• Robert DeCandido PhD

Summer Resident Birds of Central Park and NYBG (Bronx)

Updated: Feb 28

12 June 2019

Bird Notes: This Saturday (15 June) we are headed to the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, meeting at 9:45am (free admission 9-10am). Getting there from Manhattan is easy - just three stops (and 20 minutes) on MetroNorth from Grand Central station. Further details below and/or email us if you need more info etc.

Mid-June marks a distinct change in the number of birds seen in Central Park, so we begin spending some time (Saturdays) in other NYC parks. This week at NYBG in the Bronx we are looking for nesting Wood Ducks; Yellow (and Pine) Warblers; Eastern Wood Pewee; Cooper's Hawks and more. On Saturday, 22 June we will meet at Jamaica Bay in Queens.

Wood Ducks at NYBG (Twin Lakes) 8 June 2011

In this week's Historical Notes, the focus is on the Bronx since we are headed there on Saturday. We present (1) a 1912 article about nesting Wood Ducks at Van Cortlandt Park (Bronx); (2) an 1894 article by E.P. Bicknell on the Prothonotary Warbler just north of Van Cortlandt Park; (3) an 1877 piece about the idea of establishing a Botanical Garden in Manhattan; (4) a follow-up 1890 note about the agreement to establish both a Botanical and Zoological Garden in NYC somewhere north of 155th street; (5) a "Bird and Wildflower Sanctuary" established at the New York Botanical Garden in 1935; (6) Bob-white Quail nesting at NYBG in 1925 - along with Bobolinks and Meadowlarks; and finally (7) a 1995 article about the establishment of the NYBG in the Bronx...its formative years.

male Mourning Warbler at Bryant Park (42nd street and 5th Avenue) by Deborah Allen on 7 June 2019

Good! The Bird Walks for mid-June

All Friday/Sunday Walks in Central Park - $10

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

1. Friday, 14 June at 9am - meet at Conservatory Garden (105th st./5Ave)

2. Saturday, 15 June at 9:45am - the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. Meet at Main Gate (Mosholu Gate) opposite the MetroNorth Train station (and not the gate opposite Fordham University). Admission is free to NYBG on Saturdays until 10am (they open at 9am!). So you can park for free at 9am on Kazimiroff Blvd and enter through the Fordham gate (free), and walk five minutes to the Mosholu (Main) Gate, and meet us there. OR you can take the MetroNorth Train at about 9:20am (New Haven Line) from Grand Central. It is only three stops and 20 minutes to NYBG (and about $5 each way). Otherwise it is $17 to park in the NYBG parking lot...It is also possible to take the NYC subway system and a bus to NYBG.

See the NYBG web site for directions/info: https://tinyurl.com/yb9np2uf

3.***Sunday, 16 June at 7:30am/9:30am - Boathouse Cafe = 74th st/East Drive (Central Park)

*** 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)

Barn Swallow by Deborah Allen with nesting material along the Harlem Meer 7 June 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.

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.

Salt Marsh Sparrow by Deborah Allen, 4 June 2019 at Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx

Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)

Thursday, 6 June (Dock on Turtle Pond at 9:00am): the last of the migrants including three warbler species (Chestnut-sided was the best), and two White-throated Sparrows continue in the Ramble - perhaps for the summer.

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Thursday, 6 June: https://tinyurl.com/y5c5u8hs

Friday, 7 June (Conservatory Garden at 9:00am) - Between the two of us in different parts of the park (the very north and the very south) we managed one warbler species: an immature male American Redstart. Otherwise not much unless one ventured to Bryant Park where there were 3-4 Mourning Warblers...see Deborah's photo above of a young male.

