Birding season is upon us! Our feathery friends are returning from their winter vacations and making nests and making babies!
Man, I wish I didn’t have to go to dumb work or I’d be checking out birds on the Maspeth Creek (49th St & Maspeth Ave), tomorrow Friday April 26th, 2013 at 1pm hosted by Newtown Creek Alliance and Department of Environmental Conservation.
During the wildlife viewing announcements will be about the release of New York Wildlife Viewing Guide, Newtown Creek Alliance Bird Guide and the 2013 Birdwatching Canoe Trip Season with North Brooklyn Boat Club.
A juvenile Cooper’s Hawk landed in our yard this morning. Lots of hawks land in our yard and we do our best to take a photo with our iphone through our binoculars. Not any more! Jon got a Pentax K-01, with a SMCDA 100-300mm lens, just for birding!
Here is a video through our binoculars of a mature Cooper’s Hawk from February of last year, in the same spot working on a pigeon breakfast.
Yesterday morning’s walk to the farmers market brought some good bird sightings! It started with a Red Bellied Woodpecker battling with a starling for access to a cavity in a London planbe tree in McGolrick park. We’ve seen a lot of woodpeckers in the neighborhood but they are always a treat and this is a particular favorite of mine with the vivid red head (not sure why its called red bellied as its belly is cream colored) and spectacular black and white speckled wings.
Later as we returned from the market Jen saw something small brown rooting around in the undergrowth which turned out to be a Hermit Thrush!
I’ve only seen these in more dense cover in wooded areas of Prospect and Owl’s head parks so this was a real surprise. They are similar to Robins but smaller and more reclusive. They scratch around in the leaves for insects and have a unique habit (among thrushes) of bobbing their reddish brown tail at regular intervals.
As we turned to leave the thrush to his chitinous breakfast I looked up and saw what at first appeared to be an owl in the tree overhead. It turned out to be a very fluffed up Red Tailed Hawk who had been watching the Thrush and probably thinking of its next meal.
Audubon’s 113th Christmas bird count is taking place through January 5th. Jon and I were honored to be among the participants counting birds this past Saturday in Floyd Bennett Field.
Not only were we in the company of renowned New York birders, like Rob from City Birder, and saw birds we’d never imagined to visit Brooklyn, we were taking part in a very important action for wildlife conservation in our own great city.
According to the Audubon website:
Each of the citizen scientists who annually braves snow, wind, or rain, to take part in the Christmas Bird Count makes an enormous contribution to conservation. Audubon and other organizations use data collected in this longest-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations – and to help guide conservation action.
We definitely weren’t braving any extreme weather, it was a perfect sunny day in the wide open fields, but we did overcome our fear of being the bottom men, in my case, the only lady, on the totem pole.
“Are you sure they want us? I mean – we don’t know anything!” I kept asking Jon the week before. But by the end of the day, we’d learned a lot and I hope that in 40 years I have the stamina, patience and a hat with my name on it, like our trip leader Ron, who soldiered us through the day with an endless supply of information and energy. This will not be our first and only bird count.
It was confusing at first, the quick identifications in the cricket field, where we were looking for a flock of Horned Lark made my head spin. I kept elbowing Jon, “what are we looking at?” Bird names shouted, binoculars flew and just as I’d focus, the bird had flown away and the team had moved on.
I got an exciting email from K, who works at Martin Luther School in Maspeth. Yesterday, what she believed was a hawk joined the students for lunch, enjoying a freshly hunted seagull. After taking a look at the photo and seeing the distinct eye marking and dark head, I believe that this is a Peregrine Falcon.
Why is this bird so awesome? “The Peregrine is renowned for its speed, reaching over 322 km/h (200 mph) during its characteristic hunting stoop (high speed dive), making it the fastest member of the animal kingdom.” (Wiki.) What a sighting! It might be suspicious to lurk around the school grounds with binoculars, but I need to get a look at this bird! Great shot, K!
Sometime, just one moment can set your day on the right course. This Cooper’s Hawk, the same I believe that we watched last year around this time stuffing its face with a pigeon was spotted this morning squawking loudly in the same tree. What an amazing Greenpoint morning!
In a span of a few days we saw some pretty cool birds in McGolrick Park. After we went on an epic birding expedition to Owl’s Head Park in Bayridge, Brooklyn, we took a stroll through McGolrick to pick up veggies at the Farmers Market. Of course, I left the big lens at home.
We call that lens the anti-bird lens because when we don’t bring it we end up seeing awesome birds, like the time in Pennsylvania when we saw the Pileated Woodpecker, which is a giant woodpecker. But I’d rather see the bird than take its picture.
On Sunday 10/14/12, we saw a Black Throated Blue Warbler pissing off a Yellow Bellied Sapsucker. It seemed as if the sapsucker was trying to stick food into little holes he made in the tree and the little sneaky warbler was just going right up and stealing the food. What a little jerk!
Yesterday, 10/17/12, on my morning coffee walk through the park (I have a serious addiction to Variety cappuccinos) I saw a little brown creeper and a yellow rumped warbler.
Keep your eyes open and let us know what interesting birds you spot around Greenpoint this Fall.
Jon and I have been slacking on our bird watching. But today we saw three amazing birds in our Greenpoint backyard. The most beautiful of which was a Baltimore Oriole. Up until now, I believed the most gorgeous bird to be the Cardinal, but the Oriole wins this beauty contest hands down. I have never in my life seen such a striking shade of orange. The damn bird gave me goose bumps. It was such a stunner.
We also were lucky enough to spot a Yellow Warbler (left) and an American Red Start (right), all while we were eating lasagna for breakfast!
Keep your eyes open for lots of cool birds visiting Brooklyn as their migrations begin.
Have you seen any unusual birds in Brooklyn? What is your favorite bird?
We can all be scientists, civilian scientists that is. Researchers, including ornithologists, rely on data collected from us regular people because they can’t be everywhere at once to observe everything all the time!
Today begins the Great Backyard Bird Count, an annual 4 day event that “engages bird watchers to create a real time snapshot of where birds are across the continent.” After our Winter Bird Walk on 1/28, we learned there are lots of different kinds of birds in Greenpoint!
It takes as little as 15 minutes on any day between today 2/17- 2/20. Your data helps birds!
How? Just look out your window, or any location in Greenpoint, and count the number and types of birds you observe.