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The 1922 NYC Christmas Bird Count (+ back home from Namibia/Botswana)

Updated: Dec 19, 2022


Southern Carmine Bee-eater on the Zambezi River (Namibia-Angola) 15 November 2022

16 December 2022


Bird Notes: OK we are back for Sunday morning bird walks at 9:30am that meet at the Dock on Turtle Pond. You can always find all our bird walks here: SCHEDULE + Meeting Locations HERE.


Our apologies for being out of touch since late October when we published our last Newsletter. Our overland trip through Namibia and Botswana, + brief stops in Angola and Zimbabwe, kept us logistically quite busy. We include several photos herein from that trip (thank You Deborah), and plan to have a full Newsletter about the birds/animals we saw in an upcoming issue in early 2023.


Meanwhile, thank You Sandra Critelli for covering the bird walks while we were away. We could not do what we do without your help - and indeed everyone that comes to our walks. Thank You all!


In our Historical Notes we send all results of the 1922 NYC Christmas Bird Count (CBC) for that December. However, as in some previous years, notable CBCs such as the one in Central Park and Prospect Park (Brooklyn), those never found their way to the editor...and never made their way into print. So we present what we have for 1922 in NYC: CBCs of the Bronx and parts of Staten Island. Next week we will send Long Island, and the following week, Connecticut and New Jersey.


What was happening bird wise in late December 1922 in NYC? Pine Siskins had come south ("irrupted") in large number across eastern North America. Two NYC counts recorded them (Bronx/40 and Staten Island/15). However, no other bird species that irrupt, such as Red-breasted Nuthatches or Black-capped Chickadees or Purple Finches - none of these were observed in high numbers locally or regionally. Some other highlights: three Red-headed Woodpeckers on one count in the Bronx...and the number of American Tree Sparrows seen on several different NYC counts. These days five tree sparrows would be considered a lot. One Bronx count had 30 (and another 12), while on Staten Island: 50. Overall, what is surprising is how many more of everything we see these days especially waterfowl...in 1922 no mention of Canada Geese or Buffleheads or Northern Shovelers...Wood Ducks: Have a look at what isn't mentioned! Probably hunting reduced the number of ducks/geese in our area in the 1920s - but what happened to the raptors or Cedar Waxwings? Indeed we see more species on a CBC in Central Park in the 21st century than they saw back in the golden days of the early 20th.

(above) Lesser Flamingo Walvis Bay (Namibia) 10 November 2022

(below) Greater Flamingo near Cape Town (South Africa) 5 November 2021

Bird Walks for December/January 2022-2023

All Walks @ $10/person

Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found: (Click) here


1. Sunday, 18 December at 9:30am. Bird Walk. Meet at the Dock on Turtle Pond $10. The Dock on Turtle Pond is located mid-park at 79th street opposite Belvedere Castle.

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2. Sunday, 25 December at 9:30am. Bird Walk. Meet at the Dock on Turtle Pond $10. The Dock on Turtle Pond is located mid-park at 79th street opposite Belvedere Castle.

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3. Sunday, 1 January 2023 at 9:30am. Bird Walk. Meet at the Dock on Turtle Pond $10. The Dock on Turtle Pond is located mid-park at 79th street opposite Belvedere Castle.

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4. Sunday, 8 January at 9:30am. Bird Walk. Meet at the Dock on Turtle Pond $10. The Dock on Turtle Pond is located mid-park at 79th street opposite Belvedere Castle.


Call (718-828-8262/home) or Email us with questions: rdcny@earthlink.net

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The fine print: Our walks on weekends meet at 7:30/9:30am at the Boathouse Restaurant (approx. 74th street and the East Drive) until and including 30 October. Starting Sunday 6 November, we have 9:30am walks only meeting at the Dock on Turtle Pond. Check the Meeting Locations (CLICK HERE) page of our web site for detailed directions.


Our home phone is 718-828-8262...and Deborah's cell is: 347-703-5554. Email is (rdcny@earthlink.net). If you are lost and trying to get to the bird walk, call Deborah's cell phone...but remember on weekends there will be 2-3 other people calling who are also lost - please be patient. If in doubt about whether a walk will take place or not the morning of the walk: check the main landing page of this web site as well as the "Schedule" page - if the walk is cancelled, information will be posted there by 6am the day of the walk, and usually by 11pm the night before. If still confused and as a last resort, call us at home - if no one answers it means we left for the bird walk. Walks last about 2.5 hrs (less if hot or rainy), and you can leave at anytime - we won't be offended. If you need directions or help to your next destination, just ask someone on the walk - we aim to please. We end all our Central Park walks (except Fridays) near the Boathouse at about noon; Please note: the Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe (and even the outdoor Bathrooms) are CLOSED until March 2023.


