Archive for the ‘Wildlife/Natural History’ category

Dispatch from the Icebox: Wildlife Update

February 17, 2015


It’s cold here in the Northeast. Today the dog and I went down to the river.

Looking south along the Hudson River Greenway.

Looking south along the Hudson River Greenway.

We were surprised to see the river flowing freely with just a few large ice chunks floating by the shore.

Looking north toward the George Washington Bridge.

Looking north toward the George Washington Bridge.

You can see ice over by the Jersey shore, but virtually none on our side. Yesterday, the river had an ice crust stretching out to the middle of the mighty waters.


(The images below are drawn from the past three weeks of wintry walks and window watching.)

Nothing stops the dogs or their walkers, not even the deep freeze machine.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dogs gotta walk, and birds gotta eat.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

They also have to stay warm. Look at these mourning doves, puffed up like little Michelin men.

And this flock of starlings trying to catch some eastern roof rays on a morning when the temperature hovered in the teens.


The feral cats in Morningside Park are fed hearty meals year-round by well-meaning humans. Feeding cats also feeds rats, which contributes to a burgeoning rat population, which leads humans to set out poison for the rats that eat the cat food which leads to the death of the hawks that eat the rats that eat the trash that humans set out to feed the cats that live in the park. (Read that five times fast.)

It’s a regular “This is the house that Jack built” scenario, except that the cats (indirectly) feed the rats instead of just eating them, as in the old nursery rhyme.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here are a couple of our apex predators, viewed from my window, that do their best to keep our rat and pigeon population under control.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I haven’t seen a Riverside Park raccoon for some time. They must be laying low inside their snowy den.


There may even be babies snuggled up in there, or, if it’s still too early in the season, a pregnant female, waiting for spring. Come spring, I’ll hope to see the whole family out and about on the retaining wall and in the park.


Meanwhile, brrr.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Urban Coyotes in Art, Poetry and Music

January 30, 2015

In honor of our recent coyote visitors in New York City, here are a few images and songs inspired by urban coyotes.

Coyote Under Moon.

By Atty Gell.

Beautiful, no? This print was made by Atty Gell, an artist who lives near Trout Lake Park in East Vancouver, Canada. Coyotes are not infrequently spotted passing through the park and the neighborhood.

When I was working on my play, NYC Coyote Existential, I asked Atty to create some coyote images for me to use for publicity purposes. She sent these lovelies.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For poetry, listen to Tim Seibles read his poem: Midnight, the Coyote, Down at the Mouth.

For music, try this music video of Coyotes by Modest Mouse, inspired by an incident in 2002 when a coyote was spotted riding light rail in Portland, Oregon. Don’t know what well-trained coyote played the role, but here’s a photo of the actual wild coyote, looking no more harried than any other habitual commuter on a bad day.


The same Portland coyote inspired the Sleater-Kinney’s song, Light Rail Coyote:

And if you need to bang your head a bit (and as evidence that the urban coyote has been around and has legs, as it were), here is Coping with the Urban Coyote, Unida’s 1999 album. Love that cover art.

NYC: After the so-called Blizzard

January 27, 2015

 Where the blizzard at?


Snow dogs.

Anybody seen my blizzard?


Dog with unfortunate sense of style.

I know how bad the storm is for people to our east, west and north. But if there was a blizzard here in Manhattan, I missed it.

Oh, it snowed, all right. Here’s what the city looked like yesterday, back when we still believed in unicorns, elves, and being buried beneath the “storm of the century.”

Disappearing city.

By 6 PM, all city parks were officially closed. The subways started shutting down at 7 PM.  At 11 PM, all mass transit and all roads were closed.

– Wait, did you say the parks closed at six?
– Uh-huh, that’s right.
– But at six, there was, like, hardly any snow, and no wind, and great visibility, and …
– Don’t worry about it.

Because this is New York, baby, and this is what a closed park looks like.

Night sledding! Woot woot!

Night sledding in Riverside Park! Woot woot!

You can’t tame the night sledders. Not in New York.



Only the wildlife took the closing seriously. The raccoons were nestled all snug in their snow-frosted den.

Raccoons are inside in fur slippers, drinking cocoa and watching the weatherman.

Raccoons who live in the wall were wearing fur slippers, drinking cocoa and watching the weather on NY1.

All night and this morning, the city was eerily, wonderfully quiet. And the streets remarkably clear, thanks to the snowplows that had free rein of the streets all night.


