Friday, April 3, 2015

Birds of Rocky Point Salt Marsh, Part One: September 2011 to September, 2012.


Although I am familiar with the Breezy Point segment of Gateway since the late 1960s, I began visiting Rocky Point Marsh only in 2011, shortly after I became an NPS Volunteer. My original focus on photographing birds is what drew me to the marsh. As I came to understand the function of a tidal salt marsh, I also began to pay attention to the landscape, the tides, local weather events, flora, fauna and insects. Birds are not the only thing of interest in such a fascinating, multi-faceted environment!

Yet, my interest in birds is still my overriding reason for visiting Rocky Point. What follows is the first in a multi-part series of photo essays, each with the goal of presenting an image of every bird species I’ve encountered in, above, and around the marsh. As of February 2014, the number of species I have encountered and photographed stands at 75, nearly half of the species presently on my modest Life List.

For the purpose of these blog segments, I have very loosely defined Rocky Point Marsh as everything lying within borders defined by Rockaway Park Boulevard and Beach 201st Street, to the south and west, respectively (note that all compass points are “approximate”). The far-east border is delineated by the jetty at that end of the cove; the jetty then runs back into Rockaway Park Blvd. at Beach 193rd Street. The marsh’s northern side is fronted by Jamaica Bay.

Of necessity, some images may not be of a presentable quality; they are included here to complete the historic record. The images will be presented in chronological order, rather than in a species-by-species fashion. Anyone with a field guide will know the proper order of the presentation of species and their accounts. In this instance, it is hoped that a chronological order will better inform the viewer as to what species may be encountered at a particular time period, here at Rocky Point.

What follows is part one.
 
09-17-2011, Red-breasted Merganser, (Mergus serrator). This bird dives beneath the water’s surface for its food. Its legs are set relatively far back on the body which enhances its diving ability in its preferred environment. On land, however, this fellow is rather clumsy.
 
09-17-2011, Belted Kingfisher, (Ceryle alcyon). An extremely skittish bird, the Belted Kingfisher is very difficult to approach. Their nervous flight antics had prompted me to name one repeatedly-observed individual, “Frantic the Kooky Kingfisher”. I have observed this species several times over the years, in widespread intervals, at Rocky Point.
 
11-05-2011, American Crow, (Corvus brachyrhynchos). An extremely common sight throughout the NY City area, this species is a daily, year-round denizen of Rocky Point. This species is an omnivore, which aside from its acknowledged intelligence (it is known to use “tools”), is a major reason for its ability to flourish alongside humans.
 
05-05-2012, Black-billed Cukoo, (Coccyzus erythropthalmus). This is quite probably the most unique species identified here at Rocky Point. The marsh is well within the established range of this species, which is attracted to the woods encompassing the marsh. I must apologize for the quality of this photograph; this bird was far beyond the limits of my lens/camera combination’s ability to adequately resolve a detailed image. It’s included here for the historic record.
 
05-12-2012, American Redstart (male), (Setophaga ruticilla). This handsome and very active bird is easy to spot as it opens and closes its wings and tail feathers. This species favors an insect diet when available and will switch to seeds, like so many others, when the seasons change.
 

05-12-2012, Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus). From this odd angle, the field marks that identify this species are the white patches on the wings and the white belly, turning rusty on the flanks and towards the tail. A ground forager, this species is also known to eat small reptiles.
 
05-12-2012, Black-throated Green Warbler, (Dendroica virens). Caught in the act of feeding, this was one of several warbler species spotted during a single amazing day. This species favors caterpillars, but will eat other insects as well as waxy berries.
 
05-12-2012, Yellow Warbler, (Dendroica petechia). In full adult plumage, this handsome fellow casts a curious glance at the photographer. Although insects make up most of its diet, it will also berries out of necessity.
 
05-12-2012, Common Tern, (Sterna hirundo). This species nests in the Rockaways and is often seen outside the marsh, bathing or feeding in the surf. Very aggressive during nesting season, here a trio quietly rests while perched atop pilings in Jamaica Bay.
 
05-12-2012, Magnolia Warbler, (Dendroica magnolia). Seen in breeding plumage, this was one of several new species observed at the marsh on this particular day. One characteristic foraging method is the feeding on insects gleaned from the undersides of leaves.
 
