This Week in Birds

Just some commentary, photos and video on avian encounters (real and virtual) over the last week. In addition to the increasing occurrence of bird song and intra-species aggressiveness among males, Spring’s arrival was heralded with my witnessing that lovely Northern Cardinal mating ritual of the male feeding the female. Rumors also abound of Eastern Bluebird and American Robin sightings but I’ve not yet had an opportunity to see if either has returned to “The Acre.” Perhaps this weekend will offer up some time, despite the still Arctic cold that continues to pour into Western New York.

As for more direct encounters, I helped arrange a Birds of Prey program presented by the Physics Department’s Environmental Studies Program last week at Erie Community College (South Campus). Wildlife rehabilitator, naturalist and friend Paul Fehringer, who runs Wild Spirit Education, came by with his volunteers and educational birds to share some wonderful lessons on the Raptors of Western New York. Accompanying the crew were Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks plus Barred and Great Horned Owls who wowed the over 60 students, staff, faculty and community members in attendance. Below are some photos and video from the event.

Great-horned Owl

This Great-horned Owl lost the sight in its left eye due to a puncture wound, possibly from an intraspecific territorial battle.

Barred Owl

This Barred Owl’s wing did not mend quite properly and now works hard at educating us about her kind.

Red-shouldered Hawk with Paul

The Red-shouldered Hawk became human imprinted so is unable to survive in the wild. Paul thinks this imprinting is the reason behind the Hawk’s continual chatter, which you can hear in the video below.

Last weekend, I stopped by Holy Cross Cemetery in Lackawanna, NY to visit my dear departed Mother (see my avian tribute to her from last year). Upon leaving the Cemetery, I drove by a large flock of American Crows gathered on the lawn, which brought a great deal of personal excitement due to my very high regard for these super-intelligent birds. Smart phones are a god-send when stumbling across our wild friends so I grabbed mine quickly to snap a couple of photos. However, upon lowering the car window, the flock dispersed (they have excellent hearing along with an excellent brain!). So I had to settle for a couple of shots of them in the trees to which they took flight. Afraid they would disperse again, these images were taken through the windshield so are a touch grainy.

American Crows

Flock of American Crows at Holy Cross Cemetery in Lackawanna, NY

American Crows

Flock of American Crows at Holy Cross Cemetery in Lackawanna, NY

Speaking of Corvids, lastly I have to share the video below which has gone viral on the internet of late. Just some additional evidence that we have long under-estimated the intelligence (and wisdom) of our wild relatives. Enjoy your avian encounters and appreciate the wonder of these feathered “dinosaurs.”

3 thoughts on “This Week in Birds

  1. Yes, the birds are telling us spring is just around the corner. I’ve been hearing the chickadee’s “peeter” mating song and of course cardinals blasting their whistling “witeer, witeer, witeer, teer, teer, teer”. Their heralding of spring means so long to the wonderful numbers of snowy owls that have visited us this winter. Speaking of crows, my wife and I recently did our 2nd annual Valentines Day Crow Count Date, a romantic evening out that starts with counting crows as they return to their night time roost in the small city of Amsterdam, NY. We had an estimate of 20,000 crows this year. You might enjoy her entry in her blog, http://anitasanchez.com/2014/02/22/crows-love-in-the-city/#comment-1053. Enjoy the birds.

      • Great. I think you’ll enjoy it. You’ll also find info on her book “The Teeth of the Lion: The Story of the Beloved and Despised Dandelion”. One more thought, are you familiar with the NYS Outdoor Education Association. If not I think you’ll find many “birds of a feather” in that group. Check out the Association at http://www.nysoea.org. Have a great day!

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