Broadway this morning, light snow coming down.

The ever-present city hum was almost imperceptible, and even now, late in the afternoon, it’s unusually quiet. Although not in the parks.

The parks, with their five or six inches of fresh snow (a bit short of the predicted two feet), are bustling.

Sledding in Riverside Park.

Sledding in Riverside Park – looks like a Currier & Ives.

Everywhere are walkers, sledders, little kids in snowsuits, dogs in boots, and parents hauling children in sleds.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Last but definitely not least, here is an adorable little man in brand new boots, enjoying his first big snow.


Little man on a mission.

Coyote Caught in Manhattan’s Stuy Town

January 26, 2015

Another coyote was caught in Manhattan, this time in Stuyvesant Town, just north of the East Village.

After being spotted near the Con Ed station on East 14th Street, the coyote was chased by police into Stuyvesant Town and  later released in the Bronx. A young female, she is the second coyote to make it into Manhattan this month. The first January coyote, also female, was captured in Riverside Park on the Upper West Side, and released in what city officials straightfacedly refer to as “a wilderness area in the Bronx.”

Are other coyotes roaming Manhattan even as you read this? Hard to say. But if they’re not here now, they’ll be back.

With an established breeding population in the Bronx and Westchester, there will always be young dogs in search of territory to call their own. If they head south, probably late at night, they’ll find their way over a bridge into Manhattan. Others have found their way east into Queens. From Queens, where are you going to go but east, young dog, to colonize Long Island? And, in fact, the Hamptons reported their first officially confirmed coyote sighting in 2013.  Rick Wesnofske, a potato farmer in the town of Water Mill who photographed the animal in his fields, said the coyote was “… just walking around, looking at the potatoes.”

Photo: Rick Wesnofske

Photo: Rick Wesnofske

Long Island potato fields, Bronx wilderness areas, Staten Island garbage dumps, and the endless graveyards of Queens are one thing. Manhattan is another. I mean, let’s face it, the city’s unlikely to let a wild dog run free all over our nice street grid. I’m skeptical that coyotes will be able to establish themselves in Manhattan, unless they were to stay within the boundaries of a large park, say, Inwood Park up at the tip of the island. They’ve already tried Central Park in 1999, 2006 and 2010.

I was lucky enough to spend some time watching the 2010 coyote. She – yes, it was yet another young female – camped out in Hallett Nature Sanctuary at the base of Central Park for a month or so,. During that time, I entertained fantasies that she just might be able to make a go of it here in the city. Unfortunately, she started venturing outside the park, and was ultimately captured in a Tribeca parking garage. (She was released in an undisclosed location.)

Watching her in the night park as she stepped out onto the ice of the frozen Pond, or trotted up an empty path was a thrilling experience. It inspired me to write a play, NYC Coyote Existential.

NYC Coyote Existential by Melissa Cooper

NYC Coyote Existential, staged reading at Proteus Gowanus Gallery in Brooklyn, April, 2012..

Could be it’s time to mount a production right here in the city.

Coyote Captured on Upper West Side

January 11, 2015
Photo by Christopher Sadowski as seen in The New York Post

Photo by Christopher Sadowski. Visit The New York Post for more of Mr. Sadowski’s photos.

Last night in Manhattan’s Riverside Park, a coyote was captured by the police. As far as I can tell, this is the first coyote sighting in Manhattan since March 2010 when a beautiful young coyote spent about a month in the city. She quickly found her way to Central Park’s Hallett Nature Sanctuary and made her base in that protected acre in the shadow of the Plaza Hotel before being captured down in Tribeca. In 2012, coyote tracks were found in Fort Tryon Park in Washington Heights in northern Manhattan, but I can find no report of a sighting.

Coyotes have been resident in the Bronx for some time now. More recently, they seem to have taken up residence in Queens, and in 2012, a coyote was spotted in Staten Island. Manhattan’s coyotes probably come down from the Bronx over one of the bridges at the northern tip of the island or, possibly, by swimming.

Wildlife biologists at the Gotham Coyote Project are currently studying our coyote population, using camera traps to answer the question: “Where in NYC and its surrounding suburbs can you find coyotes?” The Munshi-South Lab is also involved with monitoring the establishment and dispersal of coyotes in NYC. A camera trap captured this gorgeous image.

Camera Trap image from the Munshi-South Lab website.

