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Mid June: Breeding Birds of Central Park and the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

Updated: Mar 1, 2020

Pair Northern Flickers (male on left) in Central Park (Ramble) on 9 June 2018 by Deborah Allen

13 June 2018 Schedule Notes: This Sunday's walk (17 June) meets at the Boathouse Restaurant (NOT the Dock on Turtle Pond) at 7:30am and 9:30am. On Saturday (16 June), we meet at Jamaica Bay (Environmental Center) at 10am. Bring mosquito repellent. Bring rubber boots if you have them - we might visit the east pond where the trails could be muddy. However, if you walk carefully/gingerly, you should be ok...but if you are a slosher like me, then the boots are good. More Jamaica Bay trip details below + upcoming 23 June (Saturday) walk to NYBG in the Bronx. We will likely be doing one or two night owl walks for Eastern Screech-owls at Inwood Hill Park (Manhattan) and Van Cortlandt Park (Bronx) later in the month of June/early July. Our bird photos come from Deborah Allen (see her links below), and show birds from Central Park including Northern Parula Warbler, Song Sparrow, nesting Northern Flickers, Brown-headed Cowbird and Eastern Whip-poor-will. In this week's historical notes we feature information about (a) a vociferous Eastern Whip-poor-will (Anstrostomus vociferus vociferus) on Staten Island in early June 1944 when this bird was a fairly common nesting species there; and (b) a series of fishing vignettes from the Harlem Meer in Central Park in spring-summer 1887-1888. People have been asking about the algae in Central Park: -----

May 2018 NYC Weather Recap - Big Rebound From April by Rob Frydlewicz

"After suffering through the chilliest April in more than 40 years, May 2018 reversed course and ranked among the ten warmest, ranking sixth (4.5 degrees above average) in NYC history. The month's unseasonable warmth began right out of the gate as May 1 saw a high of 80f followed by back-to-back days with highs in the 90s. This was one of the warmest beginnings to May on record. There were also three days later in the month with highs of 88f (5/17), 89f (5/26) and 89f (5/29). The last time May had five days with highs of 88f or hotter was in 1991 (which was the warmest May on record). "After the three previous months (Feb-Mar-April) each had more than five inches of precipitation, May was drier than average, with 3.55" of rain measured. However, there was a period in which seven days out of eight had rain (May 12-19); this included a severe thunderstorm on 5/15 that moved through during the evening rush hour (five people in the metropolitan area were killed by falling tree limbs). "Twelve days had highs of 80f or warmer, eight days were 10 degrees or more above average and three days had lows in the 70s. And although May 2 and 3 had highs in the 90s, the most uncomfortable day was May 26, which had a heat index of 93f (its high was 89f). By contrast, May 2 and 3 had very low humidity and their "feels like" temperatures were lower than the air temperature. Only six other Mays have had three or more lows in the 70s (since 1930), with two of them being in 2016 and 2015. "Balancing the two days in the 90s were two days with highs in the 50s - May 13 (Mother's Day) had a high of 54f and May 19 had a high of 56f. "Last May was just 3.9 degrees warmer than April, the second closet the two months have been (closest was 3.5 degrees in 1945). By contrast, this May was 17.4 degrees warmer than April, the seventh furthest from April (furthest was 18.1 degrees in 1944). May is typically 9.3 degrees warmer than April."

Northern Parula Warbler (first spring male) at the Pool (Central Park) on 10 June by Deborah Allen

Deborah Allen sends photos from Central Park:

Song Sparrow Singing, Conservatory Garden, 10 June 2018:

Male Brown-headed Cowbird, Wildflower Meadow, Sunday 10 June 2018:

Male Eastern Whip-poor-will, The Gill, April 2001: Deborah Allen's web site for bird photos: ==========================

Good! Here are the bird walks for mid June $10*** Friday/Sunday Walks in Central Park

