Saturday, July 07, 2007

Boo Hiss!



Friday, July 06, 2007


Thursday, June 28:

Here's the promised report from the intrepid Winkie on The Divines, and there are some great sightings!

Coming back from an early morning run, my husband sighted a hawk. Hearing the racket of crows, he looked up to find a hawk on the roof of a building on the north corner of 118th street (right along Morningside Drive.)

At first he thought it was one of the adults, because the spot was too far away for one of the fledges. But as soon as the crows, four or five he thought, dived and gave chase, he realized that this had to be one of the babies. He saw that there weren't the flight skills that a mature hawk would display. And he thought maybe he saw the brown tail. This heckled little one almost crashed into the tree tops in an attempt to out maneuver the crows and get back "home" to the southern section of the park. The fledge flew low and unsteadily among the trees until my husband lost sight around the 116th street steps.

With very little time available, I didn't find any hawks over the weekend. Although I am fairly certain one of the Divine family was in a tree near the dog run late Saturday afternoon. The kestrels were doing one of their aerial attacks. No matter how I craned my neck: no luck.

Made up for lost sightings on Monday, July 2:

Getting a later start seems to be the answer. It was getting close to sundown as I arrived at the cathedral. I thought I saw something glide over, and crossed over to the park overlook. I had missed it, but the ever diligent Rob was there. He had seen one of the babies on that special branch that was also used last season. He had witnessed a squirrel chase and all. We went into the park, attracted by the noise. Here again the catbirds were ever so noisy! No luck. And then. It started. I located one of the adults, Tristan, I recall. He was being bothered by the crows on the roof of a building on the east side of the park.

Then one of the babies glided from the trees we were scouring, across the ball field, into the tree tops on the east side. And then another. We watched as one flew around a bit from tree to tree and then into the trees at the south end of the field. It was Tailbiter. She has grown and still as beautiful a presence as you can imagine. Rob and I got to see her from many views, some really close. It was getting quite late: Rob was going off duty.

In the meantime the second fledge hadn't moved from the tree on the east side of the field. I decided to cross the field again to see if I could locate the bird. Remember, Tailbiter is still on one of the tree at the south end. Swooping across my head comes a fledge! Lots of vocalization and calls to sibling as she flies. She flies into a tree on the west side, near the cathedral ("She" because later I could get the ID.) Then another whimper came from the east. Low again over my head, this one heads for the top of one of the scraggy locust trees and misses! Whoops! Flailing wings, flutter, flutter... finally about 8 to 10 feet below the top, she catches a hold. Now I have GPS on all three!!!

I run up to the sidewalk, hoping not to have lost any of them. Luckily, no bird moved. Maybe Tailbiter is going to roost where she is. The first fledge to fly west is Cohort. To my surprise, she was the one who (they are who, right ?) smoothly over my head. It is Third who stumbled on the top of the locust. Usually, he flies like a daemon. Maybe the bedtime hour makes his landing clumsy. And he really was whining and whimpering as he flew. Poor, tired Third.

At this time, a couple from Texas come up; word of mouth has brought them to the Divines! They point out both adults on the roof of the cathedral. I can't believe my luck and their's too! ALL FIVE at the same time.

Fireflies are out and the three babies look like they have said their "sweet dreams!" to all. So that was what all of that calling and whimpering was about! I show the hatchery (nest) to the Texas couple and walk home viewing the light'n bugs!


Many thanks Winkie, I'm truly sorry I missed it. Super drat. What a grand evening of Red-tails!

Donegal Browne

Thursday, July 05, 2007




The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offencesFor abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands. He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:
Column 1

Georgia: Button Gwinnett

Lyman Hall

George Walton
Column 2

North Carolina:

William Hooper

Joseph Hewes

John Penn

South Carolina:

Edward Rutledge

Thomas Heyward, Jr.

Thomas Lynch, Jr.

