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2011 Plan of birding

2012: Sep. - Gulls feeding on ant swarms
2013: Periodic cicada

12/31 (Sat)  morning (w/ Jonathan) & afternoon
   Kissena Park & Corridor Park
   camera: GH2 + 100-300mm lens

   All are here, including the 4 Shovelers.  Many gull in flight (GIF) & spread-wing pictures.  American Kestrel Birds of Prey, Mockingbirds, Blue Jays, Red-bellied Woodpecker & worms under wood trunk at Corridor Park.  Mourning Dove, White-throated Sparrows, etc.
   Kissena Park highlight:
Red-bellied Woodpecker digging hole for roosting foraging (or caching / retrieving cache) at a hole in close distance.  A poor injured Eastern Painted Turtle (Can it survive the winter?).

   Hooded Merganser -  male-1a   male-1b   brighter bill (but still can't see serrated edges) 
Shoveler -
   Ring-billed Gull -  1st winter  
2nd or 1st winter (in high contrast)   1st winter   1st winter   1st winter   GIF   adult   adult or 2nd winter (tail has some black & bill not totally yellow so a 2nd winter)  1st winter   1st winter   GIF (1st winter)    before the flight: P1110511 -513.JPG
   Blue Jay - <1> 
   Kestrel - <1> 
   Mourning Dove - <1>

   Red-bellied Woodpecker - <1>   <2>

   American Kestrel - <1> 
   Red-bellied Woodpecker - <1> 

Common Merganser shown serrated edges
Red-bellied Woodpecker can use its bill to obtain insects from just below the bark surface, employing an action like a pickax, to obtain invertebrates that bore into wood and are out of reach of other birds.  What many people don't realize, however, is that they often use their bills in more subtle ways first, tapping to detect where bark in worn and where there may be hollow chambers inside. 

   Throughout the year the hard, heavy tapping is used to make cavities for nesting and roosting.  It can take up to 3 weeks to create a single hole.  The tapping is also put to good use to advertise for and attract a mate.  The so-called "drumming" is not, as many people think, the sound of excavation of a hole, but it is actually the knocking of the bill against a suitably sonorous piece of wood simply to make a signature noise.  (Extreme Birds:  The world's most extraordinary and bizarre birds, 2008, Dominic Couzens)
The species account in Birds of North America Online says the pair bond lasts about seven months, through the nesting season, and it is "rare to find mated pairs from September through January." It mentions that both sexes excavate cavities for roosting, and both sexes change roost sites frequently, but says "adults roost singly in cavities at night," and does not describe pairs working together on roost holes. Clifford E. Shackelford, Raymond E. Brown and Richard N. Conner. 2000. Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carollinus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.) Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  src  or src2

12/26 (Mon)  morning
   Hempstead Lake State Park (direction)
   camera: GH2 + 100-300mm lens

Restroom beside the park office is open.  More than 10 (even 20) Hooded Mergansers, Gulls (some Great Black-backed Gulls), Mallards, 2 Mute Swans (one is juvenile; another is the mother?), etc.  Robin and probably Hermit Thrush (saw clearly but no photo).

   Hooded Merganser -

There are numerous winter records of the hermit thrush in southern New England, where it has been reported in favorable situations throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut even at times when it was very cold and the ground covered with snow. It has also been reported from various sections of New York and New Jersey during the winter months. South of this area it is a regular winter resident.  src 
Even in winter (7 March 2011) at Ottawa, Ontario, Canada :

12/24 (Sat)  morning & afternoon (after Dim Sum)
   Kissena Park
   camera: GH2 + 100-300mm lens

   Hooded Mergansers still here, many males courting a female with display; I encountered them in closer distance than before.  So do Shovelers.  I saw 1 male going after a couple and another male is in a not so far distance.  I think these 2 are not their sons but males failed to form pairs.  The couple tends to do sieving together and the other 2 males form another team.  Got a lot good pictures and videos of both species.  What a Christmas banquet of ducks!
few of White-throated Sparrows beside my car; no sight of Double-crested Cormorant and Great Blue Heron; all Ring-billed Gulls (not see other gulls).
   After the p.m. walk, we went grocery shopping.  Before leaving the Chinese supermarket at about 4 p.m., we saw a Nissan van with a broken right-sided back-seated window.  The African American lady called the police and mentioned that she just left the van for about 10 minutes in the parking lot.  That means within a short period of time, her stuff become someone's Christmas gift.  This is really a crazy holiday.  Be alert while doing Christmas shopping.  

   Hooded Merganser -  <1>    <2>    <3 (female)> (look ugly, a juvenile or sick?)   
   Shoveler -
   White-throated Sparrow -  

   Hooded Merganser - in flight   display

12/17 (Sat)  early morning (7-8am, a sunrise birding)
   Kissena Park
   camera: GH2 + 100-300mm lens

一個也不少!All are here:  flock of White-throated Sparrows, Great Blue Heron, Hooded Mergansers still here, a pair of Shovelers, Double-crested Cormorant, American Black Ducks (a pair at least), Mallards (the hybrid one is sighted as usual), Mute Swan (a pair), Ring-billed Gulls (not see other gulls), Canada Geese, the old Snow Goose.  Feel like they are part of my family and warm me up in the cold winter morning.

   Hooded Merganser - <1>   <2>   <3>  
   White-throated Sparrow -  <1>  (snapshot taken while video recording)
   Ring-billed Gull - adult (sharp to pixel)  
adult (curious looking)   adult + 2nd winter (left) + 1st winter (front)
   Ring-billed Gull - 1st winter  
1st winter (free food)    1st winter (free food, larger)    2nd winter or 3rd winter/adult    1st winter (rising sun behind)    1st winter (rising sun behind, orig.)   

   Hooded Merganser - <1> 
 White-throated Sparrow -  <1>    <2>  


Ring-billed Gull nesting colonies normally include a small percentage of two-female couples. Fertilized by an obliging male, each female spouse lays a clutch of eggs, leading to 5–7-egg "superclutches."  (Normal is 2–4 eggs)
黑嘴環海鷗 (學名 Larus delawarensis), 產于北美洲, 形似北大西洋大海鷗(Herring?), 但體較小, 喙之週圍有黑環.
Common Merganser's bill : they have serrated edges to their bills to help them grip their prey.  Pic found on Web 

12/10 (Sat)  morning
Kissena Corridor Park & Kissena Park
camera: FZ35

Corridor Park: Red-bellied Woodpeckers (a pair or just 2 or even more than 2?), Boxelder bugs still here but their number is less than before.
Today is our hawk day:  park at home's back (2 unknown), Osprey? and Red-tailed Hawk.
old friends:  Blue Jays (no Cardinal heard or seen), RWBB, White-throated Sparrow, Mockingbirds, Great Blue Heron, Hooded Mergansers still here (a man said saw 7), Shovelers, Double-crested Cormorant, American Black Ducks (a pair at least), Mallards, Mute Swan (a pair), Gulls, Canada Geese, the old Snow Goose, House Sparrows, Starlings, a flock of Mourning Doves.

   Hooded Merganser - <1>
   Red-tailed Hawk - <1>

   Hooded Merganser -
   Eurasian Tree Sparrow at Hong Kong in summer vs. Red-tailed Hawk at New York City in winter
Double-crested Cormorant (rotated & cropped)

12/3, 12/4 (Sat, Sun)  morning
 Congressman Joseph P. Addabbo Bridge, Kissena Park

Bridge:  Brants at close distance.
Hooded Mergansers (2 pairs), Shovelers, Double-crested Cormorants (a lot good pictures), Great Blue Heron, etc.

   Hooded Merganser - <1>
   Double-crested Cormorant - <1>   

   Ring-billed Gull - 1st winter <1> (
smaller - width 2000px)  
1st winter <2>
Shoveler - <1>

Sat album    Sat album ver.2   

   Hooded Merganser - <1>   removed shaking by Vegas Pro 10   various behavior (preening, drinking water, etc.)
   Gull - slow motion 25%

   Double-crested Cormorant - close-up

The Hooded Merganser finds its prey underwater by sight. The merganser can actually change the refractive properties of its eyes to enhance its underwater vision. In addition, the nictitating membrane (third eyelid) is very transparent and probably acts to protect the eye during swimming, just like a pair of goggles.  cool facts   more
(2) Hooded Mergansers are not considered to be the most graceful while on land, but they are quick flyers. They take off by running on top of the water, and with wings flapping continuously until they are airborne. While in the air, they are extremely fast and agile flyers weaving through their forest habitat until reaching their destination. They also land fast onto the water, skiing across it until they stop. The Hooded Merganser are not only agile in the in the air, but exceptional divers and swimmers. When diving, they fold their wings close to the body and use their feet to propel them through the water.  src 
During the breeding season, breeding males display a wide variety of ways to attract potential mates. The Hooded Merganser is extremely vocal letting out a frog-like croak, which can be heard a half mile away. They may also display their crest, which will invite the receptive female to mating with them. A head-throw, is a common display during courtship. During a head-throw a drake will swim parallel to a female with his crest fully erected as he passes the female, he throws his head back quickly until it reaches his back. Then, he slowly raises his head forward while letting out his frog-like voice. The female responds by either ignoring his postures or accepting it by bobbing and pumping her head. The female may also display her receptiveness by stretching her neck and head just above the water and flattening her tail on the waters surface.  src  
Most ducks confine their displays to the water (or land) surface, since their heavy weight relative to their wing area ("high wing loading") dictates continuous flapping and makes complex maneuvers, such as hovering and soaring, difficult or impossible.   src
(5) Ring-billed gulls begin breeding at 3-4 years of age.  src

11/29 home
Blattella germanica, German Cockroach close-up

11/26 (Sat)  morning / afternoon
 Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR) / Kissena Park
 camera: GH2 + 100-300mm lens

Warm and nice weather.  2 butterflies, one is Buckeyes.  Black-crowned Night Herons.  Northern Shoveler pairs.  Ruddy ducks still a lot.  Brants. 

   Double-crested Cormorant - <1>    <2>    Good pictures at Kissena Park - <1>   
   Pied-billed Grebe - <1>   
Ruddy duck - <1>   
   Sparrow - <1>   <2>  
   Mockingbird - <1>  
   Buckeyes - <1>   <2>   <3>   <4>   macro-1 
   Mosquito ? - <1>
   Yellowjacket wasp - <1>  (a fertilized queen seeking protected place to overwinter?) (look like a common wasp, Vespula vulgaris; But a 2010 study argues that the North American populations are a separate species, Vespula alascensis.  And another candidate: Dolichovespula arenaria - Common Aerial Yellowjacket
   red berries - <1>

   Northern Shoveler swirling pair     YouTube 720p 
Double-crested Cormorant

(1) Northern Shovelers feed by dabbling for plant food, often by swinging its bill from side to side and using the bill to strain food from the water. They use their highly specialized bill (from which their name is derived) to forage for aquatic invertebrates - a carnivorous diet. Their wide-flat bill is equipped with well-developed lamellae - small, comb-like structures on the edge of the bill that act like sieves, allowing the birds to skim crustaceans and plankton from the water's surface. This adaptation, more specialized in shovelers, gives them an advantage over other puddle ducks, with which they do not have to compete for food resources during most of the year.  wiki
  (2) close-up picture of Northern Shoveler's bill showing the lamellae -    mirror

The unique bill morphology of Northern Shovelers allows this species to exhibit one of the most unusual feeding behaviors of any duck. Its large spoon shaped bill is adapted for sifting large amounts of muddy water. Their tongues are highly specialized with extensive comb-like teeth called lamellae, which help filter food items from the water. Moving its head side to side, water is drawn in at the tip of the bill, filtered through the lamellae to pick up any food particulate and then expelled at the base. The breeding season for Northern Shovelers begins on the wintering grounds in December, where courtship of hens by a group of drakes commences. By January, the majority of individuals have paired before they start their spring migration and most return to the same breeding grounds they used the previous year.    src
  (4) Shovelers are specialized for the time-consuming
process of sieving plankton from the waters of small, permanent ponds. A male defends a small, discrete territory around his mate, with whom he has a strong, long-lasting relationship; consequently he rarely spends time in "extramarital" pursuits.  Unlike relatively sedentary shovelers, pintails (again, a member of the genus Anas) range far and wide to forage in temporary bodies of water, and tend to nest in sparse cover at a great distance from water. In addition, male pintails spend only part of their time with their mates, and devote some of their time trying to copulate with other females; as a result female pintails tend to be frequently harassed. It seems likely that close defense of a territory is profitable for the male shoveler because concentrated food resources allow him to provide an area where his mate can obtain sufficient food free from harassment. No such strategy is feasible for the male pintail because of the dispersed nature of that species' food resources. Therefore Northern Pintails and their relatives (e.g., Green-winged Teal) have not evolved a conspicuous long-range territorial threat display; they need only guard nests and mates, not feeding territories.    src

11/20 (Sun)  morning
  Kissena Corridor Park & home

Blue Jays.  Robin.

   Mockingbird - <1>  

   House Sparrow - <1>  
   Blue Jay -

Note: In NE United States, Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) may be the only species that maintains a territory throughout the winter.  Reason: defense fruit resources against conspecifics and often other frugivorous species (Moore 1978).    src

11/19 (Sat)  morning (had to be back home by 2pm because of 11g upgrade testing)
 Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR)
 camera: GH2 + 100-300mm lens

a lot Ruddy Ducks at both East & West Pond, a lot Snowy Goose at East Pond, a few Brants at West Pond (bay side), many American Coots, American Wigeons, Gadwalls, Northern Shovelers, Mockingbird, unknown Sparrows, Wren singing, Woodpecker, Robins, etc.  Taken nice pictures of Winnie using such long lens, one is wide-open aperture f/5.6 and 1/1300, in Google+.

   Duck - Northern Shoveler   Ruddy Duck-1   Ruddy Duck-2  

   American Wigeon - preening pair

   Snowy Geese (some are not that snowy, the intergrade between gray & white morphs)

Northern Shoveler  

   Gadwalls (note the white belly of the left one), Shoveler, then the one Gadwall, female Shoveler, Coots, back to the Gadwall and it flies passing

Note: Northern Shovelers first draw my attention at Kissena Park on 2/28/2009 (Sat) 

111111 (Fri)   
 late morning to early afternoon / Kissena Corridor Park & Kissena Park / camera: GH2 + 100-300mm lens with Canon 500D 72mm macro-converter (used, $100) & Canon FD 50mm f/1.8
 afternoon / Kissena Park / camera: GH2 + 100-300mm lens + 14-42mm lens

Kissena Corridor Park : a huge flock of Grackles.  Unknown Sparrow ("Ipswich" Savannah Sparrow?).
Kissena Park is a great fall foliage (秋季楓葉) destination.  A pair of American Black Ducks among many Mallards.  many White-throated Sparrows.  Cardinal heard. 

 Fall foliage at Kissena Park Album   Entrance to the Fall of Kissena
 American Black Duck - pair formed or in courtship   black borders on blue wing patch   m+f   female  
 Boxelder Bug - newly molted (@300mm with Canon 500D, note its exoskeleton splitted right down from the middle)
 Fly - near the boxelder bugs' colony, metallic green body & red eyes - <1> (a Green Bottle Fly, probably in the genus Lucilia, family Calliphoridae); common, seen also before James's wedding at Chinatown on 9/24.

