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Thursday, November 18, 2004

Sweetgums, birds and squirrels

We weren't seeing or hearing many small land birds around today. Perhaps it was due to the presence of a Merlin perched above the lower pool; or the Red-tailed Hawk across the Long Meadow from her; or the other Red-tailed Hawks flying around; or the kestrel flying over Lookout Hill; or the juvenile Cooper's Hawk perched near Center Drive; or the adult Cooper's Hawk eating the pigeon near Breeze Hill; or the Sharp-shinned Hawk flying over the Peninsula. The little birds were definitely playing it safe today.

The sun was never able to burn through the thick, gray blanket of clouds so I couldn't take many photographs. Near Breeze Hill we watched a huge Cooper's Hawk perched with a pigeon in his talons. It would have made a very nice shot. A chipmunk clinging to a log cried out a loud warning to all the other animals. The hawk looked nervous and moved three times before we left the area.

Sweetgum balls in silhouette

(Photo credit - Rob J)

A Sweetgum tree next to the Butterfly Meadow seemed to be the only active spot we located. The gum balls have opened and rained down a sprinkling of tiny seeds. It sounded like snow collecting on dried leaves as they settled on the ground. Goldfinches, Purple Finches, chickadees and titmouses feasted on the sudden windfall. As they tapped the spiky balls with their bills they released an explosion of minute confetti. Some squirrels lapped up the seeds from the paths below the tree. Some squirrels preferred harvesting the whole gum balls and gnawing into them for their seeds.

Seed flurries

(Photo credit - Rob J)

A tasty treat

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-click to learn more about Sweetgum Trees-

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Prospect Park, 11/18/2004
Pied-billed Grebe (Near Three Sisters Island.)
Double-crested Cormorant (Prospect Park.)
Great Blue Heron (Duck Island.)
Brant (Juvenile. With flock of Canada Goose.)
American Wigeon (6, Prospect Lake.)
Northern Shoveler (~200. Prospect Lake.)
Ruddy Duck (6-8, Prospect Lake.)
Sharp-shinned Hawk (Flying over Lookout Hill & Peninsula.)
Cooper's Hawk (Juvenile, near Terrace Bridge. Adult in upper Lullwater.)
Red-tailed Hawk (2 adults.)
American Kestrel (Flying over Lookout Hill.)
Merlin (Perched near lower pool.)
American Coot
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull (4-6, Prospect Lake.)
Hairy Woodpecker (Calling in Midwood.)
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper (Midwood.)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (2.)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (4, Terrace Bridge.)
Cedar Waxwing (~12, flying over Long Meadow.)
Fox Sparrow (Ravine.)
White-throated Sparrow (Small flock near West Island.)
Purple Finch (6-8. Feeding in Sweetgums on Center Dr. & Butterfly Meadow.)
American Goldfinch (Approx. 75 in several flocks. Feeding in Sweetgum trees.)

Other resident species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose (75, Prospect Lake.), Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee (Several.), Tufted Titmouse, American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow (Several.), Northern Cardinal


Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog. Can you suggest any other good blogs that focus on similar issues? What’s your favorite?

Rob J. said...

Some of my favorite sites are listed in the links. is also pretty good. Try searching -

Exploring urban nature, birds, birdwatching, birding, hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, hawks, raptors, wildflowers, trees, mushrooms, environment, binoculars, spotting scope