Although Atlantic Brant are a familiar sight in the chilly winter waters of New York Harbor, it’s a goose I think few people know. A bird with an almost certain identity complex.
To the causal winter beach observer, Brant appear like their more tarnished cousin, infamously known as Canada goose. People think the estuary is loaded with Canada geese, but take a closer look and some of those geese may be a shy and small bay goose recognized as Brant.
In fact, Atlantic Brant are quite different from a Canada goose. Brant are not big forceful “honkers.” They utter a gentler call that sounds like a low rrrrotttt, or crrr-ooonnnkkkk, or even sometimes a mellow quack. A more softer and throaty call that is a familiar sound of winter in New York Harbor.
Brant are small dark geese, essentially a dark-feathered bird with a small “necklace” of white feathers, so soft in color it’s not noticeable from a distance. The birds tend to be timid and shy of humans, preferring to swim away when a person get’s too close. A different way of doing things than their bigger Canadian cousins that prefer to make their presence known in parks, golf courses, and open meadows with much brash and little bother for humans at times
As a naturalist and nature lover, you have to love people who mark a new year based on a lunar cycle.
This year's Lunar New Year marks the beginning of a series of festivals not only in China, but also in many nations and territories with significant Han Chinese populations. The New Year is celebrated at the turn of the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar. Traditionally, it’s a time to spread happiness and love for the coming year, friends and family members get together and relationship ties are renewed in the Lunar New Year.
This year, hundreds of millions of people gathered to welcome the Year of the Rooster across the globe. It's time to say goodbye to the Monkey and hello to the year of the Rooster.
Unfortunately, this international celebration came at the same time as President Donald Trump's move to ban more than 130 million people from the United States and to deny entry to all refugees. The ban reverberated worldwide Saturday, at the start of the New Year, as chaos and confusion rippled through US law enforcement agencies, airports and foreign capitals trying to grasp with this offensive US policy.
New York City, which has the largest Chinese population of any city outside of Asia, is the epicenter of the Lunar New Year celebrations in the metropolitan area. There were many ways to celebrate the Chinese New Year or the Lunar New Year. One of my favorites is the fantastic New Year's Day Firecracker Ceremony on the first day of the Lunar New Year.
The Chinese community did a wonderful job of organizing the celebrations for all people to enjoy. The Sara D. Roosevelt Park had wonderful performances, vendors, and giveaways. There area was filled with small flags of China, and ornaments of roosters and dragons. The main event, the Firecracker Ceremony started around noon and was a fun time with loud firecrackers to help scare away demons and bad luck. Let's hope it works soon.
Happy New Year! Wishing You Great Prosperity and Good Luck in the Year of the Rooster!
take a nature tour of the harbor on a boat with new york city audubon. they offer seal watching tours every winter. fun for the whole family!
Sundays, January 8 - March 12, 12-2pm (no cruise on Sunday, February 5)
South Street Seaport, Pier 16
12-2pm: Hoffman and Swinburne Islands
With New York Water Taxi
$35 for adults, $25 for children (3-12)
*NYC Audubon members are eligible for a $5 per ticket discount - call Darren Klein at (212) 691-7483 x.304 for more information*
Tickets: To see the full schedule of tours visit http://www.nywatertaxi.com/tours/audubon-winter and click on Buy Tickets. To purchase tickets, check the box on the right-hand side of your selected tour and then click Next to continue and follow the instructions for checkout.
You can also contact New York Water Taxi at 212-742-1969 to register.
Directions: 10 minute walk from the A,C,J,Z,2,3 Fulton Street stop. More directions may be found at www.nywatertaxi.com/piers/pier16seaport.
If you have questions about our ecocruises, contact Darren Klein at 212-691-7483 x304 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To view other NYC Audubon trips and activities, visit www.nycaudubon.org/events-a-adventures
"Although there are advantages to living in cities, such as the access to food, they seem to be outweighed by the disadvantages, such as stress --
Birds of the species Parus Major (great tit) living in an urban environment are at greater risk of dying young than great tits living outside cities. Research results from Lund University in Sweden show that urban great tits have shorter telomeres than others of their own species living in rural areas. According to the researchers, the induced stress that the urban great tits are experiencing is what results in shorter telomeres and thereby increases their risk of dying young.
Killing 70,000 Birds Did Not Make New York Airports Safer
By: Laura Goldman
January 24, 2017
Despite the killing of 70,000 birds, the incidents of birds striking planes in the New York City area have actually risen since 2009 – or at least reports of these incidents have increased due to more awareness. Before 2009, LaGuardia and Newark airports reported about 160 bird strikes annually. Since then, that number has almost doubled, to 300 bird strikes each year. None of those birds caused the planes to crash.
