Tuesday, March 29, 2016

T-Shirt Contest

Make sure to vote for my T-Shirt design in the Coney Island Brewing Co. contest. Click here. I'm in the finals with this design:

Treehugger Tuesday

From the National Geographic Society website:

Rare Sumatran Rhino Found for First Time in 40 Years

The female animal is being moved to a more secure location in an attempt to bolster the endangered species.

By Brian Clark Howard
PUBLISHED Thu Mar 24 12:31:29 EDT 2016


This female Sumatran rhino has been captured in Borneo, with the goal of moving it to a location that is more secure from poachers.
Photograph by Ari WIBOWO, WWF-Indonesia

Sumatran rhinos had been thought extinct from Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo, and hadn't been physically encountered in the area for 40 years. But on Tuesday, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) announced the safe capture of a female Sumatran rhino there, in what the group calls "a major milestone for rhino conservation in Indonesia."

The rhino is thought to be between four and five years old. It was captured safely in a pit trap in Kutai Barat in East Kalimantan on March 12. The animal is being held in a temporary enclosure before it is airlifted via helicopter to a more secure place about 93 miles (150 kilometers) away.

There, the rare rhino will be better protected from poachers in what officials hope will become the second Sumatran rhino sanctuary in Indonesia. At least three other animals are expected to be moved there in the near future, in the hopes of starting a more stable breeding population.

“This is an exciting discovery and a major conservation success,” Efransjah Efransjah, the CEO of WWF-Indonesia, said in a statement. “We now have proof that a species once thought extinct in Kalimantan still roams the forests, and we will now strengthen our efforts to protect this extraordinary species.”

The smallest of the world's five species of rhinos, the Sumatran is covered with patches of stiff hair, especially on its ears. Dark red-brown in color, the animals prefer to live in dense mountain forests, where they are highly elusive. They are usually solitary creatures that feed on fruit, twigs, and leaves, but they can find each other by leaving scent trails, which they can pick up with their keen sense of smell. (Learn more about efforts to save the species.)

Sumatran rhinos can grow up to 1,760 pounds (800 kilograms) and reach a length of 8 to 10 feet (2.5 to 3.2 meters). About 100 Sumatran rhinos are thought to exist in the wild, mostly on the island of Sumatra, making them one of the rarest mammals on the planet.

While their two horns are considerably smaller than those on African rhinos, the appendages are still prized on the black market for purported health benefits, despite scientific evidence proving that such treatments don't work. Their population has been hammered over the past century by poaching and loss of habitat from deforestation, mining, and other impacts. The rhino was declared extinct from the Malaysian section of Borneo last year.

Although scientists had warned that the Sumatran rhino might have disappeared from Kalimantan years ago, WWF scientists kept looking for evidence of the animals. In 2013, they were rewarded with footprints and an image of one on a camera trap. Based on such work, the team has estimated there are about 15 Sumatran rhinos left in the region, split into in three populations.

Nilanga Jayasinghe, the WWF-US lead on Asian species, calls the rhino capture "very good news."

She adds, "Given the dire situation of Sumatran rhinos in the wild, it is crucial that isolated individuals such as this female become part of a managed breeding population to ensure the future of the species."

Sixty-three Javan rhinos—cousins to the Sumatran species—are also thought to remain in the wild, all in Indonesia's Ujung Kulon National Park (see photos). A few hundred Sumatran rhinos live in zoos around the world, although the animals rarely breed in captivity.

Efransjah calls the rhinos' plight "a race against time."
...Read more

Monday, March 28, 2016

New Red-tailed Nest for Brooklyn

A friend alerted me to a new neighborhood Red-tailed Hawk nest in an unlikely location.

About 3/4 of a mile from human and wildlife oasis Prospect Park and adjacent to the notorious Gowanus Canal are the new digs for a pair of our resident raptors. It's not completely unheard of for our urban hawks to build their nests on fire escapes, but this one's placement next to a very busy roadway has me a bit concerned.


If this pair is successful, their fledglings don't have many good choices for a landing zone. There is a large parking lot across the street and some low, flat rooftops just to the east, but a roadway landing would be tragic. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Here's a map if you want to help keep an eye on them. It's a block away from Wholefoods ... where Red-tailed Hawks also can't afford to shop ;-)

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, April 2, 2016 to Sunday, April 3, 2016:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, April 2, 2016, 12pm – 1pm
Introduction to Bird Watching
Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird! But what kind of bird is it? Take a tour and learn about the magnificent array of birds that call Prospect Park home. Led by Brooklyn Bird Club.

Sunday, April 3, 2016, 8am – 9am
Early Morning Bird Walk: Changing Seasons, Changing Birds
Join the Prospect Park Alliance to welcome the earliest migrants of the year, and also say goodbye to some of our winter residents. Please note this tour leaves promptly at 8 am. Led by the Brooklyn Bird Club.

**********

Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, April 2, 2016
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Leader: Steve Nanz
Focus: Waterbirds and geese, early egrets and herons, early shorebirds and passerines
Registrar: Heidi Nanz email heidi.steiner@verizon.net or call before 8 pm 718- 369-2116
Registration Period: March 26th – March 31st

**********

Gateway National Recreation Area
Every Saturday Weekly from 03/19/2016 to 08/27/2016
Canarsie Walk-up and Paddle
Location: Canarsie Pier – Brooklyn
Time: 1:00PM to 3:30PM
Fee Information: FREE
Contact Name: Ryan Visitor Center Contact Phone Number: 718-338-3799
Try kayaking! Open to the public, ages 6 and up with an adult. No reservation required.
Dress to get wet; bring sunscreen, a snack and water.

Sunday, April 3, 2016, 10am - 12:30pm
Dead Horse Bay: New York's Best-Kept Secret
Free
Hike the trails and shoreline at Dead Horse Bay with Mickey Maxwell Cohen, American Littoral Society naturalist, author of Discovering the Trails of Dead Horse Bay. Explore the nature and fascinating history of this little known area. Sturdy footwear is essential.
This is an American Littoral Society/Gateway NRA Partnership Program.
Walk is approximately 2 miles.

**********

Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society
Saturday, April 2, 2016 - 9:00am
Jones Beach Bird Walk
Look for early migrants, including oystercatcher, heron, egrets, kinglets, warblers, and sparrows.
Registration: 516-433-5590.
Directions: Take either Meadowbrook Parkway or Wantagh Parkway to Ocean Parkway. Follow signs for the Coast Guard Station at the West End of Jones Beach. Meet at the parking lot by the restrooms.

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, April 2, 2016
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11am to 12:30pm beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center

**********

New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, April 2, 2016, 5-9:30pm
The Sky-Dance of the Woodcock II
Guide: Gabriel Willow
The American Woodcock is a remarkable bird: It is in the sandpiper family but lives in woodlands, often far from beaches. The male performs an incredible crepuscular aerial display and song early in the spring, soon after the snow melts in the northern U.S. There are a few places around New York City where they perform this display. Let’s go look for it (and bats and owls and other critters, too) at Floyd Bennett Field. Bring binoculars, comfortable shoes, a headlamp or flashlight, and a snack for a post-woodcock picnic. Transport by passenger van included. Limited to 12. $90 (63)
Click here to register

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Sunday, April 3, 2016 @ 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Mount Loretto Unique Area
Cost: Free
Contact: Anthony Ciancimino
Join birder Anthony Ciancimino for a guided bird walk through the fields at Mount Loretto Unique Area. We should get a nice selection of arriving early spring migrants, look as well as waterfowl on the ponds and in the bay. This is the time of year when we could potentially get Eastern Meadowlark as well as Pine and Palm Warblers. Meet in the parking lot along Hylan Blvd directly across from the CYO Center. Contact Anthony at sibirdwatcher@yahoo.com for more information.

