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Sunday, April 02, 2006

A tribute to Arleen & Spring

This morning the Audubon Nature Center in Prospect Park held a lovely tribute for Arleen O'Brien. I think it was the most birders that I’ve ever seen in the park. Her husband, John, played guitar and sang a couple of songs. I never realized that he was so talented. The tribute ended with everyone breaking into groups for walks in Prospect Park. Today would have been her first walk of the spring.

My good friend Ron came to the tribute by bicycle. I haven’t seen him since our Adirondack trip in January. I had also cycled to the nature center so the two of us pedaled around the park while birding along the way.

Pine Warbler (Dendroica pinus)

(Photo credit - Steve Nanz)
Click photo for larger image

While walking along the lower path of Lookout Hill we heard the warbling trill of a Pine Warbler. We eventually located a bright yellow male foraging for insects above the path. Farther down the path we spotted a Carolina Wren carrying something in his bill. I moved closer to get a better look. As he hopped up on a log I could see he was carrying a small, dried leaf. It was decayed to the point where it looked like a lacy dragonfly wing. It was likely a bit of nesting material and I waited to see where he was bringing it. He was nervous my presence and won’t move from the log. I backed up and he finally flew into a cavity on the side of an old maple tree. Carolina Wrens were absent from the park last year and it was good to see that they’ve returned.

Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus)

(Photo credit - Steve Nanz)

Carolina Wren nest?

(Photo credit - RobJ)

I saw my first Louisiana Waterthrush of the year foraging at the Vale of Cashmere early in the morning. Ron and I pedaled to the north end of the park to try and relocate it. The park’s department has yet to turn on the fountains for the ponds. The muddy bottoms are a perfect habitat for waterthrush and he was quickly spotted foraging around the edges of the mud.

Forsythias flowers are close to peak bloom and the white flowers of Callery Pear trees (Pyrus calleryana) on the city streets and in the parks are in full blossom. I’m probably wrong but it seems to have occurred a bit early this year.

Ron had to depart early so I rode with him to the Vanderbilt Avenue entrance to the park. Near the crosswalk at that location I noticed a large flowering shrub that I didn’t know. It had brilliant red-pink flowers centered with bright yellow stamens. The shrub looked really odd as the blooming section was divided almost exactly down the center of the plant. The east side on the shrub was covered with partially opened flowers while the west side was still covered with tiny buds. At home I discovered that it is a Common Flowering Quince. I’ve never noticed them before but now will probably see them all over the city.

Common Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa)

(Photo credit - RobJ)

- - - - -

Prospect Park, 4/2/2006
Ring-necked Duck (2, Upper pool.)
Osprey (Seen from my roof. Flying north over the park.) [Rob Jett]
Red-tailed Hawk (1, flying towards Midwood.)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Lookout Hill.)
Northern Flicker (Fairly common.)
Eastern Phoebe (Several.)
White-breasted Nuthatch (1, Lookout Hill.)
Carolina Wren (1, Lookout Hill, carrying nest material.)
Winter Wren (1, Vale of Cashmere.)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (Several.)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (2, Lookout Hill.)
Hermit Thrush (1, Vale of Cashmere. 1, Boulder Bridge.)
Pine Warbler (2.)
Louisiana Waterthrush (1, Vale of Cashmere.)
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco (Several.)
Common Grackle
American Goldfinch (1, Vale of Cashmere.)

Other common species seen (or heard):
Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

Wild Chives (allium spp.)

(Photo credit - RobJ)

American Elm samaras (Ulmus americana)

(Photo credit - RobJ)


Alex Wilson said...

Re: Carolina Wren
Males build dummy nests, and both sexes sing, so it’s not always clear what’s going on, but I did recently see two together in the vicinity you mention, so we can hope they are really nesting.
Of possible interest: my report of the first successful nest in Central Park from 2001 is at

Rob J. said...


I knew that Marsh Wrens built dummy nests but wasn't aware that Carolina's did, as well. I wonder if that is a behavioral trait of all wren species.

BTW - I really enjoyed reading your post on the above link.


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