(1) After the breeding season, Common Grackles form large foraging flocks that often include other blackbirds and cowbirds. Flock size increases as birds from the northern part of the range migrate to winter destinations in the southeastern United States, from the Carolinas to the Gulf Coast. In flight, the flocks tend to be as broad as they are long, unlike the long and cylindrical flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds.  src

  Q: I saw a large flock of grackles heading directly east on August 10. Were they starting their fall migration?  I also saw large flocks of starlings in August. Does that early migration mean that we will have a cold winter?
  A: As for the flocks of grackles moving in a given direction in early August, that was not migration. Grackles never start their migration until late October. Each species migrates at the same time every year to within a week. The timing is governed by their hormones which in turn are stimulated by the shortening of the daylight hours in the fall. The date they start to migrate is not due to a lack of food, nor to some sense that the winter will be severe. It depends on the sun and that does not change. It is quite normal for starlings and grackles to gather into flocks after the nesting season is over. Each species gathers into its own flock to forage for food and especially to roost together with their own kind at night.   src
(3) The name green bottle fly (or greenbottle fly) is applied to numerous species of blowfly, in the genera Lucilia  and Phaenicia (the latter is sometimes considered a subgenus of the former).   The maggots (蠅蛆) of this fly are known to preferentially consume dead tissue while leaving live tissue intact, and so have been sold for use in maggot therapy.  Forensic importance: These flies are known to lay eggs in cadaver tissue (屍體組織) in the wild within hours after death. The developmental stage of their larvae in the cadaver can be used to accurately predict the time death occurred.    wiki   Common Green Bottle Fly (Lucilia sericata)  Common Flies   Handbook of urban insects and arachnids  By William H. Robinson
(4) blow / bottle flies - Representative Species:
 The bluebottle flies (Calliphora vicina and Calliphora vomitoria), measure 1/4 to 9/16 inch long and have a dull bluish-black thorax and a shiny metallic dark blue abdomen. 
Many guide books on insects show pictures of Bluebottle Blowflies that are actually not Calliphora vicina, but rather Calliphora vomitoria. However C. vomitoria is a very rare species. Usually the Bluebottle Blowflies commonly found in gardens and sometimes indoors is C. vicina src  pic of C. vicina  wiki   pic of C. vomitoria 
C. vicina is distinguished from the commonly known C. vomitoria by its bright orange cheeks.  So the pictures shown as here is actually C. vicina .
C. vicina: yellow-orange jowls with black hair; C. vomitoria: black jowls with predominantly reddish hair. Note: jowl: The lower part of a person's or animal's cheek, esp. when it is fleshy or drooping.
 The bronzebottle fly, Phaenicia pallescens (formerly Phaenicia cuprina), are 3/16 to 3/8 inch long with a shiny thorax and abdomen that are colored metallic bronze. 
The greenbottle flies (Lucilia illustris and Phaenicia sericata), range about 1/4 to 3/8 inch long and have a shiny metallic green thorax and abdomen without stripes. Green Bottle Fly

11/6 (Sun) morning 
 camera: GH2 + 100-300mm lens + Raynox 250

met Jeff showing me Horned Grebe;  Yellow-legged Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum);  a lot Brants;  many American Coots, Ruddy Ducks, Gadwalls, male? American Black Duck, Mockingbird, Catbird, Canada Geese, Starlings, Crows, Gulls, an immature Robin molting?, etc.

 Yellow-legged Meadowhawk - <1>    <2>    <3> (sharpened version  <closeUp1>   <closeUp2(@300mm)> 
 American Black Duck - <1> (Sooty brown with a paler head and metallic violet-blue wing patch, the speculum, not edged with white; and note its supercilium and eyestripe & yellow bill; so unlikely to be a female Mallard)   
 Mockingbird - <album> 
Gadwalls -  <m & f>   <special angle 1>   <m & f (special angle 2) - upending> 


 Waterfowl   key to id waterfowl - txt   doc
extreme close-up Yellow-legged Meadowhawk found on YouTube
To take sharp photo, I should use f7 or higher instead of the lowest f.  Revisit the tips at How to Take Sharp Digital Images

11/5 (Sat)    afternoon
 Kissena Park

An eagle/hawk.  3 Double-crested Cormorants.  RWBBs.  Robins.  Blue Jay (heard).  

10/30 (Sun)   
 afternoon / Kissena Corridor Park / camera: GH2 + 100-300mm lens & reversing 14-42mm lens
 evening / home / camera: GH2 + 100-300mm lens + 14-42mm lens + Raynox 250 & reversing 14-42mm lens

Song Sparrow.  Mockingbird.  Robins.  House Sparrows or others?

 Boxelder Bug - <1>    <2>    CZM_test01.htm  
 Mockingbird - <1>   <2>  

 Boxelder Bug close-up   YouTube 720p  
YouTube popup 1080p   YouTube 1080p

  Reversing at 42mm gives magnification greater than Raynox 250 on 100mm.  Despite of MF, I get some pretty sharp pictures, to my eye its sharpness is like using Raynox on 100mm with 1-area-AF.  Reversing at less than 42mm is more likely to give less desirable results because of the shallow DOF caused by greater magnification.  But it still causes quite dramatic vignetting.  Try Nikon 5T (1.5 diopters, thread/size is 62mm)  which somebody got excellent results (src).   I think the size of Raynox is only 43mm so using on 67mm lens will cause vignetting. (not necessary, I got quite good result @ 100mm using 23-area AF on 10/23).   Nikon 5T will be better.  But the best result is Nikon 5T on 14-140mm lens.  Canon 500D (2 diopters) has 72mm thread so I can use 67-72 step-up ring to mount it.  Note: for the 14-140 with the 5T mounted, the distance to subject focal length is around 36" to 18" you can still AF easily...where the 100-300 and 45-200 with Panasonic DMW-LC55 (thread is 55mm) or Canon 500D are limited to 12-24".  So the best for low-level magnification (2 diopters or less) is 14-140 + 5T.  And But Nikon 5T is cheaper even more expensive in eBay since not produce anymore.  New Canon 500D is quite expensive.  Buying Panasonic Elmarit Leica DG Macro - 45mm f/2.8 instead of a new Canon 500D 72mm ($300 as of 10/31/2011) or an used for $100.
  The diopter of 100-300mm lens + 5T =  1/1.5m + 1.5 (diopter) = 2.167 ; the new focus distance - 1/2.167  = 0.46m, pretty good.  For Canon 500D is even shorter (0.375m or 1.2').  And above say AF will work at 12-24" on 14-140mm so I expect similarly on 100-300mm (perhaps 15-30"?).  So Canon 500D 72mm will be a great macro lens for 100-300mm, esp. shooting at 300mm with a distance (2-3 feet).
  Canon Close-Up Lens 500D is a double-element accessory that attaches to front of lens. It changes closest focusing distance from infinity to 500mm (approx. 19.7" from front of lens).
  A working setup with Olympus RF-11 Ring Flash (expensive and don't forget an external Panasonic-compatible flash unit is need) is:

Panasonic Lumix G 100-300mm F4-5.6 OIS Lens
Kiwifotos LA-67HX100T Lens Adapter (rear part only)  ebay - new for $25 + free shipping
67-72mm Step Ring
Canon 500D 72mm Close Up Lens
  Since the RF11 doesn't allow room to screw the 500D on, you have to install kiwi adapter to allow the 500D to be installed...a larger setup but works a charm... 
  Raynox 250 will be still useful for 14-42mm lens & FZ35 (with 46-43 step-down adapter).
  Step-up ring can be used to prevent vignetting. Sometimes a filter can produce vignetting, especially on wide angle lenses. Stacking filters may cause vignetting as well. If using the adapter ring with larger sized filters, the problem may be eliminated as the filter rings are expanded out beyond the lens.  In my case, 43mm Raynox on 67mm 100-300mm causes vignetting.  But using 67-72 step-up ring with 72mm Canon 500D will prevent this kind of vignetting.

10/30 (Sun)  morning after the first snow this year yesterday
 around home

saw a female Ruby-crowned Kinglet (or warbler) with wing bar & whitish yellow belly at the (probably an evergreen coniferous 針葉) shrub (or bush 灌木) behind the "water foundation garden."  Robin.

  Huge swaths of the north-eastern United States have been hit by a rare October snow storm that struck across the region from Virginia all the way to Maine. Dubbed "Snowtober" by news organizations covering the unusually early winter storm, the massive weather formation dumped up to 30cm (one foot) of snow in parts of the country that rarely see it this early in the year. ...
  In a few parts of the country the storm was an almost once-in-a-lifetime event. New York City has seen measurable October snow just three times since 1869, when America was still recovering from the civil war. But 2011 has been an unusual year for New York weather, as the city was also directly hit by Hurricane Irene just a few months ago. Over New York and other areas the storm was also accompanied by thunder and lightning, another fairly rare event known as "thundersnow".   src
  An unprecedented (for October) 2.9 inches of snow was measured in New York City's Central Park on Saturday. Since snowfall records began in 1869, Central Park has never received an inch of snow on any given October day. The last time that Central Park recorded measurable snow was on Oct. 21, 1952 when 0.5 of an inch fell. Prior to that, 0.8 of an inch fell on Oct. 30, 1925.  src   more on 2011 Halloween nor'easter
  Ruby-crowned Kinglets like Conifers.

10/23 (Sun)  morning & afternoon
 Kissena Corridor Park
 camera: GH2 + 100-300mm lens

am: Cloudy in the early morning so bad for photographing.  White-throated Sparrows.   
pm: Sunny.  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  Golden-crowned Kinglet.  Mockingbird.  Many USBs (unidentified small birds / shorebirds / swimming birds ;-).

oxelder Bug -    
am - mostly using 1-area AF: <1>   <2>   <3>   <4>   <5>   <6>   <7>   <8>   <9>   <10>    
pm - mostly using 23-area AF: P1080625-648.JPG   Picasa   a red adult (newly molted)
Golden-crowned Kinglet  - <1>  (female because of yellow crown patch)    
 Mockingbird  - <1> (scratching its head by directly raising a leg toward the front, so is under the wing; in contrast, at least 31 wood warbler species are "overwing scratchers")     <2>   <3>   <4>  
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - <1>

Yellow-rumped warbler  - <1>

 Raynox 250 - I only got some success on 100mm with the 100-300mm lens. When in 100mm, the AF system on GH2 will work to certain extent to give me some pretty sharp pictures. When in higher zoom, it failed. I never get good pictures in the 300mm. Manual focus is also not quite working for me. Most of the time I hand hold the camera.  AF Mode: 23-area-focusing may be better than 1-area.  And set Focus Priority On.  
 Note on Boxelder Bug 


A survey of 40 species of 14 genera of North American wood-warblers (Parulidae) reveals that the head-scratching method employed is surprisingly stable within species. The experiments by Nice & Schantz (1959a, b) induced some normally overwing head-scratchers to scratch the head under the wing. It is suggested that this was because their leg rings became caught in secondaries, making normal overwing head-scratching impossible. A few exceptional head-scratching patterns under different conditions invariably involved normally overwing head-scratchers employing the underwing method, and a few species head-scratch under the wing as nestlings but change to overwing before fledging. In all, 31 species appear to be normally overwing head-scratchers, seven are underwing head-scratchers, one species uses both methods and one remains uncertain. There is no evidence for lateral preference in either head-scratching method, and head-scratching is only loosely linked sequentially to preening. The functional significance of head-scratching may be related to blockage of the eustachian tube, or to cleaning and oiling the feathers. Avian head-scratching is more difficult to homologize with mammalian head-scratching than others have considered it to be, but all evidence suggests that within birds underwing head-scratching is phylogenetically primitive. In wood-warblers, the head-scratching method does not correlate with taxonomy. However, ground-dwelling wood-warblers tend to scratch the head under the wing and arboreal wood-warblers over the wing. This correlation provides the first strong clue to the functional significance of the difference between methods in passerine birds.

10/22 (Sat)  morning & after dim sum
 Kissena Corridor Park / Community Garden / Kissena Park
 camera: GH2 + 100-300mm lens

Nice weather for walking & photographing.  Immature Indigo Buntings, Hermit Thrush, Waxwing & Robins.  Ruby-crowned Kinglets, White-throated Sparrows.

   Robin - swallowing berry (a hackberry or not?)  
   Robin - juvenile or other birds (Hermit Thrush?)

  Hermit Thrush (confirmed) - <1>    <2> 

Indigo Bunting - better ver   old ver   uncut ver   (not blue grosbeak whose beak is much larger) 
   White-throated Sparrow -
   Ruby-crowned Kinglet -  <1> ( old ver<2>
   USB - <1> (Goldfinch?)

   Wasp - Bald-faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata), a black & white wasp -  <1>   <2>   <3>   <4>   <5>   <6 face is also b&w>   crop-1   According to :, it is a queen. But from Fairfax County Public Schools, it may be just a worker.
   Monarch - <1>   <2>

   Album  (has a quite sharp Blue Jay picture)

   Hermit Thrush  - <1>   

Info: macro pic of Indigo Bunting found on Web   mullerian mimicry  wiki

     The black & white wasp is not  Four-toothed Mason Wasp (Monobia quadridens), not Euodynerus bidens, not Pseudodynerus quadrisectus, not Euodynerus megera , not Euodynerus schwarzi , not this sand wasp .
     Bald-faced Hornet - also commonly called White-faced Hornet.  The syrphid fly: Spilomyia fusca is a mimic of the Bald-faced Hornet:

 Wasps can be divided by their habits into social and solitary types.  Social types are the familiar yellow jackets, paper wasps and hornets, which live in colonies or communal nests, may sting severely and often appear very numerous. ... A far greater number of species of wasps are solitary types, in which each individual leads an independent life.  
     Apart from a few exceptions, solitary wasps are hunters.  The females hunt other insects and store them in burrows or hollow mud cells.  This is not to provide food for themselves, but as a store for their larvae.  The exceptions are the solitary wasps that have a parasitic or "cuckoo" mode of breeding ("kleptoparasites").   So solitary wasps = hunting (predatory) wasps (mainly) + wasps being kleptoparasites (exception).
     Question: giant ichneumon wasp is predatory wasp or not? 
     I think is not "cuckoo"; is predatory although is parasitoid - "most [Ichneumon wasps] are parasitoids—the larvae feeding on or in another insect which finally dies."   wiki
   Definitions and distinctions of Parasitoidy from Parasitism
     Potter wasps (or mason wasps) are a cosmopolitan wasp group presently treated as a subfamily of Vespidae, but sometimes recognized in the past as a separate family, Eumenidae. ... All known eumenine species are predators, most of them solitary mass provisioners, though some isolated species show primitive states of social behaviour and progressive provisioning.  So I think solitary hunting wasps are mostly mass provisioning while social wasps are progressive provisioning.  Info:   Solitary Wasps: Cicada Killers, Mud Daubers  
     More info about wasps from p.585-594, Insects and Spiders of the World, Volume 10  By Marshall Cavendish Corporation , esp. Wasp Mimic Moth 
Wild orchid wasp mimic   orchid wasp (Perfect Symbiosis of the orchid and wasp)


Cuckoo Bees and wasps

    There are many different lineages of cuckoo bees, all of which lay their eggs in the nest cells of other bees. There is also a family of cuckoo wasps, many of which lay their eggs in the nests of potter and mud dauber wasps; many other lineages of wasps in various families have evolved similar habits. These insects are normally referred to as "kleptoparasites," rather than as "brood parasites." The distinction is that the term "brood parasite" is generally restricted to cases where the immature parasite is fed directly by the adult of the host, and raised as the host's offspring (as is common in birds). Such cases are virtually unknown in bees and wasps, which tend to provide all of the food for the larva before the egg is laid; in only a few exceptional cases (such as parasitic ["cuckoo"bumblebees) will a bee or wasp female feed a larva that is not her own species. The difference is only in the nature of the interaction by which the transfer of resources occurs (tricking a host into handing over food rather than stealing it by force or stealth), which is why brood parasitism is considered a special form of kleptoparasitism.

Parasitism / Parasitoidy / Predation

In practice it is not always necessary to distinguish parasitoidy from parasitism, nor is it always even possible to do so cleanly. However, when it is appropriate to do so, a typically parasitic relationship is one in which parasite and host interact without lethal harm to the host, and without dramatically reducing the host's reproductive success. In most such relationships, the parasite arrogates enough nutrients or other resources to thrive without preventing the host from reproducing. In contrast, in a parasitoidal relationship the exploiting organism kills or sterilises the host, typically before it can produce offspring. A non-lethal parasite sometimes is termed a biotroph. In contrast, when a parasitoidal relationship is regarded as a form of parasitism, the parasitoid may be called a necrotroph.