05-26-2012, Grey Catbird, (Dumetella carolinensis). At certain times of the year, this species will be observed in relatively large numbers at Rocky Point. The fact that this individual is seen in the shade, accounts for its decidedly blueish tone; this is a trick of the light.
 
05-26-2012, Great Crested Flycatcher, (Myiarchus crinitus). A salt marsh, with its thriving insect population, provides flycatchers with ample food, particularly in the spring. In other seasons, it will eat fruit, berries and sometimes small reptiles.
 
06-30-2012, Laughing Gull, (Larus atricilla). This species is one of four gull types routinely seen in the NY City/metropolitan area. This group was spotted taking a break along the shore.
 
08-05-2012, Ruddy Turnstone, (Arenaria interpres). This pair was spotted foraging along the shore, just in front of the marsh. A very distinctly-plumaged shore-bird, I am always reminded of a pudgy human (perhaps a banker?) wearing a black vest!
 
08-24-2012, Green Heron, (Butorides virescens). Observed on several occasions (including pairs), this species is also rather skittish and difficult to approach. The wooden platform it is climbing was taken away by Super-storm Sandy and deposited in the woods on the western edge of the marsh pond, a journey of nearly 100 yards.
 
08-24-2012, Herring Gull, (Larus argentatus). Yet another common species in the NY/metro area, here we see a pair of adults perched on the stone jetty at the western edge of the marsh. An omnivore, like many other gulls, this species thrives in human-altered environments.
 
09-15-2012, Least Sandpiper, Calidris minutilla. This individual was photographed in the warm light of early morning, somewhat distorting the true color of its plumage. Preferring a diet of crustaceans, snails and insects, it is foraging within the marsh pond, a familiar haunt of this species.
 
09-15-2012, House Finch, (Carpodacus mexicanus). A relative of the sparrow, finches have heavier bills optimized for eating larger seeds. This specimen is beginning to turn red, a characteristic of this species.
 
09-15-2012, Eastern Kingbird, (Tyrannus tyrannus). Seen along the edge of the dune line, this individual is foraging for its dinner. This species is common in the Rockaways and is also often seen at the Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Credit where it’s due: For invaluable help in identifying some of the sparrows, I’d like to send special thanks to Paul Sweet, and to Tony for bringing Paul on board.

Publications referred to for this series of blogs include, but are not restricted to, the following:

 “Lives of North American Birds”, by K. Kaufman. 1996, Houghton-Mifflin, ISBN0618159886. This book picks up where the typical field guide leaves off, concentrating on how and where birds live. It is illustrated with color photographs and range maps. Taking each North American species in turn it details such things as habitat, diet, behavior, migration, and conservation status, all in layman’s terms. It is the primary behavioral data source for this series of blog postings.

“Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 5th Edition”, edited by J. Dunn & J. Alderfer. 2006, National Geographic, ISBN 0792253140. This book is based on full-color paintings, as are many other such titles. What sets this apart and which I find most useful, is that in many cases plumage, age and sex variations are shown, sometimes resulting in a single species described by eight or more illustrations.

“The Shorebird Guide”, by M. O’Brien, R. Crossley & K. Karlson. 2006, Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 9780618432943. This book covers shore birds seen in North America, but does not include Gulls, Terns, Skimmers or pelagic species. All species illustrations are photographic, starting with a general image, followed by as many plumage, age and sex variations as possible. Also included are range maps and silhouettes by Kenn Kaufman and Michael O’Brien, respectively, while a separate section at the rear of the book contains detailed species accounts.

“Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America”, by T. Floyd, P. Hess & G. Scott. 2008, Harper Collins, ISBN 9780061120404. This is a photography-based guide, which includes range maps, brief species accounts and extensive photo captions. Each section has a separate general intro, while there is an included CD with nearly 600 bird sounds from over 130 species.

“The Warbler Guide”, by T. Stephenson & S. Whittle. 2013, Princeton University Press, ISBN9780691154824. A relatively new title, this book should prove to be indispensable to students of the subject. It provides detailed descriptions, schematic artwork, a guide to interpreting songs and a vast amount of excellent photographs.

All text and photographs by Frank V. De Sisto.

