Readers’ wildlife photos

July 6, 2023 • 8:15 am

Today’s photos come from evolutionary biologist Jody Hey. Jody’s notes and IDs are indented, and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them.

Carpenter’s Woods is a patch of forest in Philadelphia, less than 40 acres in area, that has played an outsized role in the history of birdwatching in the USA.    These are urban woods,  with lots of walkers with their dogs,  but they also attract a lot of birdlife because of their proximity to larger woodlands.

The woods are just around the corner from the local public school,  the Charles W. Henry School,  and for many years beginning in 1921 were the site of a play about conserving bird life.   The school principal, Caroline T. Moffet, would arrange for a production of “Sanctuary: A Bird Masque” by Percy MacKaye, first performed at the Meriden Bird Club sanctuary dedication in New Hampshire in 1913.   These Henry School productions involved hundreds of children from the school, and took place in Carpenter’s Woods.    Under Principal Moffet’s leadership, children at the Henry school also learned about birds in their civic classes,  heard question lectures about birds, and built bird houses.  In 1921, Moffet, along with her student’s and faculty,  successfully lobbied the city of Philadelphia to designate Carpeter’s Woods as the city’s first  bird sanctuary.     Over the years, more than 120 species of birds have been observed in the woods.

This is a trail map prepared by the Friends of Carpenter Woods:

These are photographs from the 1923 Henry school production that I found in Walter, J. B. and J. J. Alexander (1923). “A Bird Masque, A Pantomime.” Mind and Body, a monthly journal, devoted to physical education XXIX: 73-88.

And this is a photo from the 1930 production showing the large number of students that participated.  I found this in Levine, A. E. and S. A. Marino (2012). “Carpenter’s run and Carpenter’s woods: a brief history.” Germantown Crier 62: 62-75.

These are shots of a male Pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) that for some reason was happy to dig in a fallen branch for grubs just a few feet away from me.

This Barred Owl (Strix varia) is one of a pair that nested  (successfully I was told) in Carpenter’s Woods three years ago.

Carpenter’s Woods is also home to a much smaller owl,  the  Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio).  This one was sitting in a beech tree and watching me as I photographed it.

This Veery (Catharus fuscescens) is one of many that come through in the spring,  though I don’t know what their breeding numbers in these woods are like.    The song of the Veery sounds to me like a 1990’s video game.

And finally a wood thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) that in this picture is almost unrecognizable as such.  The bird was clearly agitated,  perhaps by me taking its picture,  as it has raised its head feathers and puffed its chest up.

14 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. WOW!

    Love this one! The Pileated – gorgeous!

    Video game, you say…

    Lifeforce – but it has an alternate title, I can’t remember.

    1. My Ornithology field lab students said that the Veery sounds like “Pacman dying”. I heard that often enough that I used it as a mnemonic in future classes. But reached a point where students had never heard of Pacman, let alone knowing the sound.

  2. This is a wonderful post! Great photos of the history and gorgeous photos of the birds that you saw.
    Thank you!

  3. I love Pileated Woodpeckers and I’ve had the same experience with them. They get so obsessed with finding the grubs in dead wood that they seem not to notice anything else.

    Also, it looks like the captions of the Screech Owl and Barred Owl got reversed.

  4. Beautiful pictures. I believe that screech owl is sitting in a pine tree, not a beech tree.

    1. The barred owl pic and the screech owl pic are reversed by mistake. The barred owl is indeed sitting in a white pine.

  5. Wow, as a student, I wish I had I cool patch of woods next to my schools to learn about birds and conservation. I was usually surrounded by roads and concrete! Loved the birds you photographed. We have pileated woodpeckers in the Northwest, a local favorite. I was surprised when I first learned how large their range is.

  6. Those pileated woodpecker photographs are a once a lifetime occasion, I guess.
    The veery link doesn’t work, but I could get it on a google search. I think it sounds more like Space Invaders than Pac Man, but I’m not 100% sure. Definitely like one of those vintage games.
    [on an irrelevant aside, if you clunck two heavy bottomed highball glasses together, and keep them touching, you get the sound baby crocks make]
    Wonderful photographs.

  7. Re pleated pics, it definitely felt like that. Definitely a moment that will stay with me as long as the brain works.

  8. SO cool to see these magnificent birds in an urban wildlife refuge! It goes to show there’s still so much we can do for biodiversity. Thanks.

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