[A]t the opposite extreme from parasitism, parasitoidy in turn grades into predation. Differences between various kinds of hunting wasps provide convenient illustrations. Predatory social wasps hunt flies, caterpillars and the like, grab them, butcher them, carry them home and feed them to their young. That is patent predation. Some solitary wasps, such as bee pirates, sting prey, sometimes fatally, before saving it, usually entire, in a nest or burrow for the young to feed on. That too is predation, fairly clearly.

More note (9/2014):
(1) Predators of bees in Southern Africa - (1) Bee pirates : Palarus latifrons – banded bee pirate; predatory wasp; maybe prey on virgin queens?  (2) Bee wolves? : Philanthus triangulum – bee wolf; Yellow bee pirate; mostly on flowers.  Prey on foraging bees.  (3) European wasps : a) Yellow jacket Vespula germanica; present in the Cape for almost 40 years; huge nests; now spreading; does predate on bees. b) Polistes dominulus; found in the Cape in 2009 and spreading rapidly; no records of predation on bees.
(2) Philanthus triangulum: commonly known as the European beewolf or the bee-eating philanthus, is a solitary wasp that lives in Europe and Northern Africa.  wiki
(3) Does anything eat wasps?  a) invertebrates: several species of dragonflies (Odonata); robber and hoverflies (Diptera); wasps (Hymenoptera), usually the larger species feeding on smaller species, such as social paper wasps (Vespula maculata) eating V. utahensis; beetles (Coleoptera); and moths (Lepidoptera).  b) vertebrates that feed on wasps: numerous species of birds, skunks, bears, badgers, bats, weasels, wolverines, rats, mice and last, but certainly not least, humans and probably some of our closest ancestors.
(4) Bald-faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) - Bald-faced Hornets are predators and they attack only live prey. They are mostly predators of spiders, harvestmen, hemipterans, spittle bugs, house flies, sawflies larvae, caterpillars, beetles, other yellowjackets species and grasshoppers. The adults carry their prey or part of them to the nest to feed their larval states. They sometimes feed of flower nectar or sweet substances (Akre et al. 1981, VanDyk 2003).   src

10/15 (Sat)  12-3pm
 Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR)
 camera: GH2 + 100-300mm lens

Eastern Phoebe & young Gray Tree Frog at Big John's Pond, Bluet and Forktail damselflies & Ruddy Ducks at lookout of East Pond, American Wigeons, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall & Ruddy Ducks at West Pond, Common Buckeyes (one lost one of its hide wings)

ommon Buckeye - <1>   lost hide wing 1   lost hide wing 2   lost hide wing 3   lost hide wing 4   lost hide wing 5  
   Duck - American Wigeons, Northern Shoveler & Gadwall
   Damselfly at East Pond -
     Rambur's Forktail: <1> 
   Northern Brown Snake 北方褐蛇  (Storeria d. dekayi) on the way leaving the lookout of East Pond -

(1)to get better damselfly photo, (1) Use Center Weighted Average Metering Mode; (2) Preferred Aperture is 8 or 11; (3) WB minus 1.  The photo in the past may mostly be over-exposed partly because of using center spot metering. 
(2) American Wigeon pictures found on Web:
(3) Male American Wigeons are usually in eclipse plumage in the post-breeding, pre-migration period from July to September.
(4) Dabbling ducks, including American Wigeons & Gadwalls, often pirate aquatic vegetation from coots.   src   more
(5) American Wigeon often feeds on aquatic plants brought to the water's surface by canvasbacks, as well as other diving ducks and coots; hence nickname "poacher". src 
(6) Interesting about Northern Brown Snake:

10/10 (Mon)  11:30am-3:30pm
 Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR)
 camera: GH2 + 100-300mm lens & FZ35

Green Darner dragonflies (one poor guy with only 5 legs), red Skimmers again at Big John's Pond, Bluet and Forktail damselflies (the orange one is probably female Rambur's which lacks black shoulder stripes), 2 Eastern Painted Turtles, Pied-billed Grebe, Ruddy Ducks.

   Green Darner (5 legs, female) -  FZ35-1    FZ35-2    FZ35-3    FZ35-4 (abdominal appendages)    FZ35-5    FZ35-6    FZ35-7 (rotated1  rotated2)   FZ35-8 (un-rotated)  
   Green Darner (5 legs, female) - 
Macro-1 (note the Newton's rings on its eye, CPL filter may reduce it?)   Macro-2
   Green Darner (6 legs, female) -  <1>
Rambur's Forktail (female) -  orange-1     
Eastern Painted Turtle -  <1>
Pied-billed Grebe, solitary duck-like diver with chicken-like bill -  non-breeding adult (not necessary female?)  

 Green Darner 

(1)  Gray Tree Frogs (Hyla versicolor) :  "They are particularly likely to be found hiding in cracks and crevices in the bird blind at Big John’s Pond, a fact I read quite some time ago in a post by The City Birder.  So now every time I make my way over to the blind to look for Barn Owls I take a moment or two to see if the frogs are present and visible."    src
(2)  A variety of amphibians and reptiles have been re-introduced at a few locations in the Refuge, including:
 Fowler's toad (Bufo woodhousii fowleri),
 spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer),
 gray treefrog (Hyla versicolor),
 green frog (Rana clamitans),
 spotted salamander,
 redback salamander (Plethodon cinereus),
 northern brown snake (Storeria d. dekayi), smooth green snake (Opheodrys vernalis), eastern hognose snake (Heterodon platirhinos), eastern milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum), northern black racer (Coluber c. constrictor), snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina), eastern painted turtle (Chrysemys p. picta), and eastern box turtle (Terrapene c. carolina).    src

(3) Big John's is a vernal pond, which means it dries up in late summer. It cannot support animals that need a body of water year-round, but is just the thing for:

   spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer, is a small chorus frog),
   grey tree frogs,
   Eastern painted turtles,
   salamanders and

(4) The three modern orders of amphibians are Anura (frogs and toads), Caudata (salamanders and newts), and Gymnophiona (caecilians, limbless amphibians that resemble snakes), and in total they number approximately 6,500 species.

10/8 (Sat)  11am-12:30pm
10/9 (Sun)  9:30am-12:30pm w/ QCBC (Jean, Eric, Andrew, etc.)
 Kissena Corridor Park / Community Garden
 camera: GH2 + 100-300mm lens

Eastern Boxelder Bugs (Boisea trivittatus), Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, blue Budgerigar (with flock of House Sparrows), Kestrel, White-throated Sparrows, probably a Carolina Grasshopper (Dissosteira Carolina).

 Boxelder Bug - conspicuous aggregations without being preyed on   adult-1
 Budgerigar - <1> (png file)
 Cardinal - <1>
  Monarch - <1>
 Grasshopper - <1>
 Unknown bird - <1>    crop (warbler?)

The life stages (or this link) of the Boxelder bug :

Overwinter as adults. Emerge in mid-spring, mate, and lay eggs. In the spring adults and nymphs will feed on seeds and maple trees. This first generation of nymphs may feed on dead insects including their siblings. These nymphs will emerge as adults in early summer.

In the summer and fall, the adults and nymphs will suck sap from new tree (usually boxelder) growth and may feed on weeds and other plants. This type of plant feeding is usually non-damaging but when they feed on strawberries it can be very damaging. The second generation will occur in late summer and will have adult emergence in October. This generation is the one that will overwinter after the first frost.   src

The Eastern Boxelder Bug is sometimes known as a garage beetle or may be confused with other Jadera spp., especially Western Boxelder Bug ( Boisea rubrolineata ).  The name "stink bug (放屁虫)," which is more regularly applied to the family Pentatomidae, is sometimes used to refer to Boisea trivittata. Instead, these insects belong to the family Rhopalidae, the so-called "scentless plant bugs". However, boxelder bugs are redolent and will release a pungent and bad-tasting compound upon being disturbed to discourage predation; this allows them to form conspicuous aggregations without being preyed on.

Golden rain tree bug (Jadera) is sometimes confused with the boxelder bug.  Jadera haemotoloma is closely related species that is occasionally mistaken for the boxelder bug, but lacks the red lines on wing edges.   And the small milkweed bug & large milkweed bug are seed feeding bugs that resemble the boxelder.  Small Milkweed Bugs and Large Milkweed Bugs have a different pattern of red/orange markings.    Neacoryphus lateralis (or Melacoryphus lateralis) has similar coloration, but red markings are somewhat different - red stripe at neck but no red edges to wing covers.   src-1   src-2   src-3   src-4

Ho Chi Leung's  泛光紅蝽 (Red Bug, Dindymus rubiginosus) - a 椿象,俗称放屁虫。(椿象)

椿象是生物防治,以蟲剋蟲的利器。它捕捉對手的技巧高超,口部伸出食器刺入對手體內,注入消化液再吸 食對手體液,不一定要咬住對方,因此可以攻擊比自己大的對手,有時還會共同圍剿對手,體型比椿象大一、 二十倍的幼蠶也難逃攻擊。

A Bug's Life - the villains are the grasshoppers I saw on Sun.

Found silverfish at home at nights on 10/6 (Thu) & 9/26 (Mon).  The one on 9/26 is bigger (nearly 1 inch); the other one on 10/6 is light brown and < 1cm so probably newly hatched.  They are probably four-lined silverfish (Ctenolepisma lineata) (=quadriseriata) (Fabricius, 1775);  not the common silverfish (Lepisma saccharina) .  They have a striped appearance.  Info-1   wiki

 Adult - <1>
 Young - <1>   <2>  

10/1 (Sat)  11am-2:30pm & late afternoon
 Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR), Kissena Park
 camera: GH2 + 100-300mm lens

Met photographer Johann Schumacher again at Big John's Pond.
East Pond trail: Northern Parula

West Pond trail: a solitary Yellow-crowned Night Heron

 Osprey caught a fish - seen at the lookout of East Pond today & before (last Sun or the Sat 2 weeks before?)
 Wasp - Black & White Wasp, or called Four-toothed Mason Wasp (Monobia quadridens) -  <1>     
 Flower fly ? - <1>  more look like a Striped Hoverfly (Helophilus sp.).  cf. here  mirror & here2
 Grasshopper - <1>    or Katydid?
 Butterfly -
  Sulphur - <1> (This is Orange Sulphur since it has some orange topside: <2>)
 Mosquito ? - <1>   

  The abdomen of M. quadridens is entirely black, except for a broad ivory-coloured band on the first tergite. The wingspan is typically 11–14.5 mm (0.43–0.57 in) for males, and 14–18 mm (0.55–0.71 in) for females. It closely resembles Mason Wasp Euodynerus bidens in size and colouration.   wiki   Identification Atlas of the Vespidae (Hymenoptera, Aculeata) of the northeastern Nearctic region, Canada
  Four-toothed Mason Wasp - hind coxae with a longitudinal dorsal carina or folding, often developed into a lobe or tooth.  That is where the name came from - the "teeth" are on the legs rather than in the mouth.  “Teeth” in insects often refer to structures that are tooth-like in appearance that may or may not have anything to do with mastication. Examples include ‘teeth’ on mandibles (and these at least are tooth-like in function) - see for an example, and on legs - see Lesser Stag Beetle (m) Dorcus parallelipipedus 1d | Flickr - Photo Sharing! for an example.   src2
  Helophilus : Lengthwise-striped thorax, transverse-striped abdomen, broad pterostigma (翅痣).  Eyes of males do not touch (like those of all syrphid females) and abdominal details are necessary to tell male from female.  src (mirror) lists 34 spp.

9/30 Winnie in Europe


9/25 (Sun)  11am-2pm
 Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR)
 camera: GH2 + 100-300mm lens

Nice pictures of Monarch & flower flies.  Consistently good at shooting Monarch butterflies but bad at damselflies.  Why?  Is this pattern telling something?  Camera is easier to focus on the contrasting pattern on Monarch but not on the thin and far away body of damselflies.  Focusing on Cabbage Whites is also so-so.  Try increase shutter to 1/640 or faster or use tripod/monopod.

 2 juvenile Night Herons -  <1>    <2>   
 Eastern Carpenter Bee ( Xylocopa virginica ) - a large carpenter bee (20 mm or larger vs. small are < 8mm) :
  female on Salvia - <1a>   <1b> (edited)   <2>   <3>   <4>   <5> ;
  more - <6>   <7>  
 Small Carpenter Bee, Ceratina, [not look like Bumble Bee] (probably) - <1a>   <1b> (edited)       wiki
 Sweat Bee (probably) - <1>    wiki
 Flower fly - <1>    black-1   
 Damselfly at East Pond -
  the green one is probably Rambur's Forktail: <1>    mating pair (copulation wheel)      Video
  Bluets - Tandem pair, female ovipositing   Video Snapshot   Tandam 3   Tandam + 1 = 嬲 (love triangle)  
 Dragonfly -
  Blue Dasher - female   male  
  a red Skimmer at Big John's Pond - probably a red Meadowhawk (Rudy/Cherry-faced/Yellow-legged/Band-winged, not see white face) - it has red stigma and pale leg so probably Yellow-legged instead of Rudy or Cherry-faced.  Video
 Butterfly -
  Cabbage White - <1>   ; these 6 are sharper: P1020528-33.JPG
  Monarch - <1>   <2>   <3>   <4>   <5>   <6>   more: P1020970-82.JPG
 Frog/Toad - <1>    (may be a young/yearling Gray Tree Frog)

  The most visible physical difference (at a glance) between Eastern carpenter bee and a bumblebee is the abdomen. Eastern carpenter bees have a shiny black abdomen, with the only yellow hair present being at the base next to the thorax, while bumblebees have a very fuzzy abdomen, which in some species has large areas of yellow hair across the middle (this is visible and obvious). The female eastern carpenter bee also has a much broader head than bumblebees. Eastern carpenter bees can be sexed at a glance. Males have a patch of white cuticle on the face, as opposed to females, whose faces are black. Males are unable to sting, since a bee's stinger is a modified ovipositor (an egg laying organ).  wiki


 Field Key to California dragonflies/damselflies

 3 common red Meadowhawks

A review on 100-300mm says:


... its sharp, very sharp if you nail the focus which is actually not easy at times, especially when handholding a shot.


When you are dealing with focal lengths that long, the increased M4/3 DOF is no longer very noticeable and shooting wide open, you have to be bang on with your focus or you’ll see that it’s out. It has the same O.I.S twitchiness as the 45-200, only worse because of its increased magnification. If you are going to shoot handheld at any shutter speeds below 1/1000, you’d better give the lens a moment for its stabilizer to lock on before squeezing off a shot. This lens really demands a tripod, but since it is still so lightweight, there is no tripod ring needed.


With regards to using these longer lenses wide open and trying to achieve a precise point of focus, I’ll mention that the GH2 body can sometimes be frustrating in its seeming insistence in focusing on things that are clearly outside of the displayed AF rectangle in the viewfinder. This is very “DSLR like” in some respects and unnecessary since there is no reason why the AF rectangle couldn’t exactly match the actual focus area that is used. More on auto-focus performance, and some of its quirks, especially with long lenses, in my upcoming GH2 body review, which will appear in a new blog entry as “Part 2” of my Panasonic review.

9/24 (Sat)  pm, before Fanny/James wedding
 camera: GH2 + 14-42mm lens

Bee and flies

 Fly:  <1>   <2>   <3> 

9/18 (Sun)  morning
 Home & Kissena Park
 camera: FZ35

Nice macro photo of Bumble Bee on flowers near home.