Arthur Middleton
Column 3


John Hancock


Samuel Chase

William Paca

Thomas Stone

Charles Carroll of Carrollton


George Wythe

Richard Henry Lee

Thomas Jefferson

Benjamin Harrison

Thomas Nelson, Jr.

Francis Lightfoot Lee

Carter Braxton
Column 4


Robert Morris

Benjamin Rush

Benjamin Franklin

John Morton

George Clymer

James Smith

George Taylor

James Wilson

George Ross


Caesar Rodney

George Read

Thomas McKean
Column 5

New York:

William Floyd

Philip Livingston

Francis Lewis

Lewis Morris

New Jersey:

Richard Stockton

John Witherspoon

Francis Hopkinson

John Hart

Abraham Clark
Column 6

New Hampshire:

Josiah Bartlett

William Whipple


Samuel Adams

John Adams

Robert Treat

Paine Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:

Stephen Hopkins

William Ellery


Roger Sherman

Samuel Huntington

William Williams

Oliver Wolcott

New Hampshire:

Matthew Thornton

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Frick Ducklings Then and Now, The Hummingbird Feeder Mystery, and a Tourist Report from Winkie

Frick Duck Photos by Eleanor Tauber

Here comes another summer: The Frick Hen and her ducklings May 25, 2007

A Frick "duckling" now.

Time flies as may soon these nearly grown Mallards when the leaves turn from green to orange, red and yellow, the ice forms on the pond, and the wind blows chill through Central Park.

Photo by Nobu Urushiyama
Third has another bite of dinner.

As often happens on and off when the eyasses fledge and begin to spend their time in Morningside Park, typically there are days when a Hawkwatcher without a lot of time will come up dry. It's disappointing the first day, but by the second or third, one can become downright disheartened. Winkie was having a run of bad luck and I suggested she listen for the eyass alarm system, the Catbirds and Robins. Here's what she had to say.

Maybe my ears are too good. Cuz the robin babies are begging from their parents everywhere. And the Catbirds are noisy any where. Also timing is important. I've been late, but not close enough to dark.

Eureka! When there are crows, like yesterday -- then I can find hawks. I ran into Rob (Schmunk) last night, then out stayed him until dark. There was another nice couple from Texas, birding in our Morningside Park. They heard some word of mouth about our hawks, came to the cathedral, and sighted all five. Sightings of both Tailbiter and Cohort were very close.

Will write more tomorrow,


After seeing a Hummingbird feasting on the Clematis at the side of the house, I decided a feeder was in order. For days I watched, no hummingbird, and the juice didn't move down a fraction. In fact I was having to dump it to keep it fresh. Suddenly without my ever sighting a hummingbird the juice was going down daily by leaps and bounds. Obviously I was just missing the hummer or hummers so I buckled down and watched more carefully.

In fact I was watching so carefully, I noticed that a couple of ants were doing a bit of clean up on the feeder.

But within a moment or two, I realized, that this was no clean up, they were truly cleaning up. They were the ones making the nectar replacement disappear. One ant at a time would make his way to the oris, take his fill, and another would wait for him to come down and the next in line would come up for his share. And of course as these were ants there truly was a line going all the way up to the chain from the ground and then down to the opening and back up to the chain and down to the ground.
How many ant drinks does it take to empty a Hummbird Feeder? Now there would be a full day of counting.
Donegal Browne

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Butterflies, Black Raspberries, and Nests

Five years ago I discovered a Milkweed gone to seed and retrieved some, because without Milkweed there are no Monarch Butterflies. And how crummy a world would it be without these marvelous migrating butterflies, right? I stuffed a wad of the fluff jacketed seeds into my pocket and headed for the back yard. Arriving, I glanced left, glanced right, checked for observers, looking furtive I'm sure, and feeling weirdly guilty. These plants are frowned upon by some. They do have the word WEED in their name after all ,which sparks innate prejudice automatically for some. Quickly I pulled the seeds out of my pocket, scratched up the soil, and poked them into one of my mother's flowerbeds. Stood up innocently and then I waited. I waited for years. Yes, the seeds "took". They grew. They continued to reappear season after season. Their sturdy taproots, no doubt growing deeper and deeper. And I continued to wait and watch. Not yet.

