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Owl Walks + Christmas Birding in Central Park (not so ordinary bird walks to survive the cold).

Updated: Mar 1, 2020

Great Horned Owl in the Ramble (December 2016), Central Park-

13 December 2017-

It is Christmas Bird Count season, and we will be out there on Sunday (9:30am meeting time), and able to wander wherever we wish looking for the Hammond's Flycatcher and any other birds that survived the cold snap. This sudden change in the weather will bring in additional migrants, often owls.

SCHEDULE NOTES! We are adding a Friday walk (15 December) this week at the North End of Central Park (9am) in order to survey the area for the upcoming Christmas Bird Count. This Saturday (16 December/$10), at 6pm, we meet at the Boathouse in Central Park to do a 90 minute or so survey for Owls in the Ramble and vicinity. I'll bring my owl calls (tapes) and big speaker, and we will see if any owls will come in to pay a visit. Any questions, send an email or call us at home: 718-828-8262. Next Saturday (23 December, 6pm) we will be meeting at Inwood Hill Park for Eastern Screech-owls (nest at Inwood) and Great Horned Owls (occasionally nest at Inwood).

Our bird photos come from Deborah Allen (see her links below), and show birds from Central Park including Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Fox Sparrow and more.

This week's historical notes provide all of the 1907 published Christmas Bird Counts from NYC and vicinity including: Manhattan (four CBC reports; two from Central Park); Westchester Co. (two); and Brooklyn east to Orient Point, Long Island (six). We hope you enjoy what was happening 110 years ago. The Orient Point (north shore of Long Island) CBC done by noteworthy Roy Latham and his brothers, is the most interesting of the bunch. Some sightings stand out on their 22 December 1907 count: the number of Eastern Meadowlarks (154) seen, as well as Bobwhite Quail (10), American Tree Sparrows (82) and Kittiwake Gulls (300), plus a single Northern Shrike. Next week we will present the December 1917 Christmas Bird Counts from the NYC area.


Deborah Allen sends photos from Central Park, NYC:

American Coot, The Pond, Thursday November 23, 2017:

Male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Summer House, Sunday December 10, 2017:

Fox Sparrow, Mugger’s Woods, Sunday December 10, 2017:

Hammond’s Flycatcher, Gill Overlook, Sunday December 10, 2017:

Link to Deborah Allen photos on Agpix site:


Good! Here are the bird walks for mid to late December - each $10***

1. Friday, 15 December at 9am - Conservatory Garden (105th street and Fifth Ave).

2. Saturday, 16 December - 6pm at Boathouse - Owls of Central Park (email/call for more details)

3. Sunday, 17 December - 9:30am (only) - Central Park - Boathouse (74st/East Drive)


4. Saturday, 23 December - 6pm - Eastern Screech-owls of Inwood Hill Park (Manhattan).

5. Sunday, 24 December - 9:30am (only) - Central Park - Boathouse (74st/East Drive)

6. Monday, 25 December - 10am (only) - Central Park - Boathouse (74st/East Drive)

The fine print: In December, our walks every Sunday meet at 9:30am 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 7:30am. On Saturdays we sometimes meet at the Boathouse (74th street and the East Drive) at 9:30am - but check schedule on web site and here because we often go further afield such as NYBG in the Bronx. The Friday walks (only 15 December at 9am) 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 (= 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 by 6am the day of the walk, and usually by 7:30pm 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!

We end all our weekend 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 $2.75). 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:

Saturday, 9 December (NYBG in the Bronx; 9:55am start time; $10) - it was the snow we saw a lot of today: coming down around us it made seeing more than 50 meters almost impossible. The snow also covered our binoculars rendering them ineffective, and our gloves wet so we could not remove the cold snow that had managed to sneak onto our (formerly) warm necks. Nevertheless, we found a lone Rusty Blackbird in the Swale area. But it was before the bird walk (and before the snow began) we made our best sightings: the continuing Least Flycatcher at the Native Plant Garden (photographed by Deborah Allen), and five (yes 5!) Pine Warblers in the Pines above the Gingerbread Cafe. (It is interesting that just a day before [8 December] at least 10 Pine Warblers were found in a Queens County park by our friend Steve Walter.) In the afternoon at NYBG, our Bronx friend Richard Aracil, found an Orange-crowned Warbler in the same pine grove as the Pine Warblers of the A.M.

Deborah's bird list for the day: ================================= Sunday, 10 December (start at the Boathouse Restaurant at 9:30am) - today we had a special person visiting from Indonesia where he works for the United Nations: Enrico Leonardi. We mention him here because he single-handedly found all the great birds. It was Enrico who paused and pointed at the bright yellow bird in the Holly Tree on the west side of Azalea Pond (the Wilson's Warbler); and it was Enrico again who found the small wing-flicking flycatcher high in the canopy at the end of the walk: the Hammond's Flycatcher! We had another good bird for NYC: a flyover first-year Red-shouldered Hawk spotted by Christine well as more pedestrian birds this morning: Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Brown Creepers a Great Blue Heron found by Sandra Critelli.

