• Robert DeCandido PhD

The Continuing Warbler Storm - don't miss them in Central Park! Now is the peak of migration.

Updated: Mar 1

Once again, we have to thank the folks on our bird walks. This past Sunday (17 September), they found the best birds. It was Jeff Ward finding a young Red-headed Woodpecker (sans red head) in the Locust Grove; and a few minutes later, Sandra Critelli calling attention to a stationary Yellow-billed Cuckoo in the Ramble. From a broader perspective, we simply could not do what we do if you folks did not show up for the bird walks. Thank You. Last year at this time we had managed to raise some $11,000 USD for research on eagle/vulture migration in Nepal. We wanted to use the money to rent (or purchase) the land where we do the counts. Unfortunately that has not been possible...so we needed to come up with a Plan B. This week I delivered $2,500 USD in cash to Surya Gurung, my friend since 1999 when we starting counting migrating Steppe Eagles together on his hillside in Nepal. Surya is here visiting his daughter and husband and their two kids who live in Queens. Once Surya returns to Nepal (24 September) we will be funding for the next few years, an intern program to train young Nepali students in the basics of raptor biology. One of our previous trainees (Tulsi Subedi) is finishing his PhD studying the Lammergeiers of Nepal; and another, SanDesh Gurung finished his Master's Degree studying raptor migration at our watch site. Anyway, when Surya Gurung gets back to Nepal, I will be wiring him the additional $8,500 USD to support interns for quite a while. Our bird photos come from Deborah Allen (see her links below), and show warblers from Central Park and shorebirds (+ a Caspian Tern) in Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx. This week's historical notes describe the status of four vireo species from the late 19th century to the present. If you thought the Philadelphia Vireo was a rare bird today, read how few times they saw it from 1880-1925. On the other hand, the White-eyed Vireo once bred in Central Park, and the Red-eyed Vireo still breeds now as then...but have are there fewer or more pairs breeding now than in 1900? And just when you thought there was way too much to read, there is also a short note from September 1924 on a Wilson's Phalarope seen at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx by members of the Bronx County Bird Club. 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: http://tinyurl.com/y84789vc 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+. At least three birders we know well have hired this father/son team and we have spent (collectively) about $50,000 USD to get work done on our homes - we love these two guys! The work they do is FANTASTIC.

Deborah Allen sends photos from Central Park:

Northern Parula, Maintenance Field, Saturday, September 16, 2017: http://tinyurl.com/ybvcgjwm Adult female Black-throated Green Warbler, Bow Bridge, Saturday September 9, 2017: http://tinyurl.com/y7tze79r Pelham Bay Park [Orchard Beach] in the Bronx: Juvenile Semipalmated Plover eating dragonfly larva, Orchard Beach, Weds., Sept. 13, 2017: http://tinyurl.com/ydyxxwzf Greater Yellowlegs, Orchard Beach, Thursday, September 14, 2017: http://tinyurl.com/y8m3v6ho and: http://tinyurl.com/yayvqynj Juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper, Orchard Beach, Friday, September 15, 2017: http://tinyurl.com/ybq2su86 with spread wings: http://tinyurl.com/y8zk3s9p Caspian Tern, Orchard Beach on 14 September: http://tinyurl.com/yckmucey Link to Deborah Allen photos on Agpix site: http://tinyurl.com/ydflkdp4

Good! Here are the bird walks for late September - each $10*** All walks in Central Park: 1. Friday, 22 September - meet at Conservatory Garden (105th street and Fifth Ave) at 9am. 2. Saturday, 23 September - 7:30am and again at 9am - Boathouse. $10*** 3. Sunday, 24 September - 7:30am and again at 9am - Boathouse. $10*** 4. Monday, 25 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 - but check schedule on web site just in case we are going further afield such as NYBG in the Bronx. 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 above (= rdcny@earthlink.net). We have a new web site...