Sunday, April 3, 2016 @ 9:00pm – 11:00pm
Chapin Woods
Cost: Free
Contact: Mike Shanley
Join Mike Shanley as he explores Chapin Woods, sildenafil located in the Special Hillsides Preservation District of Staten Island. The Special Hillsides Preservation District guides development in the steep slope areas of Staten Island’s Serpentine Ridge, there an area of approximately 1,900 acres in the northeastern part of the borough. The purpose of the district is to reduce hillside erosion, landslides and excessive storm water runoff by preserving the area’s hilly terrain, trees and vegetation. Wear proper shoes and dress accordingly. For more information contact Mike Shanley at falecore@yahoo.com

**********

South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, April 3, 2016
Alley Pond Park

All walks start at 9:00 A.M.
There is no walk if it rains or snows or temperature is below 25°F.
For more information or in case of questionable weather conditions, please phone Joe at 516 467-9498
For directions to our bird-watching locations, click here.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, April 2, 2016
Pop-Up Audubon: Leaf Litter Critters at Eastwood (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Using fun games and experiments, join the Prospect Park Alliance to uncover the secrets of soil creatures, fungus and decomposition. Free!

Pop-Up Audubon II: Plant Clues at Peninsula (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Join Alliance educators at the Pop-Up Audubon II tent to learn what trees and plants tell us about our environment.
Free!

Introduction to Bird Watching at Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.
Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird! But what kind of bird is it? Take a tour and learn about the magnificent array of birds that call Prospect Park home.
Free!

Opening Weekend in Prospect Park at Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn, Lefferts Historic House (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn, The Carousel (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
12:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.
Join the Prospect Park Alliance to celebrate the beginning of spring at the Prospect Park Audubon Center, Lefferts Historic House and the Carousel!
Free!

Hands on History: For the Birds at King Manor Museum (in Rufus King Park), Queens
1:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.
Listen to bird stories, and then make your own feeder out of oranges at this King Manor Museum program.
Free!

Sunday, April 3, 2016
Early Morning Bird Walk: Changing Seasons, Changing Birds at Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn 8:00 a.m.–9:00 a.m.
Join the Prospect Park Alliance to welcome the earliest migrants of the year, and also say goodbye to some of our winter resident.
Free!

Pop-Up Audubon: Leaf Litter Critters at Eastwood (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Using fun games and experiments, join the Prospect Park Alliance to uncover the secrets of soil creatures, fungus and decomposition.
Free!

Pop-Up Audubon II: Plant Clues at Peninsula (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Join Alliance educators at the Pop-Up Audubon II tent to learn what trees and plants tell us about our environment.
Free!

Opening Weekend in Prospect Park at Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn, Lefferts Historic House (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn, The Carousel (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
12:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.
Join the Prospect Park Alliance to celebrate the beginning of spring at the Prospect Park Audubon Center, Lefferts Historic House and the Carousel!
Free!
...Read more

Saturday, March 26, 2016

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, March 25, 2016

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Mar. 25, 2016
* NYNY1603.25

- Birds mentioned
COMMON MURRE+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Wood Duck
EURASIAN WIGEON
GREEN-WINGED TEAL (Eurasian form "Common Teal")
Canvasback
Red-necked Grebe
EARED GREBE
Northern Gannet
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Osprey
Bald Eagle
American Oystercatcher
Piping Plover
BLACK-HEADED GULL
Laughing Gull
Iceland Gull
GLAUCOUS GULL
Red-headed Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Winter Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER
Pine Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
LARK SPARROW
Swamp Sparrow
WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW (Gambel's form)
Rusty Blackbird

- Transcript

If followed by (+) please submit documentation of your report electronically and use the NYSARC online submission form found at http://www.nybirds.org/NYSARC/goodreport.htm

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to nysarc44(at)nybirds{dot}org.

If electronic submission is not possible, hardcopy reports and photos or sketches are welcome. Hardcopy documentation should be mailed to:

Gary Chapin - Secretary
NYS Avian Records Committee (NYSARC)
125 Pine Springs Drive
Ticonderoga, NY 12883

Hotline: New York City Area Rare Bird Alert
Number: (212) 979-3070

To report sightings call:
Tom Burke (212) 372-1483 (weekdays, during the day)
Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126 (Long Island)

Compiler: Tom Burke, Tony Lauro
Coverage: New York City, Long Island, Westchester County

Transcriber: Ben Cacace

BEGIN TAPE

Greetings. This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, March 25th 2016 at 7pm. The highlights of today's tape are COMMON MURRE, EARED GREBE, BLACK-HEADED GULL, GLAUCOUS GULL, EURASIAN WIGEON, Eurasian form of GREEN-WINGED TEAL, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, LARK SPARROW and Gambel's form of WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW.

With the March doldrums still providing more Winter exodus than Spring inflow nonetheless some new arrivals and lingering rarities have kept things interesting.

This week's COMMON MURRE was unfortunately found dead Saturday near the Coast Guard Station at Jones Beach West End where an EARED GREBE was reported again Saturday morning. A search of that whole area Sunday morning could not relocate the EARED GREBE but several Horned Grebes there were in all stages of plumage from full Winter to darker headed to transition to full breeding plumage. Eight PIPING PLOVERS were on the Coast Guard Station bar on Sunday and 2 dozen or more AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS were around the inlet. Also at West End the LARK SPARROW was still around the outer turnaround on Wednesday.

As was also noticed last weekend at Dead Horse Bay and Raritan Bay on Sunday several hundred NORTHERN GANNETS gathered together in a frantic feeding frenzy off Jones Inlet taking advantage of a good fishing opportunity. This phenomenon occurs fairly regularly especially around inlets and other prime fish schooling areas along the coast as the Gannets are moving back north and it can be quite exciting and something to watch for. The gatherings often disburse as quickly as they form so timing is key.

Among the waterfowl a drake EURASIAN WIGEON continues at least to Monday at Bush Terminal Piers Park in Brooklyn with one on Fresh Pond in Fort Salonga last Saturday. The Eurasian form of GREEN-WINGED TEAL was still on Mill Pond in Setauket Saturday and a hybrid Eurasian and American GREEN-WINGED TEAL was with other Green-wings on the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Saturday. Other birds of note at the bay Saturday included two CANVASBACKS, a BALD EAGLE and a LAUGHING GULL.

An immature BLACK-HEADED GULL was spotted yesterday in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn. Lingering white winged gulls included a GLAUCOUS at Heckscher State Park on Monday and an ICELAND at Brooklyn's Drier-Offerman Park Wednesday to today. A RED-NECKED GREBE was off Staten Island Saturday, a BALD EAGLE flew over Prospect Park Wednesday and 3 PIPING PLOVERS were at Breezy Point Saturday.

Interesting were two ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS reported last weekend with one again on Wednesday on Staten Island where a RED-HEADED WOODPECKER was still at Willowbrook Park on Tuesday. Another RED-HEADED WOODPECKER continues around the north entrance to Blydenburgh County Park in Smithtown this off New Mill Road and Blydenburgh also produced a NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW Tuesday as another of the earlier migrants makes an appearance.

A nice find last Sunday was an adult Gambel's form of WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW with other White-crowneds at the former Grumman airport grasslands in Calverton. Twenty-two RUSTY BLACKBIRDS were counted at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx last Sunday this a good area to find this species in the swampy areas near the lake. The LARK SPARROW at Croton Point Park in Westchester was still being seen as of Sunday.

A small but widespread influx of PINE WARBLERS has been noted this week and other earlier arrivers all expected at this time have included GREAT and SNOWY EGRETS, YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON, OSPREY, WINTER WREN, GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET and even an occasional RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET and a few species of sparrows including FIELD, CHIPPING and SWAMP these already following present species like WOOD DUCK, NORTHERN FLICKER, EASTERN PHOEBE and TREE SWALLOW.

