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

As The Crow Flies

If you have any doubt that some species of birds are highly intelligent, watch what this crow does. What the bird is doing is very different from performing a trained act; the bird is actually solving a multi-step puzzle it’s never seen before. This bird was also mentioned in my interview with the author of The Bird Way, Jennifer Ackerman.

Thanks to YouTuber rationalstabs

And forgive the recent Blowin in the Wind discombobulation. It will return to its regularly scheduled time, tomorrow.

Cooper’s Hawk

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This immature Cooper’s Hawk at the Marine Park Salt Marsh had an eye on a group of Black-capped Chickadees skittering in a bush below it. But the chickadees were wise to the hawk and started raising a ruckus. The hawk flew off in the other direction, gliding low over the dry brown reeds, and then startled me by stopping, turning around, and actually hiding behind a low bush to eye the chickadees. I say hiding, because that’s exactly what the hawk was doing; from time to time the hawk would peek out from behind the bush to see what the chickadees were doing. But the chickadees were wise to the hawk and started their alarm calls even louder. Eventually the hawk gave up, knowing that he had lost the advantage of surprise and swooped again low over the brown reeds, seeking to find more possible prey.

Marine Park Salt Marsh

Brooklyn, New York

Catch And Kill

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We were sitting on a playground bench enjoying the children playing in the fountains, and watching a cute baby sparrow hopping in front of us.

In a moment, a large red-tailed hawk swooped down, grabbed the sparrow, and took him up to the tree you see above. You can see some of the remains of the sparrow in the hawk’s claws.

The next day, I went back to the area and though I didn’t see the hawk again, a birder told me that the children’s playground was a regular part of that hawk’s territory.

Marine Park Playground

Brooklyn, New York

The Bird Way

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Who has not looked up in the sky at birds and wished they could fly? Jennifer Ackerman has spent a good part of her adult life thinking about and writing about birds and the natural world.  She is the author of eight books including a favorite of mine, The Genius of Birds.  Her latest book is called The Bird Way: A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think. I was pleased to talk with her on Arts Express and learn some startling stories about birds .

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with Ms. Ackerman, as broadcast today on radio station WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the country.

Plover Lover

 

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This semipalmiated plover was one of many skittering around yesterday. They’re small—between the size of a sparrow and a robin—and camouflaged in a muddy rocky area. But they can be seen as they run around, which is often, and when they fly they have distinctive striped markings on their wings. The one complete band around their neck distinguishes them from some other similar-looking birds.

Marine Park Salt Marsh

Brooklyn, New York