Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Innumerable Titmousen

                                      Tufted Titmouse--Photo by ARDITH BONDI - 1/29/09 

Wednesday afternoon: It's snowing in Central Park. The park has been closed, in expectation of another nor'easter. Here's this morning's report from Ed Gaillard, an indefatigable birder:
Coming to the park on this cold grey morning was well-rewarded.  I was greeted by a Carolina Wren in the logs and branch litter stacked up across from the bathrooms at Maintenance;  then, after a detour to Evodia, where a young Red-Tailed Hawk moped in a tree while 6-8 Pine Siskins shared the feeders with about 20 goldfinches, a couple of chickadees, and innumerable Titmousen, I made my way to Belvedere at about 10:15, where I had an brief view of a male White-Winged Crossbill in the hemlocks at the northeast corner of the Shakespeare Garden area.  I went down from Belvedere, and found the Crossbill again, low in the branches of the more westerly of the two hemlocks. Other birders present said there was a female as well, which I eventually caught a glimpse of when the flew out of the hemlocks onto a bare branch of a deciduous tree briefly.

The location information is probably not that useful, since when I
left the park at 10:45 they were getting ready to close the park in
advance of the nor'easter;  but maybe they'll be back tomorrow.

Good birding,
Ed Gaillard

Monday, November 05, 2012

A hawk after Sandy

Yesterday [Sunday 11/4] I received an entertaining and well-observed letter from a reader named Jamieson F. Russell, with the above photo attached:

Dear Ms. Winn,

Having just finished your book, Central Park in the Dark, last week - which I thoroughly enjoyed - it was rather fitting that, today, while on a walk through the Ramble I stumbled across a woman pointing to the sky. I figured that she must being pointing at something avian related, and was not simply a crazy person. As I approached her, she quietly said, "Look at the hawk." There, about 20 feet up in a tree, was a red-tailed hawk preening himself. I ended up chatting with the woman for about 20 minutes, during which time the hawk continued to preen, was harassed once by a starling (the hawk could not have cared less), and even pooped. The hawk also looked to - and I have no other way of describing it - stretch its legs. He/she would lift one leg, then pull it towards his/her body (it would disappear among the feathers), then extend the leg back again. We were both concerned, as I'm sure you and your readers are, about how the hawks fared during Sandy, so it was great to see one back in his/her routine. I've attached a few photos I took of the hawk.


Reply from Marie:

From the photo I'm reasonably certain the bird perched on the branch is a red-tailed hawk. But I'm not sure which [if any] of our local resident hawks he [or she] is. Because I wrote two books that featured  Pale Male [Red-tails in Love as well as the one cited above] people believe I can easily distinguish my hawk hero and his various relatives [by blood or "marriage"] from any of the numerous itinerant hawks that show up regularly in Central Park.  I can often be pretty sure that a redtail is Pale Male, especially if the bird is pale in color and is perched on the Beresford or in any of Pale Male's regular haunts. But I'm often unsure, especially if the bird is simply sitting on a branch in the Ramble, and if the light is not perfect, as in this case.

A two-owl weekend

 BARRED OWL  --   The Ramble--November 3, 2011
photo courtesy of

[Sorry, failed to find a photo of Sunday's Saw-Whet.]

Doug Kurz reports on eBirdsNYC:

Saturday's star was a magnificent BARRED OWL, while Sunday gave us an adorable SAW-WHET OWL. Both birds were impacted by observers; the Barred Owl kept shifting to higher and higher roosts as the groups of finger-pointing birders increased, while the Saw-whet had to be protected by the Conservancy putting up barricades to keep out overzealous photographers and birders. A Conservancy worker told me that people had actually been climbing into the very branches where the poor little owl was roosting. I hope everyone will remember to respect the birds and keep as great a distance as practicable, particularly with roosting owls. (I'll never forget seeing a family of four birders, parents with two boys, beating a small pine tree with sticks on the median strip at Jones Beach, because they couldn't immediately locate a Saw-whet Owl. Fortunately they failed altogether, and the owl was there the whole time. I won't even say what I wanted to do to them!)