Birding

Killdeer, the Shorebird Jailbirds

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) aren't wearing striped prison uniforms because they murdered Bambi. They got their name from their excited call of kill-deer! But they do have those horizontal stripes, which make them very recognizable. These shorebirds are often seen away from the beach, in fields, lawns, golf courses and open areas. The first killdeer I saw and photographed, on Feb. 24 of this year, was playing second base on a ballfield in the North Lawn of Central Park. On May 20 and May 27 I got good looks at the killdeer on Governors Island, where they nest. Killdeer are plovers, with their large, round heads, large eyes and short bills.

Killdeer, Governors Island, May 27, 2017

Killdeer, Governors Island, May 27, 2017

I highly, highly recommend a video on YouTube by Cathy Weiner (quoteny) showing killdeer mating. It is absolutely beautiful and fascinating.

In my Filming the Feathers video, you can hear a killdeer calling, but it isn't the kill-deer! call they are known for. It is an insistent "Peep! Peep!" I put a couple of these calls at the beginning, before the Bach Brandenburg Concerto kicks in, in a version arranged for recorders and performed by Papalin.

Killdeer, Central Park North Lawn, Feb. 24, 2017

Killdeer, Central Park North Lawn, Feb. 24, 2017

Killdeer, Governors Island, May 20, 2017

Killdeer, Governors Island, May 20, 2017

The first photo in this group was taken on May 20; the rest were taken May 27, both days on Governors Island.

More Spring Shorebirds

May has been a great month for adding shorebirds to the Filming the Feathers series of videos, as well as adding a photographic record of each bird to the Photography page. So far I've been able to show you solitary, spotted and least sandpipers, and now offer two new birds (for me): the ruddy turnstone and purple sandpipers.

Purple sandpipers, Governors Island, May 12, 2017

Purple sandpipers, Governors Island, May 12, 2017

Ruddy turnstone, the Rockaways, May 14, 2017

Ruddy turnstone, the Rockaways, May 14, 2017

A Ruddy Turnstone in the Rockaways

When I saw this bird rooting around the rocks at the Tribute Park at B 116th Street in the Rockaways, I thought he was a sandpiper. When I checked the photos later, I saw this was a bird I'd not seen before: a ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres). These birds are called turnstones because they use their beaks to turn over pebbles and stones to grab insects and crustaceans. The birds nest in the arctic.

Ruddy turnstone, May 14, Rockaway Tribute Park

Ruddy turnstone, May 14, Rockaway Tribute Park

The Filming the Feather video features Mozart's Oboe Quartet in F, K. 370, performed by Storch, Reynolds, Iglitzin and Brennand, and obtained from MusOpen.org, a royalty-free music source.

These photos were all taken on May 14 at Rockaway Tribute Park, near B 116th Street.

Purple Sandpipers on Governors Island

I was able to film purple sandpipers (Calidris maritima) on two visits to Governors Island, on May 12 and 20. (When I returned to Governors Island on May 27, I saw no sandpipers at all.) 

Purple sandpiper, Governors Island, May 20, 2017

Purple sandpiper, Governors Island, May 20, 2017

The Filming the Feathers video shows these delightful birds pecking and resting, and getting chased by the waves. The music is by Carl Heinrich Carsten Reinecke.

Here are some of the photos I took on May 12 and 20. More can be seen on the purple sandpipers page.

A Blue Grosbeak Dines on Bees

Birders were abuzz when a blue grosbeak (Passerina caerulea) was reported in early May at the beehives in Battery Park (at the southern tip of Manhattan). I visited the BeeVillage on May 10 and 11 and was able to get some video for a Filming the Feathers entry. The bird made many appearances, but always jumped around and flitted under and around the beehives. Only three photos came out, and you have them here (including one on the video).

Blue grosbeak, Battery Park, May 11, 2017

Blue grosbeak, Battery Park, May 11, 2017

The video is set to one of the London Trios of Franz Joseph Haydn. The bird was very, very active, and very, very difficult to film! I left the video a bit jumpy to show the skittishness of this little guy.

Blue grosbeak, Battery Park, May 11, 2017

Blue grosbeak, Battery Park, May 11, 2017

BeeVillage, Battery Park, Lower Manhattan, May 2017

BeeVillage, Battery Park, Lower Manhattan, May 2017