1. Friday, 15 June - 9am (only) - Conservatory Garden (105th street and 5th Ave)

2. Saturday, 16 June - 10am - Jamaica Bay Wildlife Reserve (meet at Visitors' Center) - email/call for details. Easiest way is to drive and park in the free parking lot (opens at 6am)...or take the Express Bus (Q53 SBS) from Woodhaven Boulevard (Queens). Use this for trip planning purposes:

3. Sunday, 17 June - 7:30am/9:30am - Meet at the Boathouse Restaurant ------- 4. Friday, 22 June - 9am (only) - Conservatory Garden (105th street and 5th Ave)

5. Saturday, 23 June - 9:45am - New York Botanical Garden (Bronx) - email/call for details

6. Sunday, 24 June - 7:30am/9:30am - Meet at the Boathouse Restaurant

Any questions/concerns send them our way: or call: 718-828-8262

***NOTE: on MORNINGS when two walks are scheduled (e.g., 8am/9am or 7:30/9:30am), you can do both walks for $10/ get two for the price of one.

Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here:


The fine print: On Sundays, our walks meet at 7:30am and again at 9:30am at the Boathouse Restaurant (approx. 74th street and the East Drive). Please note: the Boathouse is not one of the buildings that surround the nearby Model Boat Pond - people make this mistake all the time!. Our home phone is 718-828-8262...and Deborah's cell is: 347-703-5554. Email is above (= On Fridays, we will meet at Conservatory Garden (105thand 5th Ave) at 9am (only). Finally, Monday walks in meet at Strawberry Fields at 72nd street and Central Park West - look for the “Imagine" Mosaic - we meet on the benches nearby at 8am and again at 9am.

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 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!

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). For our Friday walks, we usually end up at (or very near) Conservatory Garden, most often at 106th street and 5th Avenue.

Wood Thrush (2017) by Doug Leffler

Here is what we saw last week (selected highlights).

Not all species we saw are reported here - we list the best: Thursday, 7 June (start at the Dock on Turtle Pond at 9am) - imagine my surprise when lots and lots of people showed up at 9am! All were from out of town except Linda and Laura...and all were happy with Cardinals, Catbirds and anything we could bring in. They especially enjoyed the swooping Great Crested Flycatcher who in the cool weather was very attactive (active) almost hitting me in the head several times. Four warbler species today. Deborah Allen's list of birds for Thursday, 7 June: ------------------- Friday, 8 June (start at Conservatory Garden, Central Park at 9am) - the first Monarch Butterfly of the season! Perhaps the last hoorah for the spring migration, we had five warbler species including nice Black-and-white female and a male Common Yellowthroat. If any warbler species is going to nest in Central Park (none since the late 1940s and that was a Yellow Warbler pair), it will be Common Yellowthroats. Notably we found a lone Great Crested Flycatcher - probably not nesting since the pairs (one or two) in the lower park are not nesting yet. Otherwise a slow day for migrants and our attention shifts to resident breeding birds. The Kingbirds seem to be nesting next to the Dana Center - and we had a lone female American Goldfinch. Will goldfinches nest in the park this year? Probably not... Deborah Allen's list of birds for Friday, 8 June: ------------------ Saturday, 9 June (Boathouse in Central Park at 7:30am and again at 9:30am) - the highlight had to be the Yellow-billed Cuckoo that Signe Hammer first found over at the Maintenance Meadow and then we called in using the tape at Azalea Pond. As cuckoos go this one was not cooperative whether due to the warm, sunny weather or perhaps because it is a male (or female...must be one or the other, yes?), and the calls I use only appeal to one or the other sex. OR, it could be just an unresponsive bird, a non-cooperator as we call them. We will never know...but we do know we had two warbler species, nesting Northern Flickers (see Deborah's photo) and Baltimore Orioles (adult bringing food to the nest at Maintenance). And we had lots of nice people, always a joy. Deborah Allen's list of birds for Saturday, 9 June: ------------------ Sunday, 10 June (today only: start at Conservatory Garden at 7:30am and again at 9:30am) - the day of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, and Central Park was amazingly quiet at the north end. Besides displaying Red-winged Blackbird males (thanks tape) and the usual suspects (Northern Flicker, Red-bellied Woodpecker), we found a pair of Great Crested Flycatchers at the Wildflower Meadow, and then a lone bird in the north woods which could have been one of the pair seen earlier. Let's see if they will nest. The pair of Eastern Kingbirds still seems to be in a core territory near the Dana Center. As for migrants, we found an Ovenbird along the Loch and a young male Northern Parula Warbler at the Pool. There were lots of flyover Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets and Double-crested Cormorants, and a low-flying Osprey over the Harlem Meer. Deborah Allen's list of birds for Sunday, 10 June: ------------------ Monday, 11 June (start at Strawberry Fields at 8am and again at 9am) - the final spring Monday walk of the season! With us was a film crew from NY1 - so Tom Ahlf and I should be on the TV soon. As for birds, two warbler species today, and the Northern Flickers in Deborah's photo above at the Gill Overlook...they seem to have been evicted by starlings. Meanwhile, the Great Crested Flycatchers (only one pair in the Ramble) are not nesting yet because we keep seeing two birds, presumably a male/female and no one entering a nest cavity yet. Deborah Allen's list of birds for Monday, 11 June: =============================


