Friday, February 27, 2015

Beware the Red Tail Hawks



A red tail hawk peers down upon the ducks and geese on Reservoir ice the other day in Central Park.
Geese and ducks cluster tightly together on ice.

According to news reports, this is the third coldest winter in NYC in recorded history.
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And it is not only taxing water birds to their limits, but apparently even some of the predatory birds, such as red tail hawks. CBS reports two rescued hawks currently being treated at the Wild Bird Fund, one for near starvation.
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This winter has of course been brutal for 2/3rds of the country. Apparently, at the Great Lakes which are nearly entirely frozen over, grebes and other water birds are having a very hard time surviving:
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While I don't like to know of any animal suffering, I can't claim to enjoy seeing the red tail hawks in Central Park.
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I don't actually seek the birds out, but am acutely aware of them almost every day at the Reservoir in Central Park.
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Whenever there is sudden explosion of wings and feathers making hasty retreat to the open water spot in front of the Reservoir fountain, I can be sure it is due to a red tail in the area.
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Sure enough, a slight tilt of head will nearly always reveal one or even two hawks flying slow, but focused low circles over the Reservoir.
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The other day, a hawk finally landed on a tree branch close to where I was standing and I was able to take a couple of photographs of him (or her) intently staring down at the few geese and ducks who remained clustered tightly together on the ice.
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While understandable why the mallards are so wary and terrified of the hawks, it's not clear why geese also react to them so quickly and fearfully. After all, geese are bigger than the red tails.
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But geese don't have talons and sharp beaks with which to defend themselves from a possible hawk attack and as such, seem to recognize the birds as a predator and threat.
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The normal diet of hawks are rodents, squirrels and pigeons. But, they also occasionally take out waterfowl. One park goer reported seeing a red tail grab and kill a female mallard last year.
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Fortunately, I have never witnessed this, but seeing the reaction of especially the mallards to the hawks, I have no doubts to the report. I especially worry for the little female wood duck at the Reservoir because of her diminutive size and the fact she is without a mate of flock. There are actually several red tails in the general area.
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Nevertheless, even the hawks appear to be having a rough time this winter in NY. A couple of birders have recently reported seeing red tail hawks prey on grackles and even tiny sparrows in the parks.
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But, speaking just for myself, while I respect the hawks' important role in nature and consider them pretty to look at, I so prefer not seeing them at all. 
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The ducks and geese have it hard enough this winter. -- PCA
                                            
                                                       



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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest! -- One Goose Throws Caution to the Wind


"Whoops!"
"OMG, what mess did I just get myself into?"
"Now that I'm here, do you have anything for me? I will patiently wait."
Miss Willow, the woodie, also taking risks tonight
And a parade of scrappy mallards trying to follow me home. "Not so fast, guys!"


It was a matter of time before one of the desperate geese would finally throw caution to the wind (literally) and brave it over the wrought iron fence at the Reservoir to land on the narrow, ice-covered, running track.
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One plucky goose did tonight and then found herself surrounded by a bunch of scrappy, annoying ducks!  
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The expression on her face was priceless.
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"OMG, what did I get myself into?"
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For the next ten minutes the hapless goose (who was too passive for her own good) stood with perplexed look as the greedy mallards practically engulfed her and grabbed every bit of food at her feet.
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The only way the regal goose got anything at all was when I personally hand-fed her. Fortunately, for me, she was as polite with me as with the ducks, taking seeds gently from my hand, like a delicate debutante.
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When finally consuming the equivalent of a gourmet appetizer, the goose left the craziness of the lowly duck mob behind her to return to her flock on the icy Reservoir -- her dignity a bit tattered, but still intact.
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But, "Debby the haughty debutante" wasn't the only one to take risks tonight.  
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Willow, the little female wood duck also ventured up to the icy running track. For a tiny and somewhat fragile appearing duck, Willow has demonstrated herself to be every bit as scrappy as her larger mallard cousins. She may be without mate and flock, but Willow is smart and has learned well how to make do with what she's got.
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If the birds were a bit more adventurous and risk-taking tonight, its probably due to a combination of factors:
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1-- They are simply more desperate. With watercourses still 99% iced over, grounds still covered in snow and fat reserves depleted, they have to be willing to take chances they would normally reject and scrap for what they can get.
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2-- The winds had substantially subsided tonight, making flying easier. (Thank God for small favors.)  
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3-- The red tail hawks weren't around.
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Perhaps that helps explain why, when I finally left the Reservoir tonight, I had a squadron of ducks practically following me home.
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Unfortunately, that would not have sat well with my landlady so I had to bade them a fond goodnight and send them on their way.
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"Off with you now!  Tomorrow is another day!"  -- PCA
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Monday, February 23, 2015

Flying Against the Wind and The Chill of Frozen Hearts


Frozen.
Squatting down in ice to warm feet, the geese and ducks reach out necks to try and grab seeds.
Frenzy!
A goose flying in place tonight through punishing winds.
 
