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Sleeper's Awake: No Rest for the Urban Birder

Updated: Feb 28, 2020

male Harlequin Duck at Barnegat Lighthouse, New Jersey in March 2014

9 January 2019

Bird Notes: Central Park Bird Walks in January and February happen every Saturday and Sunday morning at 9:30am (only). Meet at the Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe. $10/person. Until 20 February, we probably won't have more than one pair of binoculars to rent so do your best to bring your own!

Deborah Allen sends photos of Harlequin Ducks, Golden-crowned Sparrows and Northern Harrier. In our Historical Notes we send (a) an 1877 note about the Acclimatization Society of NYC [] whose philosophy was to introduce valuable species from one part of the world to another. As you read, some names might be familiar such as Eugene Schiefflin (do google search), and it seems that attempts to release European Starlings had already taken place by well as a number of successful introductions into Central Park including the House Sparrow, European Skylark and more. Another name, Robert Roosevelt (the senior uncle of Theodore Roosevelt) was quite involved with American fisheries and had a special interest in getting salmon established in the Hudson River and elsewhere; (b) happenings at the Icthyophagous (fish-eaters) dinner of 21 October 1885 at the Buckingham Hotel in Manhattan - some eye-opening items on the menu including Bisque of Starfish and Stewed Terrapin.

Golden-crowned Sparrow by Deborah Allen on 23 February 2011 in Washington State


Good! Here are the bird walks for January and February 2019

Each $10***

All Bird Walks in Central Park

1. Saturdays in Jan-Feb 2019: 9:30am - meet at the Boathouse Restaurant

2. Sundays in Jan-Feb 2019: 9:30am - meet at the Boathouse Restaurant

The Boathouse Restaurant is located at 74th street and the East Drive within the park.


Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here:

Any questions send them our way: or call: 718-828-8262 (home) ***NOTE: on MORNINGS when two walks are scheduled (e.g., 7:30/9:30am), you can do both walks for $10/ get two for the price of one.

Central Park North End (Ballfields) on 7 January 2011 in a snowstorm


The fine print: On Saturdays and Sundays, our walks meet 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 ( If in doubt about whether a walk will take place or not the morning of the walk: check the main landing page of this web site as well as the "Schedule" page - if the walk is cancelled, information will be posted there 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 walks at the Boathouse at about noon; you can get a cup of coffee and a muffin there (around $6 total). Walks last about 3 hrs (less if hot or rainy), and you can leave at anytime - we won't be offended. If you need directions/help to your next destination, just ask someone on the walk - we are a helpful group.

Along the Bronx River 12 January 2011 just after a snowstorm. The location is just north of the New York Botanical Garden - the Bronx River Parkway is to the right running below the apartment building in the distance.


Here is what we saw last week

(selected highlights; the full list for each day is available at the links below):

Saturday, 5 January at 7:30am/9:30am in Central Park - RAIN! No Bird Walks today

Deborah Allen's list of birds for Saturday, 5 January: No list - RAIN!


Sunday, 6 January (Boathouse Restaurant at 7:30am and again at 9:30am) - it seems that most of the lower park Barred Owls have left the park since the arrival of the Great Horned we could only show people the one Northern Saw-whet Owl in Shakespeare Garden - and that made the group happy. We would have been even happier to show them the Great Horned Owl just south of the Boathouse, but that bird was very hidden in the pine trees when we looked at 7am...subsequent photos showed that it had moved to an open area by 10am. Otherwise, a few Fox Sparrows, Cooper's Hawks, a pair of American Kestrels and waterfowl such as Buffleheads and American Coots - it is January! Until we have a sharp change in the weather (snow eg or an extended cold snap), winter birds are in place...we need something to move northern birds further south...and that might happen Sunday as snow arrives.

Deborah Allen's list of birds for Sunday, 6 January:

Northern Harrier by Deborah Allen at Shawangunk Grasslands NWR on 8 January 2019



AMERICAN ACCLIMATIZATION SOCIETY [1877] This society held its regular meeting at the [Manhattan] Aquarium on the 14th of November [1877]. The Chair was occupied by Mr. Eugene Schiefflin, Dr. J. W. Green acting as secretary. Among the gentlemen present were: Messrs. Robert B. Roosevelt [uncle of Theodore Roosevelt], of the Fish Commission; John C. Pennington, of New Jersey; Eugene Keteltas, John C. Mills, Edward Schell, S. R. Bunce, Edgar De Puyster, Wilson De Puyster, Mr. Conklin, of the Central Park Museum, and others. Mr. Conklin read a paper on acclimatization, with special reference to birds. He detailed the efforts made in this country to introduce foreign birds. In 1864, he said, the Commissioners of Central Park set free fifty pairs of English sparrows, and they had multiplied amazingly; Mr. Joshua Jones had freed English chaffinches, blackbirds, and Java sparrows in the Park, but unfortunately their numbers were so small the birds were lost sight of. In 1874 Mr. Henry Reiche set loose fifty pairs of English skylarks, but they all crossed the East River and settled near Newtown and Canarsie. The Cincinnati Acclimatization Society had successfully introduced the skylark there, and it was now becoming abundant in the neighborhood of the city. Last July the Acclimatization Society freed in the [Central] Park some starlings and Japanese finches; Mr. John Sutherland had done the same with some English pheasants. It was expected that they would all prosper. Mr. Conklin suggested that renewed and organized efforts should be made to acclimatize the English titmouse, chaffinch, blackbird, robin redbreast, and the skylark - birds which were useful to the farmer and contributed to the beauty of the groves and fields. Mr. Robert B. Roosevelt read a paper on the acclimatization of fish. The President of the American Fish Culturists' Association showed that our efforts should be mainly directed to distributing the best of our own fishes through all the waters of the continent, and spoke of what had been done in this way with shad and salmon. The Oswego bass, he thought, was deserving of extensive propagation; but particularly he spoke of the land-locked salmon of Maine and Canada, and the California brook trout. The latter fish he considered one of the best which swims in American waters, and was convinced that it would well repay the trouble of propagation here. The great interest taken at present by the public in the acclimatization of animals, birds and fish, and the support it must receive from all naturalists and sportsmen, must in time render this association the leading one of its kind in the United States.


