Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sitta carolinensis

White-breasted nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis, in her classical pose. A common bird in Central Park, although my first observation and identification. Observed this female nuthatch alone spiraling down the trunk of a large Pin Oak (Quercus palustris Munchh.), stopping occasionally to poke her bill in the bark's crevice. I heard "cheep, cheep" from her, however, bird guides consulted describe a sound of "yank, yank". Her song could have been is "whi, whi, whi" as described in Peterson's Field Guide. When she reached this level, she returned up the tree the same way she came down - spiraling the girth of the tree trunk. Minutes later she flew off to a tree where a Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) was seen higher up in the limbs.

Field Guides

Being around flora and fauna, I consult a few field guides at home or on the shelf of nearby Library. Concerning bird identification, I prefer Kaufman's Guide as it especially friendly to the novice with its Pictorial Table of Contents. Most cases I can identify the bird within these pages, if not then I can narrow down to which group it belongs. Turn the referenced section, where the section intro provides a little more detail. After that I thumb to the referenced page. So far I am batting a thousands with this book.

To get further info, next up was Peterson's field guide to Birds. This book described the detail of distinguishing between male and female. In this case, our solo White-breasted nuthatch is female revealed by her gray crown; a male nuthatch wears a black cap.

One can't go wrong in choosing between these two field guides they are both equally accessible and provide enough detail to identify and appreciate the bird under observation. If there is an emphasis on easy bird identification, Kaufman's is my choice here. The more experienced birder may not consider this such a requirement.

Resources for Birds of Central Park
Annotated Checklist to birds of Central Park from the Central Park Conservancy.

Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America
- Purposes and Goals of the Kaufman Field Guide Series

A Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern and Central North America
- About Roger Tory Peterson

Other field guides with a local interest
New York City Trees: A Field Guide for the Metropolitan Area

Field Guide to the Natural World of New York City

A Natural History of New York City

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