The winds were so brutal tonight at the Central Park Reservoir, several of the geese were literally flying in place. -- Suspended in the air like puppets and barely moving despite their vigorously flapping wings.
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I had never seen anything like that before.
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And yet I could commiserate, as I felt just like the flying-against-the-wind geese.
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Tonight was the first night all winter, I felt truly exhausted, drained and spent. -- Like its just so hard to get through still another week or two of this. Call it, "piling on" -- just like the snow and ice keep piling on and piling on.
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It was of course, just one more day of bitter temperatures and near zero wind chills. One more day of navigating the black ice, frozen snow and gusting winds that could threaten to pull your legs out from under you. One more day of feeling that the pitiful nourishment I brought for the frozen birds on ice just wasn't enough to sustain them through still another week of punishing nature.
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The meteorologists are claiming this is close to the "fourth coldest February in NYC ever recorded" and "the coldest since 1934.".  http://pix11.com/2015/02/20/the-coldest-month-since-the-depression-causes-emotional-depression-as-well/
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I believe that as I have never seen such frenzy and sheer desperation in the water birds as I am witnessing this winter.
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The behavior has become even more frantic over the past couple of weeks as I suspect the birds' fat reserves have severely depleted at this point.
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Yet watercourses are still frozen over and grounds still covered in ice and snow at a time food sources would normally be coming available to the birds. One has to presume this is why we have had a rash of bird deaths on the Reservoir over the past two weeks and it appears there were two more this morning far out on the ice. (I could not tell what the frozen lumps actually were for the distance. -- Perhaps gulls.)
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Tonight, mallards were pecking at my jeans and scrambling at my feet. Others almost tore off my gloves in attempt to grab food from my hands.  The geese jammed their heads through the fencing at the top of the embankment and a few even attempted to fly over the fencing to the running path, but apparently determined the landing space too narrow and retreated back.
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I did not see Willow, the little female wood duck this evening.  But I am hopeful that with the blistering winds, she simply elected to stay safely back on the open water than try to fight her way through the cold and the frantic crowd of desperate birds before me.
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There was one moment when the winds were so battering and practically blowing the food I tossed to Fifth Avenue that I felt like giving up as all my efforts seemed futile.  At that point, a red-tailed hawk flew overhead and all the geese and ducks suddenly bolted back to the water in the middle of the frozen ice.
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What more can go wrong for these birds, I wondered?
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But, of course there is always one more thing that can go wrong -- especially for the geese of Central Park.
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Earlier in the day, I had noticed the "Geese Police" van patrolling Central Park to ensure that if any of the geese have ideas about trying to graze on frozen lawns, they will put a quick stop to that.
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Better that the geese should all starve to death at the frozen Jackie Onassis Reservoir, is the apparent mantra of the Central Park Conservancy, as well as the city of New York.
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So yes, it seems there is reason to feel that getting through just another week or two of this merciless brutality is simply too insurmountable. 
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Question is, if I feel that way when only being out for a couple of hours a day, what must it feel like for the birds and other animals who actually have to live this misery 24/7?
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Perhaps it's better they not know that tomorrow morning is predicted to be 3 degrees with sub zero wind chills. But, I suspect the geese and ducks somehow know that already without the meteorologists telling them.
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Pity their poor frozen hearts.
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And yet when thinking that, I question, is it the hearts of the animals so forced to endure this merciless winter or the icy hearts of those who so detest and wish to make them disappear, that require actual pity?  -- PCA
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Sunday, February 22, 2015

A One Day Respite for Wildlife and Then Back to "Arctic Freeze"


Her beak covered in snow, a mallard hen hops to running path in search of treat last night.
A pair of newly arrived shovelers this morning at Reservoir heading towards small pool of open water.
Another dead Canada goose frozen on ice this morning at Reservoir.
The geese coming on embankment this morning to compete with more aggressive ducks for food.
A "very bad" mallard drake -- chasing and harassing others and then proudly posing for photo on Reservoir running path this morning.

