A new bird-is it just passing through, or here to stay?

A Great Egret

The great egret (Ardea alba), also known as the common egret, large egret, or great white egret or great white heron is a large, widely distributed egret, with four subspecies found in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and southern Europe. Distributed across most of the tropical and warmer temperate regions of the world, it builds tree nests in colonies close to water.

What is the difference between a great white heron and egret?Great egrets are a little smaller than the white-phase great blue heron, but the real giveaway is the color of the legs. Great egrets have black legs while white-phase great blue herons have much lighter legs. Herons also have slightly heavier beaks and “shaggier” feathers on their breast.

Red Tail Hawk – our new resident

Spotted yesterday by the stream. It seems this fellow has its favorite perch in this area. I was able to get up fairly close and he displayed his orange tail as he landed.

A few minutes later he swooped down and caught a vole. I was directly under him and he couldn’t have cared less about me. I think he likes The Oxbow now all the ragweed has gone, he can see his prey easier.


I thought this bird was a cormorant. Its a regular these days around The Oxbow, and its evaded any close up photos so far.

The best I’ve done are these, on my zoomed Iphone.

Then I spotted a photo on the BBC’s web page and realised I was probably wrong. The color of the plumage on the throat gave it away.

The tricoloured heron (Egretta tricolor), also known as the Louisiana heron, is a colorful medium-sized heron of the Americas with a liking for coastal swamps and marshes. In flight and at rest they hold their neck at a curve similar in shape to an ‘S’.

If it is a Tri Colored Heron, then perhaps its a little off course, as the Wikipedia web page doesn’t show its habitat being this far north.


A closer encounter!

And then there were two!

I’ve been informed that herons spear their fish, but cormorants dive for theirs, and the two photographed above were diving and catching fish. A search in my Audubon bird book stated they are immature GREAT CORMORANTS, Phalacrocorax carbo, which accounts for their brown color, which will change to black in maturity. They winter here from NewFoundland and can be as far south as New Jersey.

I spied a hawk today!

I suppose when you live in an urban area like The Oxbow, you’re going to see some unusual things occasionally and today was no exception.

As we went for our morning walk with the dogs, we heard this huge commotion coming from the stream. About twenty ducks were kicking up one hell of a racket, quite an unusual sound for ducks.

Then, a little further on, a murder of crows were high in the island’s trees making another deafening din. I don’t know what had got into the wildlife today. Is it some sort of bird holiday, or are all the berries fermenting and they’re a little sozzled?

Just as we were coming out of the Bow by the old long shed, a big hawk flew towards us, and then straight past us, carrying a large grey squirrel. I think it was a red-tail hawk. The bird had just flown down and plucked the squirrel out of a tree.

My dogs were quite jealous, they’ve been trying to get one out of those trees for months.

A dickens of a row!

My dogs suddenly started up hollering and getting extremely excited earlier this morning. I wouldn’t be surprised if some complained about all the ruckus coming from my back yard.

It took me a few seconds to figure out what the problem was, and here it is, sat quietly, ignoring my dogs and just surveying his territory.

I’m not sure what we have here. This is a fairly big animal, so is it a fox, or a coyote? He had a fairly bushy tail and a red look to him.

He certainly wasn’t put off by the dogs, and sat there for several minutes, then quietly stood up and sauntered off along the shoreline of the larger Oxbow Island.

It’s always a pleasure to see these wild animals in my back yard. Can anyone tell me, is it a fox or a coyote?

Eerie Bird on the Eerie Erie Canal


A fairly mild, but foggy morning made the Oxbow scenery look rather different today. It’s always amazing how much more sound travels when the air is saturated like this.  The trains whistles were especially loud.

Our resident Blue Heron decided he wasn’t flying due to bad weather, and I was able to get up fairly closely to take these photos.

Note how he’s standing on one leg. Magnificent creature!


We have a resident Osprey

I’ve spotted this guy hanging around Coyote Island in the Oxbow on several occasions, but more frequently, I’ve heard him calling from the treetops. This afternoon, I got a really good close up look as he flew between the two islands and then along the Oxbow trail. There was no mistaking him this time, dark brown, white belly, striped head, and the now unmistakable call as he cussed me for disturbing his fishing with my pontoon boat.

Here are some photos and videos I’ve found on the web, as I’ve been unable to take any myself.

I suspect those folks living close to the canal have heard him calling recently.

The DEC have put out a bulletin regarding the status of this once endangered species.  http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/56124.html

An osprey landing in its nest
  (Gloria Wright l gwright@syracuse.com)

Everyone is trying to help this bird recover from being almost wiped out by DDT chemicals which weakened the egg shells, resulting in a horrific decline.  The National Grid has even made special fiberglass plates to put over poles to stop the birds from being electrocuted.

. This osprey nest was successfully moved by National Grid employees and placed on top of a FiberNest   https://i0.wp.com/media.advance.net/newyorkupstatecom_national_desk_blog/photo/2017/06/07/FiberNest.jpg

Read more about this here.

It’s a real privilege to actually see this bird, especially in my back yard.

Birds in mayhem during eclipse

Today at 2.35pm, we had a partial eclipse in New York. If you didn’t know about it, then you couldn’t have been listening to the news, because the event has been widely publicized, as it’s the first total eclipse for most of the USA in ninety nine years.

We thought we’d watch it from our deck, which overlooks the canal at the Oxbow and is facing due south. There really wasn’t much to see, until — hundreds of small birds, mostly sparrows, descended onto our garden fence, and then flew in and out of our pine tree. They were noisy and very agitated. I guess they roost there normally, although I’ve never noticed them before.

Here they are, all lined up, chirping away!  I can just imagine what they were saying!  “Oooh! Roger, who switched the light off?”  “Are the pubs open now?”  “Crumbs! What happened?” “Hoi! Stop messing about!”


There were many birds more than in the photo, but I wanted to get a closeup.

The Crow

It’s officially Spring!  Even though we have four inches of snow this morning, the crows are building their nests, and I reckon they should know better than our weather forecasters! Crows start breeding early in the year and the recent spat of warmer weather must have stirred their blood.


By Walter Sigmund Wikipedia


I’ve seen several birds fluttering between the bare trees with strips of cloth and string, obviously for lining their nests, as yet, I haven’t spotted an actual nest. They usually  make their constructions high in trees and occasionally utilise a bush. The birds lay between three and six eggs and incubate them for eighteen days the babies are fledged at thirty six days. By the middle of May, we should see the youngsters around the neighborhood.

I became more interested in crows several years ago when I read an article referring to their ability to recognise and remember human faces.

Here’s an article which explains a study carried out by The University of Washington in Seattle.

Crows harbor a grudge too, so be very careful not to annoy them, or you could easily end up in of Alfred Hitchock’s ‘The Birds’ situations with a flock of these guys remembering you, passing the information to their pals and then plotting for your demise.

And – they are vengeful, very vengeful. Here are six reasons why you should not mess with crows!

So, when you next see a crow on your roof, just be nice, and smile. He’s watching you – and – remembering!

If all this wasn’t enough to convince you crows are really smart, then watch this video

Smart Crows