Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Redder-bellied Woodpecker

I thought the female Red-bellied Woodpecker in Murray Head's photo [see previous posting] had a fine red belly. Now Lysiane Ribeiro M.D. sends in a photo she took in April, 2006, [also at the Oven feeding station] of a male of the species. What a red-bellied Red-bellied Woodpecker he is!
PS How can you tell the male R-b W from the female? The red on the male's head goes all the way over to the bill. The red on the female's head stops at about eye level, with white continuing up to the bill.

PPS Please note the correction at the end of the previous posting, changing the photo's location from the Evodia Field to the Oven.

PPPS Murray's photo was taken in February, while Lysiane's was taken in April. I believe the red on both males' and females' bellies gets redder as the breeding season progresses.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Why is it called a Red-bellied Woodpecker?

Photographer Murray Head provides the perfect answer:

PS Few people have a chance to get such a good look at this bird's belly.

PPS The photo was taken yesterday, February 19th, at the feeding station in the Oven.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hawks and squirrels

Photo courtesy of - February 17, 2009

Two long-time correspondents of this website have sent in letters, one inquiring about the Fifth Ave. Hawks, and the other with a worrisome report about local squirrels.


Liz Rhoads writes:

. . . Just wondering how our two love birds, Pale Male and Lola are doing? Isn't this the time they work on their nest to prepare for a new brood? Maybe this will be the comeback year. Let's hope so. Best regards, Liz Rhoades

Dear Liz, The photo above answers your question. The closely-watched pair are adding twigs to their old nest on Fifth and 74th St. Incubation will probably begin in about two weeks, give or take a day or two. All fingers are crossed.


Lysiane Ribeiro M.D.
has sent in pictures of some unfortunate squirrels she has seen in Riverside Park. I haven't seen any similarly afflicted squirrels in Central Park, (just a few blocks east of Riverside Park), but perhaps others have. Please let me know.

[PS In case the direct e-mail connection on this blog does not work, my e-mail address is]


About a month ago I sent you a picture of the hairless squirrels I have been seeing in Riverside Park.

Well this is what some of them are looking like now and I do think it is Mange and the variant (scabies) that is transmittable to humans, unfortunately. :(

But according to the Mayo Clinic:
Each species of mite prefers one specific type of host and doesn't live long away from that preferred host. So humans may have a temporary skin reaction from contact with the animal scabies mite. But people are unlikely to develop full-blown scabies from this source, as they might from contact with the human scabies mite.

Here is a link with more information about Mange.,1607,7-153-10370_12150_12220-26949--,00.html

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mallards at sunset

(forgot to hit the POST button -- three days ago}


I visited The Park for the first time in about 10 days...
and found not much that I wanted to photograph.
But I did photograph and discovered something about Mallards at sunset.

Water will run off a ducks back... and beak and tail...
and if you are lucky you can see it happen all at once.

A duck's foot is most orange at sunset... and if you ask
politely they may show it to you.

Mallards can be quite serene at sunset.
They will smile if you say something funny.

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