Another sad loss to report at the Reservoir this morning.  A second Canada goose was lying dead and frozen far out on the ice.
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That makes at least six birds who have perished during the so-called, "Siberian Express" at the Central Park Reservoir in just the last week and a half.  (Keep in mind, these are just the deaths I have personally seen.)
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So desperate have matters become that the geese are now climbing onto the sloped and slippery embankment to compete with the mallards for food.
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When arriving to the Reservoir this morning, at least two flocks of geese were observed flying out. Speculation is that the temporary warmer temperatures inspired the geese to seek some grazing opportunity in hopes some of the newly fallen snow might be soft and melting on Central Park lawns. I'm not sure if that is true, but the geese have to start finding food somewhere. What I and a few other people are able to provide is simply not enough for the number of mallards, geese and other water birds seeking refuge at the Reservoir during these bitter and abnormal weeks in February.
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Competition among the ducks for food is particularly frenzied. This morning, one mallard drake was unwilling to share anything and harassed other mallards away. He then stood in front of me (posing for a photo) as if proud of himself. I told him he was a "very bad boy" and I would never feed him again -- but of course, the latter was a lie.
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I guess they all have to do what they have to do to survive.
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A warm and very temporary (40 degree) respite today. But by tomorrow morning, we will be back to "Arctic Freeze" in NYC and near single digit temperatures again.
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I trust the geese who flew out this morning in search of grazing will be back. I hope that they will have managed to find some dried up shreds of grass somewhere.
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But, I can't frankly remember the last time I saw a blade of green grass in Central Park. And to think that spring is less than a month away! The geese, ducks and other birds must be wondering the same thing.  Will spring ever arrive this year?
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Judging by the still shrinking open pool of water at the Reservoir (now just under the fountain itself), the freshly fallen snow, temperatures about to dive once again and another frozen body on the ice this morning, it's easy to think spring is just an illusion or example of wishful thinking.
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Brace yourselves, little ones for another hard week in a winter that seems unending. It's going to be a bumpy night and then some.  -- PCA
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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Willow, the Gritty, Little Wood Duck Sings Her Own Tune to Survive Bitter NYC Winter


Willow, separating herself this morning from the crowd to get first digs at seeds falling onto snowy, sloped embankment. 
"I want to eat alone," she says for the moment.
No one knows her story or how this little female wood duck with the sexy white eyeliner, came to spend most of this harsh New York City winter hanging with the geese and mallards at the Jackie Onassis Reservoir in Central Park.
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Wood ducks are generally unusual at the location, though occasionally we see a few in the warmer weather.
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But, since feeding the geese and mallards at the south west portion of the Reservoir (near the open water fountain), during these frigid, bitter weeks, I have noted the gritty little female woodie moving to the fore, claiming her space, grabbing whatever nourishment she can and then flying back to the safety of the still remaining open water.
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Though she doesn't appear to have any actual "friends" among the geese and mallards, Willow nevertheless seeks their company and protection, oftentimes immersing herself unobtrusively among them.
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For their part, the mallards and geese mostly ignore Willow, though I noted a mallard hen this morning competing with and gently chasing the smaller woodie from some stray sunflower seeds in the snow.
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Willow generally likes to separate herself from the bunch when feeding by coming up on the sloped, icy embankment and quickly grabbing the seeds that fall there. The going is slippery and a bit treacherous, but Willow is obviously able to get more food this way than by competing with the larger and more crowded birds on the actual Reservoir (which these days, is like an ice skating rink).
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A few birders have worried about Willow being "all alone" at the Reservoir and as such, representing an "easy target" for pick off by a hawk or other raptor. But, as noted, Willow is not dumb. She seems to realize her vulnerability and as noted, usually mixes herself among the other water birds with the exception of feeding time.  But, even then she is quick to fill her belly and make a hasty retreat back to the safety of the water. She is not one to hang around on the ice like a number of the geese do.
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My general feeling about Miss Willow is that she is a real little trooper and has so far shown herself to be quite remarkable and smart about surviving this brutal winter even without flockmates or an actual mate.
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My hope is that if Willow can further survive the remaining weeks of winter, one of those handsome and brightly colored male woodies will show up (like last spring and summer) and request her wing in duckie matrimony. 
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After all, Willow certainly is a pretty little thing and she's got a brain that helped get her through the Siberian Express and having to negotiate her way with a whole bunch of mallards and Canada geese.
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What could be more attractive to a male wood duck than that?  -- PCA
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Friday, February 20, 2015

50 Shades of Gray, White and Black in an Endless NYC Winter


The dark forms patiently waiting on the ice on what has become a winter devoid of color.
Red tail hawk preying this week on an unlucky gull who got stuck and died on the ice.
Two coots hanging close to the geese for added warmth and protection.
Arriving for breakfast this morning.
"Anything for me?"
 
