• Robert DeCandido PhD

More Nice Weather and More Migrating Birds - join us on a bird walk in Central Park

Updated: Mar 1

18 October 2017 Deborah Allen's photo of a Long-eared Owl has just been published on the cover of Birdwatching magazine (December issue). Meanwhile, owl migrants should be here soon in Central Park (+ other NYC Parks), while more birds, particularly sparrows, have arrived in number. There are a few warblers and vireos around...and the weather will be great this weekend. Our bird photos come from Deborah Allen (see her links below), and show Wood Duck and others from Central Park. And here is a link to Deborah's cover photo of the Long-eared Owl: https://www.birdwatchingdaily.com/the-magazine/current-issue/ This week's historical notes include several 1875-1914 snippets on night migrating birds flying into Manhattan offices at night (via open windows), and their subsequent capture/release. There is also an October 2004 description of the night migration of birds as seen from the open-air observation deck of the Empire State Building.

Deborah Allen sends photos from Central Park:

Wood Duck, the Pond, Friday, October 13, 2017: https://www.photo.net/photo/18430422/Male-Wood-Duck Blue Jay with Acorn, the Pond, Friday, 13 October 2017: https://www.photo.net/photo/18430420/Adult-Blue-Jay-with-Acorn Swamp Sparrow, the Pond, Friday, 13 October 2017: https://www.photo.net/photo/18430421/Swamp-Sparrow Hermit Thrush, Shakespeare Garden, Sunday, 15 October 2017: https://www.photo.net/photo/18430424/Hermit-Thrush Chestnut-sided Warbler, Maintenance Field, 15 October 2017: https://www.photo.net/photo/18430423/Chestnut-sided-Warbler Link to Deborah Allen photos on Agpix site: http://tinyurl.com/ydflkdp4

Good! Here are the bird walks for mid-late October - each $10*** All walks in Central Park: 1. Friday, 20 October - meet at Conservatory Garden (105th street and Fifth Ave) at 9am. 2. Saturday, 21 October - 7:30am and again at 9am - Boathouse. $10*** 3. Sunday, 22 October - 7:30am and again at 9am - Boathouse. $10*** 4. Monday, 23 October - 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). On Fridays there is only one walk. The fine print: In October, 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 $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, 13 October (start at Conservatory Garden [105th street] at 9am only) - Deborah led the bird watchers today uptown, while I had the Manhattan Women's Club in and around the Ramble. We found a total of 11 warbler species today, plus a few Blue-headed Vireos, as well as seven sparrow species including one White-crowned Sparrow (Deborah) at the north end (Grassy Knoll). Deborah's bird list for the day: http://tinyurl.com/yaoygn4y ================================= Saturday, 14 October - (start at the Boathouse Restaurant at 7:30am and again at 9am; two walks for $10 total) - the forecast was for fog with light rain, so the 7:30am walk was Bob wandering around by himself. I ended up at the new wildflower meadow called the Dene (approx. East 67th street and the East Drive), and the highlights were Field Sparrow and lots of others including Swamp Sparrow. Richard Rabkin MD recommended this area to me, and I echo his suggestion to visit this small meadow. By 9am, the weather improved and 16 people arrived, and we found seven warbler species with Black-throated Blue and Cape May the highlights. Deborah's bird list for the day: http://tinyurl.com/ycba8tw9 ================================= Sunday, 15 October (start at the Boathouse Restaurant at 7:30am and again at 9am; two walks for $10 total) - Jeff Ward joined us today, and he is a pure joy to work with. He found a Tennessee Warbler at the Pinetum, while the rest of us chipped in with a Cape May Warbler or two. The highlights of the day were a very late Chestnut-sided Warbler found in the Maintenance Field by Deborah Allen, and a White-eyed Vireo near the King of Poland Statue. Nine warbler species total. Deborah's bird list for the day: http://tinyurl.com/y8eldakp ======================================= Monday, 16 October (start at Strawberry Fields [Imagine Mosaic] at 8am and again at 9am/$10) - standing at Strawberry Fields at 6:40am, I very much wanted to see a "dawn" flight of birds...because overnite winds had been switching to (coming from) the northwest. Looking up, the clouds at 5,000+ feet were still streaming from the southwest, while the ground wind in my face was indeed from the northwest. (Warm air from the southwest was rising above cool air in my face from the northwest.) It would not be until 11am or so that all winds would come from the northwest...I mention this to explain the relative paucity of birds in the park today. We should have had migrants, but in some ways, Sunday was better than today. That being said, I can say with 100% certainty that there was no dawn flight over the park today, until about 8am when a few scattered flocks of Robins passed overhead. At ground level, our best birds were the Blue-headed Vireos, particularly the two that were foraging at ground level and feeding on the ripe purple Pokeweed berries. Other highlights included a Cooper's Hawk (juvenile) that landed right in front of Tom Ahlf; and a dead Blackpoll Warbler (complete with yellow feet) we found on the ground in the area of Captain's Bench. Deborah's bird list for the day: http://tinyurl.com/y8y8poa3

