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Thursday, March 31, 2005

More odd hawk stuff, plus Golden-crowned Kinglets

Daffodils blooming in the Lullwater

(Photo credit - Rob J)

With wind driven rains blowing through the area I thought it would be a good morning to catch up on my writing. I’ll fill you in on the latest seasonal changes in Prospect Park, as well as, continuing questions about Big Mama and Split-tail.

I’m not certain if the juvenile Red-tailed Hawk hanging around my pair is male or female, or even a relative. Size-wise it is much smaller than either of the adults, so it is likely a male. Its behavior has me really confused. This morning I watched him fly into the nest and walk around in the bowl as if he were examining the contents or structure. After a moment or two he flew through the woods towards Sullivan Hill. Through the trees I could see him wrestling with a huge branch, which he eventually dropped. Late in the afternoon I ran into Walter (another hawk-watcher) and we stood beneath the large elm waiting for something to happen at the nest. Within about ten minutes “Junior” returned to the nest with a small branch. He was followed by one of the adults. As the larger adult watched he strategically wove the branch into the nest. He flew a short distance towards Sullivan Hill where he retrieved another piece of wood for the growing structure. The two then flew off together towards the Midwood.

Recently I’ve been seeing “Junior” perched near the top of Elizabeth’s tuliptree on Nelly’s Lawn. This used to be Big Mama and Split-tail’s spot. Has Big Mama chosen a new, younger mate? Is the juvenile hawk a female and Spit-tail has replaced our park matriarch? I’m confused and concerned as they should be incubating eggs, not working on the nest. And why the sudden appearance of this young hawk? I’ll try to spend more time following them to find out the answers.

Black Jetbead (Rhodotypos scandens)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click for more info on Jetbead-

Before leaving the park this morning for an appointment I took a quick walk to see what else has changed. The few hundred robins that overwintered in the park have been joined by legions more. American Robins seem to be just about everywhere and many of the males are jostling with each other for territory. Brown-headed Cowbirds have also increased in numbers (unfortunately) and are foraging among flocks of robins and starlings. Many of the male goldfinches are now sporting their bold, yellow and black breeding plumage.

As I walked the gravel path that parallels the Ravine stream I observed another nice spring sight. My first Mourning Cloak butterfly of the spring fluttered up from the ground and disappeared into the woods.

Perhaps the most profound change was the arrival of Golden-crowned Kinglets. When I describe kinglets I spend a lot of time searching for an appropriate adjective. Diminutive, minute, tiny; they all seem inadequate when it comes to painting a picture of these six gram, spirited balls of feathers. Their namesake golden streak of feathers are like a miner’s headlamp directing them to their next insect. I always hear their ultra, high-pitched “zee, zee, zee” before I see them. Today it seemed like thousands of them have descended into the park. I first noticed them hopping along the wooden snow fencing on Payne Hill. They were snapping up insects from the fence that were so small that I couldn’t see them. They were foraging in the shrubs that edge the stream from the Ravine to the Binnen Waters. They were on the Peninsula foraging on the ground. At the Vale of Cashmere I photographed one on the ground that was so close to me I could have touched it. I didn’t spot any Ruby-crowned Kinglets today but we’ll see a similar influx in coming days.

Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click to hear a Golden-crowned Kinglet-

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Prospect Park, 3/31/2005
Northern Shoveler (1, Upper Lullwater.)
Ring-necked Duck (6, the Pools.)
Bufflehead (2, Upper Pool.)
Ruddy Duck (~50.)
Red-tailed Hawk (2 adults, 1 juvenile.)
American Coot (6.)
Ring-billed Gull
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (2, Payne Hill. 1, Lullwater.)
Northern Flicker (Several.)
Eastern Phoebe (Approx. 20-30.)
White-breasted Nuthatch (2, Lullwater.)
Brown Creeper (Ravine.)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (Abundant.)
Fox Sparrow (4, Rick's Place. 6, Lullwater.)
White-throated Sparrow (Fairly common.)
Dark-eyed Junco (Abundant.)
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird (Several on Peninsula Meadow.)
American Goldfinch (~20, Rick's Place.)

Other resident species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker (3.), Downy Woodpecker (4 or 5.), Hairy Woodpecker (1, Payne Hill. 1, Lullwater.), Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee (4.), Tufted Titmouse (2.), American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow (Common.), Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus) in the Lullwater

(Photo credit - Rob J)


Rurality said...

One other word comes to mind for Kinglets... curious! It always seems to me like they want to know what you're up to... They sure range close, and give you the eye, anyway.

And for the Ruby-crowned: fussy. I almost always hear them fussing before I see them. (Anthropomorphic, me? Nah...)

Love your bird pics!

Rob J. said...

I know what you mean. There are times that I swear I could reach out and pick one up.

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