Camera Trap image of coyote and pups from the Munshi-South Lab website.

Last night’s coyote, a female, resisted arrest, as one hopes any healthy wild animal would do, and led the police on a chase through Riverside Park before being tranquilized and captured in a basketball court. According to the Twitter account of the 24th Precinct, the police had the coyote “corralled inside fenced-in BB court, but so cold out, the tranquilizer in the darts kept freezing!” They had to wait for a second Emergency Services Truck to arrive with “warm darts” as they “wanted to stun it as humanely as possble.”

Police report the animal was unharmed and was taken to Animal Care and Control where it will be examined before being released somewhere outside the city.

White-Throated Sparrow Digs Up Central Park

April 25, 2014


Rustle rustle rustle.

Who’s that walkin’ around here?
Sounds like baby patter.
Baby elephant patter, that’s what I calls it.
– Fats Waller, Your Feet’s Too Big

Ah, it’s a White-throated Sparrow, digging through the leaves for tasty morsels hidden below.


Beautifully camouflaged in the ground litter, the sparrow nonetheless called attention to itself by kicking up an absolute ruckus. If you’ve never seen a little bird dig, it’s quite an impressive flurry of activity with wings, feet and beak all in motion at once.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

White-throated Sparrows have two color morphs, the striking white-striped bird above, and a subtler tan-striped variation.

Here’s what Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s “All About Birds” website has to say about the color morphs:

The two forms are genetically determined, and they persist because individuals almost always mate with a bird of the opposite morph. Males of both color types prefer females with white stripes, but both kinds of females prefer tan-striped males. White-striped birds are more aggressive than tan-striped ones, and white-striped females may be able to outcompete their tan-striped sisters for tan-striped males.

Okay, got that?

Here, take a quick look at The Sordid Lives of the White-Throated Sparrow, Kelly Rypkema’s one-minute video:

After mating with whichever-striped chosen consort, White-throated Sparrows build their nests on or near the ground, which makes the eggs and nestlings easy prey for that most adorable of vicious predators, the Eastern chipmunk.


Eastern chipmunk in Central Park.

Yes, these cute little rodents don’t confine themselves to nuts and seeds. In fact, they are notorious nest-raiders of ground-nesting birds, helping themselves to a quick blast of protein in the form of eggs and babies. Interestingly, a 2011 study indicates that some species of ground-nesting birds, notably oven-birds and veeries, pay attention to chipmunk calls and avoid nesting in chipmunk-rich areas.

I don’t know if the White-throated Sparrow eavesdrops on chipmunks. But watching them dig up the leaves, I’d think they could put up quite a defense with those wings and feet. And speaking of feet (hey, sometimes a good segue is elusive, okay?), here is Fats Waller singing “Your Feet’s Too Big.”

Listen up.

Central Park Chipmunk

April 23, 2014



Chipmunk in Central Park. Photo: Melissa Cooper

A rustle in the leaves reveals a fat-cheeked, lovely chipmunk on a hillside near Central Park’s North Woods. Check out the large nut stowed on the side.

The Eastern chipmunk lives in many of the city’s larger forested parks, but until recently, Central Park was a chipmunk-free zone.

According to the Central Park Conservancy, the return of chipmunks can be traced to a decision in 2009 to remove trash cans from the Park’s woodland areas. The trash had served as a prime food source for the Park’s many rats. When the trash cans were removed, the trash diminished, and the rats left the Park in search of easier pickings. (Sadly, NYC’s system of leaving mountains of trash bags out on the sidewalk overnight means that pretty much any city street on trash night provides a self-service rat buffet.) Apparently, the rat exodus has created favorable conditions for chipmunks to move in and thrive. Whether the rats out-competed the chipmunks for food, preyed on them, or just generated general forest anxiety among smaller creatures, I don’t know. Anyone?

On Sunday, I was thrilled with my first sighting of a Central Park chipmunk.  Now that the little rodents have awakened from hibernation with the warming spring temperatures, I hope to see them more often.


Eastern chipmunk gives me the hairy eyeball.

This little fellow ducked repeatedly in and out of its hiding place beneath the rock. Eventually, though, it rushed off, giving me a good look at its gorgeous back stripes and ruddy rear end before it disappeared into the leaves.

