As I get off the exit on the Grand Central Parkway to Alley Pond Park, a male cardinal flies fast across the road. With the spring migration just starting, I hope it’s a harbinger of things to come this cool, cloudy morning.
Below a trail in the park is a kettle pool where two gray catbirds move on fallen tree limbs. One goes to the water and ripples emanate from its activity. The other vigorously preens itself, spreading out a wing like a vegetable steamer.
Suddenly, there’s movement in surrounding dried leaves. It’s a bird slightly smaller than a robin with a bright, rust head, bold black striations on its white breast and a prominent eye ring. This is a wood thrush whose sturdy pink legs carry it toward the water. The thrush, nicknamed the “swamp angel,” returns to the leaves blending in so well that without movement I cannot tell it’s there. Seemingly buried in them, the thrush turns over leaf after leaf searching for insects.
Under the overpass to the GCP, I admire the wine and green colors of pigeons, now called rock doves, as cars deafeningly roar above. A nearby large, familiar cattail-filled pond seems oddly empty. With no warning, a male, red-winged black bird, a habitué of this pond, rises and flies to a cattail. The rich red epaulets on its shoulder give the bird a showy look.
On the pond’s far side is some new aqua vegetation. There’s movement and a bright, red head appears with a thick, red bill and a brownish back. It’s a male cardinal. Could it be the one that I saw coming off the parkway near here?
Suddenly, there’s a flurry of dull brown and gray feathers as a mourning dove flies from the ground where it’s been camouflaged. Following it, I see brown pine needles, blackened pinecones and some blackened wood. A huge limb lies on the ground where it has sheared off from a tree. There’s been a fire here. How did it happen?
Nearby is an empty, cup-shaped nest in a tree, possibly a robin’s. I admire some flowers that have a dark, blood-like spot on them. They’re dogwood and are clearly signs of spring. Nearby is a female house sparrow that is plumped up against the increasing morning chill. Her breast has the soft texture of a fur coat. Her thin, tiny bill protrudes above it. Soon her mate shows up. His characteristic black breast spot has the tiniest specks of white. A handsome couple.
Soon I’m in a section of the park that’s unfamiliar. On a branch prominently displayed is a woman’s glove, thoughtfully placed there. The glove curiously looks as if there’s an actual hand in it. I walk in the direction in which the fingers appear to be tilted.
Why not? It might be a sign of good birding ahead.
©2011 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.