• Robert DeCandido PhD

Last of the Migrants and the First Breeding Birds: Central Park in June

Updated: Feb 28

5 June 2019

Bird Notes: This Sunday only (9 June) we are moving the meeting location of the bird walk to Conservatory Garden (105th street and 5th Ave) for the 7:30am and the 9:30am walks. Why? The Puerto Rican Day Parade takes place and with the increased foot traffic, and random closings of parts of the Ramble, it is better to bird away from the craziness.

Make sure you know where we are meeting on Sunday (9 June) - and why...otherwise everything remains the same in our schedule. It is, however, the last week for the full spring bird walk schedule. Birds are still migrating! Just this morning (5 June), we had a male Mourning Warbler in our yard in the Bronx, eating caterpillars in our pear tree. Here it is - see below:

first-spring male Mourning Warbler in the Bronx by Deborah Allen on 5 June 2019

This has been an exceptional spring for finding (seeing) Mourning Warblers throughout NYC. We saw a total of five on Friday, 31 May in Central Park alone. These two photos show a first-year male because (a) the song it was singing was not quite right (adults are clear and precise); and (b) examination of the tail feathers in other photos show the distal end as pointed (not truncated as are adult tail feathers). If one looked at the amount of black on the upper breast/throat, one would think this bird was a "full" adult male.

In this week's Historical Notes, we present (1) an 1899 note on a Scarlet Tanager in mid-town Manhattan; and then three pieces about NYC weather: (2) an 1884 article on the Belvedere Castle Weather Station (only one of two in the USA at the time); (3) the April 2019 weather here in NYC (primarily in Manhattan); and (4) the May 2019 weather in NYC (again primarily Manhattan). Do you want to know why we missed much of the migration in May this year? Check out what happened with the weather from 10-20 May 2019...and how much rain (and how many rainy days) we had in April-May this year. These two excerpts are from the wonderful blog on NYC weather by Rob Frydlewicz - look him up!

adult male Summer Tanager by Doug Leffler

Good! The Bird Walks for Early June

All Bird Walks in Central Park - $10

Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/ya65n5a8

1. Thursday, 6 June at 9am - meet at the Dock on Turtle Pond (78th st. Mid-Park)

2. Friday, 7 June at 9am - meet at Conservatory Garden (105th st./5Ave)

3.***Saturday, 8 June at 7:30am/9:30am - the Boathouse Restaurant in Central Park 4.***Sunday, 9 June at 7:30am/9:30am - Conservatory Garden (105th street and 5th Ave)

5.***Monday, 10 June at 8am/9:00am - Imagine Mosaic at STRAWBERRY FIELDS (72nd st)

*** 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: rdcny@earthlink.net or call: 718-828-8262 (home)

Wood Thrush (Evodia Field, Ramble in Central Park) by Deborah Allen 30 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 (rdcny@earthlink.net). 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.

Virginia Rail by Deborah Allen, 4 June 2019 at Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx

Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)

Thursday, 30 May (Dock on Turtle Pond at 9:00am): I don't remember a bird walk where we found both a Prothonotary Warbler (see Deborah's photo below) and a Mourning Warbler on the same bird walk. Add to that Worm-eating Warbler before the walk...14 warbler species in all including late Black-throated Green, male and female. A great day but the light rain until 8:50am kept most people home...don't stay home!

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Thursday, 30 May: https://tinyurl.com/y33fg2v3

Friday, 31 May (Conservatory Garden at 9:00am) - we had three Mourning Warblers on the walk today and two before the walk. Ryan Serio, Vicki Seabrook and many others were a great help today finding these birds...but it was Marlys Ray who got the best look at the male Mourning Warbler that hopped up into the middle of a small tree about 15 feet from us - that brought the lawyers to tears. And those were not crocodile tears either...Anyway, a wonderful last day of May for birds: 13 warbler species on the bird walk plus the continuing Prothonotary in the Ramble (Deborah after the walk).

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Friday, 31 May: https://tinyurl.com/y5rv5fwm

Saturday, 1 June (Boathouse Restaurant Cafe at 7:30am/9:30am) - after two great days of bird walks, we tumbled into the June snooze...thankfully Dr. Matthieu Benoit found both an Olive-sided Flycatcher and a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. Otherwise, 8 warbler species (down from 14 yesterday).

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Saturday, 1 June: https://tinyurl.com/y4ytsczd

Sunday, 2 June (Boathouse 7:30am/9:30am) - A glorious first spring male Summer Tanager at the Humming Tombstone (Ramble) was the absolute highlight of the day. We also added Yellow-bellied Flycatcher here at the Honey-Locust (in flower now and attracting lots of insects) just south of Belvedere Castle in the Ramble.

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Sunday, 2 June: https://tinyurl.com/y6f3sxyk

Monday, 3 June (Strawberry Fields at 8am/9am) - only five warbler species today but there were some consolation prizes: male Indigo Bunting (Humming Tombstone where we found the same bird yesterday/Sunday), and female Indigo at Strawberry Fields. And Cedar Waxwings nest building in several places in the park.

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Monday, 3 June: https://tinyurl.com/yy4vfmwx

Prothonotary Warbler by Deborah Allen on 31 May 2019 in the Ramble (Central Park)


Scarlet Tanager at Thirty-fourth Street, New York. On May 22, 1899, I took lodgings at 30 West Thirty-fourth Street, New York City, for a stay of three days; and on one of these days, as I sat at a south window, looking out over nearby yards into a solitary, rather large deciduous tree, I caught sight of a Scarlet Tanager (Piranga erythromelas) descending from a great height in a northeasterly direction. A moment or two later he had alighted in the tree before me. I do not remember what next happened to this bird, but I believe that he had disappeared when I returned to the window after a short absence. It may be assumed, I think, that he was migrating and, since he was making his journey so late in the month and did not go a few blocks farther to one of the parks before alighting, that he was an example of the laggards, more or less subnormal, which are always to be found at migration time.