Eastern chipmunk, Central Park, NYC. Photo: Melissa Cooper

Eastern chipmunk, Central Park, NYC. Photo: Melissa Cooper

Guess Who’s Coming to Lunch, Kestrel Edition

March 25, 2014

Photo: Janet Rassweiler

My neighbor Janet had an astonishingly beautiful, if rather ferocious visitor for lunch yesterday.

Photo: Janet Rassweiler

Photo: Janet Rassweiler

She was working in her kitchen at midday, when she heard a strange repetitive banging sound coming from the living room. She moved to the doorway, and saw a bird on her air conditioner. This is nothing unusual in itself. Pigeons and mourning doves often perch there.

But this little bird was no dove.

photo 1

Photo: Janet Rassweiler

It was a tiny male hawk, or rather a falcon, no bigger than a blue jay, called the American Kestrel.

Kestrels are the smallest raptor in North America with a range from Mexico to Canada. Their populations are in decline in many parts of the continent due to habitat loss and pesticides that kill off the insects they feed upon. Yet the little raptors seem to be thriving in New York City.  Like other hawks and falcons that have adapted to urban life, they find that man-made structures serve their needs quite well. While their big cousins, the peregrine falcons, nest high on skyscrapers and bridges, the little kestrel prefers to raise its young in the broken cornices of old brownstones and mid-rise apartment buildings. Their prey includes insects, small mammals and birds, like the sparrow Janet’s visitor brought for lunch.

Photo: Janet Rassweiler

Photo: Janet Rassweiler

The banging Janet heard was the sparrow’s head flopping up and down on the metal air conditioner as the kestrel pulled with its beak while holding the body down with its feet. (To move more quickly through the slideshow below, hover over the image, then click on the arrows that appear.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When the bird had had enough, it flew off with the body in its talons, leaving behind only the beak and part of the head.

Photo: Janet Rassweiler

Photo: Janet Rassweiler

 I couldn’t tell if the brain had been eaten or not, although I rather guess it had, since brains are apparently chock full of nutrients. Perhaps the kestrel ate a quick blast of brain food before carrying off the rest of the sparrow to feed a nesting mate.

The abandoned head reminded me of another dramatic wildlife story that unfolded on my block. One day a few years ago, I noticed a fledgling sparrow hopping about inside the large planter of a nearby building. The little bird was clearly not yet able to fly, and was probably being fed by a parent hiding in a street tree. I made the decision not to intervene, since the planter seemed as safe a spot as any on a city street for a still earth-bound baby bird. Early the next morning, the decapitated dead body of the baby sparrow lay on the sidewalk. The head was nowhere to be found. (I wrote about the fledgling’s predicament, and my own, in Baby Birds and Animals: To Help or Not to Help.)

Had Janet not witnessed the kestrel eating the sparrow, she would be left puzzling over the mysterious appearance of a bird head on her air conditioner.

What a city we live in, my friends. What a city.

What a world.

All photos in this post courtesy of Janet Rassweiler.

NYC Wildlife After Hours

March 23, 2014


Two nights ago, around nine o’clock, I leaned over the retaining wall at Riverside Park to look for raccoons, and found a raccoon looking right back at me. It was perched, as it were, on the broad stone ledge outside its den. We stared at each other, each apparently curious what the other might do. Neither one of us did much of anything.


Just looking.

This raccoon and its family members have an ideal den spot with a broad ledge outside that makes it easy for them to loll and relax at the mouth of the hole.


I’m looking at you.

When a man and two off-leash dogs came into view on the path below, the raccoon turned its attention away from me to watch the newcomers.


The man was talking on his cell phone and kicking a ball for his rambunctious long-legged black mutt to chase, while a slow, imperturbable pug brought up the rear.  Neither man nor dogs noticed the raccoon high above their heads, watching their every move. Nor did they notice this human, even higher above their heads, also watching every move.

As it watched, the raccoon curled partway into its hole.


We left it there, the dog and I, and continued our walk along the Riverside Drive promenade. On our way back, I again leaned over the wall.

But the raccoon was gone.

It had probably ducked back into its den. In my admittedly limited and unscientific observations, the Riverside raccoons are slow to actually leave the den for their evening forays into the park. They tend to hang out on the ledge for quite some time, singly or in twos, threes or even fours. They look around and sniff the air, occasionally ducking back into the den as if suddenly remembering they’d left the stove on.  Sometimes, when the weather is pleasant, a raccoon will groom itself or a mother will groom a kit, although I haven’t seen any grooming behaviors yet this season.  I can’t even say how many raccoons are living in the den this year. Eventually, though, one or another of the raccoons will leave the ledge and start making its way north along the wall. Only rarely do I see one heading south from the den, probably because the grand stone staircase quickly breaks up the wall, so that the raccoon would have to come down to the ground right at a spot that is well traveled by humans and dogs.

