Your home for information on the guided bird walks led each week in
New York City's Central Park by Dr. Robert "Birding Bob" DeCandido
Friday, 23 June (start at Conservatory Garden [105th street] at 9am) - we were most interested in finding breeding birds today, but also managed to find a few late lingering (or early fall) migrants warblers. These included the continuing male Common Yellowthroat at the Wildflower Meadow who is singing away; a male Yellow Warbler was occasionally singing from a cherry tree near Nutter's Battery...and a late migrant female Northern Parula was quietly feeding in the north woods but came in to the calls from my tape. As for possible breeders, a male (patchy blue-brown) Indigo Bunting was seen entering a shrub near the Green Bench but Deborah and I did not want to pursue what we saw much more lest we disturb a possible breeding pair. We have also seen a female in this area - but not today. A lone male Chipping Sparrow was singing nearby (see Deborah's photo above). - but we have only found this one bird each Friday in the last three weeks. As expected, we found no (ZERO) nesting pairs of Green Herons (someone claims to have found two nesting pairs in the northern part of the park), but do read our historical note below about nesting Green Herons in the park in the 1990s. On the other hand, we did find good evidence of fledged Baltimore Orioles, Northern Flicker, Grey Catbird, Mourning Dove, Red-winged Blackbirds and Blue Jays. Perhaps American Goldfinches will nest in the area of the Wildflower Meadow - details to follow...
Deborah's bird list for the day: http://birding.aba.org/message.php?mesid=1304099&MLID=NY01&MLNM=New%20York
Saturday, 24 June - no bird walk! It rained quite hard until about 10am today.
Sunday, 25 June (start at the Boathouse Restaurant at 9am) - a morning of amazing...more amazing and beyond amazing. First the more amazing category: the bird that had everyone's attention this morning was a first summer male Kentucky Warbler first found at about 7am (rdc) in the area of the Bird Feeders (also called Evodia Field) in the Ramble. See the short video by Daniel Boer and the photo by Deborah Allen (both above). Thankfully it remained occasionally singing and making chip calls in this area until 2pm - many people got good looks at it. Our group at 9:10am had fleeting looks to superb looks - it depended upon where one was standing when the bird flew in to my taped "chip" calls. It came as close as 20 feet from us. By the end of the bird walk, everyone had had great looks at this bird...This is either the latest spring arrival date or earliest fall departure date for this species in NYC. This bird had the look/behavior of a male looking (wandering) for a mate - and happened to arrive on the overnite winds from the northwest in Central Park. Now the "just" amazing category: a Worm-eating Warbler in the strip of woods that separates Iphigene's Walk from the Maintenance Field first found at 7:15am (rdc), and then with the group at about 9:45am (not great looks - but the bird did pop up for a moment). Finally, the beyond amazing category: at 7:45am or so, two Yellow-billed Cuckoos came flying in and landed near (two feet) each other in the Honey-locust above the Humming Tombstone. One was clearly larger than the other (females are larger than males). When I returned with the group at about 10am, we found one cuckoo in the Maintenance Field (Tom Ahlf), and then we believe the other mad a fly-by appearance at the Humming Tombstone in response to its calls from my tape. Will these cuckoos stay to nest in Central Park? Who knows...but if that happened (or the females put their eggs in the nest of another species) that would be truly beyond amazing. As for other birds today, we had several other warbler species including the Black-and-white female at the Upper Lobe (also seen by Linda LaBella during the week); a continuing male Magnolia Warbler in the area of Warbler Rock; and a couple of American Redstarts - five warbler species in all today...incredible for late June...and mostly due to the overnite (Saturday into Sunday) winds from the northwest. Other highlights included a pair of Great Crested Flycatchers in the Ramble (don't seem to be nesting yet), and Cedar Waxwing pairs perhaps already nesting (one pair or so), while other pairs have not started yet. On the other hand, despite the claims by one confused observer, there are no nesting Wood Thrushes, Eastern Wood Pewees and Brown Thrashers nesting in the Ramble (or anywhere in Central Park). Nevertheless, I will be doing a breeding bird census starting at 5:30am at the Boathouse on Saturday, 1 July and again on Tuesday, 4 July (meets at 106th street and 5th Avenue) - come join me to see for yourself.
