Thursday, April 7, 2011

Looking at Birds Instead of Looking for Birds...

Tree Swallow at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Queens NY
This past Saturday, I did not have any walks scheduled, so I figured it was perfect for a day of "field study".  No chasing or twitching - just birding with an approach to soak in whatever I saw and hope for a glimpse of spring arrivals.  At Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens NY, I spent a good hour watching Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) staking claims to nest boxes and made a note to speak to National Park Service about possibly installing additional nest boxes.  On the West and East Ponds, I was thrilled to observe Male Green-winged Teals (Anas crecca) displaying their courtship behavior in attracting mates.  A few males did the “grunt‐whistle,” “down‐up,” and “headup‐ tail‐up”, displays.  I also noticed that a few of the Male Green-winged Teals did the “bridling” display, which involves drawing the head backward.  I would have loved to capture some video of this display, but the wind made it difficult to get any decent footage and the distance did not help either.  A search on the internet did result in some footage which I have linked to here; I recommend you check it out...pretty cool stuff.   Other notables at JBWR included 8 Yellow-rumped Warblers and a couple of Northern Pintails (Anas acuta).  Later on in Staten Island, I had a lone Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) and Snowy Egret (Egretta thula), more evidence of spring arrivals.  On my way home I marveled at the Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) flying over Hylan Blvd in Staten Island and wondered if I would ever see such a scene in Queens.  Well, as luck would have it, I had another Turkey Vulture, sighting though not in Queens, but in Brooklyn, on the Belt Parkway right near the Kings Plaza exit.  My first Turkey Vulture sighting in Brooklyn.  That was a fine way to finish my day out in the field though, my birding was not finished for the day as I turned my attention to my backyard birds once I got home, but that will be another post for another day.

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