Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hey Tom, what about us??

Wood Ducks photographed on 12/28 by MURRAY HEAD [two of a Wood Duck Quartet seen by Murray on The Pond at 59th Street]

Tom Fiore sent in the list below, of birds seen in Central Park on Thursday, December 29, 2011:

RUFOUS Hummingbird still around - at the flower plantings, especially in & around the shrubs with very small greenish flowers, by the entry to the American Museum of Natural History, in the small park bordered by West 81 Street and with Columbus Avenue & Central Park West on either side. This Rufous Hummingbird may be rather inconspicuous when feeding slowly among these shrubs, & also may be found perching quietly in or among these or other plants, including (in sun &/or milder temp's) on a tree's smaller branches or a shrub with no leaves. It could be best to allow up to one hour or more for a better chance of having a sighting, although the little hummer can sometimes be quite apparent when active. I would hazard a guess this bird may still be seen on the first day of 2012 and perhaps after that, too...

Red-headed Woodpecker continuing (young bird, lacking real red on head, although in photos, any young 'Red-headed' may begin to show this before brighter plumage develops in late winter) - in Central Park, near or within the north or northwest side of Hallet Sanctuary (fenced and no one allowed inside), regularly viewable from pedestrian paths on the outside by the fence, just above, or north of, the western-most edge of The Pond which is located in the southeast portion of Central, not far from Central Park South (also known as 60th Street, away from the park).
- - - - -
Thru (at least) Thursday, 29 December -

Lincoln's Sparrow, still in Bryant Park, mid-town Manhattan near 42 St. - this can sometimes take time to locate. It is a very unusual winter lingerer to this region, particularly the longer it is still to be found in the area (in the northeast of N. America, in general - but then, this has been a nearly-unique December for late-lingering birds of a wide variety of species. It is almost as though we are in a much more southern state, as judged just by the sheer variety and number of birds of late-lingering status, not only in NY state but all through New England states and in eastern Canada. This has been a very widely-noted phenomenon this fall and now, winter... but there are likely a variety of complex mechanisms of arrival and departure that (are and) have occurred with this situation & it would surely be fascinating to know from whence many of the various species came & also what their varied routes may have been before arriving...)

Indigo Bunting (brownish non-breeding plumage) in Central Park's north end, Wildflower Meadow & vicinity. While quite uncommon or nearly rare in winter, Indigos have overwintered occasionally in Central Park (including those that had feeders near their favored areas), & more so in the wider region. (A good idea to look closely at any such for the rarer possibility of Lazuli and even for any other, more remote, possibilities of bunting spp.) - this is an Indigo that's in Central now, however. The wildflower meadow is mid-park, at about "latitude" 103 St.

At least 4 species of warbler continuing (including 3 of the warbler spp. in midtown): [2] Yellow-breasted Chat[s], Common Yellowthroats, and Ovenbirds - plus Gray Catbirds, Eastern Towhee, Hermit Thrush, and other species all in Bryant Park in Manhattan (Fifth to Sixth Avenues, & 40th to 42nd Streets) - and elsewhere:

a lingering Orange-crowned Warbler that has been in & around the Lasker rink & the far NE edge of the Loch, as well as other parts of the N. end of Central Park for many weeks - assuming, as seems likely, the same individual, returning to various favored sites. (This is hardly a comprehensive list of warbler sightings of the island of Manhattan alone in the past week or more, and while some may have moved on, or vanished from the local scene, there is a possibility that a number of additional species, as well as more individuals, are extant even as the end of December is just about here - perhaps unprecedented in any records kept.)

There are some additional lingerers seen this week which may well still be around, including Baltimore Oriole (Central Park) and E. Phoebe (also Central Park), & some considered "half-hardy" which are reasonably likely to continue such as Brown Thrasher, & also more of the more-often found Gray Catbirds, Hermit Thrushes, & perhaps Ruby-crowned Kinglets, along with such very typical Manhattan winterers (in contemporary terms) as Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, Swamp Sparrow & some others. As snow has freshly fallen again in some far-northern and higher-elevation parts of the northeast, it will be interesting to see if a very late and not-so-readily detected "push" of extremely late "migrants" moves south into the south-most sections of NY state.

