Saturday, December 01, 2007

Maybe it was just hungry?

Bob Levy sent in a photo and wrote:

I watched this Gray Squirrel dig out an acorn and proceed to gnaw away at it. There was nothing particularly unusual about that. Only after I downloaded the image did I notice the mud all over its meal. The animal made no observable effort to clean the acorn and I imagine that a considerable portion of it must have been ingested. Judging by how enthusiastically the animal devoured the muddy acorn I wondered whether mud might be a Gray Squirrel condiment for a reason. Could there be a nutritional or digestive benefit? Maybe, but I for one won’t be doing any personal taste testing. But seriously folks, does anyone know if ingesting soil somehow benefits the squirrel?

Ps. Wood Duck fans: The male is still hanging out with the Mallards along the Riviera north and east of Bow Bridge

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Another good duck

In the foreground, a pair of sleeping Ring-necked ducks, with a flock of Canada Geese and Mallards.
Photo by Lloyd Spitalnik, March 9, 2005 -- Central Park

Another species of waterfowl eagerly awaited by Central Park birdwatchers was seen at the Reservoir on Wednesday, 11/28/07,
by Pat Pollock. Her report, as published on e-birds:

Ring-necked Duck - adult - NW corner of the Reservoir. @ 12:45pm

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What's with Junior and Charlotte?

Charlotte and Junior -- the Central Park South Redtails - April 25, 2006
Courtesy of

Irene Payne, a hawkwatcher who has been following the Central Park South hawks for many years, writes:

Hi Marie:

What with all the news about Pale Male and Lola, thought my guys should get some notice!

Notwithstanding the leaves still on the trees and 50+ degrees temperature this morning, Junior and Charlotte were actively cavorting over the park... And having a very busy conversation as well - loud and clear. It was a joy to behold.


Monday, November 26, 2007


Bruce Yolton [ ] took this funny picture of mammalian and avian ears on November 16, 2007.. That screech owl has since moved, probably disturbed by workers pruning its roosting tree near the model-boat pond. Yesterday five owl seekers-- Lee, Jimmy, Jean, Naomi and I -- searched for owls [or rather, for evidence of owls such as whitewash and pellets] in known owl roosts in the Ramble.

We didn't find any. We did see a nuthatch, a chickadee, a very friendly downy woodpecker pecking a mere foot away from us, many MANY grackles preparing to return to their night roost in the plaza outside the Plaza hotel, and Pale Male, making several gracious appearances.

Meanwhile, according to diligent birder Chris Karatnytsky, who walks her dog Fig every evening in the vicinity of the Pool at 101st Street and Central Park West,
there is still a pair of owls being seen and especially being heard there.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Our "plumage" turns gray as we age; Birds do it the other way.

Photos and comments by Bob Levy [Club George]:

This is the first of two images that shows the gray tips on the fall otherwise bright red plumage of a Northern Cardinal. On the right side of this bird’s torso there is a “gray fringe.” On the left side there is more gray but it’s less obvious. This particular specimen by the way is Papa Castle who continues to be one of my favorite and most cooperative photographic subjects. Over the next few months that gray fringe will wear away leaving the familiar crimson color we associate with the males. I love this shot but the second image better illustrates how extensive the gray can be although my “inner photographer” compels me to point out that it is not as sharply focused as I would have liked.

This is the second shot that really illustrates the point...but it’s not of the same quality as the first. However it really shows extensive gray coloring on Papa Castle. It would be lovely if the gray on my hair wore away by the Spring but with my luck it would leave me bald.

PS from Marie:
I'll be keeping my eye out for this phenomenon, which I never noticed before. In the history of birdwatching, amateurs have always played an important role in advancing ornithological knowlege. It's what keeps us excited about the sport. Maybe Bob is onto something

PPS Be sure to click on photos to enlarge and really see the gray tips.