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 $6 total - coffee is now $3.00). 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, 15 September (start at Conservatory Garden [105th street] at 9am) - what a morning! When I arrived at 6:45am at the north end, it seemed like a quiet day. I had forgotten my battery charger home, so I could not use my tape before the walk...only pishing and whistling etc. With those techniques I managed 5 or so warbler species and only 1-2 individuals of each. All this changed when the walk began at 9am, and I could use the tape: we began getting loads of warblers wherever we went including multiple Cape May and Tennessee Warblers. The best sighting was a Yellow-throated Vireo at the very end of the walk with Tom Ahlf, and our favorite Central Park volunteer (and retired teacher), Fern. Deborah's bird list for the day: http://tinyurl.com/y7ap7cnr ================================= Saturday, 16 September - (start at the Boathouse Restaurant at 7:30am and again at 9am; two walks for $10 total) - we were in the park by 6:15am and standing near Belvedere Castle. We admired the fog, and the quiet - there was no dawn flight of any bird. As it began to get light, and still in fog, the occasional Herring Gull passed overhead. Nevertheless, someone was reporting migrating Bobolinks and other birds that morning. As for reality, once we started the bird walk, it was pretty amazing: wherever we went as soon as I played the calls from my tape, many warblers came in, primarily Northern Parula Warblers. We estimated at least 35 for the day...and we only covered a small part of the park. All told we had 17 warbler species today including Nashville, Tennessee and Cape May warblers, but we missed the Hooded Warbler(s) seen by others in the Ramble...My favorites? The two Black-and-white Warblers we had about 18inches away from the group at the top of the Oven - everyone saw those...and lots of people new to birding. Deborah's bird list for the day: http://tinyurl.com/y7l59hyj ================================= Sunday, 17 September (start at the Boathouse Restaurant at 9am) - Thank Goodness for the people on our bird walks: Jeff Ward spotted the immature Red-headed Woodpecker in the Locust Grove, and the rest of us used the tape to move the bird around to get better looks. Sandra Critelli (who had just arrived after a terrible train delay coming in from NJ), found a perched and not moving Yellow-billed Cuckoo that we used the tape to move around to get better looks. Meanwhile the macho man (thank You Linda Yuen for the nachos), found a Blue-headed Vireo (first of season) and a Philadelphia Vireo. Most amazing was the number of Northern Parula Warblers - we had at least 35 today...they were everywhere like little nachos. In one tree we had 10...so our 35 was a conservative count. It is truly amazing what the tape can do to bring nearby birds in...and after about a minute the birds go back to doing what they were doing (they leave our immediate area). "Only" 11 warbler species today...5 Cape Mays but no Tennessee Warblers...so my apologies, I failed. Deborah's Central Park bird list for the day: http://tinyurl.com/y8k5te9q ======================================= Monday, 18 September (start at Strawberry Fields [Imagine Mosaic] at 8am and again at 9am) - this morning was supposed to be a little overcast, so imagine my surprise when it began a little raining...OK so we better focus on the birds. There was very little in Strawberry Fields after 8:10am - thankfully just enough to show the early arrivals (18 people today!) I was not crazy using the tape. However, it was very slow...and we had to get outa there fast at 9am. By Overlook Bridge, we had birds right over our heads - and very good looks at Northern Parulas (another 30-35 today), and Redstarts and a Black-and-white or two. Our best sightings were a low-flying Peregrine Falcon (first-year female - thanks Linda Marcus); a yellow form Palm Warbler; two nice Cape May Warblers (thank You David Barrett); and Peter Haskell doing his best to help Bob remember tough ID marks on Blackburnian Warblers (none seen today), Blackpoll Warblers (seen today) and Pine Warblers (seen today). Deborah's bird list for the day: http://tinyurl.com/y7rg5scg ======================================= HISTORICAL NOTES 