Most were patiently waiting like little dark, frozen statues in the snow when I arrived this morning.
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The temperature was 2 degrees with wind chills, 20 below zero.
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But, to be frank, it didn't feel that differently from what most of this winter in NYC has become: A series of colorless, frozen days of black, gray and white and searing winds whipping across one's face.  After a while, it doesn't even feel that cold anymore. It's just normal in what has evolved into a really, really long winter.
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Christmas seems like it was six months ago. And I can't remember wearing anything beyond snow boots, winter parka, gloves and the hood of my coat wrapped snuggly around my head. What is, after all, a "bad hair day" when no one sees your hair anyway? Nor can I recall the last time I wore make-up apart from a dab of lipstick and touch of blush. But, one doesn't even need those anymore as the cold will presumably put lots of color on the face. A young man walking around hatless last week had nose and ears that were the reddest red I've ever seen. He could have led Santa's sleigh.
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But, still my heart goes out to the dark forms patiently waiting on the frozen ice. They are all squatted down tightly on their bellies to conserve what little heat remains in their bodies.
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I am not sure why most the geese are gathered at the place I usually feed as opposed to finding some warmth at the still open water under the fountain at the Reservoir. For some reason, the geese have never liked the water around the fountain and are rarely seen actually swimming in it. I am guessing, (but don't actually know) that the constantly spraying water bothers them.  But, if the geese are fussy, the ducks and coots aren't. They are usually in or around the water, spray or not.  It is the only place they can find any warmth at all.
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As soon as I arrive -- morning or evening -- the ducks, coots and any geese near the fountain's open water come flying, while the geese already at the feeding spot line up close to the embankment in order to get first digs at the food being tossed.
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So fast does the food disappear that it seems not to hit the ice at all.
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Meanwhile, those mallards brazen enough to fly up to running path, gather so closely to my feet that more than once, I have nearly tripped over or even stepped on them.
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In all the years I have been attempting to aid geese and ducks in winter, I have never seen such frantic desperation as this year.
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As noted previously, the main goal is simply to keep losses to freeze and starvation to a minimum.
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Even so, we lost 5 (known) water birds at the Reservoir in just the past week.  Two mallards, one goose, one coot and a ring-tailed Gull. 
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The gull appeared to get stuck in the snow and ice a few days ago and was ultimately preyed upon by a red-tailed hawk.  If any birds have benefited this winter, it is most likely the hawks and other raptors. This morning, I noted the hawk finishing up the frozen remains of what was the gull on the ice.
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A cruel winter for sure. But not without its benefits to some.
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Meanwhile, tomorrow we are supposed to get more snow, mixed with ice, sleet and freezing rain. More whites, grays and ultimately black city ice.
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Then on Sunday a one-day break from it all with temperatures to soar to 40 degrees.
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Will we have to break out the air conditioners in New York City to deal with the sudden onrush of unexpected heat?
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Not to fret as next week, it will go back down to 6 degrees and the 50 shades of gray, white and black. -- Indeed the only color to be seen, the bright reds of unprotected human ears and noses that could well light up the night. -- PCA
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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Let Them Eat Ice -- "Siberian Freeze" Putting New Strain on Water Birds