After a flock of Canada geese knocked out the engines of a US Airways jetliner in January 2009, pilot “Sully” Sullenberger was famously able to safely land the Airbus A320 on the Hudson River. What became known as the “Miracle on the Hudson” was happy news, especially for the 155 passengers whose lives Sullenberger saved.
But it was terrible news for geese and other birds that migrate or make their homes near the three major airports in the New York City area. To prevent a similar incident from happening again, nearly 70,000 birds have been intentionally killed near John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports over the past eight years, the Associated Press reports.
The birds have either been shot by wildlife officials, or trapped first and then shot. The number of birds slaughtered includes approximately 35,000 European starlings, 28,000 seagulls, 6,000 brown-headed cowbirds, 4,500 mourning doves and 1,830 Canada geese.
Birds strike planes near these airports on a daily basis, the AP reports. The damage most often is to the birds, not to the planes or their passengers. From 2004 to April 2016, 249 birds damaged airplanes, according to Federal Aviation Administration data cited by the AP. Those birds included 54 seagulls, 12 osprey, 11 double-crested cormorants, 30 geese and 69 unknown species.
Sea level rise will disproportionately hit U.S. this century, NOAA warns
By SHANIKA GUNARATNA
CBS NEWS January 24, 2017, 3:02 PM
“The ocean is not rising like water would in a bathtub,” said William Sweet, Ph.D., a NOAA oceanographer and lead author of the report, explained in a statement. “For example, in some scenarios sea levels in the Pacific Northwest are expected to rise slower than the global average, but in the Northeast they are expected to rise faster.”
Global sea level rise is unfolding at a stunning pace, and a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) says the U.S. will find itself directly in the crosshairs. Over the coming decades, some parts of the nation’s coastline will be hit harder than others, the study finds.
The report — co-authored with the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Environmental Protection Agency, the South Florida Water Management District, and scientists from Rutgers and Columbia University — outlined six likely scenarios for sea level rise, ranging in severity from low to extreme, so that communities and the federal government can plan around those likelihoods.
In almost all the scientists’ projections, sea level rise will disproportionately affect the coasts of the U.S. Northeast and the western Gulf of Mexico, compared to averages across the globe. Except for Alaska, the report says nearly all of the U.S. coastline is more vulnerable than the global average if more severe scenarios come to pass.
A juvenile winter flounder
There is more to flounder than just a fishy meal, no matter how tasty it might be. Winter flounder or blackbacks as some fishermen call them is a beautiful looking fish with an incredible way to survive the icy-cold winter waters of New York Harbor.
As you might guess, the name “winter flounder” comes from the fish’s fondness for cold water. Unlike many local species of fish that migrate out of the harbor for the winter or become largely sluggish and inactive when water temperatures start to dip below 55 degrees F, chilly water does not scare away the winter flounder (Pleuronectes americanus). It not only survives, it thrives in cold water.
But how did this small-mouthed flatfish become so well adapted to cold water? No joke, the fish seems to manufacture its own antifreeze.
The Origins of Our Misguided Hatred for Pigeons
Perhaps the problem with those “rats with wings” lies with us, not them.
By Matt Soniak
November 14, 2016
....but ideally, the city is the place where we invite nature in ways that we control...We cut out little squares in the concrete, and that’s where the trees belong. We don’t like it when grass and weeds begin to grow through cracks in the sidewalks, because that’s nature breaking out of those boundaries that we want to keep it in.”
In 2005, sociologist Colin Jerolmack went to Greenwich Village to study how New Yorkers used the neighborhood’s “pocket parks,” what they wanted from these tiny green spaces, and how they thought the parks could be improved. He got an answer to that last question almost immediately.
“Literally the first day that I showed up to Father Demo Square, a pigeon crapped on me,” he says.
In the parks and at community meetings, people told Jerolmack over and over that pigeons were their biggest gripe with the parks. That’s not a complaint unique to Greenwich Village or to New York City. Around the world, we’ve criminalized feeding pigeons, shot them, poisoned them, trapped them, zapped them, fed them birth control, and used all manner of repellants—from plastic birds of prey to spike strips—to keep these “rats with wings” off of sidewalks, statues, and buildings.
We have waged war against pigeons, an essentially harmless enemy that has earned a level of scorn puzzlingly disproportionate to their crimes. We have uneasy, sometimes combative, relationships with other pests and nuisance animals—some of which are more destructive and dangerous—but the pigeon is absolutely despised. “The full scope of our disdain and distrust for the birds is impossible to quantify,” writes journalist Jon Mooallem. “It’s hard even to explain.
