Sunday, February 23, 2014

Red-necked Grebe

A red-necked grebe, Podiceps grisegena, swimming in the East River. 
Here is a bird New Yorkers don't see every day -- a red-necked grebe. It is uncommon enough around New York City to be popping up on rare bird sighting lists. I saw this one in the East River today, between Piers 4 and 5, in Brooklyn Bridge Park. It was diving, disappearing under water for long counts, hunting for food. Red-necked grebes typically eat fish, crustaceans, aquatic insects, and an occasional mollusk or amphibian.

The bird is drably colored now, but its plumage will brighten for the breeding season into a distinctive red neck (where it is now reddish brown), white face, and black cap. Red-necked grebes breed on inland lakes, mainly in Canada and Alaska, and winter along both coasts of North America. They make unique floating nests from mats of plant material; a depression in the middle holds the clutch of 1-9 blue eggs.

Click to enlarge. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Winter Robin

This American robin, Turdus migratorius, is spending the winter in my Brooklyn garden.  It is normal for some robins to not migrate south for winter. They switch from a diet of summer worms to dry fruit and berries. I give this one raisins, grapes, and apple slices. To read more about winter robins, click here for a previous detailed blog.    

       "From December to March, 
there are for many of 
us three gardens: 

the garden outdoors, 

the garden of pots and bowls in the house, 

and the garden of the mind's eye.
-- Katherine S. White

"The snow doesn't give a soft white damn whom it touches." 
-- e.e. cummings

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Winter Continues

It is still cold in New York City! This mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) was sitting on my porch today with its feathers puffed up, hanging out and keeping warm. Click to enlarge.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Red-breasted Merganser Dives

A male red-breasted merganser, Mergus serrator.
February is a good month to look for red-breasted merganser ducks in New York City's East River. Today I saw the one in these two photos. I wrote about another on a February Sunday in 2011. Click here to read the previous blog.

The red-breasted merganser is a diving duck; it mainly eats fish, which it dives under water to catch.  Below is a picture of this duck's energetic dive, just before he disappeared.

Click to enlarge.