Secret Identity Uncovered

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These little guys had me puzzled–so many sandpipers look alike to me! But when they did a short flight, they gave themselves away: their white rumps in flight marked them as–what else?–White-rumped Sandpipers. A first for me.

Plumb Beach

Brooklyn, New York

One Good Tern Deserves Another

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Terns are tough for me to identify specifically, so while I’ll guess they’re Common Terns, there are some other possibilities.

But I am eating my heart out that there wasn’t another one nearby so that I could title the post, “Tern, Tern, Tern…”

Marine Park Salt Marsh,

Brooklyn, New York

Small Circle of Friends

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Sometimes, from a distance, a Northern Shoveler can look like a Mallard to me. But it’s fun to see the ducks swimming in groups of concentric circles like in the zoomed-in photo above—then I can be pretty sure they’re Shovelers that I’m looking at, as they go round and round sifting the water near the surface for food with their bills.

Prospect Park

Brooklyn, New York

Creepingness

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It was fun to watch this Brown Creeper (a lifer for me!) do its creeping thing: it started grabbing at the bottom of the tree and then crawled up the trunk fairly rapidly, digging into the bark with it’s thin downward curving beak for insects. When it reached near the top, it dropped dead down to the ground and started from the bottom of the next nearby tree. It repeated this pattern for quite some time.

Even though the bird was small and swift, it wasn’t hard to get the photo because its path was so regular and predictable that I could aim the lens and focus just a bit ahead of where I knew it was going to end up!

Prospect Park

Brooklyn, New York

Looking For The Catbird Seat

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This young Grey Catbird was scampering out in the open, rather than hiding out under bushes as they usually like to do. They look a lot like Northern Mockingbirds, but their black caps and mewing sound clearly identify them.

Prospect Park

Brooklyn, New York

Duck Soup

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When the lake freezes over, the birds have to squeeze into a smaller space in the un-iced parts of the lake, but the different species of ducks co-exist surprisingly well considering that they are all after a similar limited food supply of small plants and fish in the constrained area.

In this picture you can see the large Canadian Geese, the male and female Mallards with their wings spread, the small American Coots with their white bills and dark bodies, and lastly, a bunch of Northern Shovelers, standing in the back and floating in the water, dark green head and dark, flat-ended bills, and bodies with white breasts and brown flanks.

It was fascinating to see all these different kinds of birds band together and turn around as one when a few aggressive gulls approached; the gulls were not welcome to this party—perhaps they would not play well with others?—and the ducks soon mobbed the gulls and forced them to go elsewhere.

Prospect Park Lake

Brooklyn, New York

Cuteness Points

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This jaunty little guy, a Tufted Titmouse, is a kind of bird I usually see hanging out with its cousin, the Black-Capped Chickadee, but this one was foraging all alone. They have a distinct way of flying from a branch down to the ground—they dive bomb straight down headfirst as if they were a gull about to catch a fish, so that even though they’re small, they can be identified from a distance.

Prospect Park

Brooklyn, New York

Downy Soft

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This male (the red nape) Downy Woodpecker looks a lot like a miniature version of its larger cousin, the Hairy Woodpecker. They’ve both got very similar markings including a white back, but the Downy is around 6″ compared to the Hairy’s 9″.

One advantage of trying to photograph birds in winter is that you can get a clearer shot without leaves in the way.

Marine Park Salt Marsh

Brooklyn, New York

Ruddy Duck

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Here’s the Ruddy Duck. They’re small and like to travel in large same-species groups. The male and female both have chestnut sides and backs, with sharp tails; the male has white cheek patches. In the photo above you can see two males in the foreground and a female behind them.

Prospect Park,

Brooklyn, New York

It’s The Berries

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This guy looks to me to be an adult male House Finch, though I supose it could be a Purple Finch. I’m going with house finch because there appears to be a bit too much brown on the face for a Purple Finch.

Grounds For Sculpture park

Hamilton Township, New Jersey