Deborah's bird list for the day:

Central Park, north end (The Loch), December 2008


Manhattan December 1907 - Christmas Bird Count:

Central Park, New York City. 25 December 1907; 12.15 to 1.20 P.M. Slightly cloudy; light, southwesterly breeze; temp., 50f., Herring Gull, 2; Downy Woodpecker, 1; Starling, 7; White-throated Sparrow, 3; Junco, 4; Cardinal, 1; Chickadee, 3. Total, 7 species, 21 individuals. CLARENCE C. ABBOTT.

Central Park, New York City. 25 Dec. 1907; 8.25 to 10.40 A.M. (Ramble); 1 to 1.45 P.M. (North End). Clear; ground bare; wind west, light; temp., 37f at start. Herring Gull, 300; Downy Woodpecker, 3; Flicker, 1; Starling, 100; Junco, 3; Song Sparrow, 1; Cardinal, 5; Brown Thrasher, 1; White-breasted Nuthatch, 1; Chickadee, 6. Total, 10 species, 421 individuals. GEORGE E. HIX.

One Hundred and Thirtieth Street Ferry [Manhattan], New York, to Coytesville, South Englewood, Leonia and Palisades Park, N.J. 22 Dec. 1907; 9.45 A.M. to 4.30 P.M. Clear; ground mostly bare; wind southwest, light; temp., 35f at start. Herring Gull, 500; Red-tailed Hawk, 7; Sparrow Hawk, 2; Hairy Woodpecker, 1; Blue Jay, 1; Crow, 7; Starling, 35; Meadowlark, 1; Purple Finch, 1; Tree Sparrow, 10; Junco, 42; Song Sparrow 3; Winter Wren, 2; Chickadee, several. Total, 14 species, about 620 individuals. G. E. HIX and C. H. ROGERS.

Battery [Lower Manhattan], New York City, to 17 Fathoms (10 miles off Seabright, N.J.) and back. 25 December 1907; 8.25 A.M. to 4.15 P.M. Clear; wind southwest, light; temp., 44f at noon. Loon, 1; Kittiwake, 1; Glaucous Gull, 2; Black-backed Gull, 6; Herring Gull, 10,000; Ring-billed Gull, 2; Bonaparte Gull, 25; Old Squaw, 21. Total, 8 species, about 10,060 individuals. R. E. STACKPOLE, A. C. REDFIELD and C. H. ROGERS. =========== Brooklyn and Queens to Eastern Long Island 1907 - CBC:

Rockaway Park [Brooklyn] to Point and back, New York City. 27 December 1907. 10.20 A.M. to 4.10 P.M. Partly cloudy; ground bare; wind southwest, brisk; temp., 45f at start, 42f at return Black-backed Gull, 5; Herring Gull, 300; Ring-billed Gull, 1; Double-crested Cormorant, 1; Old Squaw, 7; Crow, 1; Horned Lark, 20; Snowflake [Snow Bunting], 75; Tree Sparrow, 1; Myrtle Warbler, 8; American Pipit, 2. Total, 11 species, about 420 individuals. A. C. REDFIELD and C. H. ROGERS.

College Point [Queens] to Long Beach [Nassau Co.], Long Island. 29 December 1907; 7.15 A.M. to 5 P.M. Clear; ground bare; practically no wind; temp., 31f at start, 44f at 4 P.M. Herring Gull, 1,000; Marsh Hawk, 3; Red-shouldered Hawk, 2; Broad-winged Hawk, l; Sparrow Hawk, Hawk, 2; Downy Woodpecker, 2; Horned Lark, 75; Prairie Horned Lark, 50; Blue Jay, 4; Crow, 50; Starling, 500; Meadowlark, 14; White-throated Sparrow, 2; Tree Sparrow, 50; Junco, 2; Song Sparrow, 10; Chickadee, 4; Hermit Thrush, 1; Robin, 1. Total, 19 species, 1,773 individuals. CLINTON G. ABBOTT and FRANCIS HARPER.

Mt. Sinai, [Suffolk Co.] Long Island, N.Y. 9.30 A.M. until dark. 25 December 1907. Ground bare; sky somewhat overclouded; moderate west by southwest wind; temp., 45f to 57f. Horned Grebe, 3; Loon, 5; Red-throated Loon, 2; Great Black-backed Gull, 3; Herring Gull, 500; Red-breasted Merganser, 2; Black Duck, 6; Old Squaw, 41; White-winged Scoter, 18; Surf Scoter, 8; Red-shouldered Hawk, 1; Horned Lark, 30; Blue Jay, 4; Crow, 90; Starling, 6; Meadowlark, 1; Goldfinch, 2; Snow Bunting, 25; Tree Sparrow, 6; Junco, 30; Song Sparrow, 2; Winter Wren, 1; Myrtle Warbler, 7; White-breasted Nuthatch, 1; Chickadee, 45. Country visited: Sound Beach, salt meadows, second growth deciduous woods, upland fields and red cedar woods. Total, 25 species, 838 individuals. GERTRUDE A. WASHBURN and ROBERT CUSHMAN MURPHY.

