Thursday, April 03, 2014

March Birds

Just as it does every year, March's thirty-one day creep towards the spring migration started slowly with few noticeable changes in the animals and plants. By the last week of the month, however, it became obvious that spring had arrived. I added 16 year birds during the month of March. All but two of those species are regular migrants that I normally see each year. In addition to the arrival of some birds, March saw the emergence of spring crocuses and snowdrops and the blooming of witch-hazel shrubs and Red Maples trees.

Waterfowl migration accelerated early in the month and by mid-month there were a few interesting ducks spotted around Brooklyn. A few Ring-necked Ducks settled on Prospect Lake as a thaw finally created a large opening in the nearly completely covered body of water. A couple more dropped in at Green-Wood Cemetery as its ponds also defrosted. I spotted Northern Pintails on both Coney Island and Gerrittsen Creeks. Also of note was a Black Scoter seen from the fishing pier at Coney Island. This was my third species of scoter for the year completing the trio of large seaducks of the genus melanitta seen in North America.

Mid-month saw the arrival of our first Eastern Phoebes of the season, as well as, lots of American Woodcocks. Woodcocks are one of my favorite odd birds who are easily overlooked due to their amazingly camouflaged plumage. Once you know what to look for and where you'll realize that those brown humps beneath the pine trees aren't actually pine cones, but birds.

Perhaps one of the nicest surprises of the month was seeing a young Bald Eagle at Floyd Bennett Field. When I say "young", I mean that the bird hadn't attained its characteristic white head feathers, which occurs typically in their 5th year. It looked to me to be a second year bird. Anyway, I spotted it flying above Mill Creek heading east towards Ruffle Bar. This winter's "Polar Vortex" had frozen much of the rivers and lakes north of New York City were many Bald Eagles overwinter, forcing them closer to the metropolitan area.

During a trip I led for the Brooklyn Bird Club to Floyd Bennett Field last weekend I added three more birds. The highlight of the trip was standing at the edge of the grassland and listening to the dawn serenade of an Eastern Meadowlark. Over the years I've seen many meadowlarks around New York City, but I'm certain that this was the first time that I ever heard one singing. It was a great way to start the day.

Listen to the Eastern Meadowlark:



April should be full of new arrivals and I hope to add between 35 and 40 year birds by the end of the month.

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NYS Total: 125
Kings Total: 123

108) Short-eared Owl (Floyd Bennett Field, 03/01/14)
109) Black Scoter (Coney Island Pier, 03/02/14)
110) Northern Pintail (Dreier-Offerman Park, 03/02/14)
111) Turkey Vulture (Floyd Bennett Field, 03/08/14)
112) Carolina Wren (Floyd Bennett Field, 03/08/14)
113) Boat-tailed Grackle (Salt Marsh Nature Center at Marine Park--Southwest, 03/08/14)
114) Ring-necked Duck (Prospect Park, 03/11/14)
115) American Woodcock (Green-Wood Cemetery, 03/12/14)
116) Eastern Phoebe (Green-Wood Cemetery, 03/12/14)
117) American Oystercatcher (Salt Marsh Nature Center at Marine Park, 03/22/14)
118) Ring-necked Pheasant (Floyd Bennett Field, 03/22/14)
119) Bald Eagle (Floyd Bennett Field, 03/22/14)
120) Tree Swallow (Floyd Bennett Field, 03/22/14)
121) Osprey (Floyd Bennett Field, 03/29/14)
122) Greater Yellowlegs (Floyd Bennett Field, 03/29/14)
123) Eastern Meadowlark (Floyd Bennett Field, 03/29/14)

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