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Friday, 7 June: NONE

Saturday, 8 June (Boathouse Restaurant Cafe at 7:30am/9:30am) - there wasn't much but there were some glimpses of interesting possibilities: the pair of Tree Swallows at Turtle Pond investigating a cavity gave some hope that perhaps a different species might nest here this year. Three singing male Wood Thrushes in the Ramble suggested possible nesting...and one definite Downy Woodpecker nest with young was found. On the 7:30am walk, my calls brought in a very close Black-billed Cuckoo, an immature bird with a dusty upper breast. We ended the walk watching Cedar Waxwings at their nest on the north side of the Maintenance Field.

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Saturday, 8 June: https://tinyurl.com/y4jzh96x

Sunday, 9 June (Conservatory Garden at 7:30am/9:30am) - the day of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, and we survived! In the meantime, we found male and female Common Yellowthroats in the area of the Wildflower Meadow...and two male Northern Parula Warblers on the west side of that same Meadow. We had two Osprey flyovers (one with a fish)...and nesting Warbling Vireos.

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Sunday, 9 June: https://tinyurl.com/y3qqr2g5

Monday, 10 June (Strawberry Fields at 8am/9am) - No bird walk today - it was cancelled late Sunday due to the forecast of rain beginning before dawn; the rain began at about 10:45am...

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Monday, 10 June: Rain - no bird walk.

Snowy Egrets in flight by Deborah Allen on 9 June 2019 (seen from the Harlem Meer/Central Park)


Wood Duck [1912]. This duck is a summer resident of Van Cortlandt Park [Bronx; just north of NYBG]. At least one pair have bred there during the last two summers. On July 4th, 1911, a female was seen leading a brood of eight. In the fall the nesting birds are probably joined by others from elsewhere, as many as nineteen being seen in one flock, of which four were adult males. They remained until November.

Prothonotary Warbler near New York City [1894]. In the early morning of June 2 last [1894] near Yonkers, New York, I had the great pleasure of seeing a Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea) and listening to its song. The exact locality was rather more than a mile east of the Hudson River, and half that distance beyond Van Cortlandt Park at the northern limit of New York City. In the woods at this point a shallow pond, or pool, spreads itself among a scattered grouping of trees and bushes. This was clearly the attraction which kept the bird about the spot, enabling me to watch it at leisure. It was not at all shy, and much of the time was so near to me that, though nay field-glass was not dispensed with, there was no need of it for purpose of identification. The exquisite bird kept constantly over the water, frequently coming into conspicuous view on open horizontal branches and sometimes clinging momentarily against a tree trunk. Its usual motions were leisurely, the movements of the head sometimes quite Vireonine. The song, which was repeated at short intervals, though not at all remarkable, was very distinctive, and not fairly to be compared with any other known to me. Listening to it, it seemed as if an unpractised ear might perhaps have associated it with the Golden-crowned Thrush [Ovenbird], not withstanding its weaker emphasis, with the five to eight notes pitched all on the same key. The call-note was not heard. This would appear to be the first known occurrence of this bird in the State outside of Long Island, where the capture of two has been recorded by Mr. Dutcher. --- Eugene P. Bicknell, New York City.

A Botanical Garden for New York (1877). It seems fitting that after the resuscitation of the Horticultural Society, the project of establishing a botanical garden in connection with the Museum of Natural History at Central Park, should again be warmed into life. The project, at first, met with much opposition, owing to the failure of similar plans in the past, and the expense of such an undertaking. But lately it has been more favorably received. The Legislature, some weeks ago, granted a charter to Samuel B. Ruggles, Robert L. Stuart, and William B. Dodge, and such other persons as they may associate with them, empowering them to establish a botanical garden in this city. The cost of arranging and fully preparing it is estimated at from $300,000 to $850,000, which amount it will be necessary to raise, in a great part, by private subscriptions, and of which, part is already subscribed. The design of the gentlemen to whom the charter has been granted, is to use as much as possible of Manhattan Square, which, with the adjacent unoccupied properly that they can secure, will give ample ground for all purposes, and be of easy access from the Central Park.


