A Travellerspoint blog

Parakeets...in Manhattan?

Riverside Park, NYC

sunny 85 °F

Upon learning about an active Monk Parakeet nest just fifteen blocks away from the Manhattan School of Music, I just had to get over there to see it! Introduced species or not, it is unbelievably awesome that these parakeets nest throughout NYC — with this nest, I believe they may have now nested in all of the 5 boroughs of the city!

I took the M5 up to 135th St and, after a short walk, found the almost eyesore of a nest high in a tree along Riverside Drive. These parakeets love to build ridiculously large stick nests that can hold multiple family units at once. In Chicago, look for their nests from underneath the south side of the Chicago Skyway bridge.
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I saw two MONK PARAKEETS today: an adult (presumably the mother) and an immature bird which periodically begged from its mom by quivering its wings. It was very cool to see this behavior in a larger bird species such as a parakeet — I am more accustomed to seeing this in birds such as sparrows, warblers, etc.
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A very nice little trip! Bird-of-the-day to the Monk Parakeets with runner-up to a SWAINSON’S THRUSH I heard-only in Riverside Park. The migrants are starting to come through, so stay tuned, I will definitely go birding saturday, if not before then!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 975 Species

Posted by skwclar 11:12 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Jamaica Bay & Jacob Riis Park

New York, NY

semi-overcast 78 °F

Yesterday, my girlfriend Tian and I went out for a great birding & beach adventure in Queens! We started at Jamaica Bay, where I was hoping to possibly find my life-bird Gull-bilked Tern. I was able to rent Tian some binoculars for the day from the visitor center, which she loved using!
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One highlight of our first walk around the West Pond was the flowers — we particularly admired the Beach Rose.
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Butterflies abounded as well, including this Red-spotted Purple Admiral:
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And this Common Buckeye:
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Several SNOWY EGRETS were nice to see:
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YELLOW WARBLER — Tian got beautiful views of this one:
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NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD:
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AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER:
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A single COMMON TERN flew by:
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A few shorebird species made fly-bys throughout the day, including this flock of LESSER YELLOWLEGS:
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OSPREY with a fish:
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Immature EASTERN KINGBIRD:
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FORSTER’S TERN flew by, always a nice species to find:
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As well as this BOAT-TAILED GRACKLE, a Jamaica Bay-area specialty:
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The squat appearance and heavy breast barring lead me to think this falcon is a Merlin, but it would be fairly rare in NYC this time of year. Any thoughts?
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GREATER YELLOWLEGS:
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WILLET — quite a nice assortment of shorebirds flying by!
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Then, we birded the other side of the road, walking over to the East Pond where there was an extremely high number of birds. Most were common species such as Mallard or this MUTE SWAN, but there were a few goodies as well.
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BLUE-WINGED TEAL with one GREEN-WINGED TEAL (right):
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GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS with CANADA GEESE:
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LESSER YELLOWLEGS:
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GREEN-WINGED TEAL:
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GLOSSY IBIS, SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, & a STILT SANDPIPER: all very quality birds!
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BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON with CANADA GEESE and MUTE SWANS — this photo can only give a snippet of the huge number of waterbirds present yesterday.
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One NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH made a brief appearance:
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As did a CEDAR WAXWING:
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Beautiful but far-away male WOOD DUCK:
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GREEN-WINGED TEAL:
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OSPREY:
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One of the perks of birding Jamaica Bay is seeing beautiful views of low-flying airplanes into JFK airport — here is Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi.
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AMERICAN WIGEON flybys:
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LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER with an unidentified duck species in its confusing eclipse plumage:
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Unfortunately, we failed to find the target bird the Gull-billed Tern. I think this species migrates back south early so I may have missed it for the year.

After dinner, we arrived to Jacob Riis Park where beautiful crashing waves provided a nice backdrop for a group of about ninety DUNLIN & SANDERLING:
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Tian and I enjoyed a little bird of birding, swimming, and soaking up the evening sun. A fun way to wrap up the day! Here I am with my “bird-of-the-day” yesterday, haha!
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Stay tuned — I think I will go out again tomorrow!