To phone in reports on Long Island, call Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126 or weekdays call Tom Burke at (212) 372-1483.

This service is sponsored by the Linnaean Society of New York and the National Audubon Society. Thank you for calling.

- End transcript
...Read more

Friday, March 25, 2016

Friday's Foto

The Pine Warbler is the first species of neotropic songbird of the wood-warbler family to appear in our area during spring migration. Most of their population winters within southern North America and begins their northward movement in late February, arriving by early April in southern Great Lakes, mid-April in New England, and late April–early May in northernmost breeding areas. As their name implies they are regularly found among pine trees, where they build their nests. Primarily an insectivore, during the fall and winter they frequently eat large quantities of seeds, the only wood-warbler known to do so. The IUCN Red List lists this species as "Least Concern". Due to increasing populations they are not listed on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List. Their recently changed scientific name, Setophaga pinus, means Gr. ses moth;-phagos-eating; L. pinus pine-tree.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Treehugger Tuesday

From the website Gizmag:

The Hungry Little Bacterium That Could Hold the Key to the World's Plastic Waste Problem

Nick Lavars
March 10, 2016

The discovery of a bacterium with the ability to completely break down PET plastic could be a boon for cleaning up plastic waste

Hundreds of millions of tons of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic are produced each year to package everything from sodas to shampoo. That only a fraction of this is recycled leaves much of it to rest in landfills and the ocean. But efforts to deal with this monumental mess may soon receive a much-needed boost, with scientists in Japan discovering a new bacterium with the ability to completely break down PET plastics in a relatively short space of time.

A team led by Dr Shosuke Yoshida from the Kyoto Institute of Technology unearthed the bacterium, quite literally, by scooping up 250 debris samples from outside a PET recycling plant. Among the soil, sludge and other sediments, they discovered a bacterium that was actually feeding on PET as its energy and carbon source. When it was left alone in a jar with PET plastic, the scientists found that the material was completely broken down within a matter of weeks.

At the heart of this healthy appetite for plastic were a pair of enzymes, which the microbe appears to have evolved in response to its PET-heavy environment. These enable the bacterium, which has been named Ideonella sakaiensis, to reduce the plastic down to its basic building blocks: two environmentally harmless monomers called terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol.

While plastic-eating fungi has been discovered in the past, they haven't been so easy to produce. By identifying the gene behind the bacterium's creation of these two enzymes, the scientists were able to recreate them in the lab and have them break down the plastic on their own, suggesting a more effective approach to recycling and plastic waste management could be on the way.

The research was published in the journal Science.
...Read more

Monday, March 21, 2016

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, March 26, 2016 to Sunday, March 27, 2016:

Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, March 26, 2016
Greenwood Cemetery
Leader: Matthew Wills
Focus: Upland species, early spring migrants and songbirds, raptors
Meet: 8:00 am inside the 25th St/5th Ave entrance, just past the guard station of the “Castle”
Nearest train stop: “R” local stops at 25th street. Walk one block uphill.
Site profile: http://www.green-wood.com

**********

Gateway National Recreation Area
Every Saturday Weekly from 03/19/2016 to 08/27/2016
Canarsie Walk-up and Paddle
Location: Canarsie Pier – Brooklyn
Time: 1:00PM to 3:30PM
Fee Information: FREE
Contact Name: Ryan Visitor Center Contact Phone Number: 718-338-3799
Try kayaking! Open to the public, ages 6 and up with an adult. No reservation required.
Dress to get wet; bring sunscreen, a snack and water.

Saturday, March 26, 2016
Early Spring Bird Walk
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Queens
Time: 10:00AM to 1:00PM
Fee Information: FREE
Contact Name: Don Riepe
Contact Email: donriepe@gmail.com
Contact Phone Number: (718) 474-0896
Meet at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge contact station for a hike around the ponds and gardens to look for egrets, ibis, osprey, oystercatchers and many other early migrants as well as wintering birds. To reserve call (718) 474-0896, email donriepe@gmail.com. Bus - Q52,Q53; A Train to Broad Channel. (3 miles)

Sunday, March 27, 2016
Have a Hoot with a Ranger!
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Time: 1:00PM to 2:30PM
Fee Information: FREE
Kid ages are invited to join a park ranger to earn their very own Junior Ranger badge, and to get started on the way toward earning their Junior Ranger patch! Junior Rangers will go on an owl adventure to learn about these beautiful birds and their diet by investigating owl pellets. Be prepared to take a hike along the west pond trail to search for owl habitat. Bus: Q52, Q53; A Train to Broad Channel.

**********

Hudson River Audubon Society
Saturday, March 26, 2016
Edith G Read Sanctuary and Marshlands Conservancy, Rye
Meet at the far end of Playland Amusement Park’s parking lot near the lake at 8:00 AM
Winter waterfowl, loons and grebes on the sound, Purple Sandpipers on the jetties and early spring arrivals will be looked for. http://www.hras.org/wtobird/edith.html

**********

Linnaean Society of New York
Sunday, March 27, 2016
Staten Island Greenbelt, High Rock, Pouch Camp
Leader: Howard Fischer
Registrar: Judy Rabi — jsrabi@verizon.net or 917-658-1832
Registration opens: Monday March 14
Ride: $20

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, March 26, 2016
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11am to 12:30pm beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center

**********

New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, March 26, 2016, 9am-3pm
Van Trip to the Early Spring Bird Walk
Guide: Don Riepe
With American Littoral Society
Hop in our van and take a ride out to Jamaica Bay for the Early Spring Bird Walk - see description below. Limited to 12. $53 (37)
Click here to register

Saturday, March 26, 2016, 10am-1pm
Early Spring Bird Walk
Guide: Don Riepe
With American Littoral Society and Gateway NRA
Meet at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge for a slide program and walk to look for phoebes, American oystercatchers, osprey and other early migrants. For info and reservations, contact Don Riepe at (718) 474-0896 or donriepe@gmail.com for info and reservations. Free

Saturday, March 26, 5-9:30pm
The Sky-Dance of the Woodcock
Guide: Gabriel Willow
The American Woodcock is a remarkable bird: It is in the sandpiper family but lives in woodlands, often far from beaches. The male performs an incredible crepuscular aerial display and song early in the spring, soon after the snow melts in the northern U.S. There are a few places around New York City where they perform this display. Let’s go look for it (and bats and owls and other critters, too) at Floyd Bennett Field. Bring binoculars, comfortable shoes, a headlamp or flashlight, and a snack for a post-woodcock picnic. Transport by passenger van included. Limited to 12. $90 (63)
Click here to register

Sunday, March 27, 2016, 8-10:30am
Intro to Birding: Bird Walk in Central Park
Guide: Tod Winston
Meet at the entrance to Central Park at Central Park West and 72nd Street. Are you curious about "birding" but don't have much (or any) experience? Come on a relaxed walk to some of Central Park's hotspots to go over birding basics and see sparrows, finches, warblers, ducks, and more. Binoculars available. Limited to 15. $36 (25)
Click here to register

**********

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Sunday, March 27, 2016 @ 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Crooke’s Point
Cost: Free
Contact: Paul Lederer 718-987-1576
Maritime spits such as Crooke’s Point are dynamic typographical features which are formed and sculpted by water and wind action. Join naturalist Paul T. Lederer in a talk and walk where he will discuss the geology and human history of the site as well as the plants and animals that call this place home. Participants will meet at the Beach Center Parking Lot in Great Kills Park near the dirt road leading out to Crooke’s Point. To get to the Beach Center Parking Lot, follow Buffalo Street to just before it turns into the dirt permit road.
For more information or directions contact Paul Lederer at (718) 987-1576

**********

Sullivan County Audubon Society
Saturday, March 26, 2016
Early Spring Waterfowl Migration
Meet walk leader John Haas at the parking lot on Haven Road at 8 am. Bring binoculars and a scope if you have one. We should see an array of early ducks, geese and mergansers. We will go the Main Boat Launch when finished at Haven Road to walk the Birch Trail to see additional species. Boots may sbe of help in this area. The walk lasts about 2 hours. This is a field trip of the Bashakill Area Association.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, March 26, 2016
Good Friday and Easter Holiday in Prospect Park at Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn, Lefferts Historic House (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn, The Carousel (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
12:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Join the Prospect Park Alliance at the Audubon Center and the Lefferts Historic House for fun activities during the Easter Weekend holiday.
Free!