Rocky Point Marsh needs your help. To volunteer for service contact National Park Services Ranger Tony Luscombe at: dcalato6@gmail.com
For more photos of Rocky Point as well as other locations within the Gateway NRA complex, visit: www.frankdesisto.com

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Winter Interlude at Rocky Point, January and February, 2015

The winter of 2014-2015 brought lots of days featuring relatively cold temperatures, often accompanied by high winds. A series of snow storms also left their accumulated marks on the landscape. My ability to visit the marsh was severely restricted, not by the cold weather, but by my lack of any desire to continually dig my vehicle out of its parking spot in the morning, and then dig a new one to put it back into upon my return in the afternoon. As a result, I was only able to visit only once in January and once in February.

Naturally, the marsh was fairly quiet, with a paucity of wildlife and drab colors. Once the snow started accumulating, it appeared yet more desolate, as well as more pristine. Regardless, the careful observer will always be rewarded, as I hope these images will show. In addition, a few hardy bird species were also observed.
 
This image was made at the far eastern edge of the cove that fronts the marsh. Note the snow and how the grass stubble is almost all covered in a sheath of ice. Date: 01-17-2015.
 
The rock jetty on the east end of the cove also exhibited the effects of the freezing temperatures, as seen here. Date: 01-17-2015
 
A view back towards the west, with the marsh entrance at the upper left in the image. What appears to be snow, running in from the lower right, is actually frozen sea foam. Note the horizon, which shows the Manhattan skyline. The discolored band just above it, a temperature inversion, is caused by colder temperatures above pushing down on the warmer air, with its pollutants, which is rising from the city. Date: 01-17-2015
 
With the tide way out, I was able to move relatively far from the normal shore line in order to get a more unusual view of the marsh. Note the gulls on the mud flats in the foreground and the dune in the center of the image; the marsh entrance is to the left. Date: 01-17-2015
 
This close-up shows how well-encased in ice the grass stubble was. Date: 01-17-2015
 

Five weeks later and not too much has changed. The ice and snow build-up on the shore has increased in this eastward-facing image. Date: 02-28-2015

Probably brought in from Jamaica Bay on the tides, the remnants of a pair of small icebergs quietly deteriorates in the sun. Date: 02-28-2015

Looking west, one can see the snow that has accumulated in the mudflats. Date: 02-28-2015
 
The main pond in the marsh was completely frozen over and covered with a layer of snow. Note that the ice and snow covers a bit more than half of the drainage culverts that feed the marsh from inland. Date: 02-28-2015
 
The dune line on the western end of the marsh provides a platform from which to look east along the beach front. These dunes have self-repaired well enough since Superstorm sandy flattened them in October of 2012. Date: 02-28-2015
 
The new inlet created by Superstorm Sandy is cluttered with shattered chunks of snowbound icebergs.
 
 
The first image is looking to the east while the second looks directly into the pond; note the Osprey nest box, center left. Date: 02-28-2015

 
American Wigeon, male and female, (Anas americana). This pair was spotted initially about 50 yards off-shore in front of the marsh, calmly cruising in Jamaica Bay. For no apparent reason, they suddenly took-off and headed east. Date: 02-28-2015

Downy Woodpecker, (Piciodes pubescens). Recently, this species has been observed with great frequency in and around the marsh. Tolerant of the winters in the north-east, his individual was foraging in the woods directly behind the dune line, east of the marsh entrance. Date: 02-28-2015

 

Northern Harrier, male, (Circus cyaneus). A chance glance over my shoulder brought this agile raptor into view. A quick image was captured, and just as quickly, the subject wound its way into the trees and disappeared. This Northern Harrier, along with the previously pictured American Wigeon pair, are, as of the publication of this blog installment, the 74th and 75th species I have photographed at Rocky Point. Date: 02-28-2015.
 
All text and photos by Frank V. De Sisto.

Published works consulted for this posting included the following:

“The Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America”, by R.T. Peterson. 2008, Houghton Mifflin, ISBN9780618966141. This is THE classic work by the legendary Roger Tory Peterson. I have two versions; the cited volume includes both east and west field guides between the covers of an enlarged-format book. Simply stated, no serious birder should be without a copy.

“Clouds and Weather”, Peterson First Guides, by J.A. Day & V.J. Schaefer. ISBN 9780395906637. It’s nice to know how to “read” the sky when in the field. This compact booklet is packed with 128 pages of text, diagrams, excellent color photography and a handy index.

