June 2011 Bird Census with Annie
Birding Governors Island
Conditions today were just awful. Rain and fog made it uncomfortable to be outside and difficult to see anything. So my results were pretty dismal. I also spent most of the day inside with other activities, so this was an abbreviated and less deliberate census than my usual work. But all data is important, and below is what I saw today. I should note that the tall grass at the north end of south field was mown sometime after my last visit. That grass had harbored many herring gull nests, and at least two red-winged blackbirds seemed to be settling there. It is safe to say that many of the nests were destroyed when the grass was mown, and I'm not sure I'll see the blackbirds again. It's a tough life for birds in New York City, even on quiet and bucolic Governors Island.
Double-crested cormorant 11 (8 adult, 3 immature)
Canada goose 6
Mallard 1 female
Red-tailed hawk* 1 unknown
Laughing gull 1
Herring gull 76
Great black-backed gull 7
Common tern 47 (Many sitting on nests)
Barn swallow 20 (4 female, 8 male, 8 unknown)
Northern rough-winged swallow 3
European starling 12 (11 adult, 1 immature)
Northern cardinal 2 (1 female, 1 male)
House sparrow 27 (25 adult, 2 juvenile)
*I did not see the hawk myself, but it was reported to me by NPS Ranger Collin.
Birding Governors Island
Today I start with a birth announcement. The first common tern young of the season have hatched on the Yankee Pier. I spotted three fuzzy little terns, all apparently from the same brood, begging for food from their parents on the southern end of the pier. Common terns chicks are precocial, meaning they hatch fuzzy (not naked like non-precocial birds) and open their eyes and walk very quickly, often within minutes. So these three terns, though very young, were already walking and able to recognize their own parents in the hubbub on Yankee Pier. And that is a useful skill as they will be joined by many more young soon. I counted at least 20 nests on the pier. There are probably more, but I could not get a full view of the entire pier. There is evidence of common terns nesting on Tango Pier (adult birds appear to be landing on the pier to feed mates), but I had no view of the surface of that pier at all. In addition, to the three young, I saw a total of 63 adult common terns on the piers and flying around Picnic Point.
I'd like to note that, despite my uncertainty of doing so last week, I did spot one male red-winged blackbird, though not in it usual haunts on the south island ball fields. It seems to have relocated to west side of the island near Picnic Point after the tall grass near Division Road was mown.
My observations for the day:
Double-crested cormorant 13 (9 adult, 4 immature)
American black duck 1 female
Laughing gull 3
Herring gull 123 (121 adult, 2 immature)
Great black-backed gull 10
Common tern 66 (63 adult, 3 immature)
Mourning dove 6
Chimney swift 3
Barn swallow 12 (4 female, 3 male, 5 unknown)
Northern rough-winged swallow 4
Mockingbird 4 (3 male, 1 unknown)
European starling 37
Northern cardinal 3 (1 female, 1 male, 1 unknown)
Baltimore oriole 1 female
House sparrow 30
House finch 3 male
Did You Know?
The first, last, and only shots fired in anger from Governors Island were directed at British naval ships as they invaded New York Harbor in the summer of 1776.