Jamaica Bay!

Updated: Feb 28, 2020

American Oystercatcher in January 2014

19 June 2019

Bird Notes: This Saturday (22 June) we are headed to the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens, meeting at 10:00am at the Visitors' Center (free admission to JBWR; walk is $10/person). Getting there from Manhattan is easy - a NYC transit bus (the Q52+) stops right outside the Visitors' Center. Further details below and/or email us if you need more info etc.

Summertime...and Central Park birding is easy! Too easy some would say as we have to make due with Great Crested Flycatchers, Cedar Waxwings and nesting Tree Swallows + the usual Robins, Cardinals, Woodpeckers, etc. Our first southbound migrants will be here in early July if/when we get overnite winds from the northwest. In late June 2017, we had a male (singing) Kentucky Warbler in the Ramble...so one never knows. Generally we define southbound migrants as those that don't sing...that Kentucky male in late June sang +/- continuously suggesting he was wandering about looking for a mate. This Saturday at Jamaica Bay, there will be lots of species we don't see in June in Central Park: nesting Yellow Warblers and American Redstarts to Oystercatchers and Terns.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks at Nickerson Beach by Deborah Allen on 17 June 20192011

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks at Nickerson Beach (LI) by Deborah Allen on 17 June 2019

In this week's Historical Notes, the focus is on Jamaica Bay since we are headed there on Saturday. We present (1) an 1888 piece on hunting birds at Jamaica Bay and the Rockaways; (2) a 1900 article on the rare Great Egret and Snowy Egret at Jamaica Bay and the nearby Rockaways; (3) a 1908 piece on the Alien License Law to prevent immigrants from illegally hunting native birds such as in the Rockaways of Queens/Brooklyn; and finally, (4) a long article from 1959 summarizing the history and creation of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.

male American Redstart Warbler by Deborah Allen at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Sanctuary on 17 June 2019

American Redstart by Deborah Allen at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Sanctuary on 17 June 2019

Good! The Bird Walks for mid-late June

All Walks $10/person

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

1. Saturday, 22 June at 10am - the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Reserve in Queens. Meet at the Visitors' Center (has bathrooms; air-con and drinking water - opens at 9am/718-318-4340) at 10am yes 10am. We will be staying on paved and well-worn paths. We are not planning on muddy walking so it is fine to wear walking shoes. Do bring mosquito repellent and sunscreen.

See the MTA web site for directions: https://tinyurl.com/4xjne4p

-- Type in as your destination: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Reserve

-- Your starting point could be the 59th street Lexington Ave station.

If so, this is what you will see:

From 59TH ST - LEXINGTON AV (TOWARDS QUEENS) take N/R/W trains Take the FOREST HILLS-71ST AV bound Train departing at 8:17 AM Get off at WOODHAVEN BLVD STATION M/R at 8:42 AM Walk 0.1 miles (2 minutes) West to HOFFMAN DR & WOODHAVEN BLVD Take the +SELECT BUS ARVERNE B. 54 ST via WOODHAVEN BL via CRO bound Q52+ Bus departing at 8:55 AM Get off at CROSS BAY BLVD & WILDLIFE REFUGE at 9:27 AM

2.***Sunday, 23 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)

Cedar Waxwing at Jamaica Bay by Deborah Allen on 17 June 2019

Cedar Waxwing at Jamaica Bay by Deborah Allen on 17 June 2019

The fine print: On Sundays starting June 23 through November, 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!.

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 Central Park 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.

Common Tern by Deborah Allen, 4 June 2018 at Nickerson Beach (LI)

Common Tern by Deborah Allen, 4 June 2018 at Nickerson Beach (LI)

Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)

Friday, 14 June (Conservatory Garden/105th street and 5th Avenue at 9am) - We managed five warbler species today...how, I don't know! Common Yellowthroat (a lone male; the female from last Friday could not be re-located today so these warblers are not likely nesting at the Wildflower Meadow); Northern Parula; American Redstart; a singing Ovenbird; and a Blackpoll Warbler. On the other hand, we could not find Red-eyed Vireos: a pair usually nests in the area of the Great Hill.

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Friday, 14 June: https://tinyurl.com/yxq4adrp

first-year male Orchard Oriole near its nest at NYBG (Bronx) by Deborah Allen on 15 June 2019

first-year male Orchard Oriole near its nest at NYBG (Bronx) by Deborah Allen on 15 June 2019

Saturday, 15 June (New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx at 9:45am) - the first of our Saturday excursions brought us to the Bronx. We located an Orchard Oriole nest (first-year male - see Deborah's photo above) at 7:30am and we were happy to show the group at 10am. Other good birds included (only) one pair of Yellow Warblers; Wood Thrush; nesting Eastern Phoebes (two pairs) under Boulder Bridge (perhaps the only location in NYC where E. Phoebes nest); a family of White-breasted Nuthatches...and not on Deborah's list were the native wildflowers Dr. Andy Greller was able to ID for us: Squaw-Root; Yellow-eyed Grass (an Iris); Whorled Loosestrife; Round-leaved Pyrola - and more. Thank You to Oona (8 years) and her Dad, Dan, for help with the flora and the birds.

