Monday, July 7, 2014

It's a hard life for a bird, and we're not much help

Sunday, I went to Riverdale to visit my aunts. By the bus stop is a building called "The Arbor", because they cut down dozens of trees to build it. Seriously, every tree on the block. It's a hideous building--the architect thought it would be ever so trendy to give it floor-to ceiling windows, to exploit the excellent views of the henry Hudson Parkway and a church parking lot.

For some reason, nobody wanted to spend several hundred thousand dollars to live in an ugly building with no view in Riverdale, so teh developer went bankrupt and wound up selling the building to Columbia University for cheap, which is unfortunate because otherwise maybe someone would have pulled down the building and tried again.

But there it stands, and of course the floor-to-ceiling windows kill a lot of birds--surprisingly, low rise buildings are the biggest hazard for bird strikes. Intuitively, you'd expect high-rises to kill more, but I guess high rises come into play only during migration.

Anyway I see two or three dead birds a year there, which is a lot since I pass the building at most once a month. Today it was this Downy Woodpecker.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Window-killed Downy Woodpecker, Riverdale (Bronx) NY
Window-killed Downy Woodpecker, Riverdale (Bronx) NY

Sometimes the follies of people make me angry.

There's an article on Cornell's website about cutting down on bird strikes--note that private homes are the second biggest collision threat to birds--and another one in their "Living Bird" magazine (I think this link leads to a PDF of the article itself).

End of rant, for the moment.

On a more pleasant topic, I struck out again on the Collard-Dove on Sunday Afternoon, but I did get a good look at a Raven flying over, not 30 feet away and maybe 15 feet up. Never seen a wild Raven that close before. Enormous bird, just amazing.

In the native plant garden there were a couple of Monarch butterflies.

Ed Gaillard: recent &emdash; Monarch Butterfly, Hudson River Greenway near 26th Street
Monarch Butterfly, stopping only briefly on his territorial rounds

This was a nice surprise considering what a good job we've been doing at making them extinct with Monsanto's help. Sorry, I said I was going to stop ranting. The parks department planted a good deal of milkweed in the native plant garden, and if you have milkweed, you'll get Monarchs. For now, anyway. There's a lot of information on the net about planting milkweed (here's one article--can't vouch for how good it is, since I'm no gardener), and if you are in a position to add it to your garden, every little bit helps.

I also spotted a Hummingbird Moth. I love those.

Ed Gaillard: recent &emdash; Hummingbird Moth, Hudson River Greenway
Hummingbird Moth--look at that curled tongue

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