 Bee:  no flash   flashed  

9/17 (Sat)  11:15am-3pm
 Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR)
 camera: GH2 + 100-300mm lens

 Green Heron - Flicker   <1>   more: P1010497-554.JPG 
 Night Heron - <1>   more: P1010557-565.JPG
 Flycatcher (look like a young Eastern Phoebe) - <1>    <2>    <3>    <4>   
 Bluet -  <1>
 Common Buckeye - <1> , a brushfoot (Nymphalidae) butterfly, love to perch/rest on bare ground 
 Anglewing butterfly, Tribe Nymphalini - "Leaf Butterflies"  (Comma? perhaps Eastern Comma) -  <1>    <2>
 Flower Fly -
  Big nice flower (sharp) with tiny fly (Toxomerus sp.?) 
  Bigger one: <1>  like American Hover Fly (Eupeodes americanus,  9–12 mm in body length) or Epistrophe grossulariae, etc. cf. here  mirror
 Bumble Bee  -

 1. Carpenter bees resemble bumble bees, but the upper surface of their abdomen is bare and shiny black; bumble bees have a hairy abdomen with at least some yellow markings. src
 2. Bee

 3. Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia, described by Jacob Hübner in 1822) (= Precis coenia) - Males perch during the day on low plants or bare ground to watch for females, flying periodically to patrol or to chase other flying insects. Flight: Two to three broods from May-October.   Passing through New York, heading south (so will see it in September).  Their southbound autumn flight is particularly noticeable along the coasts where at times they seem to be everywhere.  Every spring some of them return to repopulate the northern United States and parts of Canada.  Buckeye butterflies appear in different forms in different seasons.  Underside of hindwing is brown or tan in the wet season (spring/summer) form and rose-red in the dry season (autumn) form.  The change is probably linked to lower temperatures and shorter days. The difference is so pronounced that scientists call the forms by different names -- linea for the tan one and rosa for the other.      src1   src2   src3   src4   wiki
 4. Eastern Comma Butterfly - Polygonia comma    src  pic found on Web:  1 - probably at JBWR
 5. Hoary Comma (Polygonia gracilis), Gray Comma (Polygonia progne), etc.
 6. Green Heron is the best fly fisher (cunning & patient) : 
      Adopting an almost horizontal posture, a green heron prepares to lunge toward a fish beneath a lily pad.  Within seconds it will make a grab -- aided by a special arrangement of the vertebrae that enables the neck to "snap" forward -- and will soon have the fish wriggling in its jaws. 
      All over the world, other species of heron practice the same technique, and at first sight there seems nothing unusual about what this green heron is doing.  There is, however, a very big difference.  In many ways the green heron has more in common with a human angler than any other species.  It regularly uses bait to lure the fish within its reach.  Using tools is a rarity among birds, but the green heron, along with several very close relatives in other parts of the world, is known to place a variety of different objects into the water in front of it then lunge at fish attracted to the lures.
      Green herons have recorded using sticks, feathers, bread, captured insects, flowers and corn.  All of which have been picked up from the edge of water and dumped onto the surface.  American birds have been seen to use popcorn.  Clearly some of these are edible items, but feathers and sticks act as "dry flies" of no nutritional value that are sufficient to fool a fish.  Interestingly, some green herons snap twigs off waterside vegetation to produce their bait, a rare example not just of using tools but of making tools, too.  (Extreme Birds:  The world's most extraordinary and bizarre birds, 2008, Dominic Couzens, p.155)

9/16 (Fri)  5-7pm 
 Forest Park
 camera: GH2 + 100-300mm lens vs. FZ35

 Flower Fly (Toxomerus sp., probably Toxomerus geminatus, not marginatus) - <1>    <2>    <3>    <4>    cf. here & here2 (mirror)
 Bumble Bee - FZ35 best   GH2: P1010436-452.JPG

9/11 (Sun)  morning
 Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR)
 camera: GH2 + 100-300mm lens + cheap tripod

Close encounter with a Great Blue Heron at the blind of Big John's Pond.  Crows, Herons, Sparrows, Redstarts and other Warblers, Waxwings, Towhees, etc.

 Flower Fly (family Syrphidae) - probably Transverse Flower Fly (Eristalis transversa) - <1>  cf. here (size of Transverse Flower Fly: 9-11mm)
 Sparrow (probably Song Sparrow) - <1>   <2>   more: P1010293-300.JPG 
 Birds on a tree - Towhee and a yellow warbler-like   Sparrow
 Waxwing - <1>   <2>  

9/10 (Sat)  morning
 Orchard Beach / Pelham Bay Park & City Island
 * don't follow GPS to exit at Exit 7, follow the sign to exit at Exit 5.  Same route as to Maggie's house.  Address: Park Dr,  Bronx, NY 10464    map
 Highlight: Twin Island and Hunters Island are no longer islands since being connected to the mainland Bronx by the landfill.
 camera: FZ35

Various Gulls (possibly the all 4 common are there) & Insects (Bees, Wasps, Butterflies, Flies), 2 colonies of Monk Parakeets, Woodpecker (probably Red-Bellied), Semipalmated Plover & shorebirds (Sandpipers?), a pair of Great Egret, Starling next to the nest of 2 pairs of Monk Parakeets at Orchard Beach.

 GIF (Gull in flight)
 Great Egret in flight
 Gulls - as big yawn as baby Bryant
 White - Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) nectaring at yellow flower (probably female since it looks like to have 2 black spots on each of the forewings)
 Bee - European/Western/Common Honey Bee (Apis mellifera):   <1>   <2>   <3>   more: P1170375-85.JPG 
 Wasp - reddish brown: PP   full size original   (a paper wasp in Genus Polistes?   Northern Paper Wasp (Polistes fuscatus) [or Polistes metricus ? Red Wasps ? ]
 Wasp - probably Yellow Jacket: <1>   more: P1170438-43.JPG  
 Flower Fly (family Syrphidae) - probably Transverse Flower Fly (Eristalis transversa)
  - <1>   
  - <2>  (PPed by Helicon Filter Free v4.92.3 & resized by Paint.NET)   
  - <3>  (PPed & resized by Helicon Filter Free v4.92.3) 
  - more: P1170411-37.JPG 
       cf.:  ,  , 
 Bumble Bee (not Carpenter) -  <1>   <2>  
 Flower Fly ? - <1>  (deNoised by Noiseware Community Edition Standalone v2.6)

 Album - Nectaring insects    Nectaring insects sample 1   Others   

 Cabbage White nectaring 
 Monk Parakeets - 2 pairs of Monk Parakeets at Orchard Beach, colony at the end of the road at City Island

 Monk Parakeet Nests Destroyed! - Pelham Bay Park South (2010)  
 Characteristics of common wasps and bees
 Flower colors that particularly attract bees are blue, purple, violet, white, and yellow.   src
 Colors Bees See
 Transverse Flower Fly - Size: 9-11 mm ; Season: March-December (North Carolina) ; pictures found on Web: <1>   <2>

TRANSVERSE FLOWER FLY & other pollinators

Links found on web (added in 2014): (Jul 2014):  NYC Monk Parakeet colonies can be found in Whitestone and Howard Beach, Queens; in Brooklyn, notably Greenwood Cemetery and Brooklyn College; and in the Bronx, notably Pelham Bay Park, where Mike saw them in 2005, and City Island.

9/5 (Mon)  morning
 Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR) 
 camera: GH2 + 100-300mm lens, after running out of battery, FZ35 

East, South End: juvenile & adult Black-crowned Night Herons, Redstart, etc.

West: a lot of Crows, Northern Shoveler

East, North End: juvenile Common Terns, a pair of Oystercatcher, Skimmer, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers?, Plovers?, various Gulls, flying Forster's Tern? etc.

 Skimmer - <1>

Met Wayne:

9/3 (Sat)  morning until early afternoon (about 9:30am - 1:30pm), late afternoon
Rockaway Beach (East of Beach 59th St.; see also 6/26/2010 bblog) & Oceanside Marine Sanctuary  (from Rockaway to Oceanside taking Nassau Expressway/NY878 paid $2.00 toll for Atlantic Beach Bridge, also via Long Beach Blvd).  Late afternoon conquering Kissena Park.
"Maiden" shooting of GH2 + 100-300mm lens; but out of battery after shooting for > 600 pictures, then FZ35

Rockaway: Sanderlings (high-speed shallowly probing machines), a pair of Oystercatchers,  a pair of Ruddy Turnstones,  Semipalmated Plovers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Gulls, etc.

Oceanside: probably Black Saddlebags, Green & the 2 Night Herons (inc. juvenile Yellow-crowned), Egrets, juvenile Gulls, male Belted Kingfishers (one perching on a tree, waiting for me to shoot but I ran out of battery), flying Double-crested Cormorants, hovering Ospreys, Starlings, Mourning Dove, many long-billed shorebirds (probably Short-billed Dowitchers), etc.

Kissena: Many giant trees are victims of Irene.  They were killed from the base by the fierce force, like the one at Forest Park photographed on Sunday.  Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera), a Skimmer dragonfly (0.9").  Great Egret.  Eastern Painted Turtles.  Molting Cardinal?

 GIF (Gull in flight) becomes much easier with GH2 + 100-300mm lens - <1> 
 Oystercatcher IF (in flight) - <1>   more post-processing & w500
 Sparrow IF - <1>
 Semipalmated Plover - <1>     <2>     in flight
 Great Black-backed Gull - <1>    <2>     in flight (more:  P1000449 - 456.JPG)  
 Herring Gull - <1> (adults with a juvenile and a 3rd year)      juvenile-1  
 Laughing Gulls in non-breeding plumage (
Black-legged Kittiwake because of Hurricane Irene?) - <1>   <2>   <3> (black legs; note they do not have red legs except in full adult breeding plumage. cf. here)  
 Black Saddlebags (in flight) - <1>  
 Eastern Amberwing - <1>   
 Sanderling -     <2>   <3>   <4> (molting; not Semipalmated Sandpiper because molting Sanderling's incoming non-breeding scapulars are pale so its upperparts are more contrasty; not Turnstone because its blunt bill & black feet) 
 Ruddy Turnstone - <1>    <2>    <3>  
 Great Egret - <1>    

Eastern Painted Turtle - <1>
 Monarch - Flickr1 (note the bee at right below) orig. size

 Sanderling at Rockaway Beach - <1>
 Ruddy Turnstones at Rockaway Beach - <1>
 Gull at Rockaway Beach - <1>
 male Eastern Amberwing at Kissena <1>
 Fly (Diptera?) at Rockaway Beach - <1>
 Yellow-crowned Night Heron - <1> (combined w/ Punta Cana)

 Sanderling feeds on various items close to the water's edge. It probes and pecks rapidly, following the waves’ movements. This bird is able to locate the prey thanks to its smell, touch and taste.
 It quickly probes into the sand, repeatedly, while walking or running on the beach. It feeds in small groups of 5 to 20 birds, but also in large flocks. It may feed by day and by night.  src

Adult Male, in winter. 

Bill rather longer than the head, slender, subcylindrical, straight, flexible, compressed at the base, the point rather depressed and obtuse. Upper mandible with the dorsal line nearly straight, slightly sloping to beyond the middle, the ridge convex, towards the end flattened, at the point convex; sides sloping, edges rather blunt and soft. Nasal groove long; nostrils basal, linear, pervious. Lower mandible with the angle long and very narrow, the dorsal line slightly convex, the sides sloping outwards, towards the end convex. 

Head of moderate size, oblong, compressed. Eyes rather large. Neck of moderate length. Body rather slender. Feet slender, of moderate length; tibia bare a considerably way up; tarsus compressed, anteriorly and posteriorly with numerous small scutella; hind toe wanting; toes of moderate length, slender; inner toe shorter than outer, middle toe considerably longer, all scutellate above and marginate, with prominent papillae, and free; claws small, slightly curved, extremely compressed, blunt. 

Plumage very soft, blended beneath, slightly distinct above. Wings long and pointed; primaries tapering, obtuse, the first longest, the second a little shorter, the rest rapidity graduated; secondaries rather short, obliquely rounded, curved inwards, the inner elongated and tapering. Tail rather short, rounded, of twelve feathers, the two middle ones considerably longer. 

Bill and feet black. Iris brown. The general colour of the plumage above is ash-grey, the edges paler; the lower parts pure white. Alula and primaries brownish-black, the latter with more or less white on their outer webs or along the shaft; secondaries white, the outer with a patch of brownish-black towards the end, the inner ash-grey; primary coverts brownish-black, tipped with white; secondary coverts greyish-brown, broadly tipped with white. Middle tail feathers greyish-brown, their shafts white, the rest of a paler tint on the outer webs, white on the inner, the lateral almost pure white. 

Length to end of tail 7 10/12, to end of wings 7 10/12, to end of claws 8 1/4; extent of wings 12 1/2; wing from flexure 4 11/12; tail 2 2/12; bill along the back 1; along the edge of lower mandible 1 (1/2)/12; tarsus 1; middle toe 3/4, its claw 2/12. Weight 1 3/4 oz. 

Adult Female, in winter. 

The female is precisely similar to the male.   src

 Female Eastern Amberwings are superficially similar to Halloween Pennant, Calico Pennant, and Painted Skimmer; all are much larger.

Gull Hybrid found on Web:  Herring x Lesser Black-backed Gull hybrid (putative), Pennsylvania -  <1>    <2>    <3>    (legs' color is different from non-hybrid?)

EXIF sample & source:  <1>

8/31 (Wed)

Mark the last day of my P&S photography life.  Two years ago (9/2009), I got my FZ35.  It made me to learn a lot about digital photography, including macro photography.  Tomorrow my GH2 and 100-300mm lens will come.  A new era will come!

Subject: NYC: Riverside Park Drip - Open For Business
From: Ben Cacace
Date: Wed, 31 Aug 2011 22:47:52 -0400

I just spoke with Jeff Nulle and he wanted to let you know that the Riverside Park (Manhattan) Bird Drip has been turned back on today.

This is from Phil Jeffrey's "Birding Wiki" on Riverside Park:  (more on NYC Birding Wiki)

"The Drip" is an area under some rocks where water is piped in. Birds like to drink and bathe in it. Many others hang around in the trees and bushes near by. It is great because it allows for good and fairly close views of warblers at ground and eye level - not just high up in the trees.

The closest entrance to the Drip is at 120th Street across from Riverside Church. Go down the stairs at the "Forever Wild" sign, turn right and go down those stairs. The tennis court will be on your right. Turn left and walk toward the fenced-in area which will be on your left.
Ben Cacace
Manhattan, NYC

8/28 (Sun)  afternoon (about 2-3:30pm) after Hurricane Irene
Forest Park & Cunningham Park

Cunningham Park: Grackles, one of them partially sheds tail because of molting, disease, fighting, being attacked or Irene?

 Victim of Irene - <1>    
 Eastern Gray Squirrel - <1>

Note:  FZ35 is excel in video, even at low light.  So for forest birds, take video instead of photo. 

8/27 (Sat)  morning (about 10-11am) before Hurricane Irene comes 
Kissena Park

small damselflies probably male Eastern Forktail; Great Blue Heron; a shorebird unexpected, probably Solitary Sandpiper in (little worn) breeding plumage with white eye-ring; House Sparrows; Mallards and/or American Black Ducks; turtles; etc.

 Eastern Forktail (male) - <1>   <2>   <3>   <4>   among this purple flower & perhaps this yellow flower too.
 female Mallard (American Black Duck?, read *) - <1>   <2>   <3>    
 Solitary Sandpiper - <1>   <2>  

 Great Blue Heron in flight  
 Solitary Sandpiper

Eastern Forktail (Ischnura verticalis) is a member of the damselfly family Coenagrionidae.  The males are yellow-green with blue on the top of the eighth and ninth abdominal segments.  size 1.1"  Thorax black above, with green shoulder stripes; pale green sides.  Abdomen mostly black, with blue tip (segments 8 and 9) and thin pale tings; black spots on sides of blue tip.  Eyes dark above, greenish below, with small green eyespots.  What I saw at Kissena Park behaved like Emerald Spreadwing: (1) weak/slow flight and brief;  (2) wings held partially spread when perched.

Solitary Sandpiper often by itself at sheltered ponds; seldom associates with other shorebirds; never in large groups. When worn, upperparts and breast-sides quite dark, with most white markings worn off.

*More like a female Mallard because of whitish tail & light brown body. American Black Duck has a darker body & dark tail.
Or a hybrid female Mallard X American Black Duck because it has a dull greenish gray bill (like female American Black Duck) with little marking (like male American Black Duck)
Or immature Mallard or American Black Duck.

key to id waterfowl - txt   doc   note on female Mallard

8/25 (Thu)  morning I out after 6am to Forest Park for birding. Until 8am, 2 hour!