Giant Kingfisher (male) northeastern Caprivi Strip (Namibia) 20 Nov. 2022 Deborah Allen

(below) White-crowned Lapwing

Chobe National Park (Botswana) 27 November 2022

Here is what Sandra Critelli and Company saw - some brief highlights:


20 November 2022 (Sunday): Hi guys, how are you? Today it worked out well at the end. The rain started at 12.30 pm., but we had a nice walk. The Barred Owl was in the Ramble. We had 2 Cooper Hawks ( 1 adult and 1 juvenile); Red Tailed Hawk in good view and in action, a very cooperative Carolina Wren at Azalea Pond; 3 Fox Sparrows, many goldfinches, Titmice, Chickadees; 3 Red-bellied Woodpeckers; 1 Downy Woodpecker; 1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, House finches, a few; White-breasted Nuthatch, 2 Red -breasted Nuthatch (Pinetum); 4 Cedar Waxwings, (Sparrow Rock), female Bluebird (west side Great Lawn) 5 Bufflehead (male and female); Hooded Mergansers (male and female), many Northern Shovelers, and a Great Blue Heron flying south. Everybody say hi and ask about you. Today I saw Sal and he was asking about your trip. Yesterday I talked to Andrew (the South African guy) who told me he was in the army in the Caprivi strip for 2 years, and he loves Namibia. All good there? Sandra Critelli www.critellisandra.com


Whimbrel and Glasswort Walvis Bay (Namibia) 7 November 2022 Deborah Allen

(below) Pine Siskin Central Park 21 November 2008 Deborah Allen

HISTORICAL NOTEs


Bird-Lore's Twenty-third Christmas Census [December 1922]

Edited by J. T. NICHOLS


THE highest number of species recorded in this census in Canada, is 33 at London, Ont., a combined list by eight parties working independently.


In the Northern and Middle Atlantic States, Orient, Long Island, leads with 45 (one observer); comparable, in the northern Mississippi Valley with 36 at Youngstown, Ohio (or a combined total of 37 by the Wheaton Club, Columbus, Ohio). Nashville, Tennessee has 54; Barachias, Alabama, 53 (one observer); San Diego, Calif., leads on the Pacific Coast with 112.


Abundance of the Pine Siskin [photos above and below] in Quebec and Ontario, and its frequency to the Virginias, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin is notable. In 94 lists from New England and Middle Atlantic States it is mentioned in 35 (that is well over one third) with a total of some 1,000 individuals; whereas in 83 such lists for the previous year it occurred in only 5 (less than 1\16) with a total of only 100. Stragglers of several species are met with north of their normal winter range, particularly the Towhee; Ontario, once (two individuals); Massachusetts, twice (2); Connecticut, once (1); Southern N.Y., three times (7); New Jersey, twice (7); Pennsylvania, once (4); Ohio, four times (12); Indiana, twice (4). This year over 40 reports were received too late for publication. Some were mailed too late, others were wrongly addressed. There were doubtless a number, however, delayed by some unavoidable contingency, and to the authors of these, especially, we express our regret.


New York City (Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx Park, Baychester Marshes and Pelham Bay) [= the Bronx]. 23 December 1922; 9 A.M. to 4.30 P.M. Cloudy and hazy, light showers; ground nearly bare; wind light, southwest; temp. 45F to 35F. Holboell's [Red-necked] Grebe, 1; Horned Grebe, 4; Herring Gull, 300; American Merganser, 18; Red-breasted Merganser, 5; Scaup, 23; [Common] Golden-eye, 17; Old-squaw [Long-tailed Duck], 4; American [Black] Scoter, 5; Black-crowned Night Heron, 70 (Bronx Park colony); Red-tailed Hawk, 2; Red-shouldered Hawk, 1; Bald Eagle, 1; Hairy Woodpecker, 1; Downy Woodpecker, 15; Red-headed Woodpecker, 3; Blue Jay, 18; Crow, 14; Starling, 60; Eastern Meadowlark, 4; White-throated Sparrow, 27; [American] Tree Sparrow, 36; Field Sparrow, 10; [Dark-eyed] Junco, 77; Song Sparrow, 2; Fox Sparrow, 1; [Eastern] Towhee, 1; Winter Wren, 2; Brown Creeper, 4; White-breasted Nuthatch, 5; Golden-crowned Kinglet, 8; [American] Robin, 1. Total, 32 species, 770 individuals.


