Painted Lady butterflies migrating through NYC

The smaller, drabber cousin of the Monarch is headed north in huge numbers this year.

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Ambitious, young males leading hummingbirds in early migration

Macho hummingbirds are leading the migration north weeks early this year. Most ruby-throated hummingbirds are still hanging back down south.

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Hummingbirds arrive a month--sometimes two--early this year; some never left

In the last week hummingbirds flew into IL, NY, PA, OH, MD and even Ontario, way ahead of schedule. Freakishly, many fragile hummingbirds spent all winter up north.

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Great horned owl pair hanging around in Propsect Park

owl showing talons

In New York City, you don’t have to be a good enough birder to spot the owl. Just good enough to spot the birders watching the owl.

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How to find the snowy owl near you

Snowy owl stands on Wisconsin brush,

The white, Harry Potter owls are having a boom year, sighted in Boston, Chicago, Philly, Denver and Long Island. Look on eBird to see where.

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Migrating Monarchs stop at Brooklyn's best butterfly bush

Monarch butterflies are migrating through New York City on their way down the East Coast to Florida and maybe Mexico. A bush on 7th Avenue in Parks Slope draws them in.

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Horseshoe crab embryos moving legs inside supposedly doomed eggs plucked off beach

Horseshoe crab eggs may not be as delicate as we thought. Many are growing despite being uncovered by tide and roughly cared for in a NYC apartment.

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Fire Island: horseshoe crab hotspot

Thousands of horseshoe crabs likely to crowd Fire Island beaches tonight, the new moon. One beach by the Pines had more than 2,000 Sunday.

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NYC Birders Looking for Owls

A great-horned owl that visited Central Park last year

Bird biologist Robert DeCandido is leading tours in New York City this week to spot owls–eastern screech owls in Central Park and great horned owls in the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.

The winter is a good time to see owls because the leaves are gone, making it harder for them to hide, and they fly out at dusk, which is late afternoon.

Last Sunday birders counted 59 species of birds in Central Park on the first day of NYC Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count. (The count goes on until Jan. 5, so you can still play and there’s an organized count in the Bronx on Dec. 26.) Birding Bob notes that “Our group added three species that no one else saw (Winter Wren; Peregrine Falcon and just before 9am, an Orange-crowned Warbler).”

DeCandido and his companion Debs took amazing pictures recently of an immature sharp-shinned hawk and a female Ring-necked Duck on the Reservoir.

Check out Birding Bob’s tours Where to See Wildlife in the Northeast

Wednesday, December 22nd (OWLS): 4pm – NYBG in the Bronx – Meet at 4pm at the Main Gate (opposite the MetroNorth Train Station) – $5. OWLS! We will head to a location to watch the fly out of the Great Horned Owls for the evening. Since dusk is about 4:45pm, we should be done by 5:30pm or so. NYBG is open for free all day. Trains leave Grand Central at about 20 minutes past

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UK Repeating Survey that Last Year Found Widespread Charming Mammals

Hedgehog Ears!

Hedgehog Ears by by codepo8

Later this week up to 100,000 Brits will be going to their yards and counting badgers, hedgehogs, foxes, toads and moles. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds got 62,000 people to count last year when they started out.

The survey “is by far the biggest survey on garden mammals ever!” the site boasts. I’ve certainly never seen anything like it in the U.S. It’s a fantastic resource for wildlife watchers because you can see which counties have the most of which animals. Sure, it’s not totally scientific. People self-select to do it. And if I had a yard full of hedgehogs, I’d be filling out surveys and telling everyone I know about it.

The 2009 results showed a delightful amount of wildlife. In Wales, 9% of people who took the survey see badgers at least once a month and a quarter of the English live with have little hedgehogs on their property. What kind of magical place is this? Did anyone report any talking bunnies?

The survey just takes an hour, so they don’t demand that–unlike similar bird surveys–the animal doesn’t have to show up just at that moment. They let people report sign of an animal ask generally how often they’re seen. Otherwise you might get a whole lot of nothing from the survey.

As you might guess from its name the RSPB is more interested in birds than mammals. They also ask about cats, which they estimated recently that

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