Willow, the little female wood duck hanging in there as a ringed-billed gull flies over her. Even the gulls are desperate now and searching.
Gulls, geese and frantic mallards.
Trying to follow me home. "Don't you have any more?"
It seems lately this blog is mostly about weather reports.
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Unfortunately, today is no different.
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Yesterday, New Yorkers and the birds got a bit of reprieve. Temperatures soared to freezing!
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But, if I didn't know anything from professional weather forecasters, I would know that things were about to go south again just by the behavior of the geese and ducks at the Reservoir last night.
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I would know by their near-panicked, desperation for food.
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Last night, the geese attempted to climb on the snowy embankment even though they invariably slip and slide down the ice-covered rocks. Still, a few managed to hang on -- at least long enough to grab some morsels of food and gain slight advantage over those still crowded and scrambling on the ice.
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A number of the mallards have already learned this trick -- and then some. As noted, the really brazen ducks fly on to the running path where they are first to grab loosely falling seeds, corn and cat food. Though I attempt to hand feed some of the mallards scrambling at my feet, they are so desperate, they almost take my fingers with them!
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But, no matter how much I bring, it is never enough.
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Indeed, the hardest part of trying to keep our water bird losses to a minimum (by feeding) during what is now termed, the "Siberian freeze," in New York is finally running out of food and having to turn and leave.
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Both, the geese and ducks follow me on ice and on the snowy running path as if praying and beseeching more. It takes all my will to walk briskly away and not look back.
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Seeing the frantic behavior in spades last night, I knew today was going to be a rough one -- and it only gets worse tomorrow.
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By morning, New York City is predicted to hit 3 degrees with wind chills 20 below zero. Virtually, the entire region is forecast to hit record lows.
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It seems almost an insurmountable task to try and get sufficient nourishment to the roughly 40 geese and 50 ducks still at the one watercourse in Central Park with actual moving water. (Though at this point, very little.)
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But, what if the whole Reservoir freezes over -- even with the fountain of spaying water at the south west end? (Considering that other fountains and even a waterfall in New York have turned to ice, such is not a far fetched thought.)
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Well then, I don't know.
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Presently, tug boats and ice breakers are working virtually non-stop to break up ice floes on the Hudson and East Rivers.
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Still, I am amazed at the people met each night at the Reservoir who delight in taking photos of the impoverished and desperate birds but who never think to bring as much as a cracker for them. What do they think water birds are eating when there is no water and grounds are covered in ice and snow?
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"Survival of the fittest" they say or perhaps, "let them eat ice."
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So easy to say these things when you've got a nice, warm home to go to and plenty of food on the table.  -- PCA
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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Frozen in Time Under New Veil of White Assault -- RIP Little Mallard Hen



Rest in peace, little emaciated one in your icy grave.
The little female wood duck this morning couched among the equally freezing geese and mallards.
The bolder and more determined ones.
And still the gritty sparrows sing through it all.


At first, I wanted to believe it was a hat that had blown off someone's head and landed on the ice.
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But, closer inspection revealed another dead mallard on the snowy floor of the Central Park Reservoir. Fragments of ice scattered over her lifeless body, she appeared to be frozen in time.
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By her very thin body condition, it was apparent what had ultimately killed the sad little mallard hen. The unrelenting cold coupled with frozen watercourses and snow covered grounds is once again taking a toll on our water birds, resulting in starvation. That is now four we have lost in as many days at the particular location.
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Though now going twice a day to the Reservoir in attempt to get some nourishment to the desperate geese and ducks, I could not help but feel a profound sense of failure last night when seeing the still little mallard imbedded in the ice. I know that is not realistic under the dire circumstances, but it is perception nonetheless.
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Once again, I said a small prayer to God requesting to take the mallard's innocent little soul and bring her to a better place. Some place safe and warm from the mercilessness of this unrelenting winter in New York City.
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As if to add insult to injury, it snowed again in New York City last night and today. When returning back to the Reservoir this morning, the mallard's body was barely discernable under a new blanket of white assault -- as if to cover up a crime.
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But, what made matters even worse for the still-living geese and ducks is that the snow was the soft, powdery type -- the kind in which the seeds and pellets I was tossing, sank like stones beneath four or five inches of further icy challenge for the birds.
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Though obviously starving, most of the geese and ducks just sat, covered in ice and snow, trying more to conserve what body heat remained than even attempting to get to the food.
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Only a few of the more determined mallards flew to the top of the snow covered running track where getting to the cat food and seeds was actually easier because of human footprints patting down the snow.
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As one who normally loves winter over all the other seasons, I found myself detesting it this morning. Not for any discomfort to me, but for what it was doing to the all the water birds.  -- Even the sea gulls were frantically flying around this morning and swooping down to grab any errant pieces of bread or cat food.
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In essence, "my" geese and ducks got very little nourishment this morning despite the bountiful supply I brought.  Most of it is buried under another half foot of snow and ice.
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Finally leaving the Reservoir, I once again marveled at sparrows flittering through snowy tree branches, sunning themselves on fences and skipping merrily through the snow covered ground.  Though I tossed a little remaining bird seed to them, most didn't even seem that hungry.
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Sparrows may well be the very toughest animals in all of nature. Should I die tomorrow and be forced to come back as an animal, it would be a sparrow. Not only are they tough, resilient and adaptable, but they also seem to escape most of human's wrath and persecution. Indeed, sparrows are very gritty little birds and always seems to have smiles on their faces and songs in their hearts, regardless of weather or what is going on around them.
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But then finally leaving the park, my thoughts drifted back again to the lifeless little mallard still frozen under a new veil of snow at the Reservoir.
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She had made it through the deepest parts of winter and had only a few weeks to go until the spring. How ironic and sad is that?
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Perhaps for the water birds of our parks (and other wildlife) getting to spring this year is like trying to walk up a down escalator.
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It's still such a long, long way to go.
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Rest in peace, little mallard hen. - PCA
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Monday, February 16, 2015