Nuthatch, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Woodpeckers (at least one is Downy), a bird like a teetering Waterthrush walking on the ground along the trail, Redstarts (inc. a female or immature male with 2 conspicuous yellow flash-patches on tail), Robins, Catbirds, etc.

In this dark environment, video produces much better result than photo, esp. at high zoom.

8/20 (Sat)  8 -11:30am 
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR)  

East Pond: water level is so high.  Towhee, 2 juvenile Black-crowned Night Herons.   
Go along with a birder group, seeing flocks of (Short-billed) Dowitchers flying over West Pond, 4 Blue-winged teals, flying Little Blue Herons, Great Blue Heron, Waxing, Kingbirds, female Yellowthroat, juvenile Starling in preformative molt (saw another adult in prebasic molt on the way to Dim Sum), etc. 
Dragonflies, damselflies (bluets and/or other pond damsels) and other insects 

  -  Hypena scabra Green Cloverworm Moth (Verified By: H.D. McGuinness, 6/17/2012)  - <1>   <2>   <3>  (not snout butterfly, more like a (day-flying or diurnal) moth) ; Another one saw at Louisiana in the morning (even though adults are nocturnal)
Monarch - <1>   <2>   <3>  
 Pond Damsel:
  probably bluet at East Pond - <1>  
  another blue one at Blind Pond - <1>   <2>  ;  look the same as the one on 8/6: thorax blue with black dorsal stripe & black shoulder stripes, abdomen black above & blue below, eyes with blue eyespots.  Not likely a Big Bluet.  A blue female Familiar Bluet? Of heteromorph (female-like) form?  Or andromorph (male-like) form?  cf. , Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West By Dennis Paulson : p.82  p.85  p.86 
 Starling starting prebasic molt (?): <1>   
 Black-crowned Night Heron : Itchy, Scratchy (Juvenile and first-winter Yellow-crowned Night-Heron have an all-black bill, smaller wing spots, and longer legs.)   

Note:  mirror  - "In August, the juvenile goes through a preformative molt ... head is still in juvenile plumage.  ... By November, the Starling has completed its preformative molt and has attained its formative plumage. ... By late summer, the now one-year-old bird is beginning to grow new feathers which push out the old, worn feathers.  This is the second prebasic molt (the first prebasic molt having taken place in the nest)."
 Usually, starlings molt their feathers in the fall.  src  (or late summer?)
 The bills of juvenile and winter starlings are black.  src (with nice photo)
 Andromorph (male-like) form vs. heteromorph (female-like) form.  Google : "female polymorphism".

Female-limited polychromatism is found in many species of Odonata. Half the European genera of Zygoptera show this polymorphism, which is especially common in the family Coenagrionidae where 65% of the species are polymorphic (Cordero & Andrés, 1996).
As in butterflies, where this type of polymorphism also occurs (Clarke et al., 1985), one of the female morphs is very similar to the conspecific male, whereas the other phenotypes differ in coloration. The different morphs have been given various names in the scientific literature. Because the differences among morphs involve their colour only and not their morphology, this paper will use the terminology proposed by Hilton (1987) and shortened by Cordero et al. (1998), using 'androchrome' for male-like females and 'gynochrome' for those females with a different coloration.  src

Google book:
Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West
By Dennis Paulson
Princeton University Press, 2009 - 536 pages
Google eBook: $16.17

8/13 (Sat)  6:15-11:15am 
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR)  

Waterthrush (probably Northern), Least Sandpiper, Dowitcher, Redstart, rather big Hummingbird (at West Pond, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird - female?), Waxwing, Kingbird.  Saw Black Skimmer foraging over the water at East Pond right after sunrise.
Saw a rather small dragonfly perching, id-ed: a male Blue Dasher (a Skimmer); male Twelve-spotted Skimmer (and a female? or a male invading his territory?) at Blind Pond

 Semipalmated Sandpiper:
 Least Sandpiper:
 Dragonfly: male Blue Dasher - <1>   <2>   <3>   <4> thorax with yellow stripping   <5> again, note the yellow stripping, and brown color at the first few segments of abdomen viewed from bottom   ; male Twelve-spotted Skimmer -  <1>  
 Cicada:  <1>    <2>    <3>    <4>    <5>   
 Insect:  <1> unknown   <2> fly on a bench   <3> it (a Sweat Bee?) stung my head  

Compared the pictures of male Blue Dasher found on Web:  <1> mirror
Info: Skimmer dragonfly: They are called skimmers because they tend to fly low over the water. They often follow the same path and return to a familiar perch.  src

The URL below brings up a table of species abundance by month by season for the NYC area. Each clickable link on the table displays a list of species along with bar charts for each species plus a clickable map for sightings at for the following locations.: 
e.g., at JBWR, the 2 Waterthrushes:waterthrushes at JBWR

Looking forward to watch lifebirds:  HUDSONIAN GODWIT and MARBLED GODWIT; and (numerous) Stilt Sandpipers.  

From: bounce-37906817-8873015 AT
[mailto:bounce-37906817-8873015 AT] On Behalf Of Steve Walter
Sent: Friday, August 12, 2011 8:01 PM
To: 'nysbirds-l'
Cc: 'Nyc ebirds'
Subject: [nysbirds-l] Jamaica Bay 8/12 feat. Sandhill Crane


The three of us, joined by Bob Kurtz, then worked the south end and up the
east side of the East Pond. If you understand that you're going to get wet,
you can make it a good distance past the raunt. A problem not always
mentioned is that with little shoreline, you can't avoid disturbing all the
birds along the way. Be that as it may, we eventually found both HUDSONIAN
GODWITS and 1 MARBLED GODWIT spending their morning on the west side of the
pond, a good distance north of the raunt. No White Ibis to be seen. Both
Marbled Godwits were later found at low tide on the bay, north of the dike. 
2 Marbled Godwit pictures; 2 moth pictures - Left one is the moth known as "The Asteroid", seen above the light over the back door. This is the second Jamaica Bay record ... The last picture is a scene of Ailanthus Webworm Moths, nectaring on goldenrod along the West Pond trail. src

8/12 (Fri)  5:15-7pm  (First Day of Muddy Shorebirding)
East Pond, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR)  

First time to use boot.  Waterthrush at the entrance to muddy south flat.  At this time of late afternoon before sunset, good photo may be taken by facing East; staying at SW of the south flat and putting the sun behind my back.

 Grasshopper:  <1>
 Semipalmated Sandpiper: <1>    <2>    <3>    <4>    <5>    <6>    <7>    <8>    <9>  
 Semipalmated Plover

8/6 (Sat)  6:30am - 12:00pm  (Day of Cicada)
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR) , Congressman Joseph P. Addabbo Bridge

JBWR:  noisy Cicadas (probably Tibicen , Tibicen canicularis, Dog-day Cicada, or Tibicen linnei or hybrid);
a lot Robins and Starlings; many juvenile Robins; a light brown-orange butterfly; Kingbird couple; Waterthrush; 1 (probably Lesser)Yellowlegs and many Cardinals at Big John's Pond; damselflies (probably bluet) and other insects 

Bridge:  using a seine net to explore marine life thriving in the bay's waters: 2 species of small fish (Silverside and 1 with a stripe on its back), 1 species of tiny shrimp (amount: 2) ; Double-crested Cormorants ; 1 immature Laughing Gull ; 1 (Small) Cabbage White (Pieris rapae, previously known as: Artogeia rapae)  butterfly (probably not Large) ;  plants of Plum and Rose ;

 Cicada:  upper (unedited)    edited    side   lower     
 Robin: juvenile 1
 Damselfly: <1>
 Insects: what fly?   who is perching
 Mourning Dove: <1>   close up  

 Mourning Dove drinking vs. others

Silverside Identification  ;
Neotropical silversides  ; 
Small Cabbage White ( also called Small White ), pictures/info found on Web - <1>  ;
Large White ;
Laughing Gull and Great Black-backed Gull were introduced later (cf. Herring and Ring-billed) in the area ;

Cicada Info:
Tibicen canicularis - Dog-day Cicada    
Range: N. USA and S. Canada - East of the Rockies.  Most Common across the northeastern US and adjacent Canada  
ine has the well-developed pruinose [Covered with white powdery granules; frosted in appearance.] spots at the base of the abdomen.  So it is probably male. “Females often lack paired pruinose spots at the base of the abdomen, but if present these are usually poorly developed.”  

   Mine could be Tibicen linnei - Linne's cicada (but they are rare in NY) or hybrid of the two species.

July and August are months of annual (or called dog-day) cicadas ( 蟬 / 知了 ) ; Mississippi Cicadas, with a Key to the Species of the Southeastern United States  mirrorHow To Catch Cicadas

Massachusetts as well as New England has several different species of Tibicen cicadas. They are: Tibicen auletes, Tibicen canicularis, Tibicen tibicen, Tibicen lyricen, Tibicen linnei. And 3 more spp. (of genus Okanagana & Magicicada) :   Okanagana rimosus, Okanagana canadensis and Magicicada septendecimsrc

Info about Magicicada, the genus of the 13- and 17-year periodical cicadas of eastern North America:   
 Periodical cicadas exist in only one place in the world: the eastern United States.
 World's largest cicada brood begins hatching in the South (The Great Southern Brood) 
 Great Eastern Brood (Brood X)—The Great Eastern Brood has a 17-year cycle and has emerged in 2004. This brood is found only in Vermilion, Edgar, and Clark counties and a small section of Champaign County and occupies an area that supports other relict eastern species such as American beech and tulip poplar. Brood X also occurs in Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. They will emerge again in 2021.  src
 2013:  The East Coast Brood - CT, MD, NC, NJ, NY, PA, VA.  

 Periodic cicadas are found in eastern North America and belong to the genus Magicicada. There are seven species, four with 13-year life cycles, and three with 17-year cycles. The three 17-year species are generally northern in distribution, while the 13-year species are generally southern and mid-western. Periodic cicadas generally emerge in May and June, apparently when the soil temperature reaches 64° Fahrenheit (18° Celsius). This means that emergences in southern and low-lying areas occur earlier in the summer than in the cooler northern locations.  src  mirror

Dedicated to cicadas, New England (particular NJ?)
H is for Hieroglyphic Cicada. The Neocicada hieroglyphica a.k.a. Hieroglyphic Cicada is found in the south-eastern United States. It's active in the late spring and early summer. There are multiple subspecies of the Hieroglyphic Cicada including the Neocicada hieroglyphica hieroglyphica and Neocicada hieroglyphica johannis, according to

7/12 (Tue) - 8/1 (Mon)

CMS 360 Trip:   or


7/10 (Sun)  morning
Breezy Point w/ Ron

Chimney Swifts (quite common here at Fort Tilden), baby Northern Flicker, at least 2 baby Common Terns seen from distance, a Common Tern wants to attack me, colony of Common Terns and Skimmers, baby and parent Oystercatchers, Piping Plovers, Gulls, young American Crow(s), Yellowthroat (heard only), Cowbirds (2 males and one juvenile or  female), busy Common Terns bring food to feed back and fro, etc.

 baby Northern Flicker: <1>   <2 tongue>  
 baby Common Tern:  <1>  
 baby Oystercatchers:  <1>   mom & child    
 Squirrel (near home):  <1>   <2>   <3>   <4>  
 Picture album 1  

 baby Northern Flicker: <1>  

7/9 (Sat)  11am - 1pm
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR) West Pond

dragonfly: Blue Dasher (like the one seen on 5/29 Staten Island) in obelisking position
butterfly:  black morph of female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) or female Black Swallowtail?, small silver-white butterfly (Small White?)
other insects / animals: Bumble Bee (not Carpenter Bee), Syrphid Fly? , Turtle
bird: Starling, Mourning Dove, Robin, Towhee, Tree Swallow, Song Sparrow, Wren, Mockingbird, Catbird, Brown Thrasher, RWBB, Skimmer, Oystercatcher, Common Tern, Canada Goose, Glossy Ibis, Great Egret, Snowy Egret,  Common Yellowthroat, (White-rumped?) Sandpiper or Ruddy Turnstone, Laughing Gull and other Gulls, Swan, Osprey, Cormorant.  (at least 25 species). 

Not sure, not seen or not pay attention:  Crow, Grackle, House Sparrow, Yellow Warbler, Least Tern?, Cardinal?,

The 2 juvenile ospreys stay at the nest while the other one (probably is the eldest one who fledged already) and parents are not there.  When will these 2 young one spread their wings?

I saw the shorebird digging in sand so probably it is a Ruddy Turnstone (legs and feet are orange).  Least Sandpiper has yellowish or greenish legs.  Semipalmated Sandpiper has blackish legs. Probably not White-rumped Sandpiper.  I can't see clearly the leg color nor white rump or not.

 Blue Dasher in obelisk posture
 Picasa Album & its snapshot
Ospreys, juvenile: P1130460.JPG

 Tree Swallows

 There are 6 species of "Black" Swallowtails resident in the lower 48 states: Anise, Black, Indra, Old World, Ozark, and Short-tailed swallowtails.  In the East, flight of Black Swallowtails is throughout the warmer months.  In the West, Anise Swallowtail flies mainly May-July, longer along the coast.  Other species are less common. 
 Carpenter Bee -

7/4 (Mon)  late morning - 2pmr/> Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR) West Pond

many (>10) big dragonflies around Visitor Center (most of them look like in red color);
broken-wing butterfly - The yellow morph of female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) differs from the male in having a blue postmedian area on the dorsal hind wing; P. glaucus is one of a few species of papilionids known to produce gynandromorphs (wiki's picture : A bilateral gynandromorph. The left half is male, while the right half is female);
Syrphid Fly
Oystercatchers in extraordinary number (40?); Skimmers; Least Terns and other Terns; 2 (probably Semipalmated) Sandpipers (b saw Spotted); Towhees; Common Yellowthroats; Yellow Warbler; Waxwing; Brown Thrashers; Song Sparrows; Wrens, one at the nest box of Visitor Center while one at the nest box at Blind Pond; Ospreys inc. 3 juveniles, at least 1 fledged; Tree swallows, etc.

 blue dragonfly (Blue Dasher?) ;  broken-wing butterfly - female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)<1>   <2>
 Blue Dasher is one of the most abundant odonate species at here during 2004 and 2005 (inventory of odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) at gateway national recreation area)

 Osprey:  魚鷹試飛成功 順利降落, 另外兩隻唔好再瞓啦, 振翅起來吧!

   Large swaths of oyster reef once lined the bottom
of the Hudson-Raritan Estuary (河口),
cleaning the water and providing
a source of food. Overfishing through the
19th century, the release of untreated sewage
into waterways, and other ecological disturbances
have virtually eliminated the habitat of
this keystone species. Today there are no major
naturally occurring oyster reefs in the region,
though scattered oysters remain. "Oysterculture"
has been gaining momentum in recent
years as evidence suggests that oysters aid in
the restoration of bottom-sea habitat and the
filtering of the water column.
   Many small-scale restoration projects have
been undertaken in recent years. These projects
include efforts by NY/NJ Baykeeper, which
depend on citizen stewardship to seed and
monitor oyster populations. The Bronx River
Oyster Restoration Pilot Study by DPR was
successful, and the Department of Environmental
Protection (DEP) has placed an oyster
bed and reef balls in Jamaica Bay to evaluate
oyster growth, survival, and reproduction as
well as water quality and ecological benefits.
The findings of this pilot study will inform future
atteattempts to restore oyster habitat in the Bay.  src

DPR: Department of Parks & Recreation


7/2 (Sat) morning 
Floyd Bennett Field w/ ALS naturalist Mickey Maxwell Cohen and Emily/Bill

 Mosquito; Virginia Creeper; Barn Swallows & a singing Mockingbird at Ranger Station; Towhee; Skimmers, Terns and a foraging (ground gleaning) Catbird on the beach near the bridge (Shore Parkway).


