Sunday, October 30, 2016

Halloween Edition

Urban wildlife takes on a new meaning on October 30th in New York City. Here are a few recent sightings. Click to enlarge. 
Dog bones.  
There are a couple of rats near the guy's knees. 
Rat bones. 
Horse lady. 
Horse bones. 
Lion man. 
And cat bones. No skeletal lions yet this year. 
Happy Halloween, humans! 

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Downy Woodpecker

This cute downy woodpecker, Picoides pubescens,  landed in a tree near me while I was taking a walk earlier this week. He sat in this vertical pose, typical for a woodpecker, just long enough for a quick photo. Click to enlarge. 
Woodpeckers have a few special features that help them sit upright clinging to the sides of trees, and also to climb up, down, and sideways on tree trunks while pecking for insects. First, like most woodpeckers, this downy's feet have two toes that face foreword and two that face back. It's called a zygodactyl foot. And second, he has a few stiffened tail feathers that act like a prop for support. He can sit quite comfortably in an upright position on the side of a tree or vertical branch. Click here for a close up of a downy woodpecker's foot. 
Most perching birds have a different arrangement of toes -- like this robin. Notice how three of his toes face foreword and one faces back. It's called an anisodactyl foot and is the most common kind of bird foot. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Cardinal's Progress

Remember this little immature cardinal from last week's blog? Click to enlarge. 
He has grown in the intervening week -- longer tail, longer wings, and check out that working crest! I like to think that the peanut breakfasts I provide are helping him grow big and red. Oh, and he makes a better impression when dry, too. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Baby Cardinal Poses for the Camera

Maybe it was the cold windy rain on Sunday, or maybe he's now old enough to recognize a friend, but the normally elusive baby cardinal that's been coming to my porch for seeds and has always flown away before when I pointed a camera at him, finally sat still for photos. Click to enlarge.
As usual, his mother was not far away. He has her nose, don't you think?
The little fella still begs with fluttering wings and soft chipping sounds for mother to pick food up for him and put it in his mouth, but when she's not close he feeds himself. 
Unlike his mainly tan mother, he's growing male red body feathers. 
 A nice addition to our Brooklyn garden! 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Happy New Year... 5777

The Jewish NewYear 5777 begins today. I'm relaxing and thinking about what kind of sweet dessert to make. I'm pretty sure it will use apples and brown sugar and I'll borrow some raisins from the supply we bought for the birds. These days two and sometimes three robins show up on my porch every morning for a breakfast of raisins, so we use them up pretty fast. The robin above is hanging around hoping for a few. 

The female cardinal pictured above is usually waiting in the morning, too,  and she brings a begging baby; she hops over to the window sill and looks in if I'm not there soon enough for her schedule. She says "CHIP!" to get my attention and I give her a peanut, which she breaks into small pieces to feed beak-to-beak to the baby. I can't show a photo because they let me watch them but both grab their peanuts and fly away when I point a camera at them. Click to enlarge. 

So for dessert I think I'll stew tart apples in butter with brown sugar, pie spices, and a few of the robins' raisins, and then pour it over yogurt. Sounds good, right? We can eat it while watching the birds outside the window having their own feast of raisins and peanuts.