Sunday, November 15, 2015

Rarity season

In November, after the bulk of migration is over, the rarities start to show up. Some are lost birds, blown off course or young and inexperienced at migrating. Some are northern birds on the move for winter food sources. Some are young birds of sedentary species, dispersing in search of their own territory.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Great Horned Owl, Central Park

A Great Horned Owl showed up in Central Park on Sunday (11/1). I didn't know about it until after sunset--I had gone up to Inwood Hill Park, which was quiet, though I did see one nice bird:

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Vesper Sparrow, Inwood Hill Park

This Vesper Sparrow was fairly confiding, foraging on the soccer field south of Spuyten Duyvil Creek, and occasionally retreating to a small fenced-off area of tall grasses. Anyway, I went home afterwards and took a nap, and woke to find owl reports on my Twitter stream.

The last Great Horned Owl in Central Park was in April of 2012, and only stayed one day. So I thought I was out of luck. But to my surprise, there was a Twitter report early Monday morning that the owl was still there. It was sleepy and turned away from observers, so it wasn't a great look even though it was not hidden at all, high in a huge sweetgum tree. Then I had to go out of town on business for three days, but on Friday, the owl was still there! and awake in the morning.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Great Horned Owl, Central Park

It moved around a bit--at one point it leaned forward as if interested in flying out at something. Or more likely it was just pooping.

Another excellent bird in the park is a Red-Headed Woodpecker. It's a first-year bird, so its head hasn't turned red yet.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Red-Headed Woodpecker, Central Park

It's been there for a couple of weeks now, and looks like it's settling in for the winter. The bird has been excavating a roost hole in a snag, and caching acorns in locust trees. I hadn't known that Red-headed Woodpeckers stored acorns.

This weekend, strong winds from the west blew in some very interesting birds--Franklin's Gulls and Cave Swallows--but I haven't had any luck in spotting any.

I can't resist showing off one more owl photo.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Great Horned Owl, Central Park

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