A BILL was introduced at Albany last Friday by Mr. Hoag to incorporate the New York Zoological and Botanical Gardens, and to provide for the establishment of such gardens in New York city. The incorporators named in the bill include a number of our best-known citizens, and power is given them to establish in the city of New York "zoological and botanical gardens for the purpose of encouraging and advancing zoology and botany, original researches in the same and kindred subjects, and of furnishing instruction and recreation to the people." They may purchase and hold animals, plants and specimens, and may possess real estate, the net annual income of which shall not exceed $50,000. The commissioners of the Sinking Fund are authorized to allot, set aside and appropriate for the use of this corporation any of the lands belonging to the city north of 155th street, but such appropriation shall be revoked unless the proposed gardens shall be established within five years. As soon as any lands are set apart the Mayor and the President of the Department of Parks shall become ex officio members of the board of managers of the proposed corporation.

No argument is needed to show the desirability of passing this bill, and giving to the persons named in it as incorporators of this company the right to go ahead, organize and carry out their plans. It has long been a shame and a disgrace to New York city that it has no decent zoological collection, while other cities of far less size and commercial importance have such collections, which are in the highest degree creditable to them. That a good collection of wild animals, brought together with judgment and properly cared for, would pay in this great city, is scarcely to be doubted. The crowds which collect about the cages in Central Park offer abundant testimony on this point.

Within the last ten or a dozen years a number of bills of the same general character as this one have been introduced at Albany, but they have either not become laws, or, if enacted, the incorporators have failed to take advantage of the powers granted them. In view, however of the high standing of the individuals named in Mr. Hoag's bill, it would seem probable that if incorporated, as proposed, the New York Zoological and Botanical Gardens would soon be something more than a mere name and would become before long an organization creditable to this city, and profitable to its stockholders.

A Bird and Wildflower Sanctuary to be Created at the New York Botanical Garden (1935). Within a nine-acre area in the woodland between the new rock garden and the iris planting, birds and native flowers and trees will be encouraged and preserved, through the efforts of the New York Bird and Tree Club. The organization is now raising funds for this new project, which will be established as a memorial to Elizabeth Gertrude Britton [see article below]. It has been suggested that sections of the fence to be erected early in the spring to enclose the sanctuary be dedicated as memorials to others. The club, of which Dr. Forman T. McLean is president, plans to induce birds to stay over winter by feeding them within the enclosure, and to preserve our native flora by planting wild flowers and trees of the New York region. Mrs. William Wallace Nichols of Scarsdale is chairman of the sanctuary project. The garden is cooperating with the committee aiming to establish this preserve.

"BOB WHITE" (1926; NYBG, Bronx) During the longest days of last June (1925) the call of "Bob White'' rang out near the Rock Garden, recalling the early days when meadow-larks and bobolinks might be seen and heard on the hill between the Museum and Conservatory Range I, where they nested in The New York Botanical Garden. Search was made to try and locate the nest, so as to leave the grass uncut around it for protection, but no trace of it could be found in any of the usual places. When haying began, it was discovered at the foot of a pine tree in the Pinetum near one of the main paths of the flower-gardens. In order to protect it from visitors, several loads of new cow-manure were scattered around the trees and special efforts were made to exterminate all stray cats in the Garden. The eggs hatched out on July 15th and seventeen wee chicks, running like mice, were conducted down the hill across the path and into the shelter of the shrubs and plants. Cracked corn, rape, and hemp-seed were placed in several places and a bird-bath in the memorial garden was visited for water, so that they remained here until they were quite full-grown. They have been seen almost every day since around that part of the grounds but in diminishing numbers. The last flock seen contained ten and they flew or ran across the path in the usual way, the mother sitting on the rail and calling until they all got safely across. It is likely that part of the brood crossed one of the main traveled roads, for they were seen in the Hemlock Grove and have never rejoined the rest of the covey. We hope that by continuing to feed them and getting rid of all cats and dogs running loose in the garden, we may be able to keep them - and have them with us another year. The empty egg-shells were remarkably uniform, with a circumscissile break around the broad end of the shell, which is so dense that the lid remained attached by the inner membrane. They have been deposited with the American Museum of Natural History, and a note was sent to Bird Lore. One windy night the mother quail got into House 4 of the conservatory and tried to call the young ones to come into a warm shelter. She was put out the next day, as the steam pipes were dangerous and likely to burn her feet. Up to the present time (November 24th, 1925) eight of them still continue to feed, both night and morning, from the box hidden among the bushes, but during the day make their way down to the waste and weedy portions of the grounds of Fordham University, stopping on their way to visit the guard at the Elevated R. R. entrance, who feeds them bread and other tid-bits. At night they return to the feeding box and may be seen at sunset crossing the paths with necks outstretched or flying across to their roosting place among the densest plantations of evergreens. ELIZABETH G. BRITTON

