Monday, October 12, 2020

Three Days of Birding with Baby

     Never thought I'd feel this way, but I love birding with our baby girl. Despite only being able to go out for short periods of time and her controlling much of what we do (diapers, bottles, and snuggles are at her demand), I love sharing the sights and sounds of nature with her.

    We went out into the world for three days in a row, looking at birds, listening to the leaves rustle in the wind, and smelling the fresh air. On day three, we even participated in the Brooklyn Birdathon and had a very very special sight!

Our first day was baby's first Elizabeth Morton NWR experience along with grandma too.

In addition to the chickadees, titmouse, and nuthatch beggars, we saw a few other friends too, like this very boisterous Carolina Wren.

This and another Carolina Wren came falling to the ground in a scuffle ball, then chasing each other after hitting the ground.

Then some much needed rest.

A blackpoll warbler sat out of the way of the wrens to bask in the warm sun.

This robin was not the intended subject of this photo... but it is now.
Robins don't all migrate south for the winter. They migrate in their diet, from their spring and summer feast of worms and insects, they turn to berries for the winter. They frequent areas with berries that last through the winter, which is why you stop seeing them on your lawn until springtime.

We always do small amounts of food in our hand and never spill it out. Unfortunately not everyone follows these posted rules and reminders (That are everywhere along the trails!) and it attracts more than birds. The rats take advantage of the surplus food, do well, and cause issues for vulnerable nesting birds during nesting season.
Please take your seed with you!
Actually, a few peanut halves in your hand will make the birds go insane and land on you. The cheaper seed blends the birds pick out the good stuff and leave you with the filler. That's what folks end up dumping and then attracting vermin. Less is more!

The next day (last Friday), we did a walk around Marine Park. A beautiful day is wasted if you don't get outside for even just a little bit!
This cedar waxwing sat low and in the warm sun.

It also showed us its wax wing. See those little red waxy things? That's its name!
A lovely little bird, never can complain about seeing them.

A bonus sparrow... a white-crowned sparrow!
Among the many song, swamp, and white-throated sparrows, there was this juvenile white-crowned!
Another "always happy to see" bird, a the blue-headed vireo. Also super close, just above eye level.

Saturday morning, the kiddo and I did our first Birdathon. Our first bird sighted was this great egret. We call them all GREG, so we always wave hello to GREG's when we see them.
(Heck, I wave to every bird...)

We birded Marine Park for our little patch of birdathon and racked up 38 species in total, including a few of these greater yellowlegs.
During a diaper change over looking the marsh, we spotted two Nelson's sparrows which were a year bird for me (a life bird for her?).

One of my favorite parts of the Nature Center at Marine Park is a trail just off the main loop that takes you out to Avenue U, adjacent to the handball courts. There is shrub and tree growth there so you can find all sorts of things in there. It is sparrow city with the grasses that butt up to the trees and sometimes you can find a fun one in the mix (like my white-crowned that I saw above).
A yellow-bellied sapsucker flew right overhead in the tree we were under. It even seemed to acknowledge us.

Here you can see the yellow on its belly. This birds coloration makes them look similar to the lichens growing on the trees they cling to.

We had a 4 woodpecker day, the sapsucker, this downy woodpecker, and a red-bellied and a few Northern flickers. This downy perched right next to us. I really love birding in urban parks, the birds really do come so near, making birding without binoculars very very possible.

Another close lander, ruby-crowned kinglets were buzzing about everywhere on this little trail, picking for bugs under leaves and in the creases of branches.
The baby was starting to fuss, and she was right, we all needed breakfast (well, second breakfast for her). So we began our walk back, out to the main loop again to see if there were any good birds along the fence line.


An American Kestrel!!!
So, being that our daughter is named Kestrel... we have been looking for them on every outing. None. And so crazy, because we have been to places where you ALWAYS see at least one.
So this is her first Kestrel, on her first birdathon! We got to pass right under it, it was so close, and then it flew, a merlin came by and prompted it to fly to a neighboring tree. That merlin swoop, gave us then a three falcon outing as we saw a peregrine earlier too!

These birds are amazing littel predators. See that specially hooked beak, with that extra notch in there? That is for severing the spinal cords of their prey, subduing them so this awesome predator can carry them off to a safe place to eat. Falcons are awesome, and even little falcons do not disappoint!

A song sparrow for the road.
We did some fundraising to help bird proof the glass here at the Marine Park Salt Marsh Nature Center, the center at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and if we have extra monies, it will go toward bird-proofing other units in the Jamaica Bay area.

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