Deborah's bird list for the day: http://birding.aba.org/message.php?mesid=1304779&MLID=NY01&MLNM=New%20York
Friday, 16 June (start at Conservatory Garden [105th street] at 9am) - the male Common Yellowthroat continues to sing up a lonely song at the Wildflower Meadow...this week without any input from Indigo Buntings (see last week). However, a male Chipping Sparrow was singing at the nearby Green Bench, and Cedar Waxwings are pairing off. Some Warbling Vireos pairs are nesting...while other pairs are still wandering about. On the other hand, only one Red-eyed Vireo was seen today at the NE corner of the Great Hill suggesting that these birds are nesting now. Other highlights: a lone White-breasted Nuthatch in the north woods offering the possibility of a nesting pair, but three American Goldfinches (two male and one female) at the Wildflower Meadow indicates these birds are not nesting yet. Finally, a few fledged Northern Flickers - how these birds manage to nest in the park, I would love to know their strategy!
Deborah's bird list for the day: http://birding.aba.org/message.php?mesid=1301999&MLID=NY01&MLNM=New%20York
Saturday, 17 June (New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx at 9:45am) - I had better mention the male Orchard Oriole we found near the Children's Garden, since we forgot to put it on the list for the day - it suggests these birds are nesting at NYBG again this year. (In 2016, Jeff ward helped us find a male and female at this same location.) At that same spot we also found male Ruby-throated Hummingbird; a pair of Red-eyed Vireos and a pair of Warbling Vireos. As is the case in Central Park, Warbling Vireos (some 7+ pairs) greatly outnumbered Red-eyed Vireos today (one pair only). Other highlights: a male Wood Thrush carrying food (nest nearby - see Deborah's photo above);Eastern Wood Pewee (possibly two) calling and then coming down to the tape to perch at eye-level (See Deborah's photo above) that even amazed Will Papp; Monk Parakeet - a lone bird feeding in the grass opposite Fordham University, possibly with a nest in the light towers on the sports field across the street; Cedar Waxwings - pairs and small groups - these must nest here; and Eastern Phoebe - male and female in the area of Boulder Bridge...likely nesting under the bridge. However, what we missed (and was seen last year) is just as significant: Wood Duck - these used to nest here in reasonable number but changes to the Twin Lakes (cutting of trees; insertion of bubbling aeration) has affected duckweed - and we did not see any this year; Pine Warbler - the only known location for nesting Pine Warblers in our area - none seen today...perhaps the early onset rain decreased our chances of finding one pair; and Hairy Woodpecker - none seen - usually a pair nests in the central woodlands here. At 12noon the rains came and the walk shifted into high gear to reach the coffee shop...but there are more birds to be found here including the Great Horned Owls that nested this past winter.
Deborah's bird list for the day: http://birding.aba.org/message.php?mesid=1302380&MLID=NY01&MLNM=New%20York
Sunday, 18 June (start at the Boathouse Restaurant at 9am) - I was happy to deliver the three pairs of brand new Swarovski binoculars to George and Wendy Miller...and Drew Stadlin. For the rest of us with human eyes and optics, to find a male Magnolia Warbler (and a female Black-and-white) was a big deal - though we wished for another 15 species of mid-May. Patti Pike helped us find the pair of Great Crested Flycatchers - let's see if they nest; a pair of White-breasted Nuthatches feeding two young - this is significant because these birds do not nest in the park every year (on average once every five years); indeed we can recall only the 2005 and 2007 nests in the Ramble. Other highlights: nesting Eastern Kingbirds at Turtle Pond and the Lake; fledged young Baltimore Orioles; and a lone Tufted Titmouse in the Ramble (heard/seen in two places) - another cavity nesting species that has trouble breeding in Central Park. Finally, the nest of Northern Flickers in the Ramble fledged young...how many is anyone's guess because we heard flickers throughout the Ramble...so I will guess four young fledged. How these cavity nesters manage to survive starlings, squirrels, raccoons and other species interested in tree cavities and the food (eggs/young) in tree cavities...I don't know. But flickers do nest every year in several parts of the park.
Thursday, 1 June (start at the Dock on Turtle Pond at 9am) - a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird at the Dock on Turtle Pond (start of walk) left us wondering if a nest was nearby? Our best finds of the day were 4-5 Great Crested Flycatchers in the flowering Honey-locust at the Humming Tombstone. I don't remember a spring with this many Great Cresteds in the park who are so responsive to the tape. Overall we had 10 warbler species, the best being a male Mourning Warbler just east of Warbler Rock at a rock outcropping called Riviera Hill.
