Saturday, February 17, 2007

Please make these corrections

I'm sure many new readers have bought Cal Vornberger's book Birds of Central Park since I posted the following corrections last year. The publisher has not yet published a printing with corrections, I've just found out. is my message again:

Dear Readers:

In Cal Vornberger's Birds of Central Park the page references in my Foreword to the book need correcting. Here's why:

Between the time I handed in the copy for my essay at the beginning of Birds of Central Park. and the time the book went to press, some major changes were made in the book's design. This made all the page references wrong. Unfortunately nobody seems to have proofread the Foreword and it was published with the incorrect references.

So, if you have this book on your shelf, please take a nice black pen, turn to pages 6-7, and make the following corrections, crossing out the wrong page numbers and putting in the correct ones.

On p. 6 [of the Foreword]- par. 5-- the Woodcock is on p. 23 [not p. 11]
par.6 -- the Oriole is on pages 94-95 [not 82]
par. 7--the Flicker is on p. 194 [not p. 184]

on page 7 - first par:
Robins are on p.110-111 [not p.98]
the Woodthrush is on p. 114-115 [not p. 102]
the Red-winged Blackbird is on p. 137 [not p. 125]

I am extremely unhappy to have these mistakes appear in my essay. I'll feel better to think that at least a few copies [yours] will send readers to the right pages.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Another big bird on ice

Bald Eagle over Central Park -- 12/27/06
Photo by Lincoln Karim

Last Sunday, 2/11/07, at about 1 pm, Eleanor MacDonald, a hawkwatcher and a neighbor of mine on Riverside Drive wrote:

Dear Marie, I am home sick today -- can't even talk. I had wanted to go to the Park today but instead looked out of the kitchen window. There is a large bird on the river ice at about 91st street. We are not sure about it because we do not have a powerful scope in the house. Has anyone else seen it? Maybe I am feverish but it sure looks very dark with a white head and does not look like a gull. Should I be embarrassed? If so, please spare me. Eleanor MacDonald

I answered immediately:

Dear Eleanor,

Guess what? It's an adult bald eagle!! Someone else reported it on an ice flow at the 79th st boat basin a little while ago!!

Get well soon.

Here's the earlier report,posted on e-birds shortly before I received the e-mail from Eleanor
Date: Sunday, 11 February 2007
Time: Morning
Location: Riverside Park

The Red-headed Woodpecker wasn't seen this morning at 92nd Street, but in the immediate area were:
Three Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers (2 females, one male), working furiously on a Norway Maple and Red Maple;
Two Downy Woodpeckers;
Red-bellied Woodpecker (male);
Northern Mockingbird (this was one friendly bird!);
Immature Red-Tailed Hawk;
and on the Hudson River, on the ice floating past the 79th Street Boat Basin at 11:30AM, was a Bald Eagle. It flew north at 12:10PM.
Howie & Anita Stillman

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Q & A with Blakeman about photo

2/11/07 []
Hi John,
Do I see 3 RTs in the pix on Lincoln's website today? If so, is this unusual -- I mean, that they should all be flying so closely together, w/ no apparent hostility or challenge? Or, is that PM at the top moving in the direction of the 3rd one to challenge him/her? And/or do you see something going on that I don't (most likely!)?
I assume the 2 on the right are PM + Lola -- but I wonder who the third one is? Can't tell whether a young one, or not.
I thought this a most interesting pix -- Love to hear your thoughts!
Thank you as always,
Mai Stewart
I wouldn't make much of that single photo. Right now, at this time of the year, adjacent red-tail pairs and winter vagrants are frequently up in the air, testing and determining territory boundaries. Occasionally, as in Lincoln's photo, adjacent pairs will just fly around with each other for a bit. They are often rather vocal with each other. Each is testing its place, and these confrontational interludes are mere territorial dances that let all red-tail parties know everyone's place. Often, immatures participate in these winter flights. I can't tell from the photo the ages of the birds, but the resident immature may be one of the birds.
I doubt that any of these aggregations will be seen in March. By then, territories and hunting ranges will have been established by these quasi-social winter flights.
Actually, I was more taken with Lincoln's photo down upon the soaring adult. It's a view I never get. Just stunning. Regal birds, these, right in New York City
Today, this contrasts with the winter storm Ohio is getting right now, with a foot of blowing snow. Our wild red-tails have retreated to the center of the local woodlots, parked themselves on the downwind side of tree trunks, and have pulled up one of their legs into the belly feathers. They will stay there hunkered down, as much out of the weather as possible for a day or two, subsisting only on abundant fat reserves. Red-tails are programmed for such episodes, as cold and uncomfortable as they might be. I'm so glad to be ensconced here with my wife next to a nice warm, radiating wood stove.
--John A. Blakeman

Monday, February 12, 2007


Sunday's photo of Pale Male carrying a twig to the nest was taken by Lincoln Karim. If you click on it to enlarge you'll see something exciting. The twig has spring buds.

Red-headed Woodpecker - Riverside Park
photo by Lysiane Ribeiro - 2/9/07

Regular contributor Lysiane Ribeiro sent in a recent photo of the Red-headed Woodpecker in Riverside Park. As you can see, the head is getting redder and redder. Also a report of 4, count 'em, four woodcocks in the Oven in Central Park . On Sunday 2/11/07 she wrote:

I have been at the Oven every day for the past three to four days and it seems like each day I see more Woodcocks. There are now four in the Oven. They were not close enough to each other for me to get a picture with all four of them together. The photo I am sending you is from two photos I took one right after the other. Amazingly cool! Who knows, maybe by tomorrow there will be ten! :)

PS Click on photos to enlarge!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

News Flash on Fifth Avenue

Hormones are flowing.. Pale Male and Lola, indomitable birds, are bringing twigs to the nest.

Peregrine on ice

Female Peregrine Falcon taking off from the George Washington Bridge
Photo by Cal Vornberger - 1/20/03

Below is Jack Meyer's report for Friday, February 9. [He posts a daily report on e-birds, a wonderful resource for Central Park birders and those who follow the park's bird life.] When I saw it I immediately sent him an e-mail . Below the report, my question and his answer.
DATE: Friday, 9 February 2007
LOCATION: Central Park

Canada Goose
Mute Swan
American Black Duck
Northern Shoveler
Ruddy Duck (Lake, 2.)
Red-tailed Hawk
Peregrine Falcon (Eating prey on the ice at the reservoir.)
American Coot (Reservoir, 8 in small bit of open water.)
American Woodcock (Point.)
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Ramble.)
Downy Woodpecker (Feeders, 3 or 4.)
Blue Jay
American Crow
American Robin
European Starling
Swamp Sparrow (Hernshead.)
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird (Feeders.)
Rusty Blackbird (Riviera.)
Common Grackle
House Finch (Several.)
American Goldfinch (Feeders 2 or 3.)
House Sparrow

I wrote:

Wasn't there a peregrine on the ice yesterday as well? What's going on?

Jack's answer:

The previous instance was Wednesday, reported by Ardith & Alice. Perhaps it has found an easy food source. I wonder if it scares the ducks up from the very small puddle of open water (today smaller than Azalea Pond), then nails one. According to what I've read & heard, they never take sitting ducks. It was too far out today to tell what it had, except that it seemed pretty big.

While I watched the Peregrine, a Red-tail made a low pass over the reservoir, but stayed well away from the falcon.