Study finds potential instability in Atlantic Ocean water circulation system
By Jim Shelton
January 4, 2017
In fact, changes in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) — the same deep-water ocean current featured in the movie “The Day After Tomorrow” — could occur quite abruptly, in geologic terms, the study says.
One of the world’s largest ocean circulation systems may not be as stable as today’s weather models predict, according to a new study.
In fact, changes in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) — the same deep-water ocean current featured in the movie “The Day After Tomorrow” — could occur quite abruptly, in geologic terms, the study says. The research appears in the Jan. 4 online edition of the journal Science Advances.
“We show that the possibility of a collapsed AMOC under global warming is hugely underestimated,” said Wei Liu, a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Yale University and lead author of the study. Liu began the research when he was a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and continued it at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, prior to coming to Yale.
Keep in mind this is usually the coldest month and the coldest time of the year for New York Harbor.
High Temperatures for Thursday, January 19, 2017
Earth Sets a Temperature Record for the Third Straight Year
By JUSTIN GILLIS and JOHN SCHWARTZJAN. 18, 2017
The New York Times Science
Marking another milestone for a changing planet, scientists reported on Wednesday that the Earth reached its highest temperature on record in 2016 — trouncing a record set only a year earlier, which beat one set in 2014. It is the first time in the modern era of global warming data that temperatures have blown past the previous record three years in a row.
The findings come two days before the inauguration of an American president who has called global warming a Chinese plot and vowed to roll back his predecessor’s efforts to cut emissions of heat-trapping gases.
The data show that politicians cannot wish the problem away. The Earth is heating up, a point long beyond serious scientific dispute, but one becoming more evident as the records keep falling. Temperatures are heading toward levels that many experts believe will pose a profound threat to both the natural world and to human civilization.
Although a good chunk of the edge of New York Harbor is man-made and over-developed, where patches of shoreline and coastal woodland meet you are sure to find this narrowly conical evergreen growing. Perhaps rising out of sandy soils alongside poison ivy or long stem grasses.
Easter red cedar is the most common conifer that grows around New York Harbor. There is not much green now, but the needlelike, flat shiny leaves radiate with pleasure among the pale, dim and dusky winter landscape. The leaves and branches provide a vital source of shelter for many birds when the weather gets unfriendly, wild and windy.
It’s a hardy tree that can grow just about anywhere around the metropolitan area from infertile disturbed soils inland to dry sandy soils of tidal salt marshes along the coast. Eastern red cedar is a pioneer species, meaning it's among the first trees to populate and colonize an open area. Prickly, juvenile foliage jutting out from shale and limestone soils.
Fishermen, beach builders fight for underwater sand hills
By MICHELLE BRUNETTI POST - Associated Press - Saturday, January 14, 2017
All that pumping can’t help but affect ocean life, said Rob Young of the Program for the Study of Developed Coastlines at Western Carolina University.
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - Just a few miles off New Jersey’s coast is a series of underwater hills on the ocean floor, made of perfect-quality beach sand tens of thousands of years old.
Once those hills existed above the waterline as beaches, dunes and barrier islands, before rising seas covered them as the last ice age ended.
Now they are home to small, benthic organisms such as clams, worms and other tiny creatures that live in them. The hills attract fish, which feed off the organisms, preferring a contoured ocean bottom to a flat one.
And the fish attract fishermen.
During the cold, long nights of winter, some people just can’t wait for spring. This is true of some birds too.
As cold and snow attempt to monopolize the winter weather around New York Harbor, a little bird is starting to sing a song of spring. Actually it’s a mating call.
It’s a simple clear call, quite distinctive. A two or three note song that sounds like feeee-beeeee or phobeeee or even hey sweetie. Have you heard this curious song, usually early in the morning?
It’s a quick subtle song made by a small bird. A solo performance made before the loud springtime symphonies of countless birds.
Black-capped and Carolina chickadees are two of the most common and widespread chickadees that exist around New York Harbor. Both birds look very similar to each other. Both are fluffy and grayish birds with round heads and tiny bodies. Both have black tops and chins with white cheeks. Their plumage is neither colorful nor splashy.
Diana Rocco reporting,
Friday, January 13, 2017 06:07AM
FLUSHING, Queens (WABC) --
A dead whale washed ashore in Flushing Bay Thursday afternoon.
The 15-foot minke whale is at the end of the LaGuardia Airport runway near the 'Welcome to New York' sign.