Whip-poor-will endurance [1945]. The Eastern Whip-poor-will (Anstrostomus vociferus vociferus) is a regular and locally numerous breeding species on Staten Island (which for nearly fifty years has been incorporated in the Greater City of New York), although Cruickshank in his "Birds Around New York City" (1942) excludes the Whip-poor-will from the greater city as a breeder, and Griscom did the same in his earlier (1923) "Birds of the New York City Region." One of the half-dozen or more localities on Staten Island where Whip-poor-wills can be heard in numbers throughout the breeding season is the sparsely settled, wooded and second-growth area to the north and northwest of our home in Pleasant Plains. From our bedroom window I have often heard the clearly articulated call which Staten Island's late much beloved 'all-'round' naturalist, William T. Davis, rightly contended sounds more like "purple rib" than "whip-poor-will" On the night of 1 June 1944, I was lying awake in bed at about midnight when a Whip-poor-will began broadcasting from one of his favorite stations about a hundred yards from our house. He had uttered an estimated 300 calls when it occurred to me to start counting. Doubling up my right fist, I opened out my thumb at the first hundred, my index finger at two hundred, and so on. When my right digits were exhausted I started with my left. I was wondering whether I had fingers enough when the bird quit with the score at 779. Add the estimated first 300, and the grand total for that one uninterrupted run is more than 1000 "purple ribs" delivered at the even rate of almost exactly one per second. This adds up to a little more than sixteen minutes of sustained effort. Whatever the Whip-poor-will says, he says a lot of it. The listener, not the performer, becomes subject to exhaustion. I got out of bed and set down the figures on paper lest I become uncertain of them by morning. At 11 p.m. on June 2, a Whip-poor-will, presumably the same male, called from the same station, but his high score was only 450 calls. He seemed to be 'slipping.' However, on the night of June 4 he was in good form, running up a tally of 711. It should be explained that scoring was on the basis of uninterrupted performance; a pause of as much as five seconds disqualified the additions. Moonlight unquestionably exerts a stimulating influence on Whip-poor-wills. On dark nights, even during the height of the nuptial period, birds may call for less than an hour, beginning at deep dusk, resuming shortly before dawn. On clear, moonlit nights the resounding cry of "purple rib" can be heard all night long. It is noteworthy that the moon was at first quarter on May 29 and at the full on June 6, 1944, between which dates the peak vocal performances cited were achieved. By mid-August, or earlier, Whip-poor-wills are silent except for a few outbursts just before daybreak. August 10, a Whip-poor-will was heard in early morning, but his recital consisted merely of seven calls, three followed by a pause, then four. Even in August and September, a bright, full moon will, to some extent, revive the urge to sing. Near our home stands the large stone building of the St. Louis Academy [see photo below], the walls of which produce almost perfect echoes. Hammer blows originating in our yard come back in echo with almost startling clearness. The calls of the Whip-poor-will rebound with equal fidelity. I cannot prove it but I think the birds have, at times, been deceived by these sound effects. I have heard a Whip-poor-will increase his tempo, whereupon the echo was correspondingly accelerated, and the bird speeded up still further until his sound apparatus 'jammed' completely. I have wondered if this Whip-poor-will might not return to this echoing post in challenging mood, as cardinals robins, orioles, and other birds have been observed repeatedly to hurl themselves against windowpanes in seeming duels with their own reflections. HOWARD CLEAVES, 8 Maretzek Court, Staten Island 9, New York.