Deborah's bird list for the day: http://birding.aba.org/message.php?mesid=1297038&MLID=NY01&MLNM=New%20York
Friday, 2 June (start at Conservatory Garden [105th street] at 9am) - though we only had 5 warbler species today, our best sighting was a pair of Black Vultures heading south over the North Woods. This is the first June sighting of this vulture in/over Central Park. Other highlights include Yellow-bellied Flycatcher found by David Barrett (east of Wildflower Meadow), and a Wilson's Warbler female found by Mayra Cruz on the west side of the Wildflower Meadow.
Deborah's bird list for the day: http://birding.aba.org/message.php?mesid=1297566&MLID=NY01&MLNM=New%20York
Saturday, 3 June (start at the Boathouse Restaurant at 7:30am and again at 9am) - Carine Mitchell, a few days earlier, had found a Baltimore Oriole nest (with eggs and female sitting within), and she happily showed this nest to the group located at the NE corner of the Maintenance Field. Other highlights included both a Yellow-billed and a Black-billed Cuckoo at the Humming Tombstone that came in to calls from my tape.
Deborah's bird list for the day: http://birding.aba.org/message.php?mesid=1298020&MLID=NY01&MLNM=New%20York
Sunday, 4 June (start at the Boathouse Restaurant at 9am) - The great (amazing) discover today was a Horned Grebe on the lake by Deborah Allen - see her photo above. And though it was just before the walk, the evil Bob found a female Mourning Warbler in Shakespeare Garden - a migrant. However at Turtle Pond, many of us saw a first-spring male Orchard Oriole (green with black throat), who remained in the area of the Dock as I played the calls of the species. It suggests this is a bird on territory - but is it nesting? People will have to look (in the trees closer to Delacorte Theater and not near/above the Dock). The Kingbirds who began their nest the previous Sunday (28 May), had finished the nest - but no eggs seem to have been laid yet - the female is not sitting. Overall, 10 warbler species today and two Yellow-bellied Flycatchers.
Deborah's bird list for the day: http://birding.aba.org/message.php?mesid=1298315&MLID=NY01&MLNM=New%20York
Monday, 5 June (start at Strawberry Fields at 8am and again at 9am) - Nine warbler species including a female Mourning Warbler (Mayra Cruz!) on the early walk, along with a pair of Song Sparrows. The Horned Grebe continues - and the three young Peregrine Falcons from the Central Park West nest fledged today.
Deborah's bird list for the day: http://birding.aba.org/message.php?mesid=1298692&MLID=NY01&MLNM=New%20York
Thursday, 25 May (start at the Dock on Turtle Pond at 9am) - heavy rain - no bird walk!
Friday, 26 May (start at Conservatory Garden [105th street] at 9am) - rain and overcast skies...we are in a very unsettled spring this year. On the other hand, if it rains at all overnite above Manhattan, we get a good fall-out of birds in Central Park. We totaled 16 warbler species today...and my barometer of prediction is/was: how many warbler species could we bring in to the Honey-locust tree in Conservatory Garden? We pulled in five at 9:05am with the use of the tape. My favorites were the two male Blackburnian Warblers at the NE corner of the Great Hill (thanks Tom Ahlf). We also had high numbers of warblers such as 15+ Magnolia W's and at least as many Northern Parula Warblers. Also found was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo that came into the tape in the North Woods. However, Mitchell Horowitz found the birds of the day: male and female Indigo Buntings looking like they might nest in the Wildflower Meadow.
Deborah's bird list for the day: http://birding.aba.org/message.php?mesid=1294560&MLID=NY01&MLNM=New%20York
Saturday, 27 May (start at the Boathouse Restaurant at 7:30am and again at 9am) - any day we can bring in a Yellow-billed Cuckoo using the tape - that day is a good one. I found that bird at 6:50am at Captain's Bench, and we re-found it using the tape at Warbler Rock at about noon. In between we added 13 warbler species including 7 Blackburnian Warblers (five males). We had the two standard vireo species, both will nest in the park: Red-eyed Vireo (10-15) and Warbling Vireo (4). The latter has always been an uncommon migrant in the park, but it is the most common breeding Vireo species in NYC (Warbling Vireo!).