1923. Red-eyed Vireo. Central Park. Common summer resident up to eight years ago, now one [1923] or two pairs only remaining to breed, but still a common transient, especially in fall; 3 May 1913 [earliest spring arrival date] and 4 May 1914 (Anne A. Crolius); 5 May 1899 (Chubb); 8 May 1909 (Anne A. Crolius); 11 May 1913 (Griscom) to [latest date for local nesting birds to be seen] 17 October 1908 (Griscom); transients have arrived in numbers 28 August 1922 and 31 August 1913 (Griscom). BRONX REGION. Common summer resident, less so than formerly; 24 April 1913 (L. N. Nichols); 9 May 1915 (L. N. Nichols) to 10 October 1921 (L. N. Nichols). 1958. Red-eyed Vireo. Central Park. Common transient, frequent in summer, occasionally breeds (last in 1956). 3 May 1913 (Crolius) to 17 October 1908 (Crolius). [These are arrival/departure dates for birds breeding in Central Park.] 1959-1967: New late dates observed: 30 October 1960 (Peter Post); 9 November 1961 (Messing, Post). 1958. Red-eyed Vireo. Prospect Park. Common transient, breeds. Earliest spring arrival date: 2 May 1946 (Soll, Whelen) to 11 October 1942 (Russell); 27 October 1909 (Vietor) and 8 November 1938 (Brennan, Tengwall). Maximum 50 on 17 May 1945 (Soll). 1959-1967: no new data. 1964+. Red-eyed Vireo. "In our area the Red-eyed Vireo easily outnumbers all the other species of this genus combined." Maxima: Spring - 50, Propsect Park, 17 May 1945. Fall - 91 hit the Fire Island Lighthouse on 23 September 1887 (fide Dutcher); 39 struck the tower at Westhampton [LI] Air Force Base on 5 October 1954. 59 banded at the Fire Island Lighthouse on 1 September 1970. Extreme Dates: rare before mid-May and after mid-October. Breeding: This species breeds in deciduous woodland and in large shade trees in city parks. Some idea of its abundance at this season may be gained by the following: 11 nesting pairs, Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan, summer of 1941 (Hickey). Egg dates: 24 May to 27 July. By 1998: As is the case with a number of insectivorous Neotropical migrants, this species is being seen both earlier than mid-May and after mid-October [on a regular basis] - reports from downstate in April and late October are relatively common. ============================================ 1923. Philadelphia Vireo. Central Park. One record, a single bird on the "Point" in the Ramble on 15/16 September 1921 (T. D. Carter and Griscom); it is worth noting that there has been almost daily observation in the Ramble during the migration season for over forty years, with as large a number of observers in the last twenty as any area of similar size in North America. BRONX REGION. Specimen collected 17 September 1885 (Dwight). No record for Staten Island [up to 1923]. Long Island. Very rare transient, collected once in spring less than ten specimens in fall; 21 May; 14 to 28 September; Mr. Roy Latham has several records in recent years at Orient, and Mr. Wm. T. Helmuth has collected or seen several individuals recently at Easthampton; there are only three records in 43 years for the western end of the island. The Philadelphia Vireo is unquestionably one of our very rarest migrants, and one of the very few species that has not been recorded more often in the last twenty years than formerly, with an enormous increase of observers on the lookout for it. It is not without significance that our six most active local field ornithologists have detected exactly two individuals in twenty years' observations on the part of each one of them. It is hard to explain just why the bird should occur less rarely up the Hudson River Valley and at the extreme eastern end of Long Island, when both these migration routes normally converge at New York City. 1958. Philadelphia Vireo. Central Park. Very rare spring, very uncommon fall transient. In spring, earliest date seen: 11 May 1927 (Griscom) to 22 May 1952 (Messing) and 1 June 1927 (Johnston). On southbound migration, earliest date seen: 17 August 1936 (Cantor, Norse) to 23 September 1952 (Messing, Post). 1959-1967: Very rare spring, RARE fall transient. 1958. Philadelphia Vireo. Prospect Park. Very rare spring, rare fall transient. Earliest spring arrival date: 12 May 1945 (Soll, Whelen) to 24 May 1950 (Whelen); 9 September 1949 (Alperin, Jacobson) to 2 October 1932 (Russell). 