Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Bird Count in the Bronx

One young Red-tailed Hawk.

For the East Bronx section of Bronx-Westchester Christmas Bird Count (CBC), I birded the southern zone of Pelham Bay Park with a group of five people. We covered about 2.5 miles of distance (not including backtracking) in over five hours. Our goal was to identify and count every single bird to submit as part of a larger citizen science effort to track bird populations and distribution.

Early light at Pelham Bay Park landfill, part of the southern zone of the park.

One of the highlights of covering the southern zone is entering the generally-closed-to-the-public landfill area. With its grassland-like habitat, it always holds promise for interesting birds.

New York City landmarks, just part of the scenery!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Triple helping of Christmas Goose

Snow Goose started off the holiday visual feast on 12/25/2016
at Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx, NY. Canada Goose followed. 

The main delicacy, a Pink-footed Goose, in Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx, NY,
with tons of Canada Goose on the side.

With little time and declining light we did not pick out a Cackling Goose, but one may have been hiding there! 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Not quite home: Nests and Avian Architecture

Woven nests: Village Weavers (Rwanda)

Birds are consumers in their environments beyond food; they use space, plant material, mud, spider silk, mammal hair, rocks, and other materials to construct their nests. In some cases birds construct other structures, like bowers or food stores.

Tufted Titmouse with nesting material (they nest in holes per Cornell University)

According to Avian Architecture, by Peter Goodfellow, the vast majority of birds do not live in their nest, although there are exceptions. The primary function of the nest is to contain eggs for protection and incubation, and then for many species, for raising the young until they can fledge (defined by the book as growing feathers and being able to fly). For many other species, the young are born from the egg with feathers and without a need for parental care. Nests are then often abandoned or perhaps reclaimed the following breeding season.

Cup nest: Chipping Sparrow (Kansas, USA)