Friday, December 09, 2005

Grackles after the snowfall

Common Grackle in October

Common Grackle in April
Photos by Cal Vornberger

This morning New Yorkers woke up to find the city c0overed with snow. My first thought was: now at last the huge grackle flock roosting at 59th and Fifth will have to head south.

I arrived at the roost a little before sunset, ready to find it deserted. Wrong. Pomona, the scantily clad Goddess atop the fountain which the roost trees surround, had snow on her head, left shoulder, and covering the fruit in her basket. The roost trees were full to brimming with starlings and grackles. More were still arriving. Leaves covered the snow under the trees, newly fallen leaves.

But while virtually all the trees visible on the park's perimeter are as bare as Pomona, the pear trees around the statue still have quite a few leaves. They seem to be the very last trees to lose their leaves. The oaks in the park are also clinging to some leaves, but those are brown and papery. The leaves on the pear trees are still somewhat burnished, and still provide a bit of cover for the roosting birds.

When will the leaves be gone? Will the birds keep roosting there once the trees are bare? These are finite questions, and I'll know the answers ere long.