Here is the view from just above the den of Riverside Park, the Hudson River and New Jersey.


Not bad. You might linger at the mouth of your den, too, if you had this view to look at.

Urban Wild and Feral Life in Spring

March 21, 2014

Spring is officially here. Red-tails are nesting, peacocks are showing, and male mallards are acting downright crazy.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Trees are still mostly bare, which means you can more easily spot wildlife.

And feral life. The feral cat colony in Morningside Park seems out of control this spring. The cats are everywhere around the pond, stalking  ducks and other birds.


But that’s a topic for another post.

For now, let’s put away the ice rescue ladder, and celebrate the arrival of another spring.


Below are links to a few of Out Walking the Dog’s odes to springs past:

Two-Eyed Prophecy of Spring

It’s Spring; Everybody Sing!

Spring Fling in Morningside Park: Be Still, My Heart

Spring in Three Cities

NYC Signs of Spring: Red-tails Nest and Mr Softee Sings

How to Tell a Hawk from a Handsaw

March 17, 2014

I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.

Hamlet, Act II, scene ii

But Hamlet, dear, this is easy.



Hawk with squirrel, Riverside Park, NYC.




More difficult in low light and at a distance is to know a hawk from a handbag, or more specifically, a plastic grocery bag.

Many is the perched hawk I’ve seen that, upon closer approach, has resolved itself not into a dew, but into plastic caught in a branch. (Click each photo to enlarge.)

More rarely the process reverses, and a plastic bag metamorphoses into a hawk, and flies.

These metamorphoses from animate to inanimate, from hawk to handbag, and back again, are among the peculiar pleasures of watching urban birds.

Peacocks By Design

March 12, 2014

New York City’s three Cathedral peacocks have already begun their annual spring courtship displays in which they unfurl their insanely long, dazzling tail feathers, hold them up in a giant fan, and rotate slowly to enchant the ladies. Here is a video I took a few years ago of one of St John the Divine’s peacocks in fine form.

The boys will be displaying like this all spring and summer, but who do they hope to woo? The nearest peahen is several miles away at the Central Park Zoo or the Bronx Zoo (from which one of the pealadies briefly escaped in 2011).

Still the peacock boys display to anyone and no one.  Yesterday, the white peacock was showing his tail in front of the shed that serves as their roost, while one of the blue peacocks stood alone at the end of the steep driveway, just a few feet from Morningside Drive, with his tail in full sail.

Tails furled or unfurled, peacocks seem to have an innate design sense.

Here the white peacock displays a striking horizontal elegance.


Down the driveway, his friend advocates for the power and beauty of the vertical.


For more on the Cathedral peacocks, stay tuned. Or visit our archives.

Red-tail at Work

March 10, 2014

I’m not sure what to make of the collection of twigs amassed by the Cathedral Red-tailed hawks atop Saint Peter’s canopy.


I posed the question on Twitter, and love the response I received from Robert of Morningside Hawks: “If they were predictable, they wouldn’t be wild. And sometimes they do weird stuff because they know you’re watching.”

For now, at least, the hawks seem to be focused on refurbishing the old nest on Saint Andrew’s mossy shoulders.


When I arrived at the nest this morning, it appeared empty. But as I crossed Morningside Drive to enter the park, I looked back toward the Cathedral in time to see a hawk swooping in from the north to disappear from view behind the saint’s head.  Although I could no longer see the bird, I could see twigs moving as the hawk rearranged nesting materials.

Then the hawk hopped onto the old man’s head and looked out over the park and nearby streets.


What a view.


Somehow, the poor saint looked especially sorrowful this morning, and the hawk, well, hawkish.


After a few minutes, the big bird spread its wings and soared off to the southeast.

Black Snow and Nesting Red-tails

February 22, 2014

This morning, a stunningly beautiful, spring-like day popped out of a snowy winter.


The sky is blue and the snow is, well, black.

How does the pristine and elegant substance of a week ago …


… metamorphose into the dark, satanic mountain range of today?