6/29 (Wed)

NYC airport invaded by turtles, delaying flights

About 150 turtles crawled onto the tarmac at New York's Kennedy airport Wednesday in search of beaches to lay their eggs, delaying dozens of flights, aviation authorities said.

The migration of diamondback terrapin turtles happens every year at Kennedy, which is built on the edge of Jamaica Bay and a federally protected park. In late June or early July the animals heave themselves out of the bay and head toward a beach to lay their eggs.

6/11 (Sat) morning ( 8:40 - 11:30 am )
Oceanside Marine Nature Study Area (MNSA)

 Muskrat; Oystercatchers; Osprey family of four (one of the 3 babies was lost) at Osprey Cam, the 2 babies will fledge in July.

Many Tree Swallows & Song Sparrows and a lot juvenile & adult Starlings; 4 eggs in a Tree Swallow's nest shown by Swallow Cam;  Glossy Ibis; many of the 2 Night Herons; Eastern Willets; Robins; Cardinals; Terns; etc. 
I may saw a Seaside Sparrow or Saltmarsh Sparrow. 
Next time, remember to check the feeder outside the window.

 Starling - juvenile 1   adult 1   ;
 Willet<1>   <2>   <3>   <4> (breeding Eastern Willets like to perch on poles, wires, and other tall structures near salt-marsh breeding grounds.)   <5>   ;


Tides of Freeport, Baldwin Bay, near Oceanside Marine Nature Study Area.  And reports of others:

Subject: Marsh Birds at Oceanside
From: Sy Schiff <icterus AT>
Date: Fri, 20 May 2011 14:23:52 -0400

Marine Nature Study Area, Oceanside 20 May

Joe Giunta and I (Sy Schiff) joined by George Form, Debbie Martin and Joe 
Viglietta spent the morning looking at marsh birds. Arriving before the Spring 
high tide, the water helped push the marsh birds out of the cuts and into the gher areas. CLAPPER RAILS were widely scattered (we saw at least 6), calling 
and walking about. 

Both SALTMARSH and SEASIDE SPARROWS were singing and we had brief but 
satisfactory views of both species. 

But the best was a WHIMBREL that only Joe G. and I got to see before it walked 
behind the vegetation at the edge of the marsh and could not be relocated. 

Other birds of interest were a GREEN HERON, WILLOW FLYCATCHER singing from the 
golf course and a group of CEDAR WAXWINGS in the trees by the parking lot. The 
second OSPREY chick hatched today, the first on Wednesday. 

Subject: Marine Nature Study Area 5/17-20/11
From: Michael Farina <michfar AT>
Date: Fri, 20 May 2011 17:20:53 -0400

New arrivals for the MNSA in Oceanside:
Regularly seen this week:
Clapper Rail, Short-billed Dowitcher, Least Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpipers & Plovers, Black Bellied Plovers, 
Seaside Sparrows, Saltmarsh Sparrows, Forster's Terns, Least Terns, Marsh Wren
Sat 21st High tide: 12:30p      Low tide: 6:43p
Sun 22nd High tide:  1:23p      Low tide: 7:34p 

6/5 (Sun) 7:30-8:30am
Park Drive East (near my home) morning walk because my car get stuck between 2 cars

 male and female Goldfinches; House Sparrow building nest (probably is for the 2nd brood).

Photo:  juvenile Starling - <1>

VideoHouse Sparrow building nest

More about House Sparrow

6/4 (Sat) morning ( 8:30 - 11:30 am )
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR)

  Immature male Gadwall? (black rump & white patch on rear edge of wing) and the nervous female Yellow Warbler is of highly alerted towards me at East Pond.
  House Wrens nesting at the box & young Cowbird, accompanied by an adult male, drinking water near the feeder outside Visitor Center. 
  Whimbrel? at West Pond.

Common Yellowthroat, Brown Thrasher, Ospreys with babies (2 seen on the nest), male Boat-tailed Grackle (seen also last year 4/24/2010), small silver-white butterflies, using macro mode to get sharp picture of Catbird, birdlog has Winter Wren, 3 American Black Ducks?, Crow being chased and attacked by Red-winged Blackbirds, etc.

Photo:  Gadwall - <1> ;  Catbird - <1>   <2>   <3> ;  Cowbird - <1>   <2>  ; Yellow Warbler - <1>  ; small butterfly (probably Spring Azure, of Gossamer-wing family) - <1>

VideoYellow Warbler in high alert ;  House Wren Singing  cf.  Yellow Warbler Singing ;

 On the Butterflies and Moths of North America web site the 'Spring' Spring Azure and the 'Summer' Spring Azure are listed as separate species.
 Spring Azure is even smaller than Cabbage White.
 Spring Azure on p.110, Glassberg (2011) ISBN=1402786204    more pages on other butterflies on the book: P1010960-66.JPG (966 was taken by 14-42mm lens with SH burst mode, resulting a set of 19 pictures of smaller size - about 2.5MB)  

5/30 (Mon) 2-4pm
Forest Park on a hot day

 Raccoon; Chipmunk; so many Starlings and House Sparrows and few other birds; male Robin chasing a female at parking lot.  

Blue Jays, 2 male Cowbirds, juvenile Starlings.    

5/29 (Sun)
Staten Island (William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge, Blue Heron Park & Lemon Creek Park)

 beautiful Green Heron and Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) at Blue Heron Park; female Purple Martins compete with Starlings and House Sparrows (no sight of male) & Barn Swallow at Lemon Creek Park; nice pictures of a moth, male Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) skimmer dragonfly, damselfly (probably is a female Common Spreadwing ( Lestes disjunctus ) & squirrel. 

Waxwing, male and female RWBB at Blue Heron Park, Eastern Kingbird & Great Egret at Lemon Creek Park, ?Rusty Blackbirds or Grackles at William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge, etc.

Note: Chelydra and Alligator Snapping Turtle ; Common Spreadwing ( Lestes disjunctus ) damselfly in NJ

According to Stokes' book p.46, female Common Spreadwings appear at wetlands only when ready to breed.

Photo: moth or butterfly? (not American Snout) - <1> ; Blue Dasher - <1> ; Common Spreadwing - <1> ;  squirrel <1>   <2>   <3>   <4>   ;   

5/28 (Sat) morning (10:30am-1:30pm)
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR)

 Two Waxwing welcome us in front of Visitor Center; quite a lot Mute Swans at East Pond; a group of Ruddy Ducks at West Pond; a big Snowy Goose, Black Saddlebag and a damselfly; many Yellow Warblers calling and heard Towhee; male American Goldfinch in breeding plumage & Blue Jay at feeder right outside Visitor Center.

female Cowbird, House Sparrows, Tree Swallows (not as many good photo as last year), Terns, Oystercatchers, Ospreys with their babies (3?), Snowy Egrets, Glossy Ibises, Semipalmated Sandpipers and Plover, etc.

Photo: damselfly - <1> , probably female bluet (Familiar Bluet or others)  

Note:  How to distinguish the call of Yellow Warbler from Wrens (Marsh Wren, Carolina Wren & House Wren) ?

5/25 (Wed) 7:45pm back from work 
Around Home

Carolina Wren calling heard today and during last weekend, like the one on 5/29/2010 .

Wren call found on Web:  April In Central Florida   Carolina wren call   Carolina Wren, Ohio

5/22 (Sun) morning 
Around Home @ 75 Ave

baby Starling got lost without parent.  Photo<1>    <2>    <3>       

5/21 (Sat) morning (9:30-12:45)
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR) [w/out joining the tour to Congressman Joseph P. Addabbo Bridge]

 Muskrat 麝鼠 (Ondatra zibethicus) swimming at East Pond;
 close encounter of an Oystercatcher couple searching for something important (egg?), in fact only one which probably is the mother is eager to search;  (sideNote: Leucistic Variable Oystercatcher in Auckland, UK, 15/03/2010)
 seeing Brown Thrashers and taking nice pictures (of probably a first-year because of innocent appearance and behavior);  (myNote)
 feast of coming ashore horseshoe crabs' eggs attracted flocks of shorebirds including Semipalmated Sandpipers (mainly), Semipalmated Plovers (a couple), Least Sandpipers (not seen by me but claimed by a Chinese photographer) and probably Sanderlings? & noisy Laughing Gulls;  (sideNote: Look Who's Coming to Dinner)
 Little Blue Heron;
 sharp pictures of goslings;
 Wren video and photo at Blind Pond.

East Pond is quiet:  Gadwalls, only a few Ruddy Ducks still here (and also not at West Pond anymore), Black-crowned Night Heron flying over.

But West side is noisy!

Wren, Willet, Eastern Towhee, Yellow Warbler, Tree Swallow, Tern, Glossy Ibis, Canada Geese, Brant (Brants busy with crab eggs while Geese couples immersed with parenting), Crow, RWBB (bathing and crab eggs too), Great Egret, etc.

Somebody saw (a male) Red-necked Phalarope and White-rumped Sandpiper among other shorebirds.

Photo: Canada Goose gosling - <1>  ; Laughing Gull - conflict of food  ; Muskrat
Video: Wren ; Laughing Gull busy with horseshoe crab eggs - best (using HandBrake 0.9.3 to avi)  site1   site2  

5/7 (Sat) morning
Forest Park w/ QCBC, spending time at the famed waterhole, quit early because of hay fever 

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks (male and female), Blue-headed Vireo, Oriole probably male Baltimore, female and male Scarlet Tanagers, Cowbirds, RWBBs (not common here), Tufted Titmouse, many warblers incl. Cape May, Bay-breasted, waterthrushes & Redstarts.

PhotoRose-breasted Grosbeak - <1> 

4/30 (Sat) morning 
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR)

Highlight: saw Gadwall (photo) & Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (nice photo); first time in the year saw many Yellow Warblers and record their songs; shot a lot nice pictures and videos of Cowbirds.

East Pond:  Gadwall, both male and female; a lot Ruddy Ducks; Buffleheads, both male and female; Swans; Terns; Double-crested Cormorants, many Swallows flying low over the water, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.  Black-crowned Night Herons at Big John's Pond.

West:  Yellow Warblers and other warblers; a couple of Brown-headed Cowbirds; Blue-gray Gnatcatcher; Eastern Towhees singing without fear; many Catbirds, Glossy Ibises, Tree Swallows, RWBBs; Osprey sitting in the nest with infant (someone put it on the bird log), Crows, one of it on a dead Goose, Robins, a Canada Geese couple adopted one-child policy when the mother laid egg in early Spring (incubation takes 25 to 30 days), a couple of Oystercatchers, Cardinals, etc. 

Someone saw Grosbeak.  Black-headed Grosbeak is of dark eyes not like Eastern Towhees with red eyes; note there is a white-eyed race of Eastern Towhee in south Atlantic Coast and Florida.  Black-headed Grosbeak is vagrant in East while Rose-breasted Grosbeak is fairly common.

"An adult male Blue Grosbeak was present this morning along the field section of the Overlook Trail at Rockefeller Park Preserve."  src
"In Queens, an immature male BLUE GROSBEAK was at Lutheran Cemetery on Tuesday and Wednesday" (4/26-27)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak @ Prospect Park (4/30)   src

"In basic plumage the sexes of Blue-gray Gnatcatcher look alike ... Males acquire a distinct black eyebrow in their prealternate molt, putting them in the minority of North American songbirds that appreciably change their appearance seasonally by molt."    Steve Howell's book on Molt p.205

"[a]dult male Blue Grosbeak apparently attains its breeding aspect not by molt but by the wearing away of cinnamon-brown feather tips that veil the bright waxy-blue undercoat through the winter."    Steve Howell's book on Molt p.233
The differences in plumage of a Blue Grosbeak, from top to bottom, between a breeding male (alternate plumage), a non-breeding male (basic plumage), a female and a related Indigo Bunting

Photo: Gadwall - left female, right male and Ruddy ; Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - <1>  <2>  ; Tree Swallow - female 1  husband & wife   ; Eastern Towhee - back 1   front 1 ; Cowbird - <1>  <2>  <3>  <4>  <5>  ; Glossy Ibis - <1>
Video: Yellow Warbler 1   Cowbird (slow motion)   Cowbird 2 (slow motion by Sony Vegas Pro 10)   Cowbird 2 (720p)   Tree Swallow, Eastern Towhee & Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, April 2011

8. How many eggs do Canada geese usually lay in one nest?
The number of eggs laid by one goose in a nest can range from 1 to 10, but the average for giant Canada geese (Branta canadensis maxima) is between 5 and 6.  The goose lay's one egg per day.  If more than one goose is laying eggs in a nest, as sometimes occurs when geese are nesting close to each other (such as on an island), occasionally 15 or more eggs will be found in a nest.  These nests, which are referred to as "dump nests" because 2 or more hens are laying or "dumping" eggs in them, are seldom incubated by any of the geese that laid eggs in them.  src

Geese start nesting at slightly different dates in different areas; earlier in southern areas and later in northern areas, ranging from March through June with peak activity in April and May in most of the United States. ... Addling means "loss of development."  It commonly refers to any process by which an egg ceases to be viable. Addling can happen naturally when incubation is interrupted for long enough that eggs cool and embryonic development stops. Humans addle where they want to manage bird populations. ... In Canada geese, eggs that are less than 14 days old can be addled humanely. Beyond that time, and when the eggs first begin to float when placed in water, humane treatment of the developing embryo [appropriate humane euthanasia] must be considered.   src

After hatching, there is an amazing change in the attitude of the gander.  Where he would previously chase off any other geese in the area, he now becomes much more tolerant of them.  Indeed, if there are other clutches of goslings in the area, they will often group together in flocks called "creèches" and be looked after by all the adults.  src

The female Tree Swallow is the only female North American passerine that retains her immature plumage into her first breeding season and sometimes into her second. (Stokes & Stokes 1996). Her immature plumage is quite brownish, but may show some blue-green on the back and wings (Turner & Rose 1989).  src


4/24 (Sun) morning & pm
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR), Kissena Park (pm)

JBWR: male Scarlet Tanager (4 years after 5/9/2007, meet again!), on the way to Big John's Pond; more than 6 Black-crowned Night Herons at Big John's Pond; Eastern Towhees singing; RWBBs and Tree Swallows are numerous and eager to get a mate; Catbirds, Glossy Ibises, Crows (one is quite big like Raven), Osprey, Ruddy Ducks, Scaups, Robins, White-throated Sparrows, Savannah Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, many warblers, a shorebird like yellowlegs.  No Snow Goose.
Photo: Scarlet Tanager - w1600   orig.   ; Tree Swallow - <1>   ; Eastern Towhee - <1>   ; 小旋風紋龜郎 (「木枯し纹次郎」の ) - <1>  
Video: Savannah Sparrow       Tree Swallow, Eastern Towhee & Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, April 2011

Kissena Park:  Brown-headed Cowbirds, etc.

Beautiful pictures of juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird found on Web (mirror: <1>    <2>    <3>    <4>    <5>

4/17 (Sun) pm
Forest Park

Northern Flicker, the golden wing, at the orange trail.  Great Egret at the Pond.  Mourning Doves, Cardinal, Red-bellied Woodpecker, etc. and Robins everywhere (遍地紅磚). 

Photo: Starling - still has white tips of the feathers   Mourning Dove (close up)   Robin

4/6 - 4/12 (Wed - Tue)
多明尼加共和國 Punta Cana

Photo and Video

Royal Tern - many
Spotted Sandpiper - 1   myNote

Little Blue Heron - 2
Tricoloured heron - 1
Great Egret - 1
Yellow Crowned Night Heron - > 1
Green Heron -

嵐山的風 , 鷺路之鳥 .

American Kestrel
Turkey Vulture - 1  (4/7)

White Winged Dove - 2
Common Ground Dove -
Mourning Dove -
Zenaida Dove -

Hispaniola Lizard Cuckoo - also seen on 3 occasions: on the way to La Yola, the tree outside our room in the evening (photoed), Tortugua Bay
Smooth Billed Ani - many
Antillean Palm Swift - common, the first bird seen at the airport
Other swallow/martin - ?

