November 2007


By the way, in the spirit of the season and so on, I’m promoting a bird-related Donorschoose project:

Help buy owl pellets for low-income middle schoolers in Buffalo.

Owl pellets are cool, interactive, and pleasingly gross without being squickingly gross. Just the sort of things that kids ought to have the opportunity to meddle with in science class.

Here’s a special bonus two-trip entry, because my week has been insanely busy.

On Thursday, I went out to Prospect Park to clear my head before immersing myself in the kitchen. Initial disappointments, including a distinct lack of Pine Siskins at the Breeze Hill feeders and a falcon that flew overhead too rapidly to be positively id’d (based on size I suspect it may have been a Peregrine but can’t rule out a large female Merlin,) were swept away when I saw my life Red-necked Grebe on Prospect Lake. These grebes are rare but regular in the park and two individuals were seen this past spring, but I’m a little disappointed that no one else has reported this one. Nevertheless, it was a distinctive bird, with the silhouette, size, dark cap, and traces of red remaining in the plumage of the neck making for an id that I’m confident in. I also had a good mammal sighting in a melanistic squirrel.

Then I got back home to find that the stray cat we took in last month was delivering her kittens in the bathroom! Dinner, let alone posting my bird list, was necessarily somewhat delayed.

Rock Dove Columba livia
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Bufflehead Bucephela albeola
American Coot Fulica atra
Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis
American Goldfinch Carduelis tristic
White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia alibicollis
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
Falcon sp.
American Robin Turdus migratorius
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius
Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus
Tufted Titmouse Baeolophus bicolor
White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis
Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus
Canada Goose Branta canadensis
Northern Shoveler Anas acuta
Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisigena *LL
Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis
Mute Swan Cygnus olor
American Black Duck Anas rubripes
Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis

Friday I stuck close to home, but this morning I went to Central Park with Todd. While he trained for the marathon, I did a little walking through the Ramble and the Shakespeare Garden. I didn’t get a long list, but I did pick up Rusty Blackbird which I was afraid by this time I might have missed for the year.

Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus
Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis
Common Grackle Quiscalus quiscula
Rusty Blackbird Euphagus carolinus
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Tufted Titmouse Baeopholus bicolor
White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicolla
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
Purple Finch Carpodacus purpureus
Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis
Thrush sp?
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
Northern Shoveler Anas acuta
Rock Dove Columba livia

I took Amtrak from NYC to Buffalo yesterday. I always keep one eye out the window when riding the train, in hopes of seeing herons, Bald Eagles, and the like.

Imagine my surprise when I spotted a Black Vulture Coragyps atratus! With a less elongated profile than a Turkey Vulture and flashy white wingtips, it was fairly distinctive. I’ve seen them before, but never in New York State. I knew, however, that they are seen from time to time at New York hawkwatches. So I did a little googling.

According to Nightjar, there’s been a surge of Black Vulture reports in the lower Hudson Valley this year.

Interesting. Are they the next Northern Cardinal?

I also saw my year Wild Turkeys Meleagris gallopavo from the window just outside Syracuse.

Black Vulture Coragyps atratus
Bald Eagle Haiaeetus albicilla
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
Mute Swan Cygnus olor
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Crow sp.
Canada Goose Branta canadensis
Rock Dove Columba livia
American Black Duck Anas rubripes
Belted Kingfisher Ceryle alcyon
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis
Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo

The good people of 10000birds.com are giving away five copies of DK Publishing’s BIRD: The Definitive Visual Guide

They’ll have a new context every week!

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