Happy birding,
Henry
World Life List: 975 Species

Posted by skwclar 19:53 Archived in USA Comments (0)

“Killy” goes the Kestrel

Upper West Side, NYC

rain 80 °F

The day I moved into my new dorm room here at the Manhattan School of Music, I heard the familiar noise of an AMERICAN KESTREL outside. Peering out of one of the windows, I was treated to a beautiful view of this female just sitting right on top of the school of music!
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Too cool — a great omen for the year! Stay tuned, I will go definitely go birding before the school year starts up September 9.

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 975 Species

Posted by skwclar 13:59 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Last walk before New York

Oak Park, IL

sunny 80 °F

Between rounds of packing for my flight back to Manhattan tomorrow, I was luckily able to write up a quick report for this morning’s Oak Park Bird Walk. The birding was slow, but there was great conversation and it was a beautiful day to be out and about.

Once again, for the most part we were forced to observe common species because it seems like the migrants really haven’t started coming through Oak Park yet. Here is a male DOWNY WOODPECKER:
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And a CHIMNEY SWIFT, one of the individuals that probably roost up at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church in their chimney:
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A single RING-BILLED GULL flew over:
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Once again, we found the BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS. Nice! And this time, it was a family group — we saw at least one juvenile begging & being fed from multiple adults. Very, very cool to prove their breeding status in Oak Park, something I have suspected for quite a while now.
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MOURNING DOVE:
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Towards the end of the walk, I spotted this interesting-looking insect caught in a cobweb. What is it?
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And the walk ended with a female AMERICAN GOLDFINCH posing high in a large Elm tree across the alley from my house that unfortunately seems to have died. Too bad; the stand of elms across from my house is the single most productive place for migrants in my neighborhood, so I really hope the other trees won’t follow the same fate.
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Bird-of-the-day to the Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, now officially breeding birds in Oak Park. Stay tuned — tomorrow I fly to Manhattan, and I will surely go birding there within the next week!

Happy birding,
Henry
World Life List: 975 Species

Posted by skwclar 19:22 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Back to the Midwest

Oak Park, IL

semi-overcast 70 °F

Today, my second full day back in Chicago, I led a morning Oak Park Bird Walk! It was wonderful and I had such a blast with both veteran & new bird walkers.

At first, the birds were few and far between, so we settled on watching this female DOWNY WOODPECKER for a little while:
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A while later, I spotted a bird perched on a tree all the way at the end of the alley and it turned out to be a CEDAR WAXWING:
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Another larger bird spotted from far away was this adult COOPER’S HAWK (my spark bird!)
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Then, we had a nice surprise in the form of a warbler — female/young male type AMERICAN REDSTART:
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And an immature CHIPPING SPARROW — these guys apparently bred in Taylor Park this summer.
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In the Taylor Park Fen, I spotted an extremely-cooperative Black Swallowtail! It was my first time ever photographing this beautiful butterfly species:
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The next treat came in the avian form of a cooperative BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER!
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There were actually two of them:
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Then, a few falcon-like birds came whizzing through the canopy, calling and playing with each other, and they were soon identified as two young COOPER’S HAWKS. Probably, they were the offspring from the adult seen earlier since they were in the same general area!
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To end the walk, we admired the gorgeous eye ring of the commonly-overlooked MOURNING DOVE:
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It was a fun walk!

Later in the morning, I noticed AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES were enjoying the Purple Coneflowers in my front yard. Here is the bright (but ever-so-slightly molting) male. His bright feathers will be gone within a month, replaced by the drab winter plumage of this species.
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Not to forget the more modestly-colored but still handsome female of the species:
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As well as an immature bird — this was most likely a family group.
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A great day! Bird-of-the-day goes to the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher with runners-up to the American Redstart & Cooper’s Hawk.

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 975 Species

Posted by skwclar 21:40 Archived in USA Comments (2)

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