Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Birding the Bronx River at New York Botanical Garden

Wood Ducks benefit from the habitat conserved at New York 
Botanical Garden (NYBG). This species breeds in tree cavities
near water, two qualifications which can be found in the forest
at NYBG. 

Although birds can be found throughout the garden (and some
species, such as Red-breasted Nuthatches might be more likely
around certain plant collections, like conifers), most of my
favorite spots are shown on this map. The Thain Family Forest
contains roughly four short trails that are worth hours of
combing for both birds and tranquility. The model wetland
can be accessed just outside the trail at the center of this map
(but not shown). Also not shown are the Twin Ponds, which
would be on the left side of the map, just outside the forest
and below the river. 

A migrating Black-and-white Warbler takes a bath in a small
pool along the Spicebush trail in the forest.

A Prothonotary Warbler feeds along the Spicebush trail
in the forest on May 6. This species was reported around Twin 
Ponds around 10:50AM. I was fortunately already at NYBG 
and saw a post on the NYS bird list serve while I was sitting at 
a bench at Twin Ponds at about noon. I looked for it for over an 
hour by Twin Ponds and did not see it. Later, after going to some 
other areas, I encountered one individual Prothonotary at about 3PM 
midway through the Spicebush Trail of the Thain Family Forest. 
This location is approximately .25 mile from where it was 
originally reported. Probably the same individual!

An Eastern Phoebe visits the marshy area between
the Bronx River and Twin Ponds.

A migrating Blue-headed Vireo descended to these branches
and dropped into a small pool near the Bronx River's edge.
The Spicebush Trail and the Sweetgum Trail each feature
different views of the forest and the river, including vantage
points that allow you to see birds that otherwise stay up high.

Audubon is currently promoting use of native plants to
increase (restore, really!) the food base for birds. A wide
variety of insects feed on native species of plants; it is these
insects that many migrating birds are seeking. This Rose-
breasted Grosbeak finds arthropods in and around the flowers
of this oak tree. NYBG's forest supports hundreds of native 
trees, some of them hundreds of years old.

This blooming Tuliptree supports many migrating species
in May, including this Baltimore Oriole (which also breed 

at NYBG). Tuliptrees are common at NYBG and support birds 
throughout the year with nectar, seeds, and the insects they attract.

A Wood Thrush forages on the forest floor in spring. I have
also observed this species in summer at NYBG; it may
breed in the forest.

A sign on the trail depicts the food web of the forest floor.
It shows some of the reasons the Wood Thrush and other
species visit and live in the forest: lots of invertebrates to eat!

Perhaps the top predator at NYBG, Great Horned Owls
have bred at the garden and can be observed with luck. Please
take care to be quiet and not disturb them!

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