Antillean Mango - many
Vervain Hummingbird (Mellisuga minima) - At least once.  First, it is small; should be < 4 inches so it is not likely a Hispaniola Emerald.  Second, it is aggressive.
Hispaniola Emerald - ?

Most common and loud around the hotel area - 6 species
Hispaniola Woodpecker - common and noisy
Palmchat - common and noisy
Greater Antillean Grackle (Quiscalus niger) - common, local name as Chinchiliín (onomatopoeic for its song) in the Dominican Republic.  Hispaniola subspecies: Q.n. niger, the smallest race.  src1   wiki
Gray Kingbird - common and conspicuous
Northern Mockingbird - sing beautiful song

Red Legged Thrush - seen twice
Black crowned Palm Tanager -

Hispaniolan Oriole (Icterus dominicensis) - formerly called Greater Antillean Oriole, Black-cowled Oriole.
Yellow faced Grassquit -
Village Weaver -
Greater Antillean Bullfinch

Cape May Warbler

Loggerhead Kingbird  - saw on 4/7, the "treeeerrp" call and insect is for pretty girl only ;-)   Info: <1> (compared with Gray Kingbird)   Video found on web
Stolid Flycatcher

small passerine birds flying vertical from the ground at the Fruit Garden (Jardin Frutal) (4/8 Fri) - vireo? Yellow faced Grassquit (Forages on ground; weak fluttering flight.)?

Note:  birdlog   20 new species
  Molting of Juvenile Little Blue Heron   
  Dominican Republic Birds - Aves De La Republica Dominicana

   birds/lizards incl. Bark Anole found on Web   
   World's Smallest Lizard Discovered on a tiny Caribbean island off the coast of the Dominican Republic (2001) - info1 : The newly discovered species not only ranks as the smallest lizard, but it also is the smallest of all 23,000 species of reptiles, birds, and mammals, according to a paper to be published in the December issue of the Caribbean Journal of Science    ... So small it can curl up on a dime or stretch out on a quarter, a typical adult of the species, whose scientific name is " Sphaerodactylus ariasae," is only about 16 millimeters long, or about three quarters of an inch, from the tip of the snout to the base of the tail. It shares the title of "smallest" with another lizard species named Sphaerodactylus parthenopion, discovered in 1965 in the British Virgin Islands. Hedges and Thomas discovered small groups of the new species living in a sink hole and a cave in a partially destroyed forest on the remote island of Beata, which is part of the Jaragua National Park in the Dominican Republic.
   "It is hard to say whether this lizard is as small as a lizard can get, but you would think it probably is approaching that limit because it is the smallest of all 23,000 known species of reptiles, birds, and mammals," Hedges says. "The smaller an animal gets, the larger its surface area gets as a percentage of the volume or mass of its body. At some point, it gets to be physiologically impossible to get any smaller." For the lizard, which lives in a dry environment surrounded by comparatively moist leaf litter, the limiting factor is the danger of desiccation. "If we don't provide a moist environment when we collect them, they rapidly shrivel right up and die by evaporation from the proportionally large area of their surface," 
 World's smallest frog has been discovered in Papua New Guinea (2012) - info1 :

   At 7mm (0.27 inches) long, Paedophryne amauensis may be the world's smallest vertebrate - the group that includes mammals, fish, birds and amphibians.  The researchers also found a slightly larger relative, Paedophryne swiftorum.  Presenting the new species in PLoS One journal , they suggest the frogs' tiny scale is linked to their habitat, in leaf litter on the forest floor.
   Before the Paedophrynes  were found, the title of "world's smallest frog" was bestowed on the Brazilian gold frog (Brachycephalus didactylus) and its slightly larger Cuban relative, the Monte Iberia Eleuth (Eleutherodactylus iberia). They both measure less than 1cm long.
The smallest vertebrates have until now been fish.  Adult Paedocypris progenetica, which dwells in Indonesian swamps and streams, measure 7.9-10.3 mm long. 
   Male anglerfish of the species Photocorynus spiniceps are just over 6mm long. But they spend their lives fused to the much larger (50mm long) females, so whether they should count in this contest would be disputed. 
   Paedophryne amauensis
 adults average 7.7mm, which is why its discoverers believe it how holds the crown.

Nice pictures of Barn Owl found on Web -

4/3//2011 (Sun)  early morning
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR)
Photo:  American Goldfinch (best so far) - male-1    male-2    male-3    female-1    female-2   left male, right female?male?   left female, right male
PhotoMute Swan - <1>   <2> 
A birder shows me 6 Oystercatchers and 1 Peregrine at the Jamaica Bay side.
殖地爭霸戰已經開場: Many Tree Swallows perch on nest boxes and some even move inside.
Snow Geese, Brants and Ruddy Ducks are still here.  Song Sparrows.   Taken beautiful Swan photo.  Female Grackle on a tree branch, next to a male.  Crows.  Great Egret.

4/2/2011 (Sat) 
Kissena Park, Jonathan's school and around his house, Valhalla
Titmouse @around Jonathan's house
@Kissena Park :
  Double-crested Cormorants.  The 3 are still there and I have chance getting close to them to shoot.  Their bright jade green eyes are very beautiful.   Photo:   <1> 
  Song Sparrow

3/27/2011 (Sun)  1:45-3:45pm
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR)
Raccoon on the beach (Jamaica Bay side).  So many, a thousand or so, Snow Geese along the Jamaica Bay side of the path while hundreds if not a thousand Scaups in West Pond.  Osprey takes the floor instead on the nest.  American Goldfinches, Dark-eyed Junco and Red-winged Blackbirds at the feeder right outside Visitor Center.  No Tree Swallow.  Many Crows.  Brants, etc.
Video: American Goldfinch - <1>   <2>   wmv (bitrate: 1st - 6000; 2nd - 4000; used WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe to convert.   HostMonster plan OK with 4 but not 6 Mbps)
Photo:  Dark-eyed Junco - <1>   <2>  ; American Goldfinch - <1>   <2>   <3>    <4>   <5>   <6>   male (enlarged png)    up:female; below:male
American Goldfinch: male or female, basic vs. alternate plumage (source)     more     Lesser Goldfinch

3/26/2011 (Sat) late morning (before Dim Sum) and afternoon (after Dim Sum)
Around home and Kissena Park
最佳紅衣寫真, 又見琵嘴鸭!
Around home:
    Cardinal - Photo (best female so far):  <1st year?>   <2> 
    Mourning Dove - Photo:   <1> 
    American Robin
Kissena Park:
    Northern Shovelers (male/female) - Video
    at least 3 Cormorants
    Red-winged Blackbirds - Photo:   <1>   <2>   <3>   <4>   <5>  
    American Robins
    Flycatcher (Eastern Phoebe or Wood-Pewee)
    White-throated Sparrows - Photo:   <1>   
    Cardinal - Photo (best male so far):  <1>   <2>   <3>    <4>    <5>    <6> ; Video: 抓痕 拉屎 打呵欠   2 clips joined by Aunsoft Final Mate
    Blue Jay
    Rock Dove - Photo:   its iridescent neck  
    and turtles waken up.


3/19/2011 (Sat) early morning
Around home and Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR)
Around home:  Northern Mockingbird, Mourning Dove, American Robin - Photo (ISO-400, best so far):  <1>   <2>   ; Video
JBWR East Pond:  Ruddy Ducks
JBWR West Pond:
    Red-winged Blackbirds nice Photo<1>   <2>  
    Brants, Snow Geese, Tree Swallows, Osprey, American Robins, Flycatcher (Eastern Phoebe?), Carolina Wren
    White-throated Sparrows and a White-breasted Nuthatch at Blind Pond.  The best time to visit may be after 10am or 10:30am when the feeder is filled with seeds.
Photo:  Carolina Wren ;  White-throated Sparrow - <1>   <2>   <3>   <4>   <5>   <6>   <7>   <8> ;  White-breasted Nuthatch - <1>
Video: Carolina Wren calling (compared with the one on 5/29/2010); Voice is variable; tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea or chirpity, chirpity, chirpity, chirp. Variety of chips and churrs.

3/13/2011 (Sun) early morning
Around home and Forest Park
This is Robin Day.  Robins are back, around my home.  This makes a delightful daybreak in spite of the disasters all over the world, esp. Japan.
When will I see catbirds in this year?
Video: Mockingbird singing   Robin sings too
Photo:   Robin - <1>   <2>
American Robin

3/12/2011 (Sat) early morning (7:45-10:15am at JBWR) etc.
Raven's nest at Kew Garden and Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR)
Barn Owl, Scaups, Ruddy Ducks, American Goldfinches (at feeder), Downy Woodpecker, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbirds, Cardinals, Hundreds (if not thousand) of Snow Geese (inc. blue morph), Northern Shovelers (male/female), etc.
House Sparrows at the turn/corner at the entrance of JBWR Visitor Center
Mockingbird around my house.  Nice Photo<1>   <2>   <3>  
Afternoon at Kissena Park
Mallards of various kinds  Waterfowl , Grackles, the big Snowy Goose took food in bully style and flying, following (perhaps chasing) a Canada Goose.
Photo: a family of hybrid?    pp (father: typical male Mallard; mother: look like a Northern Pintail or hybrid of American Black Duck and Mallard?; son: not pretty, hybrid or albino?)   the not-pretty son is looked OK at this angle   the couple of inter-species marriage - <1>   <2>   father and son   close-up of the son - <1>   <2>
Photo: typical (and beautiful) female Mallard
Photo: Scaups and Ruddy Sucks (some are females)  
Photo: Snowy Geese:   <1>   <2>   <3>   <4>   <5>   <6>   immature?   blue morph   intergrade between gray & white morphs - <I1>  <I2>   
Photo: Northern Shovelers:   <1>
Photo: ID the flying bird   one more  (Northern Shovelers; not Red-breasted Mergenser)  
Photo: Song Sparrow:   <1> 
Photo: American Goldfinch:   <1>   
Photo: Downy Woodpecker:   <1>     <2>     <3> 

Ring-billed Gull in front of the Chinese supermarket
1000+ Snow Geese Report:
Subject: JBNWR- Northern Goshawk, No. Common Raven, Yes.
From: "Joseph O'Sullivan" <josullivan58 AT>
Date: Wed, 9 Mar 2011 17:09:00 -0500

I did not see a northern goshawk at Jamaica Bay National Wildlife
Refuge in the two hours I was there today.

It was still a very good day at JBNWR, including a common raven south
of the west pond. The raven was picking at something on the gravel
trail south of west pond about halfway between the visitors center and
the terrapin trail for a few minutes then took off and flew east
towards the visitors center.

There were 1000+ snow geese in the marshes west of the west pond, and
ebird also lists this as an unusual sighting.

Other noteworthy sightings were a first of the season for me and a
sign of coming spring, a gray catbird.

3/6/2011 (Sun) early morning
Big John's and East Pond and gardens at west side, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR) w/ Jeff
Barn Owl, Canvasbacks, Ruddy Ducks, Buffleheads, and other ducks in hundreds if not thousands, Red-winged Blackbirds perching and calling, American Crow which is NOT common here, Fish Crows, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Cardinals, Black-capped Chickadees, looking for Common Redpolls at gardens but failed before rain.
Photo: Buffleheads - left to right: female with a white cheek spot, male, male with a blue-grey bill:
Photo: Bufflehead 2 Male and 1 F
Photo: Ruddy Ducks  Waterfowl - left is a male with typical non-breeding plumage (gray with dull grayish bill); right is a male molting to breeding plumage (blue bill, black cap, rusty red body).  Soon we'll see the stiff tail up.
Photo: Ruddy Duck 2 Males
"Unlike most North American ducks, the adult male Ruddy Duck molts into a bright alternate plumage in late winter and then back into a dull basic plumage in fall, after breeding."   Steve Howell's book on Molt p.73
"Basically, molt is all about food, which in turn is related to climate.  Where different populations live and migrate can influence both the timing and extent of molts.  For example, locally breeding male Ruddy Ducks ... in coastal central California usually molt into alternate plumage in January or February; in the same area, most wintering birds from other populations retain basic plumage through March or April, when they leave for northern and interior breeding areas where spring comes later."   Steve Howell's book on Molt p.48
At West Pond, birders saw on March 1 afternoon/dusk: Tree Swallow - 1, "Eurasian" Green-winged Teal - 1 male, Short-eared Owl - 1 hunting over the phragmites around the entire pond, American Pipit - 1 flying around, American Woodcock - 3+ (heard only), Common Merganser - 1 male, Ring-necked Duck - 11+ (10+ males, 1 female).  They did NOT see the Barrow's Goldeneye on the West Pond at dusk, and there were only ~85 Common Goldeneye. However, Corey had seen the Barrow's Goldeneye on the pond briefly this morning and it was with ~150 Common Goldeneye.  src
Tide times at various locations surrounding Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge :  map

3/5//2011 (Sat) morning, afternoon

Forest Park morning walk

Took the best pictures of Starling so far.   <1>   <2>   <3>   <4>   <5>   <6>

This (probably male) Starling is looking forward for breeding: less speckled, iridescent green and yellow-orange with a blue-grey base bill.

WWear Related Plumage Change:  The white tips of the feathers that we see as spots (in winter) become worn and gradually disappear, so that the bird can change its plumage/aspect from one season to the next without molting which is very costly.

Moulting occurs once a year, in late summer after the breeding season is finished; the fresh feathers are prominently tipped white (breast feathers) or buff (wing and back feathers).

Its molting strategy is complex basic (House Sparrow too), typical of temperate-zone songbirds that are residence and short-distance migrants.  Prebasic and preformative molts occur mainly on or near the breeding grounds, between the end of breeding season and the onset of winter.

Photo found on the book:  first-cycle Starling in molt

Nuthatches, Black-capped Chickadees, Woodpeckers, first-year male Red-winged Blackbird, Mourning Dove, Cardinal, Blue Jays (heard), saw hawk flying over high in the sky two times.

Near Queens Herald Church old site (43-29 162nd St.) after ping pong with Lacey

Photo: male House Sparrow:  back   front   It will become brighter as the breeding season approaches; the pale feather tips that have veiled bold patterns through the winter will worn away.  This cost-effective strategy is found in European Starling and Snow Bunting.

Info: Ultraviolet plumage colors predict mate preferences in starlings


2/26/2011 (Sat) 9am


Unlike many other species, the female cardinal can sing just as well as her male counterpart. She frequently sings to him, whistles when she needs him to bring food to the nest, and often chimes in with him to perform a duet. [src]   She has been nominated as the pushiest female in the world of birds.  (Extreme Birds:  The world's most extraordinary and bizarre birds, 2008, Dominic Couzens, p.227) 


2/21/2011  (Mon) 11am

Kissena Park after a 3-inch snowing

Red-tailed Hawk Birds of Prey , and as usual: Ringed-billed Gulls and perhaps other Gulls, Mallards, Canada Geese, the big Snowy Goose started seen on 2/28/2009.

Photo - Red-tailed Hawk (immature?) : <1>     Mallard : the two males at the right may have mixed ancestries (Domestic ducks are often white, and when mixed with mallard they can appear like these.  Unwanted ducks are released to urban ponds and freely breed with the wild ones, producing a baffling array of plumages not found in field guides. src1  src2)   <2>   typical male and female

Most of the farm ducks in the world can trace their ancestry to mallards. The rest of the farm ducks in the world are derived from the Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata), which is distinguished by turkey-like fleshy patches around its eyes.)

Muscovy ducks and Rouen (pronounced roan) ducks can inter-breed but the offspring will be infertile.  src

Indian Runner Ducks   Domestic (Manky) Mallards

Mallards are exceptionally fast flyers for their size:  fly to speeds of 65 mph; live up to 29 years in age.   src1  src2   The world's fastest birds   Longevity Records

myNote on waterfowls  Waterfowl

Queens Raptors news/blogs :

Juvenile Hawk Release at Kissena Park 2010-12-18 : 4 juvenile Hawks (3 Red-tails and 1 Broad-winged) that had completed their rehabilitation needed to be released.  ... Birder James O'Brien spotted 2 juvenile Kestrels (1 male,1 female), possibly birds that Bobby and Cathy released earlier this summer in Flushing Meadow Park.

