October 3: CANCELED Autumn bird walk at Brookdale Park.
October 7: Autumn bird walk at Brookdale Park.
October 7: Book signing for Brookdale Park Conservancy.
October 8: “Putting Birds Where We Want Them,” a lecture for Real Macaw Parrot Club.
October 21: Lecture for Delmarva Ornithological Society.
November 9: Lecture for Ralph T. Waterman Bird Club.
November 11: Lecture for Montclair Bird Club.
December 5: Lecture and book-signing at Wild Birds Unlimited, Paramus.
March 3, 2016: Lecture for Delaware Valley Ornithological Club.
March 12-16: New Mexico field trip with Linnaean Society of New York.
March 19-26: Nebraska: Sandhill Cranes and Prairie Grouse.
April 14-22: Birds and Art In Catalonia.
April 24 – May 2: Birds and Art in Provence.
May 24: “How — and Why — To Start Birding,” a lecture for North Shore Audubon Society.
May 29 – June 4: Birds and Art in Burgundy.
August 3-6: Lecture and field trips for Southwest Wings.
September 30 – October 8: Birds and Art in Berlin and Brandenburg.
October 24 – November 1: Birds and Art in Venice and the Po Delta.
Brookdale Park’s unceasingly busy, relentlessly noisy blue jays were definitely onto something when I arrived this morning. An owl? A raccoon? Me?
It turned out to be this beautiful little juvenile broad-winged hawk, looking as if might rather have chosen a different place to spend the night.
The Monday morning run to the bakery started out unusually well when Gellert and I noticed a great big bird perched on a distant transmission tower: an adult bald eagle, the first we’d seen from our yard here. It must have roosted in the neighborhood overnight, and I took its presence as a sign that a trip to Brookdale Park might be in order.
It was a beautiful morning, at last, cool enough for a jacket, bright enough for chimney swifts high overhead.
As usual, the best birding was along the Magic Edge, where the morning sun strikes first and the understory is densest. My timing was good, and I arrived just as the morning’s biggest flock did. Soon the trees and bushes were wimmling with birds.
After a long summer, it was great to be in the position of having to choose which bird to look at and which to let go. I ended up with eleven species of migrant parulids, including two bay-breasted warblers, and with them a couple of red-eyed vireos, a blue-gray gnatcatcher, and a very oddly colored scarlet tanager — he was a normal formative male except for the deeply colored, dull orange undertail coverts and vent, making for a weird contrast from below.
It was beginning to feel like a big morning. But the dog was getting fussy (why does he prefer romping in the dog park to lying quietly at my feet?) and the wind was steadily rising, so we wished the birds good travels — and resolved to return tomorrow.
There’s not much worse than a private joke a hundred years after everyone who would get it is dead.
Elliott Coues, whose birthday we mark today, committed a doozy in explaining the strange scientific name he gave the San Benito sparrow:
There are so many places named in Lower California for [saints] that I concluded to dedicate this Sparrow impartially to the whole calendar of them,
thus the All Saint’s Sparrow, Passerculus sanctorum.
I understand, in part: Coues was mocking, as only he could, the explosion of “San” names American ornithologists were giving small populations of Mexican sparrows, San Ignacio and San Lucas and San Benito. What I can’t figure out is whether a precise circumstance or, more likely, a precise individual called forth the Couesian wit.
Ideas? Or did the richer context of the joke vanish with its creator?