Setauket, Long Island, N.Y. 25 December 1907; All day. Weather fair; wind south. Herring Gull, 300; Old Squaw, 52; Shell Drake [male Red-breasted Merganser], 1; Coot, 79; Horned Lark, 29; Crow, 16; Chickadee, 8. Total, 7 species, 485 individuals. RUSSEL W. STRONG.

Greenport, (Suffolk Co., North Shore) L. I. 25 December 1907; 2 to 4.45 P.M. Partly cloudy; light, west wind; Horned Grebe, 4; Loon, 2; Herring Gull, 75; Black Duck, 200; Scaup Duck, 4; Old Squaw, 100; American [Black] Scoter, 7; White-winged Scoter, 8; American Golden-eye, 26; Bobwhite, 1; Downy Woodpecker, 1; Horned Lark, 50; Meadowlark, 2; Goldfinch, 6; White-throated Sparrow, 3; Tree Sparrow, 1; Song Sparrow, 20; Junco, 2; Myrtle Warbler, 100; Winter Wren, 1; Chickadee, 20; Robin, 10. Total, 23 species, 644 individuals. K. B. SQUIRES.

Orient Point, Long Island, N.Y. 22 December 1907; 6.30 A.M. to 5 P.M. Clear; fresh, southwest wind; ground bare, slightly frozen in morning; temp., 30f to 40f. Horned Grebe, 34; Holboell's [Red-necked] Grebe, 1; Loon, 28; Red-throated Loon, 4; Kittiwake Gull, 300; Great Black-backed Gull, 5; Herring Gull, 538; Ring-billed Gull, 2; Bonaparte's Gull, 7; Red-breasted Merganser, 18; Black Duck, 3; Redhead, 1; American [Greater] Scaup Duck, 55; Lesser Scaup Duck, 2; American Golden-eye, 3; Bufflehead, 11; Old Squaw, 595; American [Black] Scoter, 7; White-winged Scoter, 51; Surf Scoter, 108; Bob-white, 10; Turkey Vulture, 1; Marsh Hawk, 2; Sharp-shinned Hawk, 1; Cooper's Hawk, 1; Red-shouldered Hawk, 1; Screech Owl, 1; Downy Woodpecker, 6; Flicker, 26; Horned Lark, 500; Prairie Horned Lark, 5; Blue Jay, 3; American Crow, 362; Fish Crow, 2; Starling, 31; Meadowlark, 154, (two singing); Cross bill, 1; Goldfinch, 2; Pine Siskin, 5; Snowflake [Snow Bunting], 55; Lapland Longspur, 1; Tree Sparrow, 82; Junco, 2; Song Sparrow, 33; Fox Sparrow, 1; Northern Shrike, 1; Myrtle Warbler, 155; Chickadee, 126; Golden-crowned Kinglet, 39; Robin, 8. Total, 50 species, 2,708 individuals. Country visited: Shores of Long Island Sound, Orient and Gardiner's Bay, hills, orchards, hardwood forests, cedar groves, swamp, salt marshes, ploughed fields and pastures. The Turkey Vulture was captured on the ground in a choking condition. Large bones were wedged firmly in the throat, these were released and the bird offered stale fish which it ate greedily; but evidently the stomach was weak from fasting and the food was immediately disgorged. The. following morning the bird was dead. HARRY, FRANK and ROY LATHAM. =========== Westchester County 1907 - Christmas Bird Count:

Bronxville, N.Y. 25 December 1907. 8 A.M. to 5 P.M. Clear in morning, partly cloudy in afternoon; wind west, light and increasing; temp., 45f. Crow, 1; Starling, 7. Total, 2 species, 8 individuals. A. B. GURLEY.

Pelham Manor, N.Y. 25 Dec. 1907. 9 A.M. to 1 P.M. Clear; no wind; ground bare; temp., at 7.30, 31f. Herring Gull, 80; Bob-white, 10; Downy Woodpecker, 1; Blue Jay, 2; American Crow, 20; Starling, 1; Junco, 25; Song Sparrow, 2; Brown Creeper, 2; White-breasted Nuthatch, 4; Chickadee, 6; Golden-crowned Kinglet, 5. Total, 12 species, 158 individuals. ROBERT CRANE.

================================================= Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD

Follow us on Twitter: @DAllenNYC

along the Bronx River (Bronx Zoo grounds), December 2015

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