Kissena Park 2011-1-9: On my way back I managed to get a few pictures of a juvenile Cooper's Hawk stalking Woodpeckers in the woods.

Photo found on Web:  Mallard chick and juvenile   Mallard-pintail  hybrid (mirror Mallard hybrid   Mallard/black (duck) hybrid   Many   How to id hybrid   a beautiful leucistic or domestic Mallard   Leucistic Mallard   Mallard Ducklings: Manky and Not


2/20/2011  (Sun) afternoon

Around home (78 Avenue and 150 St corner)

House Sparrows moved their perching to branches of a neighboring tree (once having attractive fruits) because a cat broke into their day-time home.


2/18/2011  (Fri) 5pm

on the way back home

2 Chickadees seen on this hot winter evening (>60°F)

Great Backyard Bird Count ( Feb. 18-21, 2011 )


2/13/2011  (Sun) afternoon

Around home (78 Rd and 150 St corner)

Mockingbird, probably a first-winter at branches of berries (blue in color:  berry1 ) Photo: <1>   <2>   <3>  

Video: drinking-water Mockingbird attracts curious House Sparrow

Which bird has yellow iris colored eyes? Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, Yellow-eyed Junco, Immature Sharp-shinned Hawk and Immature Cooper's Hawk (both adults have red eyes), many Owls ...
What bird with the Hooked bill and the Yellow iris colored eyes in Colorado

New Yorkers are being kept up all night by an influx of sex-crazed mockingbirds looking for hanky-panky just outside their windows. (June 2009)


2/12/2011  (Sat) 8-10:30am 

Forest Park

Mourning Doves, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Red-bellied Woodpeckers (at least 2 males), Starlings, Rock Doves, House Sparrows  Photo



2/6/2011  (Sun)  

On the way to church and around home after church

Cardinal (no Photo).  House Sparrows.  Photo<This may be the best picture so far>   <2>   <3>

Is the attractive fruits on the tree the reason why the sparrows like to stay there?


2/3/2011  (Thu)  around 8am

In front of Borough Hall while waiting for jury duty. 年初一上法庭,真係大吉利是

Blue Jays.  At least 2, probably >= 3.  If I brought my Panasonic FZ35, I would get the best pictures ever of this bird.


1/29/2011  (Sat) 

Around home

House Sparrows.  Using Creative Movie Mode, self adjust aperture and shutter speed.  Video

Heard Crow

Want to look for Snow Buntings, Horned Larks and Lapland Longspur in Fort Tilden and Floyd Bennett Field but didn't because of snow storm on Wed night.  Info:  <1>

Subject: Fort Tilden
From: Robert Bate <robsbate AT>
Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2011 15:42:07 -0500

In a brief stop at Ft Tilden, in Queens/Brooklyn, I saw 2 Red-shouldered Hawks, one adult and one juvenile. The juvenile at least has been seen in the area within the last week so the birds may be hanging around there. I also saw the adult perched off Flatbush Avenue opposite Floyd Bennett Field as I was driving out making it, at least, a true Brooklyn bird.

Also of note at Ft Tilden, and also seen by Eddie Davis, was the continuing male Harlequin Duck near the fisherman's parking lot. Additionally, a large flock of Snow Buntings was working the island.

NYC Audubon Trip - Snowbirds of Floyd Bennett Field & Fort Tilden, Queens

Sunday, February 6, 10:30am-4pm
Guide: Gabriel Willow

Winter brings many rare birds to NYC that can't be found here at any other time! Perhaps most exciting are the "snow birds" of the Arctic tundra that can occasionally be found in tundra-like habitats further south, such as snow buntings and snowy owls. We will travel to Floyd Bennett Field in search of these and other winter visitors (such as horned lark, tree sparrow, and rough-legged hawk). We will then head to Fort Tilden and Breezy Point to look for wintering ducks, grebes, loons, and other seabirds. Transport by passenger van included. Limited to 12. $75.

Snowstorm Shatters New York City, Philadelphia Records (January 27, 2011; 9:00 AM)
The recent storm total snowfall in New York City was 19.0 inches. The 12.3 inches that fell alone on Wednesday broke the day's long-standing snowfall record of 9 inches from 1871. 總降雪量(19in), 單日降雪量(12.3in).
The storm also pushed the month's snow total to 36.0 inches in New York City. That makes this January the snowiest on record, bypassing January 1925 and its 27.4 inches.
This January is also now New York City's second all-time snowiest month, falling short to February 2010 and its 36.9 inches. 


1/15/2011  (Sat) 12pm

Around home (78 Avenue and 150 St corner)

House Sparrow wounded with feather problem(?)  Photo<1>   <2>   <3>   <4>   <5>   <6>   <7>   <8> 

House Sparrows.  Photo<1>   <2>  

Found on Web:  House Sparrow rehabilitated; Grackles attacks House Sparrows, Tree Sparrows and Starlings


1/1/2011  (Sat) morning, on the way to do grocery shopping

Around home

House Sparrows (U.S. bird descendant from nominate subspecies Passer domesticus domesticus, info: <1>   <2>). 
    Two sharp Photo
      <1>  ( F-stop: f/5.6; Exposure: 1/500 sec; ISO-160; Exposure bias: 0 step; Focal length: 86mm; Max aperture: 3; 35mm focal length: 486; Digital zoom: 0 )   
      <2>  ( F-stop: f/5;    Exposure: 1/250 sec; ISO-80;   Exposure bias: 0 step; Focal length: 49mm; Max aperture: 3; 35mm focal length: 273; Digital zoom: 0 ) 
      Common:  1/exposure = 35mm focal length; No digital zoom.  So to get sharp picture, avoid digital zoom and even long optical zoom.  More tele, larger F-stop value (less light in) and faster shutter (reduce blurring), then have to increase ISO and under bright light.
    Other Photo: <1>
    Video:  2 seconds

other brown birds sometimes confused with House Sparrow


1/1/2011  (Sat) 11am-1pm

Fort Tilden

The The Dery Bennett New Year's Day Beach Walk: , leaded by Don, ALS.

Parked at Studio 6.  Perhaps around 50 people joined the kick-off.  First saw  Great Black-backed Gull flying over us.  Then a group of Brants before starting the walk.

Some sea ducks, perhaps Scoters or Eiders.

Gulls. Yellow-rumped Warblers.  Photo:  <1>    <天地一海鷗>   


海鷗之所以能預見暴風雨,是因為海鷗的骨骼是空心管狀的,沒有骨髓而充滿空氣。這不僅便於飛行,又很像氣壓錶,能及時地預知天氣變化。此外,海鷗翅膀上的一根根空心羽管,也像一個個小型氣壓錶,能靈敏地感覺氣壓的變化。   src:

《天地一沙鷗》(Jonathan Livingston Seagull)這本書很有名,作者是李察.巴哈(Richard Bach),主角是一隻不務正業的海鷗岳納珊,別的海鷗安於牠們的海港清潔工天職,岳納珊偏偏立志要做超級飛行員。

鸥一般是泛指鸥形目,鸥科的95种鸟类。但并不存在 "河鸥" 和 "海鸥" 的区别,因为大多数鸥都能在海洋或河流中生存,主要取决于食物和气候,但一些远洋鸥类,有时也会因为迷失方向而进入内陆河流。 例如渔鸥,它们主要繁殖于青藏高原的咸水湖中,但冬季迁徙至孟加拉湾沿海越冬;黑尾鸥在中国东部的沿海岛屿上繁殖,但冬季也常进入内陆河流觅食鱼类;红嘴鸥繁殖于中国东北及西伯利亚地区的淡水湿地中,但在沿海和内陆湿地均可越冬,主要取决于食物量的丰富程度;还有一些鸥,如银鸥和大黑背鸥,它们甚至可以不依赖水域生存,银鸥可以进入草原捕食鼠类和蝗虫,大黑背鸥则可在北极地区捕食其它水鸟,如三趾鸥、海雀、鹬的成鸟和幼鸟,以及野兔和旅鼠。 src:

A pair of Hawks.  Probably first winter Red-tailed Hawks (Buteos) Birds of Prey   Photo:  <1>    <2> ;   Video
Note: Broad-winged Hawk is not likely because most have been migrated to south. 

Last year they saw Owl. And may see Peregrine Falcons nesting on the bridge.

Subject: Montauk: Black Vulture, impressive scoter numbers+
From: Benjamin Van Doren <nimajneb3 AT>
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 2010 20:37:42 -0500
Hi all,

Anne Swaim, Larry Trachtenberg and I birded Montauk for a few hours
today. At about noon, we saw a lone BLACK VULTURE fly low over the Montauk
Point SP parking lot.

I haven't spent much time seawatching at Montauk Point, but it seemed that
there was a very large number of scoters and eiders flying with the wind
past the point today. We estimated perhaps 50 birds per second on average,
and the stream was going strong both when we arrived and when we left two
hours later. If you do the math, that's 360,000 birds in just that two hour
period, and the species composition was roughly 50% Black Scoter, 20%
White-winged, 20% Surf, and 10% Common Eider. I've posted a short video that
I digiscoped with my phone (, but it doesn't do the
spectacle much justice. Is this a typical occurrence for Montauk, or perhaps
related to the recent storm?

Also of note, a few RAZORBILLS could be seen flying with all the scoters. A
group of about a dozen AMERICAN PIPITS were hanging around the point too.

Good birding,

Benjamin Van Doren
White Plains, NYpre>



Recent Postings from The New York Birding List

my Notes on Punta Cana: birding_in_punta_cana.htm   punta_cana.htm

2010 log

2009 log

2008 log

Before: pic01.htm  others


Staten Island Park bird Sites

Camera/Camcorder for birding

links:  birds trivias 1

Ageing North American Landbirds by Molt Limits and Plumage Criteria

A Photographic Companion to the Identification Guide to North American Birds, Part 1

by  Froehlich, Dan

2003, 49pp   pdf       

longevity in year:
    Bird:  Sulphur-crested Cockatoo 大葵花鳳頭鸚鵡 (80+), African grey parrot (73), Red and blue macaw (64), Southern ground hornbill (70+) , Eastern imperical eagle (one wild 55; one capt. 56), White pelican (51), Royal albatross (58), Laysan albatross (53), Ostrich (50).   src: The Birder's Handbook (1988), Longevity Records
    Bird:  Turkey Buzzard/Turkey Vulture (118),  Swan (102),  Parrot (80), Great Horned Owl (68), Eagle (55), Pelican (52).  src: from reliable records of zoos and aquariums all over the world published in a 1973 bulletin
    Bird:  Usually, the size of the parrot dictates how long it can live. Bigger parrots tend to live longer than smaller parrots.  src
    Reptile:   Giant Tortoise (152) (It lived on the island of Mauritius and then was killed accidentally or it might have lived a century longer.), Box Turtle (123), Alligator (68), Snapping Turtle (57).  src: from reliable records of zoos and aquariums all over the world published in a 1973 bulletin
"Giant tortoises are among the world's longest-living animals, with an average lifespan of 100 years or more.  The Madagascar radiated tortoise Tu'i Malila was 188 at death in Tonga in 1965.  Harriet was reported by the Australia Zoo to be 176 years old when she died in 2006. Also, on 23 March 2006, an Aldabra Giant Tortoise named Adwaita died at Alipore Zoological Gardens in Kolkata. He was brought to the zoo in the 1870s from the estate of Lord Robert Clive and is thought to have been around 255 years old when he died."  wiki
    Mammal:  Fin whale (116, 114), Blue whale (110), other whales (100, 95, 90, 77, 77, ...)   src
Brain Size Associated With Longevity in Mammals :
    Mammals with larger brains in relation to body size tend to live longer. ... The brain size of some mammals is larger than expected for their body size. This is the case of large primates, such as chimpanzees and gorilla, and of whales, dolphins and elephants.
    Researchers analysed a series of other variables which could be related to higher longevity, such as metabolic rates -- the amount of energy expended while at rest -- diet or habitat, and concluded that none of these can be significantly associated with longevity. Connections are made however not only with a larger brain size, but also with a larger body size, given that large animals are known to live longer. Nevertheless, the Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF) researchers confirm that the size of the brain affects lifespan regardless of the size of the body. Hyenas, for example, have a larger brain than giraffes in proportion to body size and on average live longer, although they are smaller than these herbivores.   src
It may also be true in birds to certain extent?
It is interesting that there seems to have been no change in the life span of dogs, cats, horses and cows under thousands of years of domestication by man.  src: from a 1973 bulletin
    Invertebrate :  Lobster (100)
Knowledge of body size at age makes scientists believe that lobsters can attain a maximum age of 100 years. The normal life span is about 15 years. Lobsters can grow to be 3 feet long in overall body length. src
I read news that an 18-pound lobster of more than 70 years old will move to NY Aquarium. Google 'lobster of more than 70 years old will move to NY Aquarium': The 75-year-old lobster is now living the good life at the New York Aquarium on Coney Island, where he's pleasing eyes rather than taste buds.
Google 'the oldest lobster'
Lobsters may exhibit negligible senescence and some scientists have claimed that they could effectively live indefinitely, barring injury, disease, capture, etc.  src

Maximum observed life spans of some organisms thought to be negligibly senescent:

  • Rougheye rockfish (Sebastes aleutianus)—205 years
  • Aldabra Giant Tortoise—255 years
  • Lobsters are believed to live 100 or more years.  But "exact ages cannot be determined because lobster shed all hard parts when they molt, leaving no evidence of age. Scientists have estimated that the American lobster may live to be 100 years old, but it is more likely that the maximum age is 50 years."   src (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
  • Sea anemones generally only live up to 60–80 years
  • In recent times, the Russian malacologist Valeriy Zyuganov received worldwide reputation after he determined the maximum lifespan (210–250 years) in the freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera). The data of V.V. Zyuganov have been confirmed by Finnish malacologists and gained general acceptance.

What animal can count?


List (with the max. they can count)


Social insects - honey bees (4)

Mammals - dolphins (?) or monkeys (4 for chimps)

Birds - Crows (9 or higher, 16?), pigeons (9), Cormorants (8), parrots (6), European Robins (12?) and probably more (Many birds are also able to detect changes in the number of eggs in their nest.)




European Robins have some innate ability to discern between small numbers as three and four and through trial and error, they can train themselves to identify numbers up to 12. (more: newly hatched chickens, etc.) (“Less” project)



Crow (the birds) are the 8th smartest animals in the world. They are 2nd only to the Parrot in the bird family .

World's Best Top Ten Smartest Animals (From the travel channel)

1: Great Apes
2: Dolphins
3: Monkeys
4: Elephants
5: Parrots

6: Pigs
7: Dogs
8: Crows
9: Octopus & Squid
10: American Grey Squirrel

Crows and Ravens, solve problems and are highly social creatures. Crows show tool-making and tool-using behavior.  Crows and Ravens can talk with each other, count to 9 (compared with 4 for chimps), and steal. They play—sliding down long snow banks, for example. The birds covered about 10ft each time and returned on a second day for more fun and games. Crows are the most social and intelligent species of all birds. Crows mate for life and the young stay with the family unit for up to five years and help the parents raise siblings.

Many animals can tell a larger quantity from a smaller quantity. For instance, many animals can pick a pile with six pieces of food instead of a pile with five pieces of food.  Children who have not learned how to count yet, can do the same thing. But being able to notice differences in quantity is not the same thing as counting. Scientists now believe that certain birds and animals can actually count. In one experiment, a pigeon was offered one grain at a time. All the grains were good to eat, but the seventh grain was always stuck to the dish. After a while, the pigeon learned to count to six grains, and when the seventh grain was offered it refused to peck at it. This was real counting! In another experiment, a chimpanzee was taught to pick up one, two, three, four, or five straws and hand over the exact number of straws that was asked for. But this was as far as this chimpanzee could count. It always made mistakes above five.