Sunday, March 27, 2016
Good Friday and Easter Holiday in Prospect Park at Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn, Lefferts Historic House (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn, The Carousel (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
12:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Join the Prospect Park Alliance at the Audubon Center and the Lefferts Historic House for fun activities during the Easter Weekend holiday.
Free!
...Read more

Saturday, March 19, 2016

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, March 18, 2016

-RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Mar. 18, 2016
* NYNY1603.18

- Birds Mentioned

COMMON MURRE+
Thick-billed Murre+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

EURASIAN WIGEON
EURASIAN form of GREEN-WINGED TEAL
BARROW’S GOLDENEYE
Horned Grebe
EARED GREBE
Northern Gannet
Great Egret
Osprey
American Oystercatcher
American Woodcock
Lesser Black-backed Gull
GLAUCOUS GULL
Short-eared Owl
Red-headed Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Palm Warbler
Pine Warbler
AUDUBON’S YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
LARK SPARROW

If followed by (+) please submit documentation of your report electronically and use the NYSARC online submission form found at http://www.nybirds.org/NYSARC/goodreport.htm

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to nysarc44nybirdsorg

If electronic submission is not possible, hardcopy reports and photos or sketches are welcome. Hardcopy documentation should be mailed to:

Gary Chapin - Secretary
NYS Avian Records Committee (NYSARC)
125 Pine Springs Drive
Ticonderoga, NY 12883

Hotline: New York City Area Rare Bird Alert
Number: (212) 979-3070

Compiler: Tom Burke, Tony Lauro
Coverage: New York City, Long Island, Westchester County

Transcriber: Gail Benson

[~BEGIN RBA TAPE~]

Greetings! This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, March 18, 2016 at 7:00 pm.

The highlights of today’s tape are COMMON MURRE, BARROW’S GOLDENEYE, EURASIAN WIGEON and EURASIAN form of GREEN-WINGED TEAL, EARED GREBE, GLAUCOUS GULL, AUDUBON’S form of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, and LARK SPARROW.

Last Saturday birders on a cod boat about 20 miles south of Fire Island were treated to 4 COMMON MURRES in varying plumages, mostly moving east, but no other pelagics other than NORTHERN GANNETS were noted. While on Murres, we note that the ailing THICK-BILLED MURRE present Thursday the 10th at Great Kills Park on Staten Island was picked up that day for rehabilitation but passed away shortly thereafter.

Among some lingering waterfowl were single drake EURASIAN WIGEONS still in Brooklyn at the Salt Marsh Nature Center at Marine Park to Tuesday and at the Brooklyn Army Terminal Pier 4 to Sunday, while one on the move visited Playland Park in Rye, Westchester Co. last Sunday.

The EURASIAN form of GREEN-WINGED TEAL was seen as recently as Tuesday at the Setauket Mill Pond.

Another report of the drake BARROW’S GOLDENEYE off Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx came from last Sunday, though the bird was apparently very difficult to verify due to distance and bad heat haze.

A recent report of an EARED GREBE off the Coast Guard Station at Jones Beach West End cited some plumage differences compared to nearby HORNED GREBES but did not mention structural differences, which become more important as these smaller Grebes change into breeding plumage.

A GLAUCOUS GULL was noted Saturday at Short Beach Park along the Nissequogue River, and what is probably the same lingering GLAUCOUS GULL was at Army Terminal Pier 4 Sunday and Tuesday and at Bush Terminal Piers Park on Wednesday.

Adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS were spotted at Gravesend Bay in Brooklyn Sunday and at Orient Beach State Park on Monday.

Two RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS continued at Willowbrook Park on Staten Island at least to Sunday, when the LARK SPARROW was also noted around the outer turnaround at Jones Beach West End.

A SHORT-EARED OWL was still at the old Grumman Airport fields in Calverton as of Tuesday.

AMERICAN WOODCOCKS are now quite widespread and displaying regularly at dusk and dawn, and the 2 in Bryant Park last weekend have presumably moved on.

Noted recently have been the first arriving GREAT EGRETS and OSPREYS as well as AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS and some more EASTERN PHOEBES, while reports of species in new locations such as PINE and PALM WARBLERS and CHIPPING and FIELD SPARROWS probably represent birds that wintered regionally or not too far south from here.

To phone in reports, on Long Island call Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126, or days except Sunday call Tom Burke at (212) 372-1483.

This service is sponsored by the Linnaean Society of New York and the National Audubon Society. Thank you for calling.

- End transcript
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Friday, March 18, 2016

Turn Up Your Ears

On a walk through Brooklyn's Prospect Park the other day I was struck by the profound uptick in bird sounds. Most of our overwintering sparrows, such as White-throated, Fox and Dark-eyed Juncos are suddenly vocalizing. The clear, clean, melodic "pure sweet canada canada canada" of the white-throateds; the rich, whistling slurred song of the Fox Sparrows and the high trills of the juncos are beginning to fill a soundscape which had been mostly dominated by occasional chip notes, jay cries or nuthatch nasal "yanks" all winter. In addition, early arrivals like Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds are creating a cacophony of songs as they jockey for mates at the park's most desirable nesting locations. This all brings me to the point of this posting - it's time to tune up your ears!

The majority of songbirds only sing during the spring, so an entire year will pass before most of us will hear our favorite neotropic species again. As an earbirder, thankfully I still have my hearing, but I still need to refresh my audio memory. What better time to do it than the weekend of the Vernal Equinox?

If you have the right tools it is much easier than you think to learn how to identify birds by their vocalizations.

There are several sources available to help you learn how to identify birds by ear, but the best one for my money is the Peterson Field Guides series of CDs (as far as I am aware, they are not available as digital downloads). These discs are not reference recordings, but rather well organized lessons that use groups of similar sounding species, repetition and mnemonics to help you quickly learn sounds. Here on the east coast of North America you should purchase "Birding by Ear: Eastern/Central" and "More Birding by Ear Eastern and Central North America". There are discs available for the west coast, as well.

Below is a list of recommended tracks to study. Obviously, there are many more common species in our area which you could add as you feel needed.

The colorful wood-warblers are the most important songbirds to learn. Once you've purchased the discs, use iTunes (or similar software) to import the following tracks:

Name Album Disc # Track #
Sing-songers Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 1 4
Warbling Songsters Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 2 6
Wood Warblers & a Warbling Wren Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 3 1
Warblers: Buzzy More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 2 1
Warblers: Simple More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 2 2
Warblers: Two-Parted More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 2 3
Warblers: Complex More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 2 4
Empidonax Flycatchers More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 1 4

Note that I included the empidonax flycatchers on the list as they are notoriously difficult to separate visually, but each have very distinctive vocalizations.

The woodland thrushes are also incredible songsters, so I recommend the following tracks:

Name Album Disc # Track #
Thrushes Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 3 2
Thrushes More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 1 7


One family of bird vocalizations that I tend to neglect are the shorebirds. More often than not, during spring migration a group of calling shorebirds passing overhead are noted only as "flock of unidentified peeps". While their calls and songs may not be nearly as melodic as the wood-warblers, they are each unique and easily identifiable if you take a few minutes each day to study the recommended "Birding by Ear" tracks.