There is no word yet on how the whale died.
It was discovered on the embankment leading up to runway 1331, one of two intersecting runways at LaGuardia.
The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation says it is providing support to airport personnel as they determine the options for removing the mammal without disrupting flight operations.
The foundation wants the opportunity to examine the whale.
"To actually have a whale at this location is a new location," said Kimberly Durham of the Riverhead Foundation. "It's certainly in proximity to Port Authority and operations that go there, there's a lot of things that have to be taken into consideration and we'll be working with the Port Authority to see what we can do regarding this carcass."
The weight of the species is usually 5 to 6 tons, smaller than a humpback whale.
The New York Harbor metro region was awash in warm air today. In some areas, temperatures reached their highest level in more than a century. In Central Park today, a high temperature of 66 degrees broke the old record of 64 degrees, one of the oldest weather records in New York City set on this date in 1890.
Along the southern shore of New York Harbor, it was even warmer. High temperatures reached close to 70 degrees.
A taste of spring after a few inches of snow over the weekend and a Monday morning low temperature in the lower teens. Keep in mind the high temperature for New York Harbor usually averages in the upper 30s to lower 40s for January. High temperatures are forecasted to be around freezing on Saturday and then return to the 50s by mid-week.
The high temperature today near Sandy Hook Bay, NJ
According to NOAA, 2016 was the second warmest year on record.The average U.S. temperature in 2016 was 54.9 degrees F (2.9 degrees F above average), which ranked as the second warmest year in 122 years of record-keeping. This is the 20th consecutive year the annual average temperature exceeded the average. Every state in the contiguous U.S. and Alaska experienced above-average annual temperatures, according to scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.
With a fresh coat of snow on the ground, gusty arctic winds blowing, and temperatures on some days only reaching into the 20s, it’s hard to imagine that any wild animal is thinking of raising a family during the deep freeze of winter. But as Lord Byron, the famous and flamboyant Anglo-Scottish poet and politician of the Romantic era once declared, “What a strange thing is the propagation of life!”
At night, listen for the deep wooing sounds of courting Great horned owls. No matter the temperature outside, males are calling for females. Great horned owls are one of the earliest birds to start breeding in the northeast. Courtship often begins in mid- to late December and is usually in full swing come January.
To find a female, a male great horned owl will first choose a nest site. These birds are large aggressive creatures that do not make their own nests. In fact, they make little if any efforts to construct an intricate nest or even repair an existing one, as many other birds do.
Instead great horned owls prefer to take over an existing nest made by a hawk, especially red-tailed hawks, or a crow, a great blue heron, or other large bird made the previous year. They don’t seem picky at all. Last year I found a great horned owl nesting atop a tall osprey platform in the middle of a tidal wetland near Raritan Bay.
January is the prime winter month for New York Harbor. Snow and cold strive to dominate the landscape. Yet for a lot of people, this Saturday snowstorm was a big surprise.
First weather forecasts early in the week called for an inch or two around the harbor. Later on forecasts were revised for under 3 inches. So everyone was thinking it was going to be no big deal. But by Friday afternoon into Saturday afternoon, winter weather advisories and warnings had gone up for anywhere from 4 to 8 inches or more.
Sunday morning I woke up to around 5.5 inches of fresh snow where I live near Sandy Hook Bay, located along the southern shore of New York Harbor. Up in Central Park in New York City they measured over 5 inches of snow. Newark airport received around 5.5 inches of snow and Perth Amboy received 6 inches. JFK airport and Queens County in New York City received the most snow around the harbor with over 8 inches.
This was a coastal storm moving up from the Carolinas. So towns and communities closer to the path of the storm received even more snow. Atlantic City, NJ received 9 inches and out in Suffolk County, NY places like Mattituck, Riverhead, and Yaphank received more than 10 inches of snow. Farther east on Cape Cod, they received between 12-18 inches of snow. Seven to 8 inches was measured in the Boston area. Places that really could have used the snow like ski resorts in the the high mountains of New York, Vermont and New Hampshire didn't get a flake.
With a surge of arctic air in place along with gusty winds, there will not be much melting today. It’s best to stay local, bundle up and go bird watching or look for animal tracks in the snow with a thermos of hot chocolate.
The deep dark waters of the western Atlantic Ocean are full of surprises. Who knew Blainvile's Beaked Whales, a type of small toothed whale, swam so close to New York Harbor!