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Saturday, 15 June: https://tinyurl.com/y4zh52sv

Scarlet Tanager in Central Park on the 16 June Bird Walk by Deborah Allen

Scarlet Tanager in Central Park on the 16 June Bird Walk by Deborah Allen

Sunday, 16 June (Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe at 74th st and the East Drive at 7:30am/9:30am) - I have to remember that this is June and this is Central Park: reduced expectations are the norm...and then I'll be happy with Cardinals, Flickers, etc. We did have some good birds: the Scarlet Tanager male Deborah found at 8am was magnificent - see Deborah's photo above; and for the second (9:30am walk), the nesting Tree Swallows at Turtle Pond were amazing in their own right.

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Sunday, 16 June: https://tinyurl.com/y3qqr2g5

Osprey in flight at Ocenaside (LI) on 25 June 2011

Osprey in flight at Oceanside (LI) on 25 June 2011


SNAP SHOTS [1888]. A CONDITION of things is reported to exist on Long Island near New York which certainly calls for action on the part of the Long Island game protector. The Rockaway Rod and Gun Club control six miles of territory between Jamaica Bay and the ocean, the land being posted according to law. This land and that adjoining it is daily overrun by gunners, said to come mainly from New York and Brooklyn, who slaughter the song birds now on their spring migration from the south. Not the slightest regard is paid to the law: highholders [Flickers], robins, meadowlarks, song birds generally and small snipe are killed here every day and in the most open manner. The principal day for this shooting is Sunday, when the woods and fields are overrun with a horde of city gunners who destroy everything that has feathers. These law breakers pay no attention to the signs of the club warning off gunners and trespassers except that occasionally they use them as targets and shoot them down. Efforts have been made by the Rockaway club to induce the local constable to do his duty in the matter of protecting their property, but he makes no arrests, and it is freely asserted that he fears violence at the hands of the shooters. This is a shameful condition of things, and the Long Island game protector ought to do what is necessary in the matter without delay. The abominable killing of migrating song birds was checked last year, and it is a shame that it should have broken out again this spring.

Notes on Birds of Long Island (1900). Ardea egretta [Great Egret] and A. candidissima [Snowy Egret]. It is a pleasure to note that both 'White Herons' are still entitled to notice among the present avifauna of Long Island, notwithstanding the continued persecution to which both species throughout the entire limits of their range have been of late years subjected, and the consequent diminution in their numbers. Their persistent occurrence on Long Island in spite of their decline in numbers is rather remarkable and may he regarded as denoting that Long Island is an attractive feeding ground for this genus of birds. It may also be that there exists an instinct affecting certain individuals leading them to migrate in the autumn in a direction contrary to that of the species as a whole, or, that the genus is simply prone to a wandering, restless disposition. Since Mr. Dutcher's note on the former was published nothing, I think, has appeared to show that either of the birds now nest on Long Island, and it seems questionable whether the birds have nested so far north since the prevailing demand for their plumes first began. Late occurrences of the two species are as follows: During the autumn of 1897 several "White Herons" were noted about the shores of Jamaica Bay, Queen's County, by several observers from whom I heard of them. Chas. Ward, a gunner of Rockaway Beach, shot several on or about October 1, one of which was merely wing-tipped. This bird was preserved alive for some time, in which condition I saw it on October 9, it having then been in captivity about a week or ten days. The bird was confined in a boat builder's shop where its unnatural surroundings affected it unfavorably, as it appeared drooping and sick. It proved to be a specimen of the American Egret, Ardea egretta. A flock of Snowy Herons, A. candidissima comprising six or seven individuals, was seen on the salt meadows near East Rockaway in mid-August this year (1899). Two of these, which were wing-tipped, are now in the possession of Mr. Daniel DeMott of East Rockaway. They are at present in apparently excellent condition, established in roomy, comfortable quarters, with out-door run and with in-door shelter. Mr. DeMott recalls having seen "White Herons" in his locality fifteen years ago, but none since until the present summer. He writes: "The two which I now have would eat from my hand a week or two after their capture. I now have them in a yard enclosed in wire netting with a coop eight feet high attached. I notice they sit in the uppermost part of the coop most of the time during the day unless called out to be fed; but when night comes they will leave the coop and sit in the open yard until morning.” The chief food of the herons is small fish, with which they are kept abundantly supplied. Mr. DeMott bas several other wild birds quartered in separate enclosures, including Black-bellied Plovers, Turnstones, and one Golden Plover, all in apparently excellent condition and comprising in all a decidedly interesting natural history exhibit. WILLIAM C. BRAISLIN, M.D., Brooklyn, N.Y.

Lesser Yellowlegs in August 2016 at Brigantine (Forsythe) National Wildlife Refuge

Greater Yellowlegs - August 2016 at Brigantine (Forsythe) National Wildlife Refuge, NJ

Alien License Law [1908]. Apropos of the discussion now going on in several states in regard to license laws, it may be noted that, as might be expected, the strongest reason for a high alien license is furnished by the actions of aliens themselves. The most important feature of the license is not revenue (though that has its importance and is equitable), but the fact that it restricts many aliens (largely Italians) from hunting at all, and enables wardens to more easily investigate the hunting done by those who continue to go gunning.