Central Park Lake, 5 November 2005


Kinglets and Warblers in Captivity Jersey City, N.J., December 24th, 1875 Editor: My husband brought home, at different times, last October, several kinglets, one of which was the ruby-crowned, and the other the golden-crested, that had flown into his office in the top of the building, at mid-night. They were all let loose in the house, and soon became very tame. At one time a gold-cest and a pine-creeping warbler [Pine Warbler] were brought home by him, which we had for a night and day. For the first five or six hours they kept flying from the top of one door or window rising to the top of another; but after that the kinglet became bolder, and began to investigate the premises, and later in the day he would alight on the heads of any and every person entering, and allow himself to be handled even by our little two-year old. For food, he appeared to pick up crumbs, and helped himself to lice on some plants in the window. Catching sight of himself in a hand mirror lying on the table, he immediately hopped upon the glass, and began an energetic flapping of his wings, at the same time chirping loudly, as though to attract the attention of his vis a vis. I remarked it as a curious fact that, while he paid so much attention to his reflection, returning again and again to the mirror, he never noticed the warbler, or attempted to strike up an acquaintance with him. This kinglet, like all the rest, seemed entirely at home, and even when the window was opened and he was pushed out, he came flying back several times before he could make up his mind to leave us. But at last he did, and the last we saw of the gay little chap he was gleaning among the grape vines. Meanwhile the warbler seemed perfectly untamable, and would let no one come near enough to touch him. As night came on he became very restless, and threw himself against the window panes in frantic efforts to get out. This violence was very different from his demeanor during the day, since, although sad and shy, he made no attempt to escape from the room, and I regarded it as an indication that it was his invariable habit to migrate at night, remaining quiet during the day. Seeing his distress, we opened the window and the captive joyfully darted out, and shot like a rocket up into the southern sky. Two white-throated sparrows were also caught at the office, and are mentioned, among others, in Forest and Stream of November 4th. They were taken home by a gentleman of our acquaintance and caged. He succeeded in reconciling them to confinement, but one died without any apparent cause, after four or five weeks. The other became so tame that he was given the liberty of the room, and would not leave even when the window was open. At last, only a few days ago, as he was standing on the sill of the open window, a sudden movement frightened him, and he hastily flew away. Mrs. E. I. ================================