Deborah's bird list for the day: http://birding.aba.org/message.php?mesid=1294950&MLID=NY01&MLNM=New%20York
Sunday, 28 May (start at the Dock on Turtle Pond at 9am) - a nice day! At the Dock on Turtle Pond many of us saw a Spotted Sandpiper, male Belted Kingfisher (to be re-found at the Upper Lobe an hour later); and a very cooperative Rough-winged Swallow that landed on the dock as we played its calls from my speaker. Then off we went toward Summit Rock finding Chestnut-sided Warbler; later we would add a very (very) close male Blackburnian Warbler at the Summer House - about five feet above our heads. Eleven species of warbler for today. David Barrett helped us find a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher at the Humming Tombstone, and heard an Acadian Flycatcher at Warbler Rock. The Northern Flicker pair at the source of the Gill (Overlook) are in nesting mode again - in the same tree they raised young last year (Black Locust). They have been going back and forth with Grey Squirrels (sometimes in the tree cavity) and Starlings (tried to take over the tree cavity). As of Tuesday, 30 May (and beginning today, Sunday, 28 May), the flickers are continuing to enlarge the tree cavity and look like they will nest again.
Deborah's bird list for the day: http://birding.aba.org/message.php?mesid=1295810&MLID=NY01&MLNM=New%20York
Monday, 29 May (start at Strawberry Fields at 8am and again at 9am) - did I mention (again) it was raining or otherwise overcast/cool for the entire morning? Not to be deterred by the weather, we had an amazing sighting: at the Upper Lobe (Oak Bridge), the tape brought in a few warbler species including an eye-level male Blackburnian Warbler on the east side of the Bridge in the Sweetgum tree where the hummingbirds tried to nest a few years ago. A few minutes later, we had a second male Blackburnian Warbler at the north end of the Upper Lobe. Great Crested Flycatchers were again in abundance, following the tape as I moved it about parts of the Ramble.
Deborah's bird list for the day: http://birding.aba.org/message.php?mesid=1296280&MLID=NY01&MLNM=New%20York
Tuesday, 30 May (start at the Dock on Turtle Pond at 9am) - another overcast morning with occasional very light mist. We were pleasantly surprised by the diversity of species seen: 12 warbler species including Blackburnian and Chestnut-sided. At Captain's Bench we heard, and then used the tape to bring in, an Olive-sided Flycatcher. Toward the end of the Point, playing the call of the White-throated Sparrow brought in a very close sparrow - but also a Wilson's Warbler right over our heads.
Deborah's bird list for the day: http://birding.aba.org/message.php?mesid=1296296&MLID=NY01&MLNM=New%20York
Wednesday, 17 May (start at the Dock on Turtle Pond at 9am) - after Tuesday's triumphant 22 warbler species seen on the bird walk, there was no way today could match it. It seemed to me that many of yesterday's birds had departed overnite. We only had one Blackburnian on the walk (Emilie Storrs found it at the Dock on Turtle Pond), compared to the six on yesterday's walk. That was the story today: good diversity but fewer of everything...and the temperature approaching 91f by the mid-afternoon. We went from a cold spring to a hot one in three days...with more hot weather to come this week.
Deborah's bird list for the day: http://birding.aba.org/message.php?mesid=1290396&MLID=NY01&MLNM=New%20York
Thursday, 18 May (start at the Dock on Turtle Pond at 9am) - we set a record high temperature for today at approx. 95F...a bit less in Central Park, and a bit more in the outer boros, particularly the inland Bronx. As for birds, we had 16 warbler species, the best being a single Black-throated Green (female) and two Chestnut-sided Warblers (one a female). Indeed many of the warblers we saw today were females. Magnolia Warblers and Red-eyed Vireos were especially common today. The most fun we had was with a Great Crested Flycatcher at the Gill Overlook - the bird followed the calls of the tape from left to right and came down very close for a better look at us.
