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I am in magnolia heaven today! Star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) was also blooming in central parks conservancy garden. These beautiful flowers can be white or light pink and are slightly fragrant.
It is the first day of spring!! I am overwhelmed with how beautiful all the emerging plants and flowers are! Here is some forsythia in bloom next to my bus stop.
Saucer magnolia (Magnolia soulangeana) was in bloom already at central parks conservancy garden. This magnolia variety is a hybrid and developed by plant breeders in France in the early 1800’s and is planted as a small ornamental tree here in the U.S.. I love the cup and saucer shape of the flower. Spring is here!!!
In any other place i would not get as excited to see a Red tail hawk (Bueto jamaicensis) but last Saturday I followed this one around Tompkins square park. To see this beautiful bird swoop from tree to tree and eventually scare a group of pigeons as it took off uptown brought me back to days of living in more rural places.
While each sighting is special, it not as unusual as you might think to see this bird of prey here because there is such a predictable food source….rats!
These birds are barley putting a dent in the massive city rat population and sadly the indirect use of rodenticide has poisoned these urban hunters. With the widespread use of rat poison (rodenticide) if a hawk ingests a rat that has consumed but not yet died it will also kill the hawk.
You often see these birds in pairs and are known for their monogamous relationships.
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Is it really spring in NYC? The plants seem to think so. After a very mild winter-no one is surprised anymore that the crocuses are out-however the buds on the trees are softening and on a walk last week I even saw redbud (Cercis canadensis) starting to bloom and spicebush (Lindera spp.) starting to bud. In the science world the phenomenon of “bud break” is referred to as leaf phenology-which in greek means “to show, bring light or make appear”. The event of leaf emergence has long been a biological sign for hunter and gathers, farmers, and bird watchers alike that spring has arrived! Average temperate warming and also soil moisture and humidity are the factors signal the plants and kick this process into gear!
So, this is great-right? Actually no!-several years of above average warming can have some major ecological consequence and begin to alter the range of plants-for example there can be a shift northward of plants-this can extend out to the birds and insects that feed on those plants-and start to cause some more major shifts in migratory patterns of birds and predator-prey relationships.
The plants also don’t recognize it is still possible to get a cold snap-which would freeze the buds and flowers making our NYC spring go from a beautiful neon green to weeks of drab brown until the buds can re-emerge-so for now I am going to enjoy the warmer weather and hope it persists until next years snow!
Click on this beautiful plum photo to purchase it on etsy.
While weather is often confused with climate, it is clear our climate is changing. I saw a redbud tree in Tompkins Square Park blooming this morning. If you have time this video is worth watching.
Snowdrops (Galanthus spp.)! Another sign of spring! I found these in Riverdale Park the Bronx! Snowdrops are perennial, herbaceous plants which grow from bulbs and are known to carpet the forest floor in late winter/early spring making it look like snow.