October 1875. One would hardly think of looking in the composing, or even the editorial rooms, of a New York daily paper for living birds, yet during the last month [October 1875] several birds, migrating at night, have flown in at the windows of The Tribune rooms on the top floors of their new building about midnight, and their names have been taken. Thus came a ruby-crowned kinglet (Regulus calendula), a golden-crested kinglet (Regulus patrapa); a pine-creeping warbler (Dendroica pinus), a white-eyed vireo (Vireo novaborencis), two white-throated sparrows (Fonotrichia albicolis); a snow bird [Dark-eyed Junco] (Junco hyemalis); and last, Wilson's black-cap [Wilson's Warbler] (Myiodioetes pusililas). =========================== Golden-crowned Kinglet in a Skyscraper On the morning of October 23rd, 1914, one of the porters of the City Investment building in New York City brought me a small bird for identification. The poor little fellow had been flying over the great city the previous night and seeing light in a window on the eighteenth floor (some 200 feet above the street) flew in to investigate and was caught be a porter with sense enough to save its little life. Although I had never seen a specimen close by, there was no difficulty, but great delight, but immediately recognizing it as a male Golden-crowned Kinglet in perfect feather, as I later found by comparing him with Thompson Seton's picture in 'Bird-Life." The partly concealed crown looked like bright threads of beautiful orange-colored silk, and the head feathers had to be parted to disclose the full size and beauty of the fan-shaped crest. In his brief sketch of this bird, Mr. Chapman says, "It is due in New York on the fall migration about September 15." Is it not likely that the mild weather in September and October enabled this smallest of our native birds to prolong its stay in the northern woods. It may be interesting to note that, although he passed through several hands before releasing him in New Jersey, on the day following his capture, in time for a natural supper, he showed not the least fear of men, and, when he started for the nearest tree, was strong of wing and able to care for himself. What a delight it would be to hear him tell the story of his adventure in the Wall Street district! A Towhee, caught and released under similar circumstances, six years ago, departed minus his tail feathers, so his story would not have been so pleasant. ­ Alex Millar, Plainfield, N.J. ==================================== Date: Sunday, 10 October 2004 From: Field Notes (Robert DeCandido) Where: Empire State Building at Night Despite the blustery conditions, there were some exciting moments for the evening on Sunday night. The skies became mostly clear after 9pm, and this facilitated seeing the migrants against a black background. Many people on the deck watched in amazement as a Peregrine Falcon, soaring about 75 feet above us, made repeated stoops at the migrants from 9:15pm onwards. About 40 people from several countries (and Adam from Rochester who photographed the soaring Peregrine with his Canon Digital camera) watched the Peregrine make 25 dives and catch 9 birds in the span of approximately 30 minutes. The falcon would catch a bird, drop it off, zoom out from the building and then "wait on,” hanging in mid-air above the Observation Deck for the next group of migrants (or an individual) to appear. There were many misses too, but it seemed like the falcon was sometimes not fully engaged in those attacks. After 10:30pm, two falcons were flying about the Tower, mostly out of my sight on the south side of the building. I had to leave at 10:55pm. There were about 415 migrants counted between 10-11pm, and approximately 700 for the night (7-11pm). No birds collided with the building, and the flight pattern of the migrants was similar to past nights when winds were strong (> 15mph): birds primarily came around the west side of the building, facing into the wind (so they looked sideways when they were above us) and flapping madly. I believe they do this so that they have more control in the way they pass a structure that they perceive could be a hazard if not negotiated properly. By facing into the wind, the migrants can exercise finer maneuvers than if they just let the wind carry them (i.e., a tail wind). Once they made the turn and were mid-way past the building at a point directly above us, they turned south again and let the wind carry them at more or less full speed. We watched them zoom away. Some birds are never affected by building lights at night in the ESB: among these are Peregrine Falcons, migrating shorebirds, ducks, geese and others such as Great Blue Herons. They fly past with no problems that I have ever seen. I have come to the conclusion that response to lights at night varies from individual bird to individual bird because of those that are killed, not all members of that species are attracted to light. Some birds will be killed on every night in NYC. Of these, some will be attracted to lights, some will hit buildings, some will hit plate glass, some will end up starving because they land in poor quality stopover habitat, and others will be blown out over sea and perish (unless they land on a ship). Birds die for many reasons: habitat loss and degradation of existing NYC habitats are critical ones. Even on foggy nights birds know where the Empire State Building is. I have seen how they fly round and round and then move off. That birds collide on such nights is well known and documented. I can email anyone interested a list of articles and newspaper accounts of such nights. So on nights when many birds are killed, something qualitatively different is happening after midnight than during the hours when I can watch them (7-11:45pm). Until someone actually sees and studies what happens when birds collide here with buildings high above NYC , we can only speculate. The policy of lights out or lights on may need to vary from building to building. For example, the policy might depend on whether the building is mostly glass (Trump Tower/United Nations) or mostly solid (like the ESB). Overall, how large plate glass windows affect migrating birds is an issue that needs to be examined in greater detail. Personally, I think that plate glass combined with indoor lighting at street level is a greater hazard to migrating birds in New York City, especially near dawn as birds begin looking for a place to land and begin feeding. Tonight (Monday, 11 Oct. 2004) promises to be a fine night to see migrants, and it appears that Friday evening after the next cold front passes will be good again. To watch birds migrating is a wonderful experience, one that everyone seems to enjoy. To hear birds calling at night is great, too. It can be downright noisy at times! Put a Peregrine up there and it adds to the experience. The night migration of birds could be such a spectacular experience for many people and birders here in NYC. Many people know only conceptually that most birds migrate at night. To see and experience the migration with one's own eyes, surrounded by the spectacular view of NYC at night, is to make that knowledge real. The real challenge then is how to make this a fun experience for as many people as possible so that they come away wanting to know more about birds, and wanting to become stewards of the environment.

============================== Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD www.BirdingBob.com Follow us on Twitter: @DAllenNYC