Rocky Point Marsh needs your help. To volunteer for service contact National Park Services Ranger Tony Luscombe at: dcalato6@gmail.com

For more photos of Rocky Point as well as other locations within the Gateway NRA complex, visit: www.frankdesisto.com
 
 



Sunday, February 8, 2015

Autumn Migration at Rocky Point Marsh, October & November, 2014

Rocky Point Marsh, like so many of nature’s oasis’ serves as a way-point for migrating birds. The Rockaways, where the marsh is located, are barrier islands situated within the so-called Atlantic Flyway and are a convenient navigational aid as birds make their way down the East Coast, to, and past, Cape May, New Jersey.

The importance of a salt marsh’s varied habitat becomes as critical at this time of the year as it would be during nesting season. Birds will stop to feed and fatten-up for the next leg of their energy-consuming journey. Seeds and berries, as well as insects and fish offer convenient access to those birds with peculiar diets. Raptors will follow avian prey during migration so that they can also add more calories to their body mass for the continuation of their annual southern excursion.

The advent of autumn brings shorter periods of daylight. Being hard-wired into nature’s grid, birds take note of this; when the time is right they head south. Weather patterns this time of year often produce winds from the north; birds habitually take advantage of the free ride a tail-wind offers. Many bird species fly at night during migration; it is thought that they may do so to avoid predators or to use the stars as navigational aids. Raptors migrate mostly by day when the heating of the earth’s surface creates thermal air masses, which ease their passage. Birds will stop to rest in welcoming areas, such as salt marshes; most will forage early in the day and then again late in the afternoon.

Not all birds of the same species will begin migration at the same time. The sex and the age of the birds seems to play a role in determining precisely when migration will begin for an individual. In addition, certain birds, which will winter locally, merely disperse in order to ensure that adequate food resources are obtainable.

Habitats also undergo a metamorphosis; leaves change color or drop away as the weather cools, altering nature’s color palette. Summer’s greens give way to yellow, orange and red, then tan and gray as autumn turns into winter. Decaying plant matter fertilizes the earth adding nutrients for next spring’s explosion of new life. Many plant species (with the help of birds and insects) disperse their seeds into this mix, adding to a salt marsh’s inherent ability to support a rich biodiversity.

The following images and observations were made during the months of October and November, 2014.




It’s still mid-October and the weather has been relatively mild. So, at this point in time, colors have not yet changed in any dramatic way. This view looks towards the western end of the marsh; compare to similar images in the previous blog posting. Date: 10-17-2014.

In the calm waters of the eastern edge of the marsh pond, these shoots of grass were surrounded by tiny gas bubbles. This was a consistent phenomenon over an area of many square yards. Date: 10-17-2014.
 








One week later, the tide came in fully, completely flooding the marsh. The camera is pointed slightly north of east, at the entrance formed by Super-storm Sandy. In fact, the image was made almost two years to the day that the storm devastated the northern east coast. Date: 10-25-2014.



Another interesting phenomenon seen in a quieter flooded segment of the western edge of the marsh, were these gas bubbles. They covered many square yards of the marsh’s substrate, a few inches below the water’s surface. The remains of a Ribbed Mussel (Geukensia demissa) is seen at upper right. This bivalve helps filter the water, leaving fecal matter behind, which helps provide nitrogen as a plant nutrient. It is also a food source for birds that frequent the marsh, such as the Willet. Date: 10-25-2014.
Looking like extra-thin string-beans with warts, this Saltwort (Salicornia) lies entangled in grass just behind the dune line at the marsh’s western edge. Green throughout the summer months, a close look at some of the plant’s shoots will reveal that they are typically beginning to turn orange-red as autumn takes hold. Date: 10-25-2014.
 

Although this image was made one week prior to the one above, his bit of Saltwort (Salicornia) has already turned completely red. Date: 10-17-14.


This stand of American Beach Grass (Ammophila breviligulata) appears to be in seed. A dominant species on the Atlantic coast down to North Carolina, this hearty and rapidly-growing plant is vital for the stabilization of the dune line. Date: 10-25-2014.

A clammy, rainy day greeted your humble narrator on the first day of November. The marsh pond is filled and one can also see how most of the trees in the background have become completely denuded of foliage. Yet, there are still bits of color here and there. In this image the camera faces south. Date: 11-01-2014.







A few minutes later, anchored in the same location, the camera faces east. Date: 11-01-2014.





What a difference a week makes! As the camera faces west, on this beautiful, yet “crisp” morning, it provides a view along the dune line behind the beach that fronts Jamaica Bay. These dunes were completely flattened two years ago by Super-storm Sandy, but have re-built themselves quite handily, probably because most of the “rhizomes” (lateral root systems from plants) remained intact below the surface. Date: 11-08-2014.