Name Album Disc # Track #
Shorebirds: Pairs More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 3 1
Shorebirds: Plovers More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 3 2
Shorebirds: Whistlers More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 3 3
Shorebirds: Peepers More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 3 4
Shorebirds: Other More Birding by Ear, Eastern/Central 3 5

Please note that I don't make any money promoting the Peterson Field Guide series. I have found that their systematic approach to learning bird-song to be the best available. If you have recommendations for other learning tools, feel free to email me or put something in the comments section. So, if you spend a mere 15 - 20 minutes a day listening during your commute, by the time all the warblers begin streaming through NYC I guarantee you'll be able to find a lot more birds ... even with your eyes closed.

Friday's Foto

The arrival of the Eastern Phoebe around NYC in the month of March is a sign for local birders that spring migration has begun. Named for their distinctive raspy "fee-bee" call, this small, rather nondescript flycatcher is easily identified by their habit of constantly wagging their tail. They feed by patiently waiting on a perch, sallying a short distance to grab an insect then returning to their perch. Phoebes will also occasionally eat small berries. Relatively tolerant of human activities they frequently build their mud nests of the sides of buildings and bridges.

This species was the subject of the first bird banding experiment in North America. In 1804, John James Audubon tied thin silver wires to the legs of a brood. The following year he discovered that they had returned to breed in the same area.

The IUCN classifies the Eastern Phoebe as "Least Concern". Populations have been stable or slowly increasing in most areas since 1966, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Their scientific name, Sayornis phoebe, is derived from specific name Muscicapa saya Bonaparte, 1825, Say’s Phoebe; Gr. ornis bird. The specific name is an alliterative name for its call.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Treehugger Tuesday

Published in the Alaska Dispatch News:

Bald Eagles Growing Increasingly Comfortable with City Living
Gregory Lee Sullivan
March 13, 2016


A bald eagle perched in a tall tree along Fones Cliffs in Singerly, VA on July 14, 2015. The area is home to a large population of eagles; the cliffs make a perfect perch for hunting and nesting.

If there's a time of year to see a bald eagle, this is it. But those who spot one during the current nesting season won't be observing quite the same national bird as in decades past.

"The main thing is they just don't really care as much about people anymore" and now can be found nesting in residential areas, said Kevin McGowan of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, based in Ithaca, N.Y.

According to scientists, changes in the behavior of the bald eagle - from a bird once found only deep in the wild to one willing to cohabitate with humans - are the result of laws that protect the bird and have helped the species recover after nearly dying out in the early 1960s. The government is empowered to go after those responsible for the death of bald eagles - even if it's unintentional (such as in the case of a New York farmer who received a fine and probation last year after several eagles died from poisoned meat he had set out to kill coyotes). Federal and state officials are investigating what happened to 13 bald eagles found dead recently near a farm on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Bald eagles "are coming in on their own and putting their nests in people's front yards, and in parks and in gardens and things like that. That just didn't happen in the '60s and '70s," McGowan said. "They'd pick a big tree that was way the heck away from all the people."

While bald eagles are still rare in large cities, researchers have documented eagle nests recently not just in the Washington area, which boasts the largest numbers on the East Coast, but also in New York - where in 2015 the first nesting pair was spotted in more than 100 years - Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Miami, where a pair built a nest atop a cellphone tower.

The bald eagle's historical range covers most of North America. The bird was hunted for sport before the Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940 outlawed the practice; that ban was reinforced by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act in 1962. The pesticide DDT was found to cause eagle and other species significant difficulties with reproduction. By 1963 America's iconic bird was on the verge of dying out in the nation's 48 contiguous states. But with the banning of DDT in 1972,combined with more federal and state protection and recovery efforts, the species has made a steady rise.

The number of breeding pairs in the 48 contiguous states increased from a low of 487 in 1963 to 9,789 in 2006, according to data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which removed the species from the endangered list in 2007.

While that federal agency no longer publishes regular national figures on the bird's status, Bryan Watts, director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., said that a conservative estimate would put the number of pairs in the Lower 48 states today at around 24,000. Watts said that the Chesapeake Bay region has the largest bald eagle population along the Atlantic Coast, with about 2,000 nesting pairs, although Florida also has a large population.

Other areas with large numbers of bald eagles include Alaska (where the bird was never threatened), the Great Lakes, the Pacific Northwest and the Yellowstone area.

Every winter, Watts and a small team of researchers estimate the bald eagle's Chesapeake Bay population, using a small airplane to survey established nests.

The species's growth, particularly on the bay, has been remarkable, he said. "If you go back to the 1980s and early 1990s, we had virtually no eagles in urban areas," he said, "and our perception of eagles was that they needed fairly remote places away from humans - and they probably did at that time."

But now, researchers say, as eagle populations have expanded and the birds may no longer consider humans to be predators, suburbs and urban areas near waterways provide attractive nesting areas. In the Washington area, it's not just the Chesapeake Bay that provides a good home; in recent years nests have been seen near Ronald Reagan National Airport and the Beltway, and recently one couple has made a home at the National Arboretum in Northeast Washington.

In New Jersey, scientists reported only one active bald eagle nest in 1982 - in the middle of a remote swamp.

"We had this now naive idea that this is what eagles in New Jersey needed, so we were thinking, where else are these great forests?" said Kathleen Clark, leader of the state's eagle project, which released 60 young birds between 1983 and 1991. "But nest number 2 was on the edge of a farm field," she said. "With nests 2, 3 and 4, we started seeing they were keying into where there was food and not exclusively large tracts of forests." New Jersey's efforts have resulted in the establishment of 161 nests today, many in densely populated suburbs close to New York City.

Clark and other eagle researchers said it would be a mistake to assume that all bald eagles have become tolerant of people; in fact, many shy away from human activity, and the Fish & Wildlife Service recommends keeping away from nests to avoid disturbing them.

Watts, meanwhile, said the growing number of eagles has meant that he and his team have been able to observe aspects of eagle behavior that weren't evident in the past.

"It used to be, when I started flying in the early '90s, you rarely would see birds that were guarding" against intrusions by other eagles, he said. Now, there is real competition for prime nesting locations on the Chesapeake. He has been observing more and more fights within the population, and more of the birds are being admitted to rehab centers for injuries.

Watts said the birds spend less time foraging, which causes an increase in the adult mortality rate, bringing population stability. Stable numbers, he said, are a sign that the bald eagle community has reached a healthy point.

Watts and Clark said the growing Chesapeake Bay eagle population has helped increase numbers in nearby states as the birds move there to set up nests.

McGowan said he realized that bald eagles had begun to adjust to humans when he came across a nest in Virginia's Norfolk Botanical Garden a few years ago.

"You could walk right up to it, and it's in the middle of the . . . [garden] with sidewalks all around it," McGowan said. "This is not a scared wild bird that we have to worry about disturbing a nest. Here it is, right in the middle of fairly heavy traffic."

The nest proved to be a little too close to humanity, though. One of the eagles using that nest was killed after it was hit by a plane at a nearby airport. The nest was relocated to a more placid spot.

While it's still nesting season, McGowan said he encourages people to get out of their warm houses with a pair of binoculars and catch a glimpse of an eagle for themselves.

"They have a wingspan bigger than your arms. They have toes about the same size as your fingers, only they've got giant claws on them. You don't have to be a birder to appreciate a bald eagle. They're an impressive freaking animal."

But don't get too close, he said. "There are inevitably going to be human-wildlife conflicts as wildlife comes back," McGowan said. "But to me, what a good problem to have."

