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Death of a Goldfinch
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2008


The last two weeks have slowed down a bit...really there are only a handful of birds that I can see this time of year that I haven't already seen. I went to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx to see the local population of Rusty Blackbirds, and got some nice close looks. I also spent some time out in Eastern Long island, including a full day on Shelter Island trying to see an elusive White Winged Crossbill (no luck). Today in Prospect Park, though, it seems that things are beginning to pick up again, and there are signs that spring is on the way. Common grackles where perched in trees around the lake, and there was a lot of bird song. I ran into Rob Jett (www.citybirder.blogspot.com) and we watched Alice and Ralph, a mated pair of Red Tailed Hawks, working on a new nest for the breeding season. Trees in the park are starting to show a little color, and we even saw some early blooming flowers in the Midwood. The cycle of life is coming back around, and I had a vivid look at that cycle on Breeze Hill at the bird feeders there.

When I came up on the feeders a Red Tailed Hawk flushed, and there were no birds around, with one exception. One of the feeders is a 5 gallon water cooler tank with holes in the base, and inside that feeder, fluttering around frantically, was an American Goldfinch. I found out later this wasn't the first time the bird had gotten itself inside the feeder...it had been trapped and released several times. It took me a few minutes to get the feeder down, and then another ten to guide the worried bird back out of the hole it came in through. The little bird's trial was over, and it perched briefly on the feeder before flying towards the nearest branch. Before it could reach it's perch, though, an accipiter (either a Sharp Tailed or Coopers hawk) snatched the bird out of the air, landed in a nearby tree and camly began eating the goldfinch. If not the cycle of life, definitely a very rapid turn of fate.