Friday, January 23, 2009

For the Gotcha Gang

And for the many who knew but refrained from writing, please check out new text and ID for yesterday's beautiful hawk photo

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A not uncommon visitor to Central Park

A Cooper's Hawk photographed west of The Great Lawn, 1/18/09
Photo by Murray Head.

Note: Cooper's Hawks and their only slightly smaller relatives, Sharp-shinned Hawks, are not unusual winter visitors to Central Park. BUT...while great numbers of Broad-winged Hawks may be seen flying high overhead during their migration to Central and South America, usually in September, one has never been seen perched in the park in January!

As John Blakeman wrote in clarification:
The photographed hawk is not a Broad-winged Hawk, Buteo platypterus. Those birds are all now down in South America.
The depicted bird is a common Cooper's Hawk, Accipiter cooperii. The tail of this bird is too long to be a Broad-winged, the dark bands in the tail are too numerous and too narrow to be a Broad-winged, and Broad-wings don't have reddish eyes. The feet of the bird are thin and narrow, a trait of the accipiter hawks, not buteos.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fearing nothing that lies ahead

Two Bald Eagles sit on an ice floe in the Connecticut River
Photo by Mark Yuknat.

Chris Lyons, a past contributor to this website, sent this observation to eBirds on Inauguration Day. Somehow it seems in keeping with the spirit of that momentous day, and I have his permission to reprint it here:

A little before 9am, we were down in Fort Washington Park, more or less in line with 160th Street. The Hudson River was still packed with ice, and scanning north, I saw a big dark bird riding a floe, just south of the George Washington Bridge.

At such a long distance, through 8x binoculars, I wasn't sure what I
was looking at, or even how big it was--I wondered if it could be a crow--no sign of white in the head or tail.

As it continued to drift downriver, I saw the bird flap astonishingly
long powerful wings. Finally it was directly across from us--close enough for us to see the washed-out looking white feathering on the head, just starting to come in, and the powerful looking dull yellow beak--a third or fourth year bird, eating what was probably a fish.

The eagle just kept riding the ice, passing a nearby Coast Guard vessel, floating unconcernedly down past Riverbank State Park and beyond, fearing nothing that lay ahead.

And I won't dwell on the obvious symbolism, but there it is all the same.

Good Birding (and Happy Inaugural)

Chris Lyons


PS from Marie: I didn't want to trump Chris's story by including a photo of TWO eagles on an ice floe. Just wanted to indicate that riding on ice floes is not an unprecedented behavior for bald eagles.