The return of the bald eagle is "arguably one of the greatest success stories that our nation has seen," Watts said. "It's a really rare situation where we as a culture can say that we changed the trajectory of an entire species. That's what happened."
...Read more

Monday, March 14, 2016

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, March 19, 2016 to Sunday, March 20, 2016:

Brooklyn Bird Club
Sunday, March 20, 2016
Prospect Park’s First Day of Spring
Leader: Ed Crowne
Focus: Early spring migrants, transitional period species
Meet: 8:00am at Bartel-Pritchard Square park entrance
Note: Nearest subway: F train Prospect Park/15th St station
Equinox in New York City is on Sunday, March 20, 2016 at 12:31am EDT

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Gateway National Recreation Area
Sunday, March 20, 2016
Spring Equinox and Spring Peepers
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Time: 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Fee Information: Free
Contact Name: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Contact Email: e-mail us
Contact Phone Number: (718) 318-4340

Watch the last sunset of winter while exploring the folklore of the Vernal Equinox. Then, join a park ranger on the East Pond for a real spring treat- the evening chorus of amorous spring peepers. Discover more about these tiny but fascinating tree frogs on a stroll to Big John's Pond.

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New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, March 19, 2016
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11am to 12:30pm beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center

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Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, March 19, 2016 @ 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Old Mill Road
Cost: Free
Contact: Clay Wollney 718-869-6327
Park at the end of Old Mill Road, behind the St. Andrew’s Church. Participants will stroll along the multi-use trail next to Fresh Kills, below the hills of LaTourette Golf Course and return along the Blue Trail. From the remains of colonial structures to the Hessian Spring and the remains of Ketchum’s Mill we will take a look into the influence of man and nature on the ecosystems bordering the Fresh Kills estuary. For more information contact Clay Wollney at (718) 869-6327.

Sunday, March 20, 2016 @ 8:00am – 10:00am
Conference House Park
Cost: Free
Contact: Anthony Ciancimino
Join birder Anthony Ciancimino for a guided bird walk at Conference House Park, New York State’s southernmost park. Situated at the southern tip of Staten Island, Conference House Park is similar to Cape May and is a great location to see north bound birds in the spring. There should be a nice selection of remaining wintering songbirds as well as newly arrived migrant species, such as Eastern Phoebe. Waterfowl diversity should also be good on the bay. Meet in the parking lot at the very end of Hylan Boulevard. For more information contact Anthony Ciancimino at sibirdwatcher@yahoo.com.

Sunday, March 20, 2016 @ 10:00am – 12:00pm
Early Spring Walk Goodhue Woods / Allison Pond
Cost: Free
Contact: Mike Shanley 718-987-1576
Join naturalist and historian Mike Shanley to explore the recently preserved Goodhue Woods. Participants will be exploring one of NYC’s newest parks while searching for birds and herps. There will be discussion of the history of the site, including the local cemetery. Please bring sturdy shoes as the trails can be muddy this time of year during this moderate walk through the hills. Participants will meet at the corner of Brentwood Avenue and Springhill Avenue. For more information contact Mike Shanley at falecore@yahoo.com.

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South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, March 20, 2016
Hempstead Lake State Park

Notes:
All walks start at 9:00am
There is no walk if it rains or snows or temperature is below 25°F.
For more information or in case of questionable weather conditions, please phone Joe at 516 467-9498
For directions to our bird-watching locations, click here.
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Friday, March 11, 2016

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, March 11, 2016:

-RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Mar 11, 2016
* NYNY1603.11

- Birds Mentioned

THICK-BILLED MURRE+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Cackling Goose
Wood Duck
EURASIAN WIGEON
HARLEQUIN DUCK
Common Goldeneye
BARROW’S GOLDENEYE
Red-necked Grebe
EARED GREBE
American Oystercatcher
Black-bellied Plover
Red Knot
Dunlin
American Woodcock
Razorbill
ICELAND GULL
GLAUCOUS GULL
Short-eared Owl
RED-HEADED WOODPECKER
Eastern Phoebe
Tree Swallow
LARK SPARROW


If followed by (+) please submit documentation of your report electronically and use the NYSARC online submission form found at http://www.nybirds.org/NYSARC/goodreport.htm

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to nysarc44nybirdsorg

If electronic submission is not possible, hardcopy reports and photos or sketches are welcome. Hardcopy documentation should be mailed to:

Gary Chapin - Secretary
NYS Avian Records Committee (NYSARC)
125 Pine Springs Drive
Ticonderoga, NY 12883

Hotline: New York City Area Rare Bird Alert
Number: (212) 979-3070

Compiler: Tom Burke, Tony Lauro
Coverage: New York City, Long Island, Westchester County

Transcriber: Gail Benson

[~BEGIN RBA TAPE~]

Greetings! This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, March 11, 2016 at 6:00 pm.

The highlights of today’s tape are EARED GREBE, THICK-BILLED MURRE, BARROW’S GOLDNEYE, HARLEQUIN DUCK, EURASIAN WIGEON, GLAUCOUS and ICELAND GULLS, RED-HEADED WOODPECKER and LARK SPARROW.

An EARED GREBE was spotted Sunday morning on fairly calm waters around the mouth of Jones Inlet, but by later afternoon in rougher waters it retreated to the eastern side of the inlet off Jones Beach West End before eventually flying back to the ocean off Point Lookout. We have no subsequent reports of this bird. Also in that area, the 6 HARLEQUIN DUCKS off the Point Lookout jetties Sunday afternoon presumably included the 3 noted earlier at the West End jetty. A RAZORBILL was also in Jones Inlet Sunday. The West End LARK SPARROW was seen as recently as Tuesday, usually around the outer turnaround that leads into Lot 2, where an adult ICELAND GULL has occasionally been roosting, seen at least to Tuesday. At the high tide roost on the wharf at the Point Lookout boat basin by the Water Works Saturday were around 1,000 DUNLIN, some BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS and 15 RED KNOTS.

On Staten Island a THICK-BILLED MURRE, not looking terribly well, appeared Thursday near the boat basin at Great Kills Park. This followed a RAZORBILL spotted Sunday off Fort Wadsworth, and, also on Staten Island, 2 RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS were noted at Willowbrook Park on Monday.

In the Bronx, a drake BARROW’S GOLDENEYE appeared with COMMON GOLDENEYE Monday at Pelham Bay Park and was still near Twin Island the next day.

One or two lingering EURASIAN WIGEON were still being seen on the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge early in the week, and another was noted again at the Salt Marsh Nature Center at Marine Park in Brooklyn Monday and Tuesday. A few CACKLING GEESE also continue in the area.

An immature GLAUCOUS GULL visited Central Park Reservoir Sunday, the same day finding another again at Sunken Meadow State Park.

Out in the Montauk area good numbers of RAZORBILLS were present off Montauk Point last weekend, and 3 RED-NECKED GREBES were in Fort Pond Bay, with a couple more off Culloden Point.

One or two SHORT-EARED OWLS are still feeding in the evening at the former Grumman airport in Calverton, and AMERICAN WOODCOCK have been displaying at dusk at numerous suitable locations recently, with one hiding in Bryant Park in Manhattan today.

A RED-HEADED WOODPECKER was still at Mashomack Preserve on Shelter Island Tuesday, and another remains around the north parking lot at Blydenburgh County Park off New Mill Road in Smithtown.

The Croton Point LARK SPARROW was still present Wednesday.

This deceptive warm spell has conjured up thoughts of masses of early spring migrants, but more realistically we should perhaps anticipate the March doldrums before any earnest movement takes place. Some of the expected very early migrants have begun to appear, including WOOD DUCKS, AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER, several EASTERN PHOEBES as of Wednesday and TREE SWALLOW.

To phone in reports, on Long Island call Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126, or days except Sunday call Tom Burke at (212) 372-1483.

This service is sponsored by the Linnaean Society of New York and the National Audubon Society. Thank you for calling.

