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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Birds in Winter

A Walk in Prospect Park
Many Birds Found by a Good Observer.

Those of you who visit Prospect Park during the winter months rarely, perhaps, notice the many little feathered creatures who still flutter about the trees which cold weather has robbed of their leaves. The chattering English sparrow is a bird always much In evidence or a casual visitor may feel sure that he recognises a robin, but usually we are so certain that there are no birds left during the winter that we do not trouble ourselves to look for them.

But a closer observation, by a real lover of nature, will reveal quite a large number of birds that flutter about the park trees during the winter season. Let us take a stroll on a clear morning early in January and just after sunrise. Passing to the left from the main entrance we soon arrive at the Vale of
Cashmere, which is a quiet spot, entirely surrounded by high ground, heavily wooded. The little friends for which we watch are shy, but we hear from yonder bush a prolonged 'Tseep!" Oh, there are several white throated sparrows (zonotrichia albicollis), indulging in a sun bath. This bird is one of the largest of the sparrow family. It Is mottled brown on the back, with a pure white throat and breast ashy. Although most of these birds migrate yet a colony of them spends the winter regularly In Prospect Park.

Walking south over the lawn toward Battle Pass we startle a flock of small mouse colored birds. As they fly off we perceive the white feathers in their tails, showing plainly against the dark body. This is the slate colored
junco (junco Hyemalis), known as the snow bird. The sharp "Tschip-tschip" is so like the chipping sparrow that Wilson, the celebrated ornithologist, believed that the chipping sparrow turned into the snow bird in winter.

Looking upward as we trudge along we see a crow lazily flying and his familiar "khrah-khrah" is answered by his mate in the distance. But something flitted overhead as we watched the crow. Bigger than the robin, with a snowy patch on his back and each wing and tail feather possessing a yellow shaft, the flicker (Colaptes Auratus) is indeed a beauty. He is shy, keeping well up in the trees. He flies with quick. vigorous strokes. He Is also known as the golden winged woodpecker and the yellow hammer. His cry of "urick-ah-urlck-ah" is very penetrating.

Near the music stand we come across a small
nervous feathered creature running spirally up the trunk of an elm, pausing occasionally to observe what we are doing, for this brown creeper (certhia familiaris Americana) Is somewhat timid. Of a rich brown color, the little fellow is scarcely to be distinguished from the tree bark. His long curved bill is well adapted to picking out the insects on which be feeds. His quick "shree-shree-shree" may be heard from October until April.

As we cross the bridge back of the boat house, we hear the cheery call "Chick-a-dee, chick, chick, chIck-a-dee-dee" and we know that the black capped titmouse or chick-a-dee (Parus atricapillus) Is somewhere near. His cousin, the golden crowned kinglet (Regulus satrapa), is not far off either, for we catch another call "Te-cet, te-it, te-cet" and we catch sight of this bird searching dillgently among the pine cones for the seeds which make his dinner. Next to the hummingbird, this little fellow is the smallest bird we have. He is dark olive green, with a grayish white breast and a broad flame colored band on the crown of his tiny head is margined with black.

In our circuit of the park we came across several other species of our feathered friends. The cherry robin, the blue bird and the gold finch, are all to be found at times on a winter walk through the park, by whoever will, with patient observation, look for the pretty feathered inhabitants in their winter quarters.

, Brooklyn Eagle, February 13, 1898

by Rob Jett for "The City Birder"

1 comment:

Yojimbot said...

Ha cool post. Fraser has great onomotopeia...urich ah, urich ah! is the best for how the ys flicker sounds. Love the faux old time sepia toned pix too!

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