The notion of “hobbies” is sometimes odd, for academics lucky enough to parlay our interests into careers and for those of us who live in the intersection of multiple cultural/political spheres. The separation of life itself into “work” and “everyday life,” or the separation of everyday life from the life of the mind, is artificial. Or, so Lefebvre would have us believe. At any rate, birding is my hobby, so here are some birds.
It’s like the starter bird. It’s the state bird of many U.S. states, probably because a) birders would choose rare, difficult-to-identify, drab-looking, and/or impossible-to-find species and b) they’re not allowed to choose the Baltimore Oriole, which is Maryland’s state bird, the greatest state bird, and the only redeeming quality of the state qua The State. But when you’re in a city, you don’t often get to see your feathered neighbors. There are all manner of issues implicated in the availability of nature to people who have to work for a living–and according to Lefebvre, I can’t even tell if that group includes me–but among those issues are segregation, transit infrastructure, climate, and resource allocation. Some good sites to investigate these questions are here and here. And of course, the fact that I am birding while Black is never far from my mind. I could tell you stories. But instead, I’ll let the birds do the tweeting. In Brooklyn, my go-to urban birding sites are Marine Park (which I have now ruined by telling you about it) and Prospect Park (which is fine). Here are this weekend’s finds, from the latter…
That’s a Red-tailed Hawk! This is the bird that makes the sound you think of when you think of the sound an eagle makes. It was being harassed by (or harassing) a much smaller bird. Birds are sort of dicks.
A Wood Thrush! This is one of my favorites. Only around seasonally, but it has a beautiful voice. And spots! Like, that is a legit bird. You have to identify it. Robins and Bluebirds are thrushes, too. The other thrush that I see in Prospect Park is the Hermit Thrush, which has lighter spots–I’ve also seen a Veery, which has the faintest spots of these types. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Swainson’s Thrush, but they’re in the mix, too.
This is a whole grip of American Goldfinch. I don’t know what the collective noun for Goldfinch is, so I decided it should be “a grip.” Or, a passel. I don’t care. There were a lot of them, like, a congregation. They on an ultralight beam.
I’ve come around to recognizing that female Mallards are quite as beautiful as male Mallards, often more so. The patterning makes them seem more woodsy, which I appreciate a great deal. There are also many Wood Ducks in the park, but none this time around.
This is a Northern Waterthrush.* Kind of a gem. It’s actually a wood warbler, but I have no idea why birders name things in the most confusing way possible. But it’s a nice find. It’s in the appropriate habitat, at least. *There’s another variety of Waterthrush (also a warbler because they are not thrushes at all, thanks birds) that overlaps with this one’s range, the Louisiana Waterthrush, but I’m fairly confident this is the former.
Now we’re warbling! This is a Yellow-rumped Warbler. They’re everywhere this time of year. I saw a great number of them at my go-to urban birding spot in Philly, which will probably be the source of my next bird photobomb. These visitors are pretty adorable. But not nearly as adorable as…
This guy! A Common Yellowthroat. These are two good shots from the several I managed to get by stalking him for 15 minutes or so, and obtaining dozens of very bad photos of him hopping away or going directly behind a branch. But you can see why–so impressive-looking. The mask is for fighting crime. Warblers are the vigilantes of the Passerine birds.
This, however, is not a vigilante. It’s a Black-throated Green Warbler. It resembles the Townsend’s Warbler, which is its western counterpart–I met a couple (of humans) in the park confused by this issue, once. At least some parts of this bird’s name are accurate, and the other parts are at least plausible, birders use the terms “green” and “blue” loosely.
That’s all for this go-round. Except this parting shot!