On The Precipice of Spring Birding: Early March 2019
Updated: Feb 28
27 February 2019
Bird Notes: Central Park Bird Walks in early March happen every Saturday and Sunday morning at 9:30am (only). Meet at the Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe. $10/person. Please consult the Schedule page of this web site for updates to the schedule and directions to the meeting location (the Boathouse).
Despite the ongoing snow flurries and cold weather, spring is on the way. As you read this, Great Horned Owls are sitting on eggs in NYC Parks, and some eggs may have hatched. By 14 March 2017, the female Peregrine Falcon at the Central Park West nest had laid eggs and was sitting on them during a snowstorm (see image below). A few bird species including Red-winged Blackbirds and Canada Geese are already heading north, some stopping to feed in local parks. Check the historical notes below for other early season migrants in the region. Who will be the first to find an Eastern Phoebe in NYC?
In our Historical Notes we send reports of: (a) an early March 1880 Glaucous Gull for sale at the Fulton Fish Market in Lower Manhattan by Edgar Mearns (look up the Mearns Bird Club); (b) an early March 1907 account of Lesser (Common) Redpolls in Prospect Park, Brooklyn by William Braislin MD (a Surgeon at the Brooklyn Eye and Ear Hospital, and who wrote numerous [30+] articles on the Birds of Long Island); (c) the March 1876 birds seen in Trenton, New Jersey by Charles C. Abbott, M.D. (https://tinyurl.com/yy6r7e55 - a not-famous enough American who was the foremost birder/archaeologist in New Jersey in the late 19th century.)
female Peregrine Falcon in a snowstorm (14 March 2017) sitting on eggs on Central Park West (photo by Linda Marcus)
Good! Here are the bird walks for Early March
All Bird Walks in Central Park
1. Saturday, 2 March at 9:30am - meet at the Boathouse Restaurant. $10
2. Sunday, 3 March at 9:30am - meet at the Boathouse Restaurant. $10
The Boathouse Restaurant is located at 74th street and the East Drive within the park.
Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/ya65n5a8
Any questions send them our way: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 718-828-8262 (home)
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 (email@example.com). 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.
Ruddy Duck on 22 March 2012 at the Harlem Meer in Central Park
Here is what we saw last weekend (brief highlights)
Sat-Sun 23-24 February (Boathouse Restaurant at 9:30am - Sandra Critelli covered the Saturday morning walk, while the Sunday bird walk was rained out. Sandra and company found the best birds in the Ramble near the Bird Feeders including the overwintering Red-breasted Nuthatch; a Chipping Sparrow; a lone Fox Sparrow; the usual large of the number of Tufted Titmouse (continuing from October 2018 throughout the park) and Common Grackles...and watching it all a Cooper's Hawk. And one Racoon!
Deborah's List of Birds for Sunday, 24 February: RAIN! No Bird List for Sunday, 24 Feb.
Capture of the Glaucous Gull (Larus glaucus) on Long Island, N.Y. I procured a specimen of this handsome Arctic species in Fulton Market, New York, on March 4, 1880. It had been brought in on that day from Long Island, where it was shot. It is an excellent example of the condition described by Richardson as L. hutchinsi, and which Mr. Geo. N. Lawrence has previously recorded from Long Island (Ann. Lye. Nat. Hist., Vol. VIII, p. 299). Hutchins's Gull is considered by Mr. Howard Saunders (see his review of the Larinoe, in Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1878) to be that very brief stage through which L. glaucus passes in changing from the immature to the adult plumage. This state is so uncommon that I append a description of my bird: Rump, upper and under tail-coverts, and outer tail-feathers, white, very indistinctly marked with irregularly-transverse bars of pale grayish-brown; breast and abdomen very faintly washed with the same; residue of plumage, including back, and dorsal surface of wings, entirely pure white; shafts of quills, straw-yellow. Irides, white. Bill, flesh-colored on basal half, succeeded by a wide band of blue-black, with extreme tip whitish. Legs and feet flesh-colored; nails black, tipped with horn color. Dimensions: Length, 29.00 inches; extent of wings, 6 7.00; wing from carpal joint, 18.00; tail, 7.55; bill along culmen, 2.50; gape, 3.70; depth opposite nostrils, .82 ; tarsus, 2.88 ; middle toe and claw, 2.90 ; toe alone, 2.45 ; claw, .55. Edgar A. Mearns, Highland Falls, N.Y.
