Peak Migration Now: Mid-May 2019

Updated: Feb 28, 2020

Blackburnian Warbler in Central Park by Deborah Allen on 7 May 2019

8 May 2019 - Peak of Spring Migration

Bird Notes: No mincing words here - from 7 May through 17 May is the peak time of migration. Weather looks good except for Sunday (Mother's Day), so check the web site to see if we have cancelled before you set out that morning (look at the top of the main landing page of this web site). Also, Sandra Critelli is having lots lots of birds, lots of fun and relatively small (10-15 people) groups in the evening - try a 6pm evening walk on Tuesdays or Thursdays - only $10.

This week we learned of the death of Drew Stadlin, a young man in his late 20s who started birding with us in spring 2017. I wish there were words to heal the sadness and loss that his wife, and his parents and two sisters must be dealing with. We can say that Drew was much fun to be with, and we will all be with him in time. We remember him in life - here is a something from the New York Times about Drew:

With Historical Notes, we present an early May 1982 article about birding Central Park by Donald Knowler who was a United Nations correspondent that year. In his free time he took up birding and visited Central Park often, doing what we would call a "Big Year." Knowler wrote a book on his experience of NYC and Birding Central Park: The Falconer of Central Park. In the excerpt below, you will read references to Lambert Pohner, who figures prominently in Knowler's account of Central Park in 1982. The second historical article is from the New York Times (July 1984) and describes Mr. Pohner's work (along with Sarah Elliott) on the butterflies of Central Park.

male Blue Grosbeak in Central Park by Deborah Allen on 7 May 2019

adult male Blue Grosbeak in Central Park on 6 May by Deborah Allen

Good! Here are the bird walks for Mid-May 2019

All Bird Walks in Central Park - $10

Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here:

1. Thursday, 9 May at 9am - meet at the Dock on Turtle Pond (78th st. Mid-Park)

2. Thursday, 9 May at 6pm - the Boathouse Restaurant in Central Park (Sandra Critelli)

3. Friday, 10 May at 9am - meet at Conservatory Garden (105th st./5Ave)

4.***Saturday, 11 May at 7:30am/9:30am - the Boathouse Restaurant in Central Park 5.***Sunday, 12 May at 7:30am/9:30am - the Boathouse Restaurant in Central Park

6.***Monday, 13 May at 8am/9:00am - Imagine Mosaic at STRAWBERRY FIELDS (72nd st)

7. Tuesday, 14 May at 6pm - the Boathouse Restaurant in Central Park (Sandra Critelli)

*** On mornings when two walks are scheduled, you can do both walks for $10/person. So you get two for one. OR you can do either the early walk or the second walk for $10/person.

Any questions send them our way: or call: 718-828-8262 (home)

Black-throated Blue Warbler by Deborah Allen in the Ramble on 6 May 2019

Black-throated Blue Warbler by Deborah Allen in the Ramble on 6 May 2019

The fine print: On Saturdays and 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!. On Fridays we meet at Conservatory Garden (105th street and 5th Avenue - walk down the steps and walk straight ahead for the far side. If worried, ask someone to direct you to the men's restroom - we meet 10 meters from that location. On Mondays we are at Strawberry Fields - meet at the Imagine Mosaic - that is approx. 72nd street about 40 meters inside the park from Central Park West. On Thursdays we meet at the Dock on Turtle Pond - for all of these meeting locations check this web site - there is a full page devoted to meeting locations! Evening walks (Tuesday and Thursday nights from 23 April through and including Thursday, 16 May) meet at 6pm at the Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe. These evening walks are led by Sandra Critelli.

Our home phone is 718-828-8262...and Deborah's cell is: 347-703-5554. Email is above ( If you are lost and trying to get to the bird walk, call Deborah's cell phone...but remember on weekends there will be 2-3 other people calling who are also lost - please be patient! 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 walks (except Fridays) 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.

Veery by Deborah Allen on 5 May 2019 in our backyard in the Bronx

Veery by Deborah Allen on 5 May 2019 in our backyard in the Bronx

Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)

Thursday, 2 May (Dock on Turtle Pond at 9:00am): Sad to say, as I write this (Wed. 8 May), I remember we had a good day, but I don't remember what we saw! Worse, I had a school group in the afternoon, so by the time I got home, I wanted to have dinner and go to sleep (7pm). Apologies...

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Thursday, 2 May:

None - we were too tired to do one...

Friday, 3 May (Conservatory Garden at 9:00am) - This was the first time I can recall seeing three Cerulean Warblers on one walk. We had heard there was one near the Blockhouse, so I played the tape there (west side of Blockhouse) and immediately had a male Cerulean fly into a tree opposite us - everyone had great looks. I managed to bring it into a small, dense cherry tree next to us - but we could not get a better look - and it flew back to the woods. Continuing on, we had another Cerulean on the east side of the Blockhouse, and then further down the hill, Gilian Henry called our attention to a probable third Cerulean. All told, 19 warbler species today...possibly the best day of spring birding to date.

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Friday, 3 May:

Saturday, 4 May (Boathouse Restaurant Cafe at 7:30am/9:30am) - I remember a forecast for today of cloudy, cool with a passing shower...however the light rain lasted all morning but it was indeed very minor and annoying...somewhat like Bob. But for those who prevailed we had three if not four Cuckoos as the first birds of the day, all circling over our heads at Balancing Rock, up the hill from the Boathouse. Each came into the cuckoo calls from my speaker - and it was fun to see them circling at once: at least two Yellow-billed Cuckoos and one Black-billed Cuckoo. For the day, 19 warbler species though the two male Hooded Warblers were seen before the walk in the area of the Swampy Pin Oaks and Warbler Rock.

