• Robert DeCandido PhD

August: the Unknown Treasure Trove of Migrating Warblers

Updated: Mar 1

15 August 2018 On 10 August on our Friday morning walk, we found three bird species earlier on autumn (southbound) migration than have ever been seen before in Central Park: Black-throated Blue Warbler (see image above), Orange-crowned Warbler and Yellow-breasted Chat. The Black-throated Blue (two males) were only a few days earlier than any Black-throated Blue ever seen in the park on autumn migration. On the other hand, the Orange-crowned Warbler was about a month earlier than any previous individual of this species, and the Yellow-breasted Chat was at least two months earlier. What is going on? Good question - We don't believe this is related to global warming. If anything, we might expect birds to be staying longer on their northern breeding grounds if the world was heating up even slightly...Rather we think that lots and lots of birds have always been migrating in summer - especially warblers in July-August. So these birds (and early records) have always been here but no one was looking in earnest as we do. We also suspect that the first few birdwatchers (including Museum ornithologists) left the city for the summer to do research elsewhere or just headed to somewhere cool in the Adirondacks or Long Island or wherever, and may not have come back to the city until September. It is only recently that a lot of people have been out and looking in earnest for migrating birds in July-August. Also, many warbler species (approx. 20) bred in New York City or the immediate vicinity until the 1950s, so it was difficult to sort out migrants from locals in late summer. These days, our use of recorded chip calls bring in many migrants that no one else sees - look at the numbers of birds we find on our walks compared to anyone else. We see more species and many more individuals of those species because of the use of recorded calls. And with increased coverage (we have been doing August bird walks for 10+ years using recorded calls), and especially with ways to share information via the bird alerts on Twitter (David Barrett's Manhattan Bird Alert), we are discovering new information about summer bird migration in Central Park. That being said there are certain warbler species known to be very early migrants even by the 19th century bird watchers - Worm-eating Warbler for example. One can almost expect one or two Worm-eating Warblers to show up in Central Park in early July if a cold front (with associated winds from the northwest) passes through our area.

Our bird photos come from Deborah Allen (see her links below), and show birds from Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx (NYC) and Washington state. Additional Deborah Allen images, are above and below as part of this Newsletter.

In this week's historical notes we feature only one article: (a) 25 warbler species that can be (or have been) seen in July-August based upon a list of the Bronx-Westchester region published by John Kuerzi covering the years 1917-1932, combined with even older records compiled by E.P. Bicknell in the 19th century, also in the Bronx. If you see three pink stars *** preceding any warbler, it is that our group that found an individual in July-August in the last 10 years in Central Park. These *** birds were not known as early season migrants in the 19th or early 20th centuries.

July 2018 Weather Summary by Rob Frydlewicz

"If July 2018 were a cocktail, its ingredients would be one part heat, three parts rain. After a hot start, with temperatures nine degrees Fahrenheit above average during the month's first five days (average high/low was 92f/78f), the rest of July was seasonably warm, which moderated the month's average temperature to 1.1 degree above average. As for the rain, after a dry start, with just 0.24" measured through July 11, the skies opened up and the rest of the month was very rainy, with 7.21" measured. With 7.45" in total this was the rainiest month in more than four years, since April 2014, and the rainiest July in fourteen years (and the fourteenth wettest July on record).

"The seven-day streak with rain was the first since 2012, but this year's had considerably more rain (2.89" vs. 0.86"). The last day streak of seven days or more with more rain was in May 2009, when 3.81" fell.

"Downpours on 12 July and 30 July were confined to upper Manhattan; Central Park had 0.71" and 0.37", respectively, but Greenwich Village, four miles south of the park, was dry. And during the afternoon of 7 July, Manhattan was the bulls-eye for torrential rain from a severe thunderstorm, with 2.24" pouring down in little more than an hour. Conversely, on 27 July thunderstorms during late afternoon thru evening produced more than an inch of rain in most parts of the metro area (and 3-5" in parts of east-central NJ), but Central Park had only 0.25".

"Other July observations:

"Thirteen days in a row (July 8-20) had highs of 80f or warmer, the longest such streak since one of 19 days in August 2016. (The record is 62 days in a row, set three years ago.)

"What was most impressive about the hot beginning to July were the low temperatures, all of which were 76f or warmer. This happens almost as infrequently as five-day streaks with highs of 95f+.

"This was the ninth July in a row with no lows in the 50fs, the longest such streak in the years since 1900. Before 1980 more than half of Julys had at least one low in the 50fs, but since 1980 that portion has fallen to 25%.

"By July 25 the month had picked up more rain than the combined amount in May and June (6.80" vs 6.64")."

Tennessee Warbler by Doug Leffler; can be seen in early August (but not reported yet in Aug 2018 in Central Park)

Deborah Allen sends Photos from: Pelham Bay Park, Bronx, NYC:

Adult Semi-palmated Sandpiper, Orchard Beach, Thursday August 9, 2018:


Bellingham, Washington State:

Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Whatcom Falls Park July 21, 2018:


Immature Male Pileated Woodpecker, Northridge Park, July 22, 2018:


Immature Female Pileated Woodpecker, Northridge Park, July 22, 2018:


Hutton’s Vireo, Northridge Park, July 22, 2018:

Carolina Wren (one of a pair) in Central Park on 12 August 2018 by Deborah Allen.

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

1. Friday, 17 August - 9:00am (ONLY!) - Meet at Conservatory Garden at 105th st./5th Ave. 2. Saturday, 18 August - 7:30am/9:30am - Meet at the Boathouse Restaurant Central Park. 3. Sunday, 19 August - 7:30am/9:30am - Meet at the Boathouse Restaurant in Central Park. 4. Monday, 20 August - 8:00am/9:00am - Meet at Strawberry Fields (Imagine Mosaic)

***NOTE: on MORNINGS when two walks are scheduled (e.g., 7:30/9:30am), you can do both walks for $10/person...you get two for the price of one. Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/ya65n5a8

American Redstart (Immature Male) in Central Park on 12 August by Deborah Allen

Central Park Ballfield on the Great Lawn - spring morning 2003


A Detailed Report on the Bird Life of the Greater Bronx Region

WARBLERS [excerpt] - 1932


Graffiti on Gneiss Metamorphic Rocks in Pelham Bay Park - 1990

#Warblers #Migration #JohnKuerzi