- End transcript
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Friday's Foto

Photo by Sean Sime
One of my favorite early northbound migrants is now beginning to show up around Brooklyn and the rest of New York City. This unusual, robin-sized bird with cryptic plumage is considered part of the sandpiper family, although with conspicuously different behavior than most. Preferring young forests and shrubby old fields across eastern North America this chubby, short-legged bird stays concealed in forest thickets during the day, where it uses its long bill to probe in damp soil for earthworms. The American Woodcock has a long list of humorous colloquial names which includes “bogsucker”, “hookum pate”, "Labrador twister", "mud bat", "mud snipe", "night partridge", but most commonly, “Timberdoodle". Found only in eastern North America, they are a short distance migrant overwintering in our southern areas.

This species is legendary for their magically spring courtship displays. Conservationist Aldo Leopold famously wrote about it in his book "A Sand County Almanac". You can read "Sky Dance" online here.

The IUCN Red List lists the woodcock's conservation status as "Least Concern". However, population trends appear to be decreasing and they are included on the The State of the Birds 2014 "Watch List".

The American Woodcock's scientific name, Scolopax minor, means snipe-like; smaller.

Some places to look for courting woodcocks within New York City are Floyd Bennett Field, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and The Ridgewood Reservoir.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Treehugger Tuesday

From the Nebraska website Omaha.com:

Early-arriving Sandhill Crane Migration has Experts Curious

By Robert Pore / World-Herald News Service | Posted: Sunday, March 6, 2016 1:00 am
Sandhill cranes


Sandhill cranes land in a field of corn stubble in Hall County last week. Numbers of birds now in the region are near the usual mid-March peak.

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — A record number of early-arriving sandhill cranes in the Platte River valley have experts eager to see just how long the migrating birds will stay.

Sandhill crane migration generally runs from mid-February through mid-April. During that period, more than 500,000 sandhill cranes migrate through the area. The migration normally doesn’t peak until mid-March.

“What we are seeing now is nearing our numbers for peak migration,” said Brice Krohn, Crane Trust vice president.

The latest aerial count of cranes along the Platte River from Chapman to Overton — taken on Monday — showed 213,600 cranes, the largest number recorded in February since weekly crane inventories during migration season began in 1998, Krohn said.

Since data collection efforts began 18 years ago, he said, the most sandhill cranes previously recorded in the area during February was 30,000 in February 2005.

“I think it is the weather pattern we have been seeing,” he said. “We don’t know what triggers the migration mechanism in the sandhill cranes, but once they start their process, they don’t stop. So a lot of it could be a weather pattern.”

Since an early February snowstorm dumped 18.3 inches of snow in Grand Island, temperatures in the region have been well above normal. The average daily temperature in February in Grand Island was nearly 7 degrees above the 30-year average.

“What we are interested to see is if they are going to stay like they normally do,” he said. “Do they come early and stay for the month? We don’t know. We are excited to learn from that and keep running our flights every Monday and document what we see.”

Andrew Caven, the Crane Trust’s lead biologist, said how long the sandhill cranes stay in Nebraska could be influenced by several local factors. For example, the amount of waste corn and natural forage available play a role since the cranes stop along the Platte River to fuel up and rest before completing their journey north to their nesting grounds.

He said producing natural forage is an essential function of conservation properties such as the Crane Trust at the Alda exit on Interstate 80, Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary, the Nature Conservancy and the Platte River Recovery and Implementation Program.

“We provide a source of protein and nutrients that agricultural systems cannot with the native prairies and wet meadows we protect and conserve,” Caven said.
...Read more

Monday, March 07, 2016

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, March 12, 2016 to Sunday, March 13, 2016:

Brooklyn Bird Club
Sunday, March 13, 2016
Marine Park and Floyd Bennett Field
Leader: Rafael Campos
Focus: Waterfowl, raptors, returning late winter species, early sparrows, open field birds
Car fee: $10.00
Registrar: Kathy Toomey, email kathleentoomey@gmail.com
Registration Period: March 5th – March 10th

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Hudson River Audubon Society (Westchester)
Saturday, March 12, 2016
Evening "Timberdoodle" Walk
6PM Croton Point Park Ball Field
Look for displaying American Woodcocks
http://hras.org/wtobird/croton.html

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New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, March 12, 2016
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center

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New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, March 12, 2016, 10am – 5pm
Winter Birds of Sandy Hook, NJ
Guide: Joe Giunta, Happy Warblers LLC
Sandy Hook, a spectacular barrier island at the northernmost point of the NJ coast, hosts a variety of species including Arctic-bound migrants and harbor seals that lie on the beach to warm up in the sun. Other possible sightings: loons, sea ducks, snow buntings, and horned larks. Bring lunch, water, and binoculars. Transport by passenger van included. Limited to 12. $103 (72)
Click here to register

Sunday, March 13, 2016, 9:30am – 11:30am
Winter Birding Along the Hudson: Wave Hill
Guide: Gabriel Willow with Wave Hill
Meet at the Perkins Visitor Center. The Hudson River valley hosts an impressive diversity of bird species, even during the winter months. Come explore the beautiful gardens and woodlands of Wave Hill and observe the hardy birds that spend the winter in this urban oasis. Advanced registration is recommended, either online, at the Perkins Visitor Center, or by calling 718-549-3200 x251. Walks run rain or shine; in case of severe weather call the number above for updates. Ages 10 and up welcome with an adult. NYC Audubon members enjoy two-for-one admission

Sunday, March 13, 2016, 12pm – 2pm
Winter Seals and Waterbirds of NY Harbor
Guide: NYC Audubon guide
Meet at South Street Seaport’s Pier 16 and come aboard NY Water Taxi’s eco-friendly vessel for a winter adventure in New York Harbor! Look for harbor seals on the rocky shores of Governor’s Island and the more remote Hoffman and Swinburne Islands. Learn about the surprisingly diverse winter birds of New York City, including ducks, geese, loons, and sandpipers, many of which migrate south from the Arctic. See the Statue of Liberty and pass under the Verrazano Bridge. Dress warmly! Limited to 90. To register, contact New York Water Taxi at 212-742-1969 or www.nywatertaxi.com/audubon-winter. $35 for adults; $25 for children under 12; $105 for family pack for 2 adults and 2 children

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Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Sunday, March 13, 2016 @ 1:00pm – 3:00pm
The Arbutus Woods
Cost: Free
Contact: Clay Wollney 718-869-6327
Kingdom Pond Park, Arbutus Woods, Bunker Pond and Huguenot Pond Park are small parks in the lower Huguenot area. Though trailing arbutus is long gone, the area still is home to a number of plant and animal species. Evidence of the work done by the WPA as well as the influence of nature will be observed as we traverse the parks. Meet along Eylandt Street near the intersection with Kingdom Avenue. For more information contact Clay Wollney at (718) 869-6327.

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Queens County Bird Club
Saturday, March 12, 2016, 8am – 12pm
Queens County Quack Attack!
Leader: Corey Finger - 518-445-5829
Where: Baisley Pond Park, Baisley Blvd, Jamaica, NY

Trip Etiquette
Please register for trips

1 - Register. Let leaders know you're coming!
2 - Car pooling or skipping requires planning
3 - Be advised if there are last minute changes or cancellations. These cannot be communicated to unknown persons.
4 - Be on time! Most trips begin birding by 8am!
5 - Please arrive before the starting time so we do not waste precious early morning bird activity.
6 - Plan your travel time.

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South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, March 6, 2016
Jones Beach West End #2

Notes:
All walks start at 9:00 A.M.
There is no walk if it rains or snows or temperature is below 25°F.
For more information or in case of questionable weather conditions, please phone Joe at 516 467-9498
For directions to our bird-watching locations, click here.

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Sullivan County Audubon Society
Sunday, March 13, 2016
Waterfowl
Field Trip for ducks and other waterfowl, led by Ruth McKeon and Renee Davis
Meet at 9am at the traffic light in Grahamsville. We will car pool to where there is open water and return about 11 am.
Call Ruth at 845-434-4629 for more info.