R. Friedman, L. N. Nichols.

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Van Cortlandt Park (Bronx, New York City). 27 December 1922; 10.50 A.M. to 4.50 P.M. Clear in the morning; afternoon cloudy; ground muddy; snow melting; moderate east wind from 1 to 3 P.M.; temp. about 40F to 45F. Herring Gull, 92; Red-tailed(?) Hawk, 1; Downy Woodpecker 4; Blue Jay, 6; American Crow 13; Starling, 1; Red-winged Blackbird, 5; Purple Finch (1 pair), 2; [American] Tree Sparrow, 3; Slate-colored Junco, 50; Song Sparrow, 13; Brown Creeper, 1; White-breasted Nuthatch, 9. Total, 13 species, 209 individuals. Four of the Red-winged Blackbirds were in a flock, starting south at dusk.


Henry J. Eisenstein.

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New York City (Pelham Bay Park, Bronx Park and Van Cortlandt Park [the Bronx]). 24 December 2022; 7.30 A.M. to 5.45 P.M. Cloudy; 1.5 in. of snow; light northwest - wind; temp. 32F to 41F. About 12 miles on foot. Horned Grebe, 12; Great Black-backed Gull, l; Herring Gull, 500; Ring-billed Gull, 2; Mallard, 2; Wood Duck, 2; Scaup, 12; American Golden-eye, 12; Ring-necked Pheasant, 1; Cooper's Hawk, 1; Red-tailed Hawk, 1; Sparrow Hawk [American Kestrel], 1; Hairy Woodpecker 1; Downy Woodpecker, 6; Red-headed Woodpecker, 1; Northern Flicker, 1; Horned Lark (?), 1; Blue Jay, 12; American Crow, 25; Starling, 100; Red-winged Blackbird, female (in swamp of Van Cortlandt Park); [Eastern] Meadowlark, 6; Purple Finch, 9; American Goldfinch, 5; Pine Siskin, 40; White-throated Sparrow, 12; [American] Tree Sparrow, 12; Slate-colored June 6; Song Sparrow, 8; Fox Sparrow, 2; [Eastern] Towhee, 1 female, 5 males (seen in damp, low woods off Allerton Avenue); Catbird, 1 (has been observed in Bronx Park at various times during fall); Brown Creeper, 1; Golden-crowned Kinglet, 6; Robin, 6. Total, 35 species, 827 individuals. 20 December, in Bronx Park, 1 Hermit Thrush was seen by John and Richard Kuerzi.


F. J. Kuerzi and sons, John and Richard.

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New York City (Van Cortlandt Park, Lincoln, city of Yonkers), Mosholu Parkway, Bronx Park, Unionport, Castle Hill and Clason Point. 24 December 2022; 8.50 A.M. to 4.30 P.M. Partly cloud dense fog in late afternoon; ground bare in open, light snow in woods; running water clear, ponds frozen; no wind; temp. 36F at start. Trolley used between Bronx Park and Unionport rest of route on foot. G. E. Hix and Roy Thompson together all day, Bernard Nathan joining them in Bronx Park. Herring Gull, 200; American Merganser, 1; Scaup, 100 (flock); Black-crowned Night Heron, 64 (Bronx Park colony); Red-tailed Hawk, 1; Red-shouldered Hawk, 1; Sparrow Hawk [American Kestrel], 1; Downy Woodpecker, 5; Red-headed Woodpecker, 2; Blue Jay, 1; [American] Crow, 16; Starling, 150; Red-winged Blackbird, 5 (flock); Rusty Blackbird, l; Purple Finch 1; [American] Goldfinch, 2; Pine Siskin, 30 (flock); White-throated Sparrow, 30; [American] Tree Sparrow, 5; [Dark-eyed] Junco 16; Song Sparrow, 54; Swamp Sparrow, l; Fox Sparrow, 3; Brown Creeper, 3; White-brested Nuthatch, 3; Black-capped Chickadee, 1; Golden-crowned Kinglet, 1; Robin, 6 (flock). Total, 28 species about 700 individuals. Some other observers saw a Barred Owl in the hemlock forest Bronx Park. A Catbird was observed in Bronx Park on December 16. It had been reported several times previously.


George E. Hix and BOY SCOUTS Roy Thompson and Bernard Nathan

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New York City (Pelham Bay Park and City Island [the Bronx]). 21 December 1922; 9.50 A.M. to 5 P.M. Cloudy with slight drizzle; light breeze; little snow on ground; temp. 37F to 54F. Herring Gull, 1100; Great Black-backed Gull, 1; Black Duck, 2; Scaup, 8; [Common] Golden-eye, 34; White-winged Scoter 1; Ring-necked Pheasant, 4 (females); Red-shouldered Hawk, 2; Downy Woodpecker, 3; [Northern] Flicker, 1; Blue Jay, 3; Crow, 15; Starling, 50; [Eastern] Meadowlark, 20; Savannah Sparrow, 1; American Tree Sparrow, 30; White-throated Sparrow, 45; Song Sparrow, 15; Swamp Sparrow, 1; Fox Sparrow, 1; Brown Creeper, 4. Total, 21 species, 11,253 individuals. Distinctive markings of Savannah Sparrow noted, and size compared with Tree Sparrow.