The Efforts to Create NYBG [1995] The leading centerpiece of Bronx Culture, The New York Botanical Garden, has a prestigious past, present and, no doubt, a glorious future. Columbia College and the Torrey Botanical Society had pressed for the establishment of such a place for some time. Their efforts were rewarded in 1892 when the legislature approved a half million dollars for the venture. There was one proviso: those incorporating The Botanical Garden would have to raise $250,000 to assure its success. New York City was authorized to set aside 250 acres of Bronx Park for the Garden and the chase was afoot. A meeting was held on February 25, 1893 at the American Geographical Society in New York City and Cornelius Vanderbilt presided. By this time, much of the funds had been pledged and it was decided to try to raise $500,000 to give the venture a strong start. Among those attending were J. Pierpont Morgan, Seth Low, John S. Kennedy and other leading members of society. The strong interest of the leading families and educational facilities in the city assured its success. The location was chosen for the readily available land and easy access to transportation. It included numerous fields, an established native forest, a strong growth of hemlocks on the banks of the Bronx River and the Lorillard Gardens. Pierre Lorillard operated his snuff mill here since the 1840s and had been fond of adding natural scents to his snuff. He had an acre of roses whose petals could be ground with the snuff to delight one's senses. He had an "acre of roses" and other gardens were included in the site. These delights of nature coupled with the strong sense of awareness the Lorillards had in preserving their lands added to the value of the property as a site of a Botanical Garden. The Board of Managers of The Botanical Garden was incorporated in 1895 and its membership included Andrew Carnegie, Mayor Hugh J. Grant, Charles Dana, the editor of The Sun, as well as those previously mentioned and other notable leaders of the day. The piece de resistance of The New York Botanical Garden is, without doubt, the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. Built by Lord and Burnham, construction began in 1899, was completed in 1902 and was immediately hailed as the largest greenhouse in the world. There was a time, however, when this turn of the century edifice was about to be razed. Enter Enid Annenberg Haupt and voila, a new life was granted to this majestic structure that now bears her name. It is a name that should, indeed, be perpetuated for without her generosity the building surely would no longer exist. She has saved more than one building, however, as the numerous projects of The Garden which she has helped fund also save lives. Experts from The New York Botanical Garden conduct research all over the world locating the seeds of new medicines. The lives saved as a result of their pursuits may well be yours and mine.

I save postcards with Bronx scenes and the one pictured here gives us a vintage view of the grounds of this now world renowned garden. Work began on July 23, 1993 for further restoration work of the conservatory shown on the postcard. It is expected to be completed this year. In the interim, a visit to The New York Botanical Garden should be high on your list of things to do. Bill Twomey 2 February 1995 The Bronx Times Reporter

Willow Flycatcher by Deborah Allen near its nest 5 June 2019 (Pelham Bay Park, Bronx)

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

NYBG (Twin Lakes area) in B/W Infra-red August 2012

Looking south along the Bronx River in October 2009

#NewYorkBotanicalGarden #BobwhiteQuail #ProthonotaryWarbler