Prof. Draper's Records [1884]

Favoring a Plan for the Use of the Belvedere as an Observatory.

The wind was scurrying over the top of the old Arsenal at Central Park as Prof. Draper crossed over to the little tower where the temperature was being constantly registered. The Professor looked longingly toward the reservoir, with is eyes on the "Belvedere," the grey stone building by its side, which is now unoccupied, and wished that he could change it into an Observatory. The building is admirably adapted for the purpose, and only requires a few doors and windows to enclose it. Six thousand dollars would put the Observatory's instruments in the building, and $10,000 would fit it up nicely with some new instruments needed. It is a fireproof building, and in it the past records of 16 years of continuous observation would be safe.

These records are valuable and more so than is generally supposed. A week does not pass that Prof. Draper does not answer inquiries in regard to the temperature or direction of the wind three or four years ago. In lawsuits often the testimony of Prof. Draper's instruments plays a part, and often Judges send to him for weather statistics. In a recent divorce case, the weather played an important part, and it was not until the Central Park Observatory was consulted that the matter was decided. Several cases amounting to thousands of dollars have depended upon Prof. Draper's silent but certainly unbiased witnesses. The Park's Commissioners favor the project of moving the Observatory but they have not the necessary money. So Professor Draper patiently waits and hopes that some public-spirited citizen will perpetuate his name by fitting up the "Belvedere" and transferring the Observatory and its chief over to it. The Central Park Observatory is the only one in the country except that at Washington where self-registering instruments give a continuous record of the temperature and barometric changes.

By the way, if you want to see the weather data from 1869-1884, you can look it up here (click on this link): National Weather Service Forecast NY NY

April 2019 Weather Recap (from the blog NYC Weather Archive by Rob Frydlewicz): As we headed into the last week of April it appeared the month had a good chance of becoming either the fifth, sixth or seventh mildest April on record. But when the last five days of the month averaged five degrees cooler than average, it ended up as the 13th mildest, 2.5 degrees above average (still a noteworthy achievement as it was milder than 138 other Aprils). Perhaps a bigger highlight was the month's 18 days with measurable precipitation, the most since May 2012. This was also the most days of precipitation of any April. However, despite the frequent rainfall, the 4.55" that was measured was just an average amount (the month's average is 4.50"). Despite being only average, this amount was enough to make April the wettest month so far this year.

The five chilly days at the end of the month were immediately preceded by a two-week period with above average temperatures (six degrees above average); this was the longest streak of above average days since one of eighteen days in late December/early January. This mild streak included the year's first reading in the 80's, 80f on 4/19, which was Good Friday (just the fifth Good Friday with a high in the 80s); Easter Sunday cooled down to a high of 66f. The month's coldest reading, 33f, occurred on 1 April. (Since 2000 April's warmest temperature has averaged 85f, its coldest reading has averaged 33f.)

Finally, 2019's mild April came a year after the coldest April in 40 years (which followed the second mildest April on record). Despite the disparity between the two years, April 2018's warmest temperature was two degrees above this year's (82f vs. 80f) while its coldest reading was just one degree lower (32f).

May 2019 Continued April's Wet Trend, But With More Rain (from the blog NYC Weather Archive by Rob Frydlewicz)

Like April 2019, May 2019 was characterized by a surfeit of rainy days. There were 19 days with measurable rain, which tied December 1972 and May 1973 for the second greatest number for any month. (The most days, 20, occurred in July 1871 and May 1888). However, May 2019 distinguished itself by having more rain than those other months (see chart below). The amount that fell, 6.82", made this May the 12th rainiest on record. Although it had one more day of rain than April (its 18 days was a record for April), nearly two-and-a-half inches more rain fell. But despite the high frequency of rain, much of it occurred on just five days: 1.31" on 5/5; 1.32" on 5/12; 0.70" on 5/13; 0.80" on 5/29; and 0.95" on 5/30.

In addition to the well above average number of rainy days, this May will also be remembered for the damp and unusually cool conditions on Mother's Day and the two days after. 2.32" of rain fell on these three days (1.32" of it on Mother's Day) and the average high/low of 53/43f was 14f degrees cooler than average. By contrast, the Memorial Day weekend was mostly nice, the exception being later in the afternoon on Sunday when clouds moved in and there was an hour of heavy showers. The three-day weekend's average high/low was 79/60f, four degrees above average, and featured the warmest reading of the month, 86f on Sunday. (The warmest mean temperature, however, occurred on 5/20, one week before Memorial Day, with a high/low of 85/66f).

Temperature-wise, the month was average (officially, 0.2 degrees below average), with the first half of May three degrees below average while the second half was two degrees above average. (If the chilly three-day period from May 12-14 were taken out, the month would have been 1.3 degrees milder than average.) Seven days were five or more degrees above average while six were five or more below average. Four days with highs in the 80s were balanced by four days with lows in the 40s, both fewer than the month's average (of seven and six days, respectively).

Finally, there was an eight-day streak of rainy days (May 10-17) that had 2.56" of rain. This was just the thirteenth eight-day steak since 1900. Coincidentally, last May had rain on seven of eight days around the same time of the month (May 12-19), which amounted to 2.14". And Mother's Day both years was cool (59/43 this year, 54/52 in 2018).

male Cerulean Warbler by Doug Leffler June 2019

Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD Follow our Bird Sightings on Twitter: @DAllenNYC and/or @BirdingBobNYC

59th Street Pond in Infra-red Black-and-White in June 2006

Along the Bronx River (north of NYBG) in June 2015

#WeatherAprilMay2019 #BelvedereCastle #WeatherHistoricalNYC