’ve awoken to a Kestrel calling. The earliest was 5:30 a.m. Haven’t seen one, but the call is unmistakable.
***

“The very serious function of racism … is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and so you spend 20 years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says that you have no art so you dredge that up. Somebody says that you have no kingdoms and so you dredge that up. None of that is necessary.”

“I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence.”

~ Toni Morrison, RIP.

American Dagger

There is so much going on “in” an oak tree. The biologist E.O. Wilson has written that you could spend a lifetime voyaging like Magellan around a single tree, discovering all the interrelated life associated with it. Quercus is definitely one genus where this applies very well.

This British study found 284 insects associated with oaks. There isn’t a lot of oak diversity in the UK. Meanwhile, searching the combination of insects and oaks on-line gives you a lot of information on pests, as we define them. A lot of things eat oaks, to be sure. Migrating songbirds know it well: an oak in spring is rich with caterpillars. The hungry birds hunt and feast within the emergent leaves, gobbling up caterpillars in the canopy — things we rarely ever see, yet are quite clearly there.

There’s a row of Swamp White (Quercus bicolor) and Pin (Q. palustris) lining a street nearby. I look up into them when I pass. The trees are young enough that the leaves are still within reach. Flies, ladybugs, aphids, galls can all be seen in the trees. This is recent sighting: the caterpillar of the American Dagger moth (Acronicta americana). They can be rather yellower as they grow. Here, several days later, is an even smaller one.
***

The New York Times finally gets around to an obit for Florence Merriam Bailey, author of what was probably the very first field guide for birds. Shall we review the gendering of bird-watching/birding?

Raptor Wednesday

The #BrooklynKestrels. Mother and daughters. The young ones tend to look plumper than she does, but I can’t see this in this particular picture. She’s still bringing them food — and this roof is still a larder. They fly down to it, out-of-sight, and come up with a pice of something. There have been some insect transfers: dragonflies and beetles are kestrel snacks.

The father hasn’t been spotted in more than a week. I don’t remember a similar absence last year. Hope the old boy is O.K. He had a very busy season. It’s a wonder there are any House Sparrows in the neighborhood at all.Siblings.

Momma was screaming at a trio of Fish Crows on Monday. She gave chase. The youngsters stayed on their perches. Another time, two Common Ravens passed overhead. They continued unmolested. Red-tailed Hawks in the area are always cause for commotion.


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