This appears to be a Red-tailed Bumble Bee (Bombus ternarius), which is common in the east from Nova Scotia to Georgia. It was observed at close quarters as it went busily about its business atop this Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens). Date: 10-25-2014.

What is most probably a juvenile Coopers Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) surveys the marsh from a low altitude. A hunter of birds and small mammals, this raptor’s wing and tail shape assures it of maneuverability as it stealthily pursues prey through the woods. Illustrating how Hawk identification can be a challenge, particularly for less-experienced birders such as I, this could also be a Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus). Date: 10-17-14.

This Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) perches in a thicket along the edge of the marsh. With a diet consisting almost exclusively of insects, this small bird seems quite resistant to autumn’s cooler temperatures. Date: 10-25-2014.


The Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa) also feeds mostly on insects, but will also eat berries and seeds; in this image this little fellow has just launched itself from the branches of Poison Ivy. Although unseen here, there is a red crest hidden on top of its head, which will be deployed if the bird becomes overly excited. Date: 10-25-2014.

The most often seen Warbler at Rocky Point, the Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronate) comes in two main forms; this one is seen in the east and is a “Myrtle”. The “butter-butt’s” diet consists of insects and berries, with the latter being consumed in winter months. Date: 11-08-2014.

The vociferous Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) perches on a tree branch. Its diet consists mostly of insects and seeds, but it will sometimes eat small crabs and mollusks. Song Sparrows are common visitors year-round at Rocky Point. Date: 10-25-14.


This rather handsome White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) struts his stuff for the camera. Another common species at Rocky Point, its diet consists of insects and seeds, as well as berries; it will also eat snails and is well served in a marshy habitat. Date: 11-08-14.


A cousin to the sparrow, the Dark-eyed Junco, Slate-colored (Junco hyemalis) is most commonly seen hunting for seeds on open ground. It supplements seeds with insects and berries. On this day, it was the predominating bird species at Rocky Point. Unusually, this individual seems to be of the “pink-sided” or “mearnsi” race; if this is so, he is far from his normal range. Date: 11-08-14.

A ground forager, the Winter Wren (Troglodytes hiemalis) is most often observed in tangled undergrowth. An insectivore, it will also occasionally dine on small fish and some berries. Date: 11-08-14.

 The Hermit Thrush (Cartharus guttatus) often lingers for a time in the north, beginning its migration late in the autumn. Feeding manly on insects, it will also eat a large variety of berries. Date: 10-25-14.


The Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens), which is very similar in appearance to the Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus), can be differentiated by its much shorter mandibles as well as its smaller size. Its main meal consists of insects, but it will eat seeds and suet from bird feeders, as well as berries. Date: 11-29-14.

A pair of Northern Flickers (Colaptes auratus), perch on one of the supports of the marsh’s Osprey nest platform. This is the so-called “yellow-shafted” form seen in the eastern parts of North America. Primarily an insect-eater, Flickers are often seen feeding on the ground in all seasons. Date: 11-29-2014.

A relatively late autumn migrant and an early spring migrant, the Eastern Pheobe (Sayornis nigricans) is a so-called “Flycatcher”. It feeds mostly on insects, but will also eat berries and some fruits. Date: 10-25-14.






A year-round resident in New York, there is no mistaking the Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), either by sight or by sound. Its large, powerful mandibles are equally at home devouring insects and vegetable matter; snails are also on its menu, making a salt marsh an ideal habitat. Date: 11-08-14.

This trio of American Goldfinches (Corduelis tristis) are feeding on a stand of Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens). They are in their more cryptic winter colors but still retain their black wings and white wing bars. Like many birds, they eat mostly insects in the warmer months, switching to seeds during colder months. Date: 11-29-14.



 
These two images were made in the center of the western part of the marsh. The first one looks south-east, while the second looks north-west. Note that the trees are denuded of their leaves and most of the grasses are showing very little green. Date: 11-29-14.


As the weather cools, some plants prepare to spread their seeds around in preparation for spring, as this Common Reed (Phragmites australis) is doing. The seeds shown are ready for distribution by the wind, using their silken bristles as parachutes. However, this plant’s main form of reproduction is through its rhizomes (lateral underground root systems). Date: 11-19-14.