When urban snow reaches this stage, it doesn’t even melt. My theory is that there are now more solid filth particles than there is water in this Substance formerly known as Snow. As most New Yorkers know, these mini-Himalayan ranges will diminish only to a point.  The remaining black metor-like blobs hang around long after the surrounding street snow has melted. A particularly notable example was a giant blob that threatened to become a permanent resident of 108th Street in 2010.

Today was a good day for hawk-spotting. Over on Morningside Drive, one of the Saint John the Divine red-tailed hawks perched above a saint near its picturesque nest before sailing west out of sight.

Last winter, daily hawk sightings led me to found New York City’s Hawk-A-Day Club. This year, fellow New York nature blogger, Matthew Wills of Backyard and Beyond, has seen peregrine falcons for five days straight in Brooklyn and lower Manhattan. But my Morningside Heights sightings have been surprisingly scarce this winter.  So I was delighted to see a red-tail on the Cathedral.

The Cathedral nest, which has been occupied since 2006, undergoes renovation each year by the nesting pair. Last year was an especially active year of redecoration, albeit with some questionable design choices. Long, dangling pieces of string kept me worrying all season long that one or another member of the growing family would become entangled. (Look to the right below.)


But it was the sight last spring of a hawk wrestling with an unwieldy cardboard box or large paper bag that really led me to question the red-tail pair’s eye for design.Below the hawk flies toward the nest with its catch.


For more on hawk cardboard-wrestling, visit last year’s How to Build an Urban Hawk Nest.

I’ll be keeping an eye on the nest, along with my trusty walking companion, who would rather be scrounging for food. (Mysteriously fallen street strawberries don’t count, in his book.)


Next week I’ll once again have a camera that will allow me to take some more detailed shots than has been possible with the iPhone that has been my sole camera for the past six months.

That will be fun.

Winter World: Animals in Red

February 17, 2014
Winter world.

Winter world.

As the dog and I step off the sidewalk into a narrow path dug between snow mounds at the corner of Broadway and 108th Street, the sound of distant honking stops me in my tracks. Not the usual traffic sounds of Broadway, but the calls of wild geese. I shade my eyes and look up in time to see a large flock of Canada geese – an uneven, dark V, followed closely by a long single line – disappearing to the southwest over the solid old apartment buildings of Riverside Drive. “Oh,” I say out loud, struck by beauty.

At the top of the stone staircase that leads into Riverside Park, the dog pauses to show off his red shoes.

The red shoes: Dance, little dog, dance.

The red shoes: Dance, little dog, dance.

We descend the staircase, and enter the white winter world of a snowy city park. Everything is strangely quiet.


Central Park after a snowfall.

Only a couple of dogs are playing in the 105th Street dog run.


Down by the river, a solitary runner runs.


But where are the rest of the animals?


We retrace our steps to the path above, where a squirrel scoots across the top of the snow and leaps onto a tree trunk.


The little creature leaves behind a scribble-scrabble of footprints in the snow, the record of many such forays out of the safety of the trees. Three crows call from the top of the plane trees, then fly, one at a time, out of the park toward Riverside Drive. Two house sparrows chirp.

And that’s it. No hawks, no juncos, no woodpeckers, no robins, no flocks of sparrows, no chickadees, no titmice. Where is everyone?

And then we hear a high-pitched call: “Tsip, tsip, tsip.”

Winter’s bare branches make it easy to find the caller: a female cardinal, perched in a tangle of branches beneath the retaining wall. Although I usually see cardinals in pairs, today the brilliantly colored male is nowhere to be seen.  The lovely bird kept just outside the range of my iPhone, so here is a photo from last winter of two females picking up spilled seed beneath a bird feeder on eastern Long Island.


The Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) stays with us year-round, and even in the depths of winter, the male keeps his brilliant plumage. (Thank you, Rob Pavlin, for the beautiful photo below.)

Cardinal in Central Park by Rob Pavlin

Cardinal in Central Park. Photo: Rob Pavlin

Cardinals are particularly stunning against a snowy background, but they’re gorgeous birds in any season.


Cardinal in autumn in Central Park’s Conservatory Gardens. Photo: Melissa Cooper

Just look at that red.

Cardinal in Central Park, early winter 2012. Photo: Rob Pavlin.

You don’t often see animals in winter sporting such flashy colors.

Still, it’s not unheard of, is it?

The red shoes.

The red shoes ride the elevator home.

This post is for Nick and Zuri.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,451 other followers

%d bloggers like this: