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Yellow, Black, White, Green = Birds on a Fall Migration Walk with Deb and Bob

Updated: Mar 1, 2020

Black-throated Green Warbler on 11 September in Pelham Bay Park, the Bronx, NYC

If you missed last weekend's warbler storm, the macho man (bob) is promising more and soon: an arribada of aves. This year is your best opportunity to see mucho Tennessee and Cape May Warblers: we have been seeing 5-10 per walk on recent outings. Check our daily summaries below for complete lists and highlights. And see Deborah Allen's photos of these two species.

The Washington Post published an article about our bird walks:

Our bird photos come from Deborah Allen (see her links below), and these are WOW birds: Cape May, Hooded, Tennessee and Black-throated Green Warblers from Central Park and Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx.

This week's historical notes provide snippets about Cape May and Tennessee Warblers from 1910, as well as in-depth information on the Palm Warbler on migration in NYC from 1875 to the present. We trace the occurrence of the western (pale) form of the Palm Warbler (ssp. palmarum) compared to the eastern form that we easily recognize as the yellow bird with a brown cap (= ssp. hypochrysea) or [yellow] Palm Warbler.

If you want to help us out GREATLY (!!! please!), post a short review of your experience on one of our bird walks on Trip Advisor. Yes it is important! Have a look/read:

Is anyone looking for someone that does home repairs/construction (including bathrooms and kitchens)? Great prices (no it is not Deborah and me): someone who did extensive work on our home (and work on the homes of our birder friends), could make your place look 100% better, increase in value - for not a lot of money. Contact us for info and yes he /they (family business) will travel to Manhattan. They are quiet, kind and will listen/follow your ideas and goals...have been doing this work for 20 years+.


Deborah Allen sends photos from Central Park:

Cape May Warblers, Shakespeare Garden, Saturday, September 9, 2017:

Tennessee Warbler, near Tanner’s Spring, Sunday, September 10, 2017:

Female Hooded Warbler, Tanner’s Spring, Tuesday, September 12, 2017:


Pelham Bay Park [Orchard Beach] in the Bronx:

Female Black-throated Green Warbler, Monday, September 11, 2017: Juvenile Osprey in Flight, Monday, September 11, 2017:

Link to Deborah Allen photos on Agpix site:


Good! Here are the bird walks for mid September - each $10***

All walks in Central Park:

1. Friday,15 September - meet at Conservatory Garden (105th street/Fifth Ave) at 9am only.

2. Saturday, 16 September - 7:30am and again at 9am - Boathouse. $10***

3. Sunday, 17 September - 7:30am and again at 9am - Boathouse. $10***

4. Monday, 18 September - 8am and again 9am. Strawberry Fields (Imagine Mosaic). $10***

*** on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays you can do two walks for the price of one: Pay $10 and do both walks (or either one).

The fine print: In September, our walks on Sundays meet at 7:30am/9am at the Boathouse Restaurant (approximately 74th street and the East Drive on the lake; it is NOT one of the buildings on the nearby Model Boat Pond). Bathrooms are nearby and ok; they open at about 7am. On Saturdays we continue to meet at the Boathouse (74th street and the East Drive) at 7:30am/9am. You can do either or both Saturday/Sunday walks for $10. On Mondays we meet at Strawberry Fields: find the Imagine Mosaic and we are sitting on the benches nearby...look for people with binoculars. The Friday walks meet at Conservatory Garden - enter at 105th street and 5th Avenue and walk down the stairs - we meet straight ahead at the end of long (75 meter) grassy area, and adjacent to the men's bathroom (women's bathroom on opposite side about 50 yards away). Our home phone is 718-828-8262...and Deborah's cell is: 347-703-5554. Email is .

If in doubt about whether a walk will take place or not, check the web site the morning of the walk: info will be posted on the main landing page as well as the "Schedule" page. If still confused, call us at home - if no one answers it means we left for the bird walk!

We end all our weekend and Monday Central Park walks at the Boathouse at about noon - you can get a cup of coffee and a muffin there (around $5 total - coffee is now $2.25). Our Friday walks, we usually end up at (or very near) Conservatory Garden, most often at 106th street and 5th Avenue.