Rare whale washes up dead along N.J. coastBy MaryAnn Spoto |
NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on January 04, 2017 at 4:36 PM, updated January 04, 2017 at 6:45 PM
A rare whale washed up dead along a section of the northern Ocean County barrier island, marine mammal rescue officials said Wednesday.
Staff from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine were called out last week to retrieve the Blainville's beaked whale that washed up on Island Beach State Park, said Bob Schoelkopf, the center's executive director.
On Friday, Dec. 30 a dead female Bottlenose dolphin washed up on the bay side of Sandy Hook, along Plum Island. Marine Mammal Stranding Center staff picked-up the dolphin later that afternoon. The deceased dolphin was then taken to a state wildlife lab in Trenton for a necropsy soon after New Year's Day. The cause of death was not evident and has yet to be determined by a necropsy.
As reported in Middletown Patch, Bob Schoelkopf, Director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, has stated that at first wildlife experts thought the female dolphin was pregnant, but new tests revealed she was not. "She was just a very robust animal. And she had some food in her stomach," he said.
Animals Like Green Space in Cities—and That’s a Problem. Parks, green roofs, and urban trees all welcome animals, but people have to learn how to share their living space, experts say.
By Gabe Bullard
PUBLISHED APRIL 20, 2016
Wild Cities: About two-thirds of all people will live in urban areas by 2030—and we won't be alone. A veritable menagerie of wild animals is also taking a liking to city living.
The Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building in Washington, D.C., had a bird problem.
The animals were trying to fly into the building’s atrium, hitting the glass around it, and dying. People found about five dead birds a week in front of the building, according to city officials.
Turned out there was a simple solution: keeping the lights off at night.
This kind of friction between humans and animals in cities is common. Elsewhere in D.C., a bus hit a snowy owl (it survived, only to be killed by a car months later in Minnesota). In New York City, a coyote climbed onto a bar roof, distressing some residents. And in March, P-22, a mountain lion living near Los Angeles may have killed a zoo koala.
Why urban wildlife is thriving in Berlin
Foxes and raccoons can be found all over the city. They like to climb houses and play around in gardens and parks, they can even be found next to busy streets. The entire city of Berlin has become a habitat for foxes. In fact, studies show that there are now more fox dens in the city than in the forest. But there are also lots of boars, martens and rabbits crossing the streets.
Not to mention birds. Berlin is the city with the largest amount and variety of birds in Germany. We have songbirds, raptors like the white-tailed eagle - and in the past few years, we also have large seagulls breeding here. There is a huge colony of wild grey herons at Berlin's Tierpark that actually love it there because they eat the zoo animals' food.
A whale spotted in the East River in New York on New Year's Eve was believed to be a humpback. A whale was also spotted off Belmar on New Year's Day.
Whales ring in the new year at the Jersey Shore and in the East RiverBy Kelly Heyboer | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on January 01, 2017 at 4:36 PM, updated January 01, 2017 at 4:51 PM
One of the world's largest mammals rang in the new year in the chilly waters of New York and New Jersey.
A large whale, believed to be a humpback, was spotted surfacing and spraying water out of its blowhole in the East River near Gracie Mansion on New Year's Eve, according to the New York Police Department.
Photos of the whale were posted on the NYPD's Twitter account.
"Even the wildlife want to ring in #NYE2017 in #NYC," the NYPD Special Operations unit posted on its Twitter page.
We all know that New York City can be one of the most stressful places on Earth, but stress is also an omnipresent fact of life for wildlife, especially in the busy waters of New York Harbor.
The Friday before New Year’s Day a female Bottlenose Dolphin washed up dead during a morning high tide along the sandy edge of Plum Island at Sandy Hook National Recreation Area, located about a mile from the entrance of New York Harbor. Both the National Park Service and wildlife biologists with the non-profit NJ Marine Mammal Stranding received word of the dead dolphin around noon.
It’s unclear whether the dead dolphin was the same one spotted over the summer and fall in the nearby tidal waters of the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers. A bottlenose dolphin had been seen sporadically there since June without much public notice. The dolphin was believed to be an adult male, since most solitary dolphins are male, and was seen feeding on fish.
STOP THE WILLIAMS FRACKED GAS PIPELINE THROUGH NY HARBOR!
MY TOP 5 FAVORITE BOOKS ABOUT NY HARBOR
1. Field Guide to the Neighborhood Birds of New York City by Leslie Day
2.Heartbeats in the Muck by John Waldman
3. The Fisheries of Raritan Bay by Clyde L. MacKenzie Jr.
4. Waterfront: A Walk Around Manhattan by Phillip Lopate
5. The Bottom of the Harbor by Joseph Mitchell