THE ICHTHYOPHAGOUS DINNER [1885]. ABOUT seventy staid and solid-looking gentlemen sat down to dinner at the Buckingham Hotel [] on the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 21 [1885]. To a stranger's eye there was no indication that in the long array of claw-hammer coats and expansive shirt-fronts of the well-groomed diners that any among them had spent the day in the rain and slush at the fly-casting tournament, and only a few hours before had been drenched to the skin. They had met to again sample the uneatable, and in many cases unspeakable, monsters of the deeps and shallows, and while on their invitations they made a jest of indigestion, it was evident that all hastily read the bill of fare with anxiety; for up to the moment of taking their allotted seats no one but the committee had the slightest idea of its contents. The President., Mr. John Foord, with his gavel of walrus bone, sat at the head of the table, while the committee, consisting of Messrs. E. G. Blackford, Francis Endicott, Fred Mather, C. R. Miller and James De Mott, were scattered about. Among the guests we noticed Judge Reeder, of Harrisburg, Pa.; J. S. Van Cleef, Cornelius Van Brunt, Adolph L. Sanger, President of the Board of Aldermen; Dr. E. C. Spitzka, A. De Cordova, Nathaniel Hunting, proprietor of the Murray Hill Hotel; Gordon L. Ford, Gilbert E. Jones, Henry L. Dyer, Amos Robbins, Robert B. Roosevelt, Howard Carroll, F. B. Thurber. A. E. Whyland, Louis Liebman, Jules Turcas, G. Wetherbee, proprietor of the Windsor Hotel, and B. F. Nichols. The tables were decorated with pyramids of horsefoot crabs, lobsters and crayfish, twined with Smilax. The following is the menu: Blue Point's. Extract of Razor Clams. Vin de graves. Bisque of Starfish. Royal Sherry Radishes. Celery. Olives Squid, fried (Chondopterygien) Winkles, Burgundy fashion. Crayfish du Potomac. Liebfrauenmiich [semi-sweet white German wine] Cucumbers. Hollandaise Potatoes. Skate. Cream Sauce (Acandopterygieu) Crevalle a la Marseillaise. Sea Robins, Baked a la Amphitrite. Salmon (Royal Fish), Parisian Style. Buisson of Lobster, Tartare Sauce. Pontet Canet [French Red Wine]. Filet of Beef. Mushrooms and Tomatoes Farcies. French Peas. Stewed Terrapin, Buckingham Style. Ichthyophagous Punch. Broiled Teal Duck. Lobster Salad. Crab Salad, Lettuce Salad. G. H. Mumm's Cordon Rouge. Neapolitan Ice Cream. Fruit Jelly. Assorted Cakes. Fancy Pyramids. Fruit. Cheese. Cafe. Liqueurs. The novelties were the starfish, winkles, sea-spiders, and crevalles. The latter is an ordinary looking fish and attracted no attention. The spider crabs were devilled and served in the back shell and were quite good, although their repulsive appearance when alive will long forbid their coming into common use. The winkles were, as they always are, tough and unpalatable and were, if not the piece de resistance, the joke of the evening. The bisque of starfish was quite good, and if this enemy of the oyster can be made popular as food it will be a good thing for the oystermen. Letters of regret were read from Henry Ward Beecher, Charles A. Dana, Amos Cummings, Dr. W. A. Hammond and M. P. Handy. In evident agony the president announced that as a gastronomic delicacy the winkle was a failure, and called on Mr. Roosevelt to explain how he came to recommend it to the club. The latter gentleman, fully conscious of his guilt, wandered off into a description of the beautiful manner in which the winkle lays its eggs, and enhanced on the merit of the winkle for fish bait because it was too tough to be nibbled off, and acknowledged that he had tried to eat it in former years but had skipped it tonight, and tried to throw the responsibility of the winkle on Mr. Blackford. Howard Carroll, Judge Reeder and others argued about the relations of the winkle to nightmare, and Amos Robbins and Fred Mather opened bags of "chestnuts" and put the party to sleep before Dr. Spitzka could speak on the forms of insanity caused by eating the roystering winkle.

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

Harlequin Duck - in New Jersey in March 2016. We end as we started...and we are off to Sax-Zim Bog for Northern Hawk-owl, Great Grey Owl, Northern Shrike, Pine Grosbeak and more. Stay warm, find birds and see everyone soon!


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