THE Coming Tournament [1887]. The annual tournament of the National Rod and Reel Association will take place on Harlem Mere, Central Park, New York city, on Wednesday and Thursday, May 25 and 26 [1887]. The prize list should soon be made out and the score books issued, so that they can be sent out at least a week before the meeting. This has never been done; in fact, on one or two occasions score books were delivered by the printer on the morning of the opening day. This delay was caused by holding the prize list open too long before arranging the classes and sending the score book to the printer. A goodly number of prizes have been offered, and we look for an interesting tournament.

Fishing in Central Park [1877]. Alderman Cole, July 10, offered a series of resolutions in the Board setting forth that the "large lake in the Central Park has become overstocked with fish of several varieties to such an extent as to render the water turgid and unhealthy, and to militate against its attractiveness and beauty," and that "much amusement and recreation might be afforded a great many of our citizens of piscatorial tastes if permitted to indulge, if only occasionally, in the sport of angling in the waters of the lake under the most stringent rules and regulations to be prescribed by the Park Commissioners." The resolution concludes with a request to the Department of Parks to "take into consideration the propriety of permitting residents of this city only to take fish by angling from the waters in the large lake in the Central Park near the Casino, and to report the result of their deliberations to this board as soon as possible." A vote was then taken, but the resolution was lost. A motion to reconsider, however, 'Was carried, so that the matter can again be brought up. THE ANGLING TOURNAMENT [1887]. As we go to press the fifth annual tournament of the National Rod and Reel Association is being held at Harlem Mere, Central Park, New York city. The first contest is called for 10 A.M. on Wednesday and there are classes which will occupy all of Thursday also. In our last issue we gave directions to find the grounds, which we now repeat. The contests take place on the northeastern side of Harlem Meer at the corner of 110th street and Fifth avenue, opposite the Polo Grounds. There are two ways to reach the place: Take the Third Avenue Elevated road to 106th street and walk north and west, or go by Sixth or Ninth Avenue Elevated road to 116th street and, walk back to 110th street and then over to Fifth avenue. There are often hacks to be found at these stations, but not always, although they can be had at the Polo Grounds for return. A full report will be found in our next. THE ANGLING TOURNAMENT [May 1888]. THE fly casting tournament will be held at Harlem Mere, in the Central Park, this city, Wednesday and Thursday of next week. The Mere is at the upper end of the Park, and may be reached by either of the elevated railroads. The prize committee have made a change this year in the manner of awarding prizes. The prizes are assigned in order, and winners are not left to choose from the entire list, as has been the practice in the past. The intent of this, we presume, is to discourage any tendency to "mug-hunting." Every angler who is sincerely interested in the success of these tournaments must deprecate the creeping into them of anything like a mercenary spirit. Here, if anywhere on the broad earth, emulation should be generous, and each should rejoice in the cast of his competitor even more than in his own.


Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD Follow us on Twitter: @DAllenNYC and/or @BirdingBobNYC

Postcard 1907: Eastern Screech-owls at the Bronx Zoo (Front/Back)

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