Eugene Eisenman

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Staten Island, N.Y. (Moravian Cemetery, Great Kills, and Princess Bay). 28 December 1922; 8 A.M. to 4 P.M.; Foggy; temperature about 35F; twelve miles on foot. Observers together. [Common] Loon, 2; Herring Gull, 3,000; Black Duck, 25; American [Greater] Scaup Duck, 25; American Goldeneye, 15; Bufflehead, 1; Oldsquaw (Long-tailed Duck], 2; White-winged Scoler, 2; Marsh Hawk, 1; Sparrow Hawk [American Kestrel], 1;

Downy Woodpecker, 3; Prairie [(?) Ed.] Horned Lark, 9; Blue jay, 5; American Crow, 8; Starling 100; Meadowlark, 2; Pine Siskin, 15; Goldfinch, 10; While-throated Sparrow, 1; American Tree Sparrow 50; Slate-colored Junco, 15; Song Sparrow, 6; Cardinal, 1; Myrtle Warbler, 6; Brown Creeper, 2; Black-capped Chickadee, l; Robin, 10. Total, 27 species, 3,000 (est.) individuals.


George B. Wilmott and Lester W. Walsh (Bird Lovers' Club of Brooklyn).


Pine Siskin 14 January 2018 Deborah Allen

Pine Siskins late October 2008 in the Bronx and Manhattan


2008: Saturday, October 25th (New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx). Before the walk, Debs and I wandered around with our Ipod playing finch calls - and bringing in a group of 15 or so Pine Siskins to feed in crab apples atop the hill opposite the Conservatory. And from experience, we knew NYBG is the best place locally to find Red-breasted Nuthatches. Playing their song via our speakers, we brought in 3-4 Red-breasted Nuthatches before the walk. And once we had gathered everyone up, we managed to bring in a few more Red-breasted Nuthatches.

Most notably, while we played the Ipod just outside the native plant garden, we brought in a lone Pine Siskin that perched (in the shade) just over my head. Finally, for those of you interested in mammals, the Beaver still has a lodge along the Bronx River, but I am finding more and more gnawed trees over on the zoo side of the river. We will be back to NYBG on one of the next few Saturdays to find more finches and Red-breasted Nuthatches, as well as search for the local pair of Great Horned Owls.

2008: Sunday, October 26th (north end Central Park). This was one of the great all time autumn walks...When I left my Bronx home at 6:30am, a Merlin was swooping and chasing birds in my neighborhood. When I arrived at the park, in the moderate northeast winds, there were flocks passing overhead of Common Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds and Brown-headed Cowbirds. Occasionally there were smaller birds travelling in tight balls and these we discovered were Pine Siskins. (American Goldfinches have not been common so far this autumn in the park.) Standing in the southern part of Conservatory Garden at about 8:30am, I began playing the Pine Siskin call to a flock of small birds hidden in a somewhat distant Red oak. Almost immediately the flock flew down into a Japanese Lilac tree a few feet away. People from the walk began to arrive as well...and in the ensuing minutes (until about 9:20am), more Pine Siskins continued to arrive and perch in the lilac tree. The birds were calling to one another (and my tape). Soon, a few began to land in a still-blooming pink rose bush about five feet from us. And then the amazing began to happen - groups of 3-5 birds would fly down and hover over us, and one bird actually landed and sat on my head (luckily I was wearing a hat). We estimated about 200 Pine Siskins mulling about the area...and as our group expanded in number to about 25 people, I could hear the oohs and aahs as they watched the siskins fly down and around us, and then disperse into the nearby trees. Amazing...So later it almost seemed like a let down when we found a lone Purple Finch, two Blue-headed Vireos, two Palm Warblers (+ several Yellow-rumps), as well as the first Buffleheads (two females) of the season. One last note: on sparrow hill (at the northeast corner of the north end baseball fields), we were standing near a pine tree with no birds in sight. I decided to play the Pine Siskin call, and within 30 seconds, a flock of 25-50 zoomed down from a clear blue sky to land in that pine tree! Folks were amazed - but see the historical note from 1919 below and the use of calls to attract flocking, social species. Basically, my interpretation is this: for nomadic birds looking for feeding areas, hearing the calls of happy cohorts is a strong suggestion that appropriate conditions (food, water, safety) are nearby so they come over to have a look. One last observation: on this Sunday (2 Nov), numerous observers from the area reported Pine Siskins, but by Monday morning the areas where Siskins were common just a day before, such places were now devoid of these finches...

Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD

Follow our Bird Sightings on Twitter: @DAllenNYC and/or @BirdingBobNYC

Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters in Namibia at Swakopmund 6 December 2022





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