Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Birds of Brooklyn

     With a celebrity painted bunting continuing in Prospect Park, my goal today was to highlight the various species that flourish in tho urban green space. The day was also interesting, it felt like the park was hosting so many new visitors today. Much of my conversations with people were about where the bunting is, if I saw it today, where in the park they were, or how to get here or there.
     I saw the bunting on Monday, 11/30/15. I have heard that crowds have grown and people are not following the "rules," more like "ethics," of birding- meaning giving the animal a respectable space and not walking upon the habitat it is living in. If you do visit the bunting, please remember to respect  the habitat and enjoy all that the LeFrak Center green roof has to offer. It is a wonderful little habitat!
     In Prospect today, I recorded 26ish bird species, the "ish" is from the 2 scaup across the lake from where I was, and could not distinguish lesser/greater. Among those 26 was another special park visitor, a good park visit today, for sure! Enjoy:
I didn't even make it off of my block before I saw creatures that I adore... A flock of Brooklyn's famous quaker parrots in a tree on my street.
These parrots can be found in Green-Wood Cemetery (which is just behind where I live), Bay Ridge, Marine Park, and at Brooklyn College. They can be found in other places too, but those are the most well known.
The flock flew over to a median I stood on at McDonald and Caton Avenue, before making their way back to the cemetery.
Back to the cemetery they go!
I found a couple more quakers on a tree on Fort Hamilton Parkway. I saw parrots feeding on the fruits of these trees that I experienced them in 2 years ago. I thought that these trees fruited earlier, but thanks to keeping track of birds through my blog, I stand corrected, these berries were being fed upon in early December. 
 I found that today, I was overdressed for December-- when I say overdressed, I mean dressed as I should have been. My winter jacket and scarf proved to be too much as I observed bees today, large flies buzzing in my ear, and goldenrod and aster flowers still in bloom. Also, some fall foliage still lingers on quite a few trees... Thankfully these parrots are from a temperate region in South America and do just fine in the heat and cold.
My husband liked this picture as uncropped, so I kept it in its original frame.
I squeal when I see this parrot and its mouth full of noms. I am a sucker for animals and cuteness, and understand that I am not to anthropomorphize, but I mean, I totally do it- this is the same look I have on my face when I eat dessert... admit it, you do it too, anthropomorphize... and/or have this same look on your face when you eat dessert.
Upon entering Prospect Park I saw that a black-headed gull was reported just about where I was. And in minutes, there it was!
The Black-headed gull, much smaller than any other gulls on the lake, it was one of 4 species I saw today, the others being ring-billed, herring, and greater black back.
This is rare for the park as this bird usually is more so in salt water and normally would spend their winter more so in Nova Scotia and Europe. So people are going nuts to look at this bunting, and while some visiting and local birders came over to have a look, the average person going to look for the "rainbow bird," as I heard one family (adorably) call it, there was another far away visitor, maybe a bit more modest in its looks, but another great rare visiting bird to see. For most park visitors he may have gone unnoticed as just another seagull.
But I suppose if you are going to find yourself in fresh water, might as well take advantage and have yourself a nice bath.
A ring billed gull, no longer the little guy on the lake, they seemed so much larger in size in comparison to the black-headed gull.
The lake attracts in many visitors, familiar, like this Northern Shoveler, and rare. During winter, this water source becomes a crucial freshwater habitat for animals to access and benefit from.
Other features, besides size that really distinguish this gull from others: those orange legs and bill. The similar Bonaparte's Gull has a black bill. The black head of the black-headed gull is really only on mature animals in the breeding season. All that remains in winter is that black ear mark.

What a privilege it was to have this bird come so close, it approached the shore while we stood and observed. Other gulls squabbled in the area from handouts of bread, this guy just ducked and covered as the larger and more boisterous ring billed gulls mobbed the shore.
What a wonderful life bird to add to my growing list!
The feeders were quiet today, 5 American goldfinches, mourning doves, squirrels, and one nuthatch were present to take advantage of the free seed. In due time, these feeders will be hopping.
2 red tailed hawks patrolled the skies, also saw Cooper's hawk today, a smaller species than the red tail.
I love the little ruddy ducks, diving and bobbing around on the surface of the lake. Another winter visitor to the wonderful Prospect Park habitat.
     The week ahead looks warm, I hope the bunting really sparks inspiration in people. Inspiration to observe their world a little bit more closely, inspiration to get out into nature, inspiration to conserve habitat, or create wildlife-friendly habitat. I hope the family who went to look for the "rainbow bird" today found it and had the chance to share excitement in seeing something that can happen upon our park in the middle of such an urban ecosystem, nature is pretty cool. It's even more cool when we can experience it first hand, responsibly and share the excitement with others.