Saturday, October 13, 2007

Another Bad Hair Day [and not just for a bird]

Bob Levy writes:

On August 14, 2007 you published a photo of a Northern Cardinal I call Papa Museum in a piece entitled “Bird’s Bad Hair Day.” This adult male was well into his molt and the plumage on his lower extremities looked like the aftermath of an explosion in a mattress factory. A short while ago I found an adult female I call Mama Castle in nearly the same condition. Not only could she be described as having a bad hair day but perhaps a facial would have been a good idea too. I guess the “exploding feathers condition” is not as rare as I had once thought.
Ps. If you can enlarge this shot a few times it gets better but even in her heavy molt Mama Castle is beautiful at least to me. But hey, you know how much I admire this species.

Note from Marie

Something about Bob's Mama Castle reminds me of myself in a mirror these days as I'm trying to make my final deadline. The facial would certainly help.

Thanks, Bob, for sending me your bright vignettes about turtles, raccoons and cardinals.

Thanks David S. for your great bird pix.

I'm not getting into the park much, these days, and won't
till the end of the month. I'll post whenever I can. Can't wait until winter!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fabulous Fall Photos

White-breasted Nuthatch

David Speiser writes :

Some people love the Spring migration because the birds sing and are bright and beautiful. However, the season is short.
Fall migration has been well underway since mid-August and even though a lot of the warblers have passed through, there are still many more birds to come. Here is a sampling of our non-warbler friends and cheers to Fall migration!

PS from Marie: How does David do it? Do these birds come to his studio for sittings???These are fabulous pictures!

Winter wren

White-crowned Sparrow

Swainson's Thrush

Scarlet tanager [fall plumage]

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Brown thrasher

Black-capped chickadee

American Goldfinch

All photos taken by David Speiser in Central Park on October 8 or 9, 2007

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Raising monarchs

a monarch butterfly egg, on underside of a milkweed leaf

A monarch butterfly egg, very enlarged

One of the regular readers of this page sent in a report of her experiences raising monarchs from egg to butterfly:

One enchanted summer I raised over 20 Monarchs from eggs. It was a lot of work, driving all over creation to find fresh milkweed leaves every day for those incredibly hungry caterpillars! I collected around 23 eggs, all of which hatched, and of those, 21 lived to spin their chrysalis(s???) All 21 emerged, and 20 lived to fly away -- one was deformed and couldn't fly. I collected the eggs at different times, so this was a constantly unfolding drama. After the fifth day of this 10-day stage, a very faint image of the developing butterfly could be seen through the wall of the chrysalis, and every day after that the chrysalis seemed to get thinner and thinner, showing more and more. By the time the butterfly was ready to emerge, it looked like an incredibly folded and compacted package wrapped in plastic wrap. I only got to actually see a few of them emerge, but every morning I would wake up to one or two new Monarchs, slowly unfolding and gently waving their wings dry. The butterfly would walk right on to my hand, and I carried it outside and sat until it took its first flight. It wouldn't go far and then came back to my hand and sat a little while longer. Then it took off for good. Each butterfly did that. Isn't that amazing?
Jan Lipert

Monday, October 08, 2007

Monarch mania and a PS

Bob Levy reports on the Monarch migration:Bob writes:
I recall that last year at this time many a Central Park naturalist remarked about the apparent rise in the number of Monarch butterflies. However this season we seem to be witnessing a veritable “Monarch Mania.” In three gardens I visit the nonstop display of multiple sightings is truly wonderful. (i.e.the new Brodsky garden near Cleopatara’s Needle, Turtle Pond and the Shakespeare Garden). Only a video could do the scene justice but this shot gives a little idea of what a treat there was to see.

PS from Marie: Below, in a photo taken on September 10, 2005, is the Monarch's beautiful chrysalis,discovered in a flowerbed on the east side of the Model-boat Pond nine days before the butterfly emerged. You can see the remains of the caterpillar's outer skin at the top. With so many Monarchs in the park this year, there must be many chrysalises to be seen as well. So keep your eye out. They're well hidden but not impossible to find. Watching this particular chrysalis deliver its butterfly was one of the most exciting events of my life. My photos of it are in the archives here. Click on the date 2005-09-18 found at the right under Archives, and scroll down.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Report from our youngest birdwatcher - Liliana

Hello, remember me? I'm Liliana. I'm getting to be a pretty good birder, with a little help from my Daddy. Here's how it works: Whenever I see a bird I make a special sign for my Daddy and then he takes its picture. Little kids like me are the perfect age for birdwatching--believe me. We're going to be unbeatable when we get just a little bigger. Below are some of the birds we saw together in Central Park a few days ago:

Blackpoll warbler -- (fall plumage)

Northern Parula Warbler

Eastern Towhee, male

Eastern Towhee. female

Bay-breasted Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler (fall plumage}

all photos by David Speiser 10/4/07