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Urban Park Rangers
Sunday, March 13, 2016
Spring Birding at Perkins Visitors Center (in Wave Hill), Bronx
9:30 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
Explore the gardens and woodlands with naturalist Gabriel Willow on a quest to spot some of our favorite feathered friends as they return to the Hudson Highlands.

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Young Birders Club
Saturday March 12, 2016
Marshlands Conservancy and Read Sanctuary (Rye, Westchester County)
Sponsoring NYSYBC Partner: Bedford Audubon Society
Trip Leader: Tait Johansson

Marshlands Conservancy is a 147-acre wildlife sanctuary composed of diverse habitats. Forest, meadow, salt marsh and shore can be explored and appreciated here. There are three miles of trails and one-half mile of shoreline along the Long Island Sound. More than 230 species have been sighted.

The Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary is a 179-acre wildlife sanctuary that features a shoreline on Long Island Sound, Manursing Lake, salt-marsh wetland, trails through a deciduous forest, a bamboo grove, and fields of native grasses and wildflowers. The National Audubon Society has acknowledged the sanctuary as an Important Bird Area.

Bring binoculars and a camera (and a spotting scope if you have one).
Permission form due by 3/3/16.
...Read more

Saturday, March 05, 2016

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, March 4, 2016:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* Mar. 4, 2016
* NYNY1603.04

- Birds mentioned
THICK-BILLED MURRE+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE
Cackling Goose
EURASIAN WIGEON
GREEN-WINGED TEAL (Eurasian form "Common Teal")
TUFTED DUCK
KING EIDER
HARLEQUIN DUCK
EARED GREBE
Razorbill
BLACK-HEADED GULL
LITTLE GULL
Iceland Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
GLAUCOUS GULL
Short-eared Owl
Red-headed Woodpecker
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW
LARK SPARROW

- Transcript

If followed by (+) please submit documentation of your report electronically and use the NYSARC online submission form found at http://www.nybirds.org/NYSARC/goodreport.htm

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to nysarc44(at)nybirds{dot}org.

If electronic submission is not possible, hardcopy reports and photos or sketches are welcome. Hardcopy documentation should be mailed to:

Gary Chapin - Secretary
NYS Avian Records Committee (NYSARC)
125 Pine Springs Drive
Ticonderoga, NY 12883

Hotline: New York City Area Rare Bird Alert
Number: (212) 979-3070

To report sightings call:
Tom Burke (212) 372-1483 (weekdays, during the day)
Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126 (Long Island)

Compiler: Tom Burke, Tony Lauro
Coverage: New York City, Long Island, Westchester County

Transcriber: Ben Cacace

BEGIN TAPE

Greetings. This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, March 4th 2016 at 7pm. The highlights of today's tape are EARED GREBE, THICK-BILLED MURRE, LITTLE GULL, BLACK-HEADED GULL, GLAUCOUS GULL, TUFTED DUCK, HARLEQUIN DUCK, KING EIDER, EURASIAN WIGEON, Eurasian form of GREEN-WINGED TEAL, GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE, LARK SPARROW and CLAY-COLORED SPARROW.

What might be considered a minor incursion of EARED GREBES on the south shore of Long Island commenced last Saturday with one nicely photographed in Fire Island Inlet off Oak Beach. Since then this grebe has been seen several times through yesterday as it works its way often with Horned Grebes along the channel sometimes close to shore between the main Oak Beach parking lot and what is referred to as the Fisherman's parking lot farther to the west along Oak Beach Road. Another EARED GREBE was spotted Monday in Montauk at the south end of Lake Montauk as viewed from South Lake Drive but note as our annual caveat at this time of year with Horned Grebes now starting to transition into breeding plumage it can look very much like a Winter EARED GREBE so these two grebes should now be differentiated more by structural differences rather than plumage differences.

Also out at Montauk the THICK-BILLED MURRE staying around the mouth and jetties at Montauk Harbor Inlet was present at least through Sunday. A HARLEQUIN DUCK was still off Montauk Point Sunday and on Monday an adult LITTLE GULL appeared there in the Bonaparte's Gull flock off the restaurant. Fourteen RAZORBILLS were also counted there.

Two TUFTED DUCKS have continued along the south shore of Long Island. One on Patchogue Lake north of Holbrook Road to Thursday and the other at the mouth of Santapogue Creek as seen Sunday from Venetian Shores Park in Lindenhurst. Both have been thought to be young males but the Santapogue bird possibly being a female has been raised.

Finishing the ducks at least four HARLEQUIN DUCKS were at the Point Lookout jetties Sunday and four were still at Orient Point Saturday along with a lingering female KING EIDER. Single drake EURASIAN WIGEON were noted at the Salt Marsh Nature Center at Marine Park in Brooklyn Sunday, on Fresh Pond in Northport at least to Tuesday and on Deep Hole Creek off New Suffolk Avenue in Mattituck Tuesday. The Eurasian form of GREEN-WINGED TEAL was also still on the Mill Pond in Setauket Sunday.

The Flushing Meadows GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was seen again last Sunday on the Pool of Industry and two CACKLING GEESE were at South Haven County Park in Shirley Wednesday. An immature GLAUCOUS GULL was spotted along with a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL in a gull flock at Sunken Meadow State Park yesterday. Another LESSER BLACK-BACKED visited Central Park reservoir Thursday afternoon. A quite dark tipped adult ICELAND GULL, Kumlien's as all are in our area, has been seen a few times in parking field 2 at Jones Beach West End at least to Tuesday and another adult with very little wing tip pigmentation was on the westernmost of the Point Lookout jetties on Sunday. The immature BLACK-HEADED GULL was still visiting Prospect Park Lake up to yesterday while an immature was also seen south of there in Sheepshead Bay Sunday and Tuesday this is a different bird.

A RAZORBILL was off the Jones Beach West End Coast Guard Station Sunday to Tuesday.

Two SHORT-EARED OWLS are still frequenting the former Grumman airport in Calverton and a RED-HEADED WOODPECKER continues at Willowbrook Park on Staten Island.

Single LARK SPARROWS remain at Jones Beach West End usually by the outer turnaround and at Croton Point Park in Westchester and the CLAY-COLORED SPARROW was seen again with accompanying Dark-eyed Juncos at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park today.

To phone in reports on Long Island, call Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126 or weekdays call Tom Burke at (212) 372-1483.

This service is sponsored by the Linnaean Society of New York and the National Audubon Society. Thank you for calling.

- End transcript
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Friday, March 04, 2016

Friday's Foto


The Northern Pintail is a large dabbling duck. With the exception of the ubiquitous Mallard, it is likely the most abundant species of waterfowl on the planet. They are widespread across North America, Europe, and Asia, with a circumpolar breeding pattern. In North America, they breed from Alaska, the central Canadian Arctic and western Greenland south to the western and central United States. They can be found in a variety of open habitats, including prairies, farmland, northern tundra, near bodies of water. In migration and winter around any shallow waters with exposed mudflats, including fresh and brackish marshes, lakes, flooded fields. Their diet consists of the seeds of aquatic plants, such as, pondweeds, sedges, grasses and smartweeds. They also feed on seeds in fields, as well as, eating small aquatic animals.

The IUCN Red List classifies their conservation status as "Least Concern" due primarily to their extremely large range. However, where they were once one of the most abundant ducks in North America, they have suffered disturbing declines since the 1950s. More than any other North American waterfowl species, their abundance has suffered from persistent drought and loss of grassland habitat in the Prairie Pothole Region. Throughout most of their range, between 1966 and 2012 their population has declined by 72%, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. The 2014 State of the Birds listed them as a Common Bird in Steep Decline.

Their scientific name, Anas acuta, means - Anas L. anas duck.; acuta L. acutus, sharp-pointed.

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