Acanthis linaria. LESSER [Common] REDPOLL]. Never having previously observed the Redpoll on Long Island, it was with pleasure that two were seen in Prospect Park, Brooklyn on March 5, 1907. The two, observed at close range, were even less timid than the common English Sparrow, as I came within little more than a yard's length of the nearest. They found something to pick at on the snow mounds at the edge of the walk, and as they flew I was interested to note the similarity of flight and call-notes to those of the Goldfinch, for which I might easily have mistaken them under less favorable conditions for observation. William Braislin M.D.
Common Redpoll 25 January 2015 at the Ramble Bird Feeders by Deborah Allen
March 1876 Field-Notes of the Birds of Trenton, N.J.
IN sending you a list of the birds [Trenton, New Jersey] noticed during the past month, and not previously seen, this year, I desire it to be distinctly understood, that I do not claim it to be a complete enumeration of the species that reached this neighborhood during the month, or were first discovered in concealed nooks, where throughout the winter they had been keeping. In a locality like Central New Jersey, which seems to be a neutral ground between the ranges of northern and southern species, it is scarcely practicable to determine precisely the avi-fauna. Every year adds additional instances of the occurrence of some rare straggler; and in accordance with the character of the winter especially, is there an abundance or otherwise of certain species, that make a brief stay during that season. Again, it is scarcely practicable for an observer, however enthusiastic, to be out of doors the entire day, and I may add, evening; and yet, unless thus constantly on the watch, the coming and going of certain species will escape his notice. A list of birds characteristic of a given locality, should always be valued us a catalogue of a very limited area; and not considered with reference to any considerable number of square miles; for the variation in the surface geology, or the physical geography affects in a marked degree, the habits of some species and decides the presence or absence of others during a part or the, whole of the year. As an instance, Gentry, in his "Life Histories of Birds," refers to our common meadow lark as migratory about Germantown, (Philadelphia) Pa., while in this neighborhood it is a winter resident; and the same might be mentioned with reference to several other species. Yet the field of Mr. Gentry's observations and of my own are but twenty-eight miles distant, as the crow flies, but ecologically they are as different as well can be.
The few additional species noted in March are:
Robin. Usually abundant in February.
Kinglets, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned. Probably overlooked in February as they are common throughout the winter, in varying numbers. I have elsewhere mentioned my belief that these birds remain in Eastern Pennsylvania during summer.
Winter Wren. These birds were common in November, but disappeared again. Twice in March I saw a pair along the creek bank.
Titlark [American Pipit]. A single flock seen on the 12th [March], and then again the next day. These birds vary a great deal as to their abundance, some winters frequenting fields by the hundreds, and remaining many weeks together.
Butcher-bird [Northern Shrike]. But one specimen since November; occasionally they are very abundant.
White-throated Sparrow. A number of these birds have frequented my yard for nearly a month after having been first seen on March 9th.
Blue Jay. Jays are resident and more abundant in winter than summer, as they are then tamer and leave the high woods. They have been very abundant throughout March, but were not noticed in January and February.
Peewee [Eastern Phoebe]. First seen on March 6th. Since then they have been very abundant and on this 27th a pair began building a nest.
Flicker. A single specimen seen along the hillside, which, I doubt not, has been wintering in the barn as single birds have been found in hay mows and other out buildings in the depth of winter; what they find to eat is a mystery. The specimen seen was in full vigor, and seemed to thoroughly enjoy being out of doors.
Owls, a. Long-eared; b. Short-eared; c. Screech-owl; d. Barred Owl. These four species have been seen in March, the two former being quite common on the marsh meadows along the Delaware River. The little screech-owl is not as abundant in winter as in summer, or at least does not appear so. Do they migrate?
Dove [Mourning Dove]. Noted a single pair, the 18th, a cold, windy day, and have twice seen the same or other pairs.
Killdeer plover. Flocks of Killdeers were on the meadows on the 11th, 18th and 22nd. Woodcock. Flushed four on the edge of a dense swamp on the 18th.
Snipe. Snipe appeared late in March, but did not stay. I suppose they returned south.
Night Heron [Black-crowned]. Several seen. They are resident in good numbers in the southern part of the state. Prospect Hill, Trenton, New Jersey.
Chas. C. Abbott, M.D. Prospect Hill, Trenton, New Jersey.
Turkey Vulture on 12 March 2016 soaring along the Palisades NJ where they nest