Good birding - for the remainder of this and all of next year, 2012!

Tom Fiore,

Friday, December 30, 2011

Sad news

Violet tending eggs in the nest last April
Photo: Emily Rueb for the NY Times

Chris Gadsen reports on ebirdsnyc:

Violet, the red-tailed hawk of Washington Square Park died yesterday following surgery on her heart. She was believed to be about 5 years old.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Update -- as of yesterday

1. Barred Owl -- probably still in the park, in general vicinity of the Boathouse

Photo of Barred Owl by Felipe Pimentel

2. Rufous Hummingbird - still hanging out in same location, on one side or other of the entrance to the Planetarium on 81st St, a bit west of Central Park West.

Photo of Rufous Hummingbird by Felipe Pimentel- December 16, 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

NYU Hawk report via Head and Blakeman

Christie M. Farriella for New York Daily News

Violet the red-tailed hawk is recuperating on Long Island after being rescued from Washington Square Park.

Read more:

For those following the Violet saga, here is a note from Murray Head, followed by a report by John Blakeman

Per Cathy Horvath in an email to me earlier this morning, "This is Violet eating her medication. I cut a mouse into 3 pieces and put her pain meds in one piece and her antibiotic pill in another piece. She is a very good patient!"

She is eating mice on her own but getting hand-fed the bits with the medication to ensure she is getting her meds.

And from John Blakeman

Make no comparisons with human mating or dating practices or ethics. These are wild red-tailed hawks, with very different biological instincts and behaviors.

Yes, Bobby has “taken up” with a new mate, so very quickly upon Violet’s capture and removal from Washington Square Park (which is best for her, given her declining state). But the appearance and acceptance of the new formel (female) is quite typical, particularly at this time, the very start of the reproductive season.

At Christmas Eve, upon learning of Violet’s “rescue,” I predicted that a new formel would be in the area within a few days; a week at most. I was wrong. It was just a few hours, the very next day. Understand that this was not perfidy, indiscretion, or selfishness on Bobby’s part. It’s pure, natural, and quite perfect red-tailed hawk biology.

So let’s watch what happens. There is now the highest chance that the new pair will fledge three eyasses this summer. In the meantime, hawkwatchers in Washington Square Park should be looking high above, to watch some thrilling courtship flights in the coming weeks. Bobby and the new formel (“Noelle?” – Seems right, since she appeared on Christmas Day.) will loft together into the sky in circling soars. Then, Bobby will soar much higher, with “Noelle” just a few hundred feet above the building tops. From his height several hundred feet above, Bobby will fold his wings and descend in a thrilling, accelerating dive directly at his new mate, soaring below. Just as he’s about to strike the new formel, at over 200 mph, she will instantly tilt sideways and allow Bobby to plunge through her formerly-occupied airspace.

Bobby will instantly open his wings and divert his momentum in a U-shape flight back upwards, bringing him back to the level of the formel. It’s one of the most thrilling avian flights on the planet. Only a few get to see it, and so seldom in cities. New Yorkers in January and February need to be looking above the trees and buildings in search of these red-tail spectacles.

Here’s to a wonderful new breeding season at NYU and Washington Square Park—and to Violet’s peaceful care and passing now in the least stressful conditions. My best regards to the Horvaths, the New York Times, NYU, and all the WSP hawkwatchers who are making all of this possible.

–John Blakeman

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Help for Violet and PS

photo of Violet's banded leg-- May 12, 2011, already showing signs of trouble
photo by Dr. Elizabeth Bunting

For those of you following the saga of Violet, the NYU redtail with an injured leg, the news is gratifying: she was finally captured yesterday, December 24th, and taken to a rehabilitator for life-saving treatment. The link below gives the story as published in the New York Times. Meanwhile Murray Head.the Central Park photographer whose photos you have often admired on this blog, warns:

"The video is so very hard to watch on one hand, but that she has been captured
and will get treated and hopefully survive and not slowly starve to death is I think wonderful news."