I've got the Milkweed. Where are the Monarch Butterflies? I'd begun to wonder if they'd ever appear.

Until today, that is. There she is working the blossoms. And then another Monarch appears and flutters to the flowers. The first Monarch, flies towards the second, they flutter into a quick double spiral up, up, into the Maple tree---and gone.

But before long there is that familiar flash of orange back again, flying about her business, amongst the flowers. Finally!

Eleanor Tauber is back in the swing of things. She's back investigating Central Park and ran across a tree covered in Red Admiral Butterflies in Central Park.

The Raspberries are ripening and they are everywhere. And I don't mean just in people's gardens. Any unmown edge of hedgerow, or woodland, overgrown path or road's edge is bursting with one of our most successful native berries.
In the city, I often look at those little one inch quarter or eighth of a pint of raspberries wrapped snugly in plastic and marked $2.98 or $3.98. Geez, that seems a touch pricey, doesn't it?
Okay, they are big, and plump and look juicy but goodness, there are hardly any berries in the package. And the drenching depth of flavor that I remember just doesn't seem to be there. Is it the fact that my frugal soul has impossible expectations for something that costs that much or perhaps those store, showcase berries have been bred for looks as opposed to flavor? It's all just too unsatisfying

I admit it. I've always been a berry picking maniac. And living away from berry bushes has increased the tingle I feel at the sight of a good glaucous bloom on a berry bursting with juice. Add the fact that they're FREE, you can watch and listen to birds at the same time, you tromp through woodlands, spot new things, get startled by everything from deer to nesting Cooper's Hawks, so where's the downside?
Well some people can't handle a few bramble pricks and find the fact that their hands, their clothes and most probably their mouths, if your consume while picking which is the only way to go, become a little sticky and a lot purple is a price too high to pay. Weenies! Where's their joy of the hunt?

What's any of that to compare with the bounty of buckets of berries? Fresh on ice cream, cooked into syrup for pancakes, homemade jellies, jams, pies, buckles, juice, and wine? Not a thing.

A mystery nest. Do you know what species built it?

Coming back from berry picking, what should we find lying in the driveway? In a high wind, this uninhabited nest came down out of a Spruce. The bowl has a two inch diameter. There are a few tidbits of plastic and man made materials but for the most part it is well woven and sturdy

A Cardinal's nest that was brought down by the same wind.
As opposed to a second in the area. Yes, all those pieces of plastic were the sides of the nest. It was a very fragile thing whose sides were at least 70% plastic with 3 small and 1 larger piece of Birch bark poked into the base along with the plastic. I say base as the 4 inch bottom is hardly a bowl and makes a very poor nest. It fell apart quite readily and fell off it's moorings. Were the birds fooled in some way to believe it was solid? Was it a dearth of their natural nesting materials that contributed to the problem? Is plastic substituting for bark? After a look around I see, bark isn't easy to come by in this neighborhood. Things are extremely tidy. No stray bits of anything lying about on the tidy lawns and as far as I know the Birch a few feet away from the large bush the Cardinals had chosen for their nest is the only one in the neighborhood.

Did the lack of bark or other natural nesting materials contribute to the nest's fragility? What's happening in your area?
Donegal Browne

Monday, July 02, 2007

Eleanor's First Look at the 888 Eyass

Central Park Photographer Eleanor Tauber has been under the weather for awhile so this was her first chance to get a look at Charlotte and Pale Male Jr.'s Prodigal Eyass. Here's what she had to say--
Some people are calling this bird Ziggy, some “Baby”, some say it’s a female, others a male. I don’t care. This is a beautiful bird. I was told that it’s moving around more now. Certainly it flew off often and we didn’t see it for a while, but it returned. Eleanor T.
She is a beauty! "A rose by any other name..."
Donegal Browne