I had some spare time this week after being released a couple of hours early from jury duty and used that time well, birding Kissena Corridor Park in central Queens, which has been a hot spot for a variety of good birds this fall.  While I didn’t discover any rarities during my birding I did spend quite a bit of time watching several species of birds feeding on hawthorn berries.  Hawthorn, sometimes called thornapple, is the common name of the genus of shrubs and trees called Crataegus.  The berries of hawthorn, often bright red, are used in a variety of dishes around the world. And, of course, birds love them!

I had a great time watching European Starlings trying to grab and eat berries in the brisk and gusty wind that was blowing the branches – and the fruit – every which way.  It didn’t look easy but the berries must be delicious and nutritious because the birds wouldn’t give up! Once I got home and looked at the shots I got I was pleased, both because the images were pretty good (at least, I think so) and because they really captured how gorgeous starlings, an often underappreciated bird in the United States (to say the least), can be. In several of the shots that I got you can see the bird’s nictating membrane, the translucent eye covering that birds use to protect their eyes.  It only made sense with the way the wind was blowing and how many twigs were around each fruit that the birds would want to keep their eyes from getting poked.


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Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.