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Saturday, 4 May:

Sunday, 5 May (Boathouse 7:30am/9:30am) - Yikes! Rain, rain and more rain. Yet 13 people showed up for the walks and saw 12 warbler species. We had nice Scarlet Tanagers at Humming Tombstone but were otherwise soaking wet.

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Sunday, 5 May:

Monday, 6 May (Strawberry Fields at 8am/9am) - we had a lot of birds/species today including a very cooperative young male Summer Tanager that perched just above us at Strawberry Fields; and Indigo Bunting here and there...a possible female Yellow-throated Warbler that may have been a female Blackburnian Warbler at the Upper Lobe...and nice Hooded Warbler male (to conclude the bird walk) at the Maintenance Field.

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Monday, 6 May:

None - we were too tired to do one...

Tuesday, 7 May (Dock on Turtle Pond at 7:30am and again at 9:30am): we added today's walk because we believed this morning would be the best day of spring for birds. Monday was exceptional even with overnite (Sunday into Mon) rain. Night migration from Monday night into Tuesday morning was strong - so the radar showed. The problem was the birds passed over us..yes new birds arrived - but not in any significant number. Highlights included two Blackburnian Warblers at the base of Summit Rock; two Cape Mays on the north side of Azalea Pond...20 warbler species overall between our two walks and Deborah's private walk.

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Tuesday, 7 May:

Wine Cap Stropharia Fungus in Central Park (Ramble) on 5 May 2019 by Sandra Critelli

Wine Cap Stropharia Fungus in Central Park (Ramble) on 5 May 2019 by Sandra Critelli / Stropharia rugosoannulata


The Falconer of Central Park (1984; pages 60-65)

Donald Knowler:

Early May 1982

A popular out-of-town birding trip during the spring is a weekend journey to the Delmarva Peninsula, where birds rare in the park are easier to see. Prothonotary warblers are common in a swamp in Whaleysville, Maryland, and another rare bird for the park, the yellow-throated warbler, is found in nearby Mitford State Park. I joined one of those trips in May with a group of other park birders. We drove over a thousand miles in three days. The sight of the warblers was worth it, but we could have stayed at home. The two species were spotted in Central Park during the same weekend and I missed them for my park list. The first week of May had brought westerly and northwesterly winds, raising hopes of a wave day when the wind finally changed direction to the south. A busy workday kept me in the canyons of the city all day on May 7, but an uncanny feeling told me I should really be in the park. I did not have time to listen to a weather report to determine which way the wind was blowing, but every time I looked skyward blue jays were strung out across the sky, hundreds of them, in undulating height from the south. Lunch-hour in Times Square-above the traffic drone and the honking of horns came the sound of a man drawing attention to a topless bar: "Lovely dames, no cover, check 'em out." And high above the lovely ladies with no cover and their hustler came the call of the laughing gull. In the novelty shops on Times Square it is possible to buy a little plastic laughing man who, when you pull a cord, makes the same maniacal, boisterous sound of the gulls. I thought the gulls were laughing at me, caught amid all those people, the porn cinemas, the bag ladies, junkies, prostitutes, pimps, and the smell of urine rising from the entrances of the Times Square subway station. Passing the United Nations building a little later I saw the flags of the UN's 157 member states fluttering madly to the north side of their poles, indicating a southerly wind. It was time to call a halt to my business day and head for the park. I jumped on a subway train at Grand Central and counted the stops-Fifty-first, Fifty-ninth, Sixty-eighth and freedom from the crushed and stale air underworld at Seventy-seventh. Immediately upon entering the park, it was obvious it was a wave day. Bird song was everywhere and in twenty paces I picked up two new species for the year; another ground-feeding warbler, an ovenbird, and a Swainson's thrush. My list for the year had stood at eighty-eight species, and in the next hour I would see eleven more. One of the birders who had been in the park since early morning counted ninety species; and when a group of bird watchers compared notes at the end of the day, they determined there were at least one hundred different kinds of birds. Ovenbirds and five species of thrushes littered the Ramble, and northern waterthrushes left their favored wet feeding areas for the woods; there was simply no room for them at the crowded lake margins. In all, thirty species of warblers were counted during the day but the highlight for me was a large and dramatic finch, the rose-breasted grosbeak, in a willow overlooking an area of shallow water tucked between the Point and the Ramble, which is known as the Point Lobe. The wave was over in twenty-four hours but there was still plenty to see. The action had switched from the Ramble to the Turkey oaks at the reservoir. The oaks were in bloom, attracting insects, which in turn drew the warblers. And where there was a concentration of small birds I was sure to find a kestrel. On a high poplar, towering above the oaks, I saw one of the predators before it dropped on half-folded wings to close the day on a warbler. Flickers had started to excavate nesting holes in the dead limbs of trees when Lambert and Sarah marshaled the birders for the second walk of the year. Sarah, now wearing a white headscarf wrapped in the form of a turban, had all the magnetism of a snake charmer when she went through her dance routine. A mesmerized cyclist passing on the east side circular road ran into the curb and fell off his machine. One of the birders gave the cyclist a tissue to wipe blood from his knee as Sarah, a former schoolteacher, shouted to Lambert: "OK, move 'em out." The snake of birders only moved ten yards, however. Lambert had seen a variety of birds coming to drink at a spring near the car park, and for the next half hour the birders lined the car park fence to observe a blue jay, a purple finch, three species of warblers, and a robin take a bath. "What's that black and white warbler?" said a newcomer to birding who was learning fast. "Oh, that's a black-and white warbler," said Lambert by way of explanation. I had passed my first target of one hundred birds and now had to concentrate on seeing some rarities if I were to finally reach one hundred and fifty. Before the bird walk had started, Lambert said a rare Kentucky