Little Warmth of Heart for the Weary and the Frozen?


Most of the geese and mallards sitting to warm fast freezing legs last night in below zero wind chills.
As a mallard scratches ice off himself, the little female wood duck sandwiches herself between the ducks and geese to try and eat and conserve body heat.
 The good news yesterday was that I saw no dead bodies on the ice at the Central Park Reservoir.
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The bad news was that all the water birds were clearly suffering in the single digit temperatures and below zero wind chills.
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Both, the geese and mallards had difficulty flying through the powerful winds and walking was even more taxing on the bitterly frigid ice. The geese and ducks could not stand or walk for more than a few seconds before having to squat down to warm their feet and legs. Several of the geese were limping. A number of the geese and mallards did not even make it to the area I was tossing food, though all attempted.
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Last night one coot made it over quickly to grab a couple of morsels of nourishment, but then immediately flew back to the "warmth" and safety of a small pool of open water.
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So brutal was it last night, that none of the mallards flew up to the running track to grab loose food pellets that had fallen. Like the geese, they mostly sat down and stretched their necks out to eat as much as they could, as fast as they could. Even the little female wood duck, sat frozen on the ice, rather than venturing on the snowy embankment as she usually does to get an advantage for food.
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We lost three birds on Saturday.  A coot, a mallard and a goose. These are only the birds I'm aware of (going to the location twice a day now). But, I don't stay long as one simply cannot linger in a deep freeze for any amount of time. For both the birds' sake and my own, I am there and gone quickly.
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A couple of days ago, I posted a request on the New York Birders Facebook page that others pitch a helping hand to the struggling waterfowl on our frozen lakes and ponds during this unusually bitter spell. Several people countered that "nature should take its course" and that it is only the "weak" or mentally unfit that will perish. That may be true, but it seems a bit callous and cold hearted -- especially when there is opportunity to aid suffering wildlife through an unusually harsh period. Would these same people walk by a bird entangled in fishing line and say, "let nature take its course?"  Many scientists are making the argument that it is human actions and footprint that are causing most of the extreme fluctuations in weather and destructive impacts to wildlife. (i.e. climate change.)  So should we not counterbalance some of that destruction by helping the animals when we can? 
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Ironically, birders are among the people who most bitterly complain about cats killing birds. But, many would sooner see a bird starve on a frozen lake than offer a food pellet. Something seems a bit contradictory in that. One could, after all, argue that when a cat kills a bird, it is "nature taking its course" or "natural selection" -- the bird must have been weak or mentally unfit.
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Anyway, I am whining. Perhaps I am simply vexed and frustrated seeing so many photographers and birders taking advantage of the birds coming to me for food to take opportunistic photos for themselves. Said I to one a few days ago, "Gee, its nice to take photos, but can't you offer them a little food during these tough times?"
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One of the few pleasantries of the past two particularly brutal days, is that I did not encounter such people with their huge cameras and peering eyes or I might have said, "You want to know where the dead bodies are?" 
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Despite all the stresses, there was something blissfully, if not mournfully peaceful about the past two days.  
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Still, today will be worse.
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It is currently 3 degrees and I have no idea on what to expect in a few hours. I just pray that all my little friends will still be safe and alive as there is hope around the bend.  
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By next Saturday, we should be back up to near freezing in New York City. -- PCA
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