Deborah's bird list for the day: http://birding.aba.org/message.php?mesid=1290734&MLID=NY01&MLNM=New%20York
Friday, 19 May (start at Conservatory Garden [105th street] at 9am) - this was the third consecutive 90f day, reaching 93f in the park. The 16 wood warbler species were great, particularly the male Bay-breasted at the west end of the wildflower meadow that came in at eye-level. However, this walk will always be remembered as the first one on which we had a Bicknell's Thrush. That bird was making calls (not songs) along the Loch, and upon first look, it appeared to be a Grey-cheeked Thrush. David Barrett suggested that I should play the song of the Bicknell's which the real, live bird then began to imitate. Combined with Deborah's photo showing extensive yellow on the lower mandible particularly the base, we were comfortable calling it a Bicknell's. For more info on the near impossibility of separating the two species in the field using field marks see this article: http://www.sibleyguides.com/bird-info/bicknells-thrush/ - thankfully we heard the bird sing which is the only diagnostic means of separating the two species short of having the bird in the hand and making measurements of the wing chord, etc. (Bicknell's Thrush is slightly smaller.)
Deborah's bird list for the day: http://birding.aba.org/message.php?mesid=1291377&MLID=NY01&MLNM=New%20York
Saturday, 20 May (start at the Boathouse Restaurant at 7:30am and again at 9am) - overnite northwest winds from Friday evening brought in lots of migrants, mostly females and young males. We tallied 19 Warbler species the best being the male Blackburnian near the Delacorte Theater; a handful of Canada Warblers (the best was a male chipping back to us at Captain's Bench); a Hooded Warbler at the Polish Statue; and a ay (female) at the Humming Tombstone. Other highlights included a female and male Summer Tanager (Captain's Bench) along with Scarlet Tanager as well (male/female)...and the Cuckoos: Yellow-billed calling and well-seen at 5:50am at Captain's Bench, and a Black-billed Cuckoo that came in to the call of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo at the Humming Tombstone. Really a wonderful day under overcast skies and occasional light drizzle. It felt downright cold at times today (62f was the high) with occasional light drizzle.
Deborah's bird list for the day: http://birding.aba.org/message.php?mesid=1291835&MLID=NY01&MLNM=New%20York
Sunday, 21 May (start at the Dock on Turtle Pond at 9am) - Jeff Ward led half the walk today as Deborah did a private bird walk for a couple from Pittsburgh. It was a slow day for birds compared to the previous one (Saturday - a great day), and the birds we found came in readily to the recordings on the tape - 14 warbler species this day. The young male Summer Tanager (all red with an olive tummy) that was first found by our group on Saturday, was re-found by us in the same area (Captain's Bench). Others would continue to find this bird through Tuesday, 23 May.
Deborah's bird list for the day: http://birding.aba.org/message.php?mesid=1292465&MLID=NY01&MLNM=New%20York
Monday, 22 May (start at Strawberry Fields at 8am and again at 9am) - it was supposed to be a light rain day, but real nature has a way of asserting itself. The light mist became a heavy, steady mist etc. So for the morning group, finding the warblers we did was not easy...and in the afternoon downpour it was quite a feat adding a Black-and-white and Wilson's Warbler to total 16 for the day. We only had one Bay-breasted Warbler - a female. Female Blackpoll Warblers gave us fits - many look like pale female Cape May Warblers but the leg color(s) are different. The Great Crested Flycatcher followed us about the Humming Tombstone area, hopefully this flycatcher will nest here. In the last 15 years we have seen a decline in nesting flycatchers in Central Park probably coinciding with the spraying of the park for West Nile virus (mosquitoes) starting in the late 1990s. As a result Eastern Wood Pewee no longer nests here, but we believe that Great Crested Flycatcher does occasionally. The latter has fruit in its diet...
Deborah's bird list for the day: http://birding.aba.org/message.php?mesid=1292995&MLID=NY01&MLNM=New%20York
Tuesday, 23 May (start at the Dock on Turtle Pond at 9am) - 15 warbler species including eight Blackburnian Warblers (3 males/5 females). Indeed most of the migrants seen today were females or young males. Other highlights were several Empidonax flycatchers including a vocalizing Least Flycatcher at Summit Rock, and two Willow/Alder types (called Traill's when not vocalizing) - all found by David Barrett. Others located Black-throated Greens, Chestnut-sided...and the continuing Great Crested Flycatcher that followed the tape back and forth in Mugger's Woods. Overall, I don't remember a walk with eight Blackburnians - only made possible by using the "click" (and not territorial) calls provided on the Sibley electronic guide to Eastern Birds.
Deborah's bird list for the day: http://birding.aba.org/message.php?mesid=1293176&MLID=NY01&MLNM=New%20York