Here is what we saw last week (selected highlights) with some anecdotal notes and observations. Not all species we saw are reported here - we list the best:

Friday, 8 September (start at Conservatory Garden [105th street] at 9am) - today began a series of great warbler walks with approx. 15 species seen on each day, Fri to Mon. The highlights have been Cape May and Tennessee Warblers each day, in multiples. Usually we see a few each autumn when they are always more common than on migration in spring. However, totals this year have been on the high side - with five of each species not unusual. Today, our best spots were the west side of the "Pool" approximately 104th street and Central park West - by the Willow Trees and Bald Cypress tree rising up from the water. Also, today marked the beginning of a flight of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and Cedar Waxwings.

Deborah's bird list for the day: ================================= Saturday, 9 September - (start at the Boathouse Restaurant at 7:30am and again at 9am; two walks for $10 total) - 15 warbler species seen today plus 7 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, flyover Cedar Waxwings...Baltimore Orioles in the trees and a Scarlet Tanager here and there. Although we only saw one or two, we heard many Rose-breasted Grosbeaks hidden in the foliage above us.

Deborah's bird list for the day:

Mourning Warbler (hatch-year bird) - 2 September (Central Park)

Sunday, 10 September (start at the Boathouse Restaurant at 9am) - almost a copy of yesterday, except with a few different species: 15 warbler species today including 3 Tennessee Warblers and 5 Cape Mays. Flyover raptors included several Ospreys, a Sharp-shinned Hawk and a heavily streaked Red-tail with yellow eyes and a red-tail...probably hatched spring 2016. In flight above us it looked like a Broad-winged or even a Red-shouldered Hawk.

Deborah's Central Park bird list for the day: =======================================

Monday, 11 September (start at Strawberry Fields [Imagine Mosaic] at 8am and again at 9am) - "Only" 14 warbler species today, but numbers of Cape Mays (10) and Tennessee (5) were the most I have seen in Central Park (or anywhere) in many years. Add to this the nice clear/cool dry weather and a few Orioles, Scarlet Tanagers, Eastern Phoebe, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a Lincoln's Sparrow (+ the first Savannah Sparrow of the season) - we did good.

Deborah's bird list for the day:



Tennessee Warbler [1908] - I identified a fully adult female of this species on the morning of August 20 [1908]. It was very nervous and restless, and, as it fed, it uttered a sharp tsit. This same bird was seen again that afternoon by Mr. George E. Hix and myself. I also saw it the next morning. An interesting fact was that it was found in exactly the same place all three times. This Warbler has always been very rare here. Ludlow Griscom, New York City. ============================================ Cape May Warbler [1910]. - This bird is noticeably increasing in numbers in this vicinity during migrations. It was almost common in Central Park during the fall migration of 1910. The writer’s records are as follows: September 3 and 4, two immature males (probably same birds on both days); September 8, an immature male; September 17, a female; September 25, a female; September 29, three immature males and a female in one flock. Other observers reported several more birds. During the past spring a pair or two spent several days in the Park. One male was an exceedingly handsome bird. The yellow on the throat and breast was very intense, almost orange, and the chestnut auricular patch was very extensive.


Dendroica palmarum in New York City (1886). -- An individual of the [Western] Palm Warbler was seen by the writer, September 2, 1896, in West 129th Street, New York City, at the base of the prominence upon which stands the Claremont Hotel. The bird is not only rare in this vicinity but the record is an unusually early one. Three of the five recorded instances of its occurrence are based on spring captures at Sing Sing (Fisher) and Riverdale (Bicknell). The two previous fall records are, Fire Island Light, L.I., Sept. 23, 1887(Dutcher) and Red Bank, N.J., Sept. 28, 1889 (Oberholser). FRANK M. CHAPMAN, American Museum of Natural History, New York.

Palm Warbler [1912]. - The western Palm Warbler is occurring quite regularly in Central Park during the fall migration. On September 22 [1912] a flock of three, were seen. This past year one was seen on September 10. All these birds were typical specimens and were spotted at a glance.

Here is a Western Palm Warbler from Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx (October 2016):

By comparison, here is the "Yellow" Palm Warbler (ssp. hypochrysea): =============================== Dendroica palmarum palmarum [Western Palm Warbler] in New York. ­ In the spring of 1877 [at Riverdale in the Bronx, NYC] I secured two specimens of Dendroica palmarum, which, differing from the ordinary Eastern form of this species (hypochrysea) agreed closely with the description of variety palmarum, Ridg. To avoid all possible error of identification, however, the birds were submitted to Mr. Ridgway, who pronounces them typical palmarum, one of them being "unusually bright." This bird is therefore entitled to a place in the New York fauna, which connects the most eastern records of its occurrence as given by Mr. Ridgway ­ Carlisle, Pa. and Washington, D. C. ­ with the isolated New England one since made by Mr. Deane. I take the liberty of appending some interesting remarks on this topic by Mr. Ridgway, who states that he has "recently seen specimens of pure hypochrysea collected by Mr. Henshaw on the banks of the Mississippi, in Louisiana, showing that while in its winter migration D. palmarum spreads over the greater part of Florida and throughout the West Indies, D. hypochrysea also at the same season spreads to the westward through the Gulf States, the winter habitat of the two forms within the United States being thus in a measure identical." ============================================================== Subject: Western Palm Warblers [Central Park] From: Benjamin Van Doren Date: 22 April 2012

Hi All,

Yesterday [April 2012], I observed one Palm Warbler of the Western subspecies (*palmarum*) amongst some other "Yellow" Palms (*hypochrysea*) in Central Park. Believing this to be a notable observation because I knew they are at least very uncommon in Spring in the northeast, I photographed it:

Later in the day, I photographed ANOTHER Western Palm at a local patch in Rye, NY. These birds have strikingly pale underparts, contrasting with yellow throats and undertail coverts.

I then did a bit of research. Dunn and Garrett's *Warblers* (publ. 1997) says, of *palmarum*, "Usually only very small numbers move up the Atlantic Coast north to the Mid-Atlantic region; Palm Warbler [Western] is casual in spring in New England." Shai Mitra kindly informed me that David Sibley's *Birds of Cape May* knew of NO records of this subspecies in spring. However, others I've talked to believe that this form is not quite as rare in spring in the region as these publications would lead us to believe.

So my question is, has anyone noted any Western Palms this spring, or kept records of any observations in the past? Are these occurrences increasing? Could they be under-reported, perhaps? Dunn and Garrett note that Western Palms migrate later than "Yellow" Palms, so perhaps one is more likely to run into *palmarum* amongst these (relatively) later migrants than earlier in the month--be in the lookout! ============================ Sent: Sunday, April 22, 2012 To: NYSBIRDS-L Subject: RE:[nysbirds-l] Western Palm Warblers

Hey Benjamin,

The disparity in spring vs. fall phenology of Western Palm Warbler in NYS is striking--especially so because conspecific Yellow Palms have an almost oppositely disparate schedule!

You are probably correct that these taxa don't get the critical attention they deserve, but many of us do our best with them, and here are my own data, for what they are worth.

In my banding work at the Fire Island Lighthouse, Suffolk County, LI, in the late 90s, I never captured even one northbound palmarum. Conversely, I captured 38 northbound hypochrysea, on dates ranging from 6 Apr to 10 May, with a median date of 29 Apr. (Note how late this median date for hypochrysea seems today, in 2012, the most remarkably advanced spring migration ever!)

During southbound migration, I captured 117 Western Palms on dates ranging from 6 Sep to 24 Nov, with a median date of 26 Sep, compared to 30 Yellow Palms on dates ranging from 16 Sep to 30 Oct, with a median date of 6 Oct. (Note the slightly later migratory occurrence of Yellow Palms during fall, but the counter-intuitive prevalence of Western Palms during winter, described below.)

When birding, I generally try to identify to subspecies all the Palm Warblers I see. During April and May in NYS, I've recorded Yellow Palms on 81 occasions, compared to just two for Western Palm (Gardiner County Park, Suffolk County, 2 May 2000; & Clove Lakes Park, Richmond County, 30 Apr 2010). These two spring Western Palms were fully convincing examples; I've seen a few other, somewhat intermediate birds also. Until this year I had never seen any Palm Warbler in NYS during the month of March. This year, it seemed inevitable that I'd connect with either a winter-survivor Western Palm or an early-migrant Yellow Palm during March; it was the latter that broke the drought.

During fall (Sep-Nov), I've accumulated 246 records of Western Palm vs. 71 for Yellow Palm; and during winter (Dec-Feb), 11 records of Western Palm vs. just one of Yellow Palm.

I wonder whether the Western Palms you've seen in NYS this spring might be in a similar category to the remarkable run of early spring Orange-crowned Warblers we've enjoyed this year--specifically, whether, the uptick in April Records of these birds this year reflects increasing numbers of birds wintering nearby. In the past, New York's very few spring Orange-crowns (and even fewer Western Palms) tended to occur in May.

Shai Mitra Bay Shore ===============================

Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD

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