Thursday, October 9, 2008

For the birds

In case you couldn’t tell, my head is exploding over this election. For a breather, last night I went to an Audubon lecture. One of the editors of the forthcoming Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State gave a talk. Some highlights: 244 species breed in the state. The American robin is the number one breeding species in the state; 20 years ago it was the song sparrow. More species have expanded their breeding territory than have lost territory in 20 years; in some cases, your conservation dollars have had an effect. The bad news is that grassland species (horned lark, upland sandpiper, etc.) have taken a big hit, because their habitat has disappeared (what there was has been turned into monoculture, mostly corn, and as the guy said, nothing lives in corn.) Common ravens, one of my favorite birds, has expanded nicely, although since they like forests and rocks, it’s unlikely you’ll see them in the city. I’ve heard them up at Bear Mountain, though. (I’ve seen them in Scotland and up on Mount Tam’, north of San Francisco.) Did you know that Treasury Secretary/Goldman Sachs zillionaire Henry Paulson was a big birder? Hmmmmm.

Here’s a great picture of a Le Conte’s sparrow, quite rare for our parts, which was down at Plum Beach yesterday. That’s Brooklyn, baby, just off the Shore Parkway.

This time of year, the night sky is full of birds streaming south.

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