These two images were made from virtually the same view-point. The upper image has the camera facing north-east, looking out towards Jamaica bay. The lower image is looking almost directly north, with the Manhattan skyline on the far horizon. Difficult to tell from this angle, the surface of the water in the marsh sports a thin layer of ice, indicating that it is of relatively low salinity. Date: 11-29-14.


Probably one of the most devastating consequence of human ecological ignorance is the presence of feral domestic cats throughout the Rockaways. Often abandoned or simply let loose for the night by their owners, these predators have a profound effect on bird populations; it is estimated that millions of birds are killed each year by this completely preventable man-made scourge. This rather fat creature is crossing the entrance to the yacht club on his way to hunt in the marsh; the presence of your narrator did not disturb him in the least. Date: 11-29-2014.

New York City’s Police Department has an Aviation Unit based at Floyd Bennett Field, part of the Gateway NRA complex, located in Brooklyn. The NYPD is in the process of replacing their helicopter fleet with the Bell Model 429 (upper left); the Bell Model 412 (bottom right) will be retired. Both of these rotary-wing aircraft are outgrowths of designs that made their first flight in 1956 (the 412) and 1966 (the 429). These two helicopters were photographed over Jamaica Bay, from the marsh. Date: 10-17-14.


 I will close this entry with an image made in August, 2014, at Fort Tilden. Almost two years after Super-storm Sandy, most of the dune line that was eradicated has still not begun to repair itself. Likewise, the maritime forest still plainly exhibits the effects of the devastation wrought by the storm.

All text and photographs by Frank V. De Sisto unless otherwise indicated.

Credit where it’s due:
This time around I’d like to thank Genie for help in confirming the identity of some vegetation.

Sources consulted for this blog included:

“The Warbler Guide”, by T. Stephenson & S. Whittle. 2013, Princeton University Press, ISBN9780691154824.
A relatively new title, this book should prove to be indispensable to students of the subject. It provides detailed descriptions, schematic artwork, a guide to interpreting songs and a vast amount of excellent photographs. Disclaimer: I had met Mr. Whittle some years ago when I first became hooked on birding; he proved most gracious in answering some questions from this novice at the time and many times since.

“The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America”, by D. Stokes & L. Stokes. 2010, Little, Brown & Co., ISBN9780316010504.
This highly-regarded volume is one of many titles by this acclaimed husband and wife team. Profusely illustrated with photographs, it also includes a handy CD with recordings of over 600 bird sounds.

“Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America”, by K. Kaufman. 2000, Houghton Mifflin Co., ISBN9780618574230.
Laid out in the typical compact format of classic field guides, this volume is set apart from some by the use of photographs instead of paintings. What differentiates it from other photo-based offerings is that the images are digitally manipulated to show only the bird, from several angles, without any distracting background.

“Hawks in Flight”, by P. Dunne, D. Sibley & C. Sutton. 1988, Houghton Mifflin Co., ISBN9780395510223.
This unique and slim volume takes a different approach to identifying the subject while in flight, using line drawings and B&W photographs. This is extremely useful when all the observer can see is the underside of a bird in flight.

“Hawks from Every Angle”, by J. Liguori. 2005, Princeton University Press, ISBN 0691118256.
Another helpful book for Hawk watchers, this title is based on using color and B&W photographs. It also has information on where to go and when to be there in order to observe Hawks, as well as tips on optics and photography.
“Lives of North American Birds”, by K. Kaufman. 1996, Houghton-Mifflin, ISBN0618159886.
This book picks up where the typical field guide leaves off, concentrating on how and where birds live. It is illustrated with color photographs and range maps. Taking each North American species in turn it details such things as habitat, diet, behavior, migration, and conservation status, all in layman’s terms.

“The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior”, Edited by D.A. Sibley, C. Elphick & J.B. Dunning, Jr; illustrated by D.A. Sibley. 2001, Knopf, ISBN9781400043866.
With a similar goal to the title listed above, this weighty volume compliments Mr. Kaufman’s effort quite nicely. This book is divided into two main parts, the first of which details many facets of bird biology and behavior, as well as external factors that affect them. The second part contains details on the specific habits of various species broken down into family groups.

Rocky Point Marsh needs your help. To volunteer for service contact National Park Services Ranger Tony Luscombe at: dcalato6@gmail.com

 For more photos of Rocky Point as well as other locations within the Gateway NRA complex, visit: www.frankdesisto.com