1959-1967: new late dates of occurrence: 8 October and 14 October 1961 (Yrizarry). 1964+. Philadelphia Vireo. "The Philadelphia Vireo is seldom seen locally except by the more active and experienced observers. September is the principal month of occurrence, but it is unusual to see more than one or two in a day. Ten of the 12 fall specimens from our area were collected in that month, the others in October. Three of these were taken in Easthampton [LI] in 1914 by Helmuth within two days, two on 9 September and one on 10 September." "Just to the south of us at Island Beach, NJ, an intensive mist-netting operation in 1960 captured 9 individuals each on 11 September and 21 September, and a total of 36 from 29 August to 28 September. This is another instance where more individuals of a species are trapped in a day in one locality than would be observed by most active birdwatchers during a season." "Rare before September, after early October, and before late May [it has appeared as early as 11 May in three different years]. This species is very rare in spring. Griscom (1923) listed one spring specimen (21 May), but gave neither the year, locality, nor the whereabouts of the specimen. Griscom (1929) reported that during the spring of 1927, no fewer than six were observed, three of these in Central Park. Since that year, only 17 reliable reports are at hand, never more than two per spring." "An outstanding late record was a bird found lingering at Riis Park, Queens County, on 7 November 1971. It is rarely seen in multiples, so the record of 10 banded at the Fire Island Lighthouse, Suffolk County on 20 September 1970 is unique." =========================================== 1923. Bell's Vireo. Central Park. Not seen/observed/reported up to 1923. 1958. Bell's Vireo. Central Park. 9 May 1952 (Sedwitz); 11 May 1950 (Sedwitz). Field descriptions of these birds are in the minutes of the Linnaean Society. 1959-1967: These previous records from Central Park should be deleted. 1958. Bell's Vireo. Prospect Park. 3 May 1947 (Jacobson, Sedwitz); 11 May to 14 May 1950 (Jacobson, Alperin, Sedwitz, Whelen). 1959-1967: These previous records from Prospect Park should be deleted. 1964+. Bell's Vireo. "There is one definite Bell's Vireo for our area: an individual mist-netted, banded and color-photographed, at Tiana Beach [LI], near Shinnecock Inlet on 25 September 1959 (Wilcox). [One more at Robert Moses State Park on 26 September 1970 USNM 566493]. Although sight records for our area have been published (Cruikshank 1942: 364, and Carleton, 1958: 38), there is an element of doubt concerning the correctness of these observations. Four spring observations within six years in Central and Prospect Parks - all in May - are very surprising for a western species. While the song of the Bell's Vireo is very different from that of the White-eyed Vireo, as far as I know none of the individuals seen was heard singing. These two species do, however, resemble each other in appearance. Immature Solitary Vireos are somewhat similar also, which is borne out by comparing museum specimens. In fact, one very detailed description of a supposed Bell's Vireo mentions a resemblance to a plain, washed-out Solitary Vireo, except for its smaller size. Observers should bear in mind that the Bell's Vireo has a pale bill; the Solitary Vireo, a dark bill. In addition, both White-eyed and Solitary Vireos possess conspicuous eye-rings; Bell's Vireo does not, merely a trace. I know of no confirmed spring records in the eastern United States along the Atlantic Coast." =============================== 1923. White-eyed Vireo. Central Park. Bred in 1892 (F. M. Chapman); then a common spring transient, now [1923] rare. Earliest spring arrival date: 2 May 1914 (Hix) to 23 May 1909 (Griscom). This species is very rarely observed in fall, 23 September 1900 (Hix) to 28 September 1909 (Griscom). BRONX REGION. Formerly a common summer resident; it has decreased rapidly in the last ten years and is now rare; present from 3 May 1922 (W. C. Starck) to 15 September 1888 (Dwight). [On 30 September 1883, 20 individuals struck the Fire Island Lighthouse. Nothing remotely resembling this number has been reported in our area before or since.] Still common [1923] only in northern Westchester County, where it is reported from 29 April to 3 October (Fisher). LONG ISLAND. Common summer resident, except at the eastern end, which is almost outside its range; now uncommon or rare at the western end; April 29 to September 30 and October 8,1896, Jamaica (Dwight). Overall [1923], in our area it arrives the first week in May, but is rather more irregular than other species, often arriving before or after the main wave. In the fall it lingers through September, but is rarely observed. 