Monday, November 30, 2015

Brooklyn Bunting

     Urban wildlife never ceases to amaze me. In our little urban oases, our NYC parks, we sometimes get some really wonderful little visitors. Attracted to these green spaces, many designed with purposeful wildlife habitat in mind, birds, small mammals, and insects come to these places for food, shelter, and a new space to inhabit. Since many of NYC's parks are designed and literally put together with plantings, water features, and more, in the beginning parks were for our leisure and viewing pleasure, so many plants were ornamental, not native and not helpful to wildlife.
     Moving forward to today, native species have become more of a focus when redesigning new additions within existing parks or when creating new parks, making these places not only pleasing for us, but wildlife too. Some of these areas are designed so well, we get some wonderful wildlife sights, like the Painted Bunting hanging out in Prospect Park.
Enjoy the sights from Saturday 11/18 and today, Monday 11/30:
Saturday was overcast and chilly, I saw that the feeders were back up for business this winter. All I saw there was this downy woodpecker, feeding on the suet cakes. Today, it seemed like more birds came in for the handouts, including titmice, chickadees, goldfinch, WB nuthatch, and a Brown creeper that walked diligently up the trees surrounding the feeders.
Near the dirt pile on Wellhouse Drive, I saw a warbler fly fast and it did not stay put long enough for me to see what it was, especially since both an Orange Crowned AND Nashville had been reported in that exact area. After that, all I saw in the area were cardinals, a catbird, and both song & white-throated sparrows. A song sparrow here forages for seeds in a brush pile.
A female house sparrow stands with what seems like purpose and strength. I took this photo after being spoken to by two separate groups of men. They spoke behind my back about me, inappropriately and at length. I did not confront, being alone and knowing there was more than one person in each group doing this to me. So after feeling pretty grimy by the words spoken cowardly, behind my back, I purposefully sought out a badass female bird. This sparrow did just the trick, she looks pretty badass, and I bet she is.
I have a love/hate relationship with ginkgo trees-- this is the love side of it- they are stunning in the fall. But the berries from female trees are not pleasing to my nose and shoe soles. I love those golden, fan-shaped leaves, and below the tree is a growing carpet of gold as the leaves are shed.
It was 60 degrees yesterday, perhaps with today's chill, this squirrel realizes winter is actually coming, and he should store up on acorns and other goodies.


To find today's prize, all I had to do was look for other people staring at a shrub...
The painted bunting, it is one of those birds in your field guide that as you flip through pages when you're bored, just familiarizing yourself with birds- it's the one that when you get to their page and you linger just a little longer than the others. You wonder if you would ever get the chance to see one as they live quite far out of range from NY. Well, who knew I would get to see one, here in NY, just a mile away from home!
Painted buntings are normally restricted to places in the South Eastern US, into some parts of the Southern mid-West. This individual is a male, females are greenish to pale yellow, much less flashy than the males who use their colors to attract mates, while also making themselves easy targets for predators.
In the time I spent viewing this bird, he was first feeding on the red berries where I first saw him, then sat, perched in this taller shrub for a bit, before flying off to the rooftop of the new buildings on Lakeside. The building has a green roof with amazing habitat that attracts in seed eating birds like sparrows, cardinals, and with tall grasses and shrubs, warblers hunt here for insects that also are attracted into this wonderful little man-made habitat, boasting native species, atop a structure for the leisurely enjoyment of humans.
He was much harder to photograph in the grasses where he sought out seeds from the grasses and wildflowers. I also figured I had good enough looks at him, I didn't want to overwhelm him with viewers, hopefully he has a game plan for winter and makes it to wherever it is that he needs to be.
One of the mute swan families flew overhead, they are such huge birds and pretty cool in flight. These individuals are the juvenile birds, they are a bit more gray in color, with gray bills.
A little ruby crowned kinglet checked me out in his world that seems to be in a constant state of "fast-forward." A (very) short pause gets you a fuzzy shot in cruddy lighting. 
...And just a little fun, I was excited because I have now sighted all the birds on my favorite drinking glasses, from Fishs Eddy, my Oldham and Harper collection of birds. I use these glasses to quiz my husband on their ID's and was really excited to share with him today that I have found all of the birds on our glasses. Here they are side by side:
Song Sparrow

White-breasted Nuthatch

Black and white Warbler

Painted Bunting