Okay, “killer” is an exaggeration. A reader wrote in to tell us a funny, but at the same time a little frightening story about her recent run in with an aggressive bird in Transmitter Park. The part about other birds that hang out to watch the action really got me laughing:
“I go to Transmitter Park a lot, it’s very close to my office. On one such visit about a month ago as I walked into the entrance that’s closest to the children’s playground a bird tried to land on my head (at least this is what I thought was happening). Without seeing it, I swatted near my head and turned around just in time to see the bird fly away. I totally thought it was a random, one off thing. Continue reading →
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.
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!
The fun part about birding is finding a bird when you aren’t even looking for one. I was admiring a beautiful tree in McGolrick Park which Jon identified as a Willow Oak when we saw some rustling on one of the branches. At first I thought it was a woodpecker because it was pecking at the branches but upon closer inspection we identified it as a White Breasted Nuthatch. It was pretty twitchy and fast, and according to All About Birds, “they get their common name from their habit of jamming large nuts and acorns into tree bark, then whacking them with their sharp bill to “hatch” out the seed from the inside.”
On our way back from morning coffee Jon caught sight of the cutest little plump warbler in the grass. Warblers are basically the most difficult birds to identify, there is even a group called the Confusing Fall Warblers. We think it was a Mourning Warbler. We found this photo from Marie Winn’s Central Park Nature Blog
What a birdy morning coffee walk!
Have you seen any interesting birds in Greenpoint lately?
Whenever I see folks pointing and looking up into a tree, I have to stop and find out what’s up. At McCarren it’s usually one of the Red Tailed Hawks but on Saturday at the American Playground on Franklun St, it was a rare sighting and first for me, an Eastern Kingbird!
Luis and Adelina were so excited to tell me that they rescued a chick who they named “Freedom,” and with the help of Wild Bird Fund, NYC’s first Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, they were able to return him to his family right here in Greenpoint. Since the lovely local couple lives right on Franklin St, they can visit their aviary neighbors regularly. We will be sure to invite these two to our next bird walk so we can meet Freedom and his flock.
The party is over folks; my landlord has taken away one of my simplest pleasures, watching and listening to the birds who grace my feeder daily and keep my hyperactive cat “Bean” out of trouble.
Remember this music video I made to the house finches? There won’t be any more of those.
Today two Gray CatBirds (Dumetella carolinensis) visited. They are really beautiful, all matte grey, with a reddish underside, a long tail and little black hat on their head. Their call sounds like a cat and they were going nuts over the suet.
Then I heard repeated banging on my door. It was my landlord. “No birdfeeder!”
I should have acted like a catbird; according to Wiki, they “are not afraid of predators and respond to them aggressively by flashing their wings and tails and by making their signature mew sounds. They are also known to even attack and peck predators that come too near their nests.”