1958. White-eyed Vireo. Central Park. Rare spring, very rare fall transient. Earliest arrival date: 27 April 1938 (Cantor, Dale) to [late date] 4 June 1953 (Harrison). On southbound migration seen as early as 12 September 1957 (Post) to as late as 8 October 1925 (Crosby, Watson). Bred in Central Park in 1892. 1959-1967: no new data. 1958. White-eyed Vireo. Prospect Park. Rare to uncommon transient. Earliest spring arrival date: 23 April 1938 (Shainin) to as late as 7 June 1951 (Jacobson). On southbound migration as early as 12 September 1950 (Alperin, Jacobson) to as late as 13 October 1951 (Whelen, Brooklyn Bird Club). 1959-1967: no new data. 1964+. White-eyed Vireo. "This species is rare on migration. Usually only one or two are seen by an active observer away from breeding areas. This is not surprising as the White-eyed Vireo is near its northern limits in our area. It has also decreased considerably since before 1900 over much of the northeast, and has not shown any signs of increasing." 1998+. "The earliest record in our area is 28 March 1996 at Miller's Place (north shore of Suffolk County, LI). White-eyed Vireos have occasionally lingered to record late dates in recent years. They appeared on the 1983 Staten Island and 1992 Montauk Christmas Bird Counts." ============================ Wilson's Phalarope (Steganopus tricolor) in Bronx County. - On September 21, 1924, at the New York Botanical Garden we observed a Wilson's Phalarope in company with about twenty Lesser Yellow-legs and two Stilt Sandpipers, in what was formerly known to local bird students as "half-mile." Like the other Phalaropes our bird was quite tame, readily allowing an approach to within twenty feet. The bird might be roughly described as decidedly smaller in size and "squatter" than the Lesser Yellowlegs. The bill was dark, long, and excessively slender, in fact almost needle-like. The crown and nape were a light grayish color, which extended down the back, the feathers of which were bordered with white. The primaries and secondaries of the wing were noticeably darker. The bird had a very prominent upper ciliary line. The throat, breast and belly appeared pure white. The color of the legs, yellowish. The characteristic "Phalarope mark" on the side of the head and neck was faintly visible. The bird spent most of its time wading; only occasionally did it indulge in swimming, and then to no great extent. The writers were privileged to inspect the skins of S. tricolor, at the American Museum, the following day, and were satisfied that their identification was correct. It might be fitting to state that two of the undersigned had had field-experience with the Northern Phalarope. Late in the day the bird was seen by several other credible observers. -- F. T. and J. and R. Kuerzi and P. Kesski, New York City. -- Wilson's Phalarope in Bronx Park, New York [1925]. -- Since observing the Wilson's Phalarope (Steganopus tricolor) in the Bronx, we find that other observers also satisfactorily identified a bird of this species, in the Bronx, on the same date. At Bronx Park, a single bird was observed by Messrs. Myers, Resher, Herbert, and Matachescki. At Hunts Point, a few miles further down the river, possibly the same bird was seen, several hours later, by the last two named and also Messers. Hickey and Cruickshank. It seems that this would further attest the correctness of our identification. Owing to an error our names printed under the two items in the January 'Auk,' entitled the "Black Skimmer and Golden Plover", and the "Wilson Phalarope, in Bronx County," were misspelled. They should read: John and Richard Kuerzi and Philip Kessler.

=============================== Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD www.BirdingBob.com