Pelham Bay Park (Bronx) and Central Park: Late June Bird Walks

Updated: Feb 28, 2020

Herring Gull at Jamaica Bay in October 2014

26 June 2019

Bird Notes: This Saturday (29 June) we are headed to Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx, meeting at 9:30am at two places (train or driving): (a) for those coming by train: the last stop of the #6 Lexington Avenue local station (called Pelham Park Park); and (b) for those driving: at the free parking lot at the old Rice Stadium just off the New England Thruway at Watt Avenue and Middletown Road (called the Aileen B. Ryan Recreational Complex, Middletown Road, The Bronx, NY 10465). Further details below and/or email us if you need more info etc.

We're birding in two fine NYC Parks this Sat/Sun: looking for nesting warblers (three species), cuckoos and any June surprises we can turn up.

Willow Flycatcher at Jamaica Bay by Deborah Allen on 22 June 2019

Willow Flycatcher at Jamaica Bay by Deborah Allen on 22 June 2019

In this week's Historical Notes, we present only one (1) article: migrant and resident birds observed in Chelsea (14th street just west of 7th Avenue in Manhattan) from 1944-1950 by Laurence Hawkins. As you read it, note the absence of birds we see regularly in Manhattan these days such as Red-tailed Hawks and Cooper's Hawks (+ only one mention of Kestrels)...also note how many more birds (and species) are seen on autumn (southbound) migration, than spring migration. Just looking at the number/diversity of warblers (22 species!) seen in the trees opposite the author's third floor window in Chelsea in six years - suggests that there were many more warblers migrating over Manhattan not so long ago. Finally, if the author (Laurence F. Hawkins) sounds familiar, perhaps you used his text in college?

nesting Eastern Kingbird at Turtle Pond (Central Park) by Deborah Allen on 18 June 2019

Nesting Eastern Kingbird at Turtle Pond (Central Park) by Deborah Allen on 23 June 2019

Good! The Bird Walks for Late June

All Walks $10/person

Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here:

1. Saturday, 29 June at 9:30am - Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx. We give directions for those taking the train from Manhattan first, and then for those driving.

What to Bring?: Wear lightweight hiking shoes - we might go through a couple of muddy patches but nothing too terrible. Bring water to drink (check weather forecast - supposed to be warm/humid), and make sure to bring mosquito repellent. We will be out about three hours.

For those taking the train from Manhattan: Take the Train on the East Side of Manhattan! The #6 Train - Meet at the last stop of the #6 train (Lexington Ave. local - the last stop is called Pelham Bay Park). When you get off the train walk down one flight of stairs and find the doors to the LEFT of the token booth (easy) - go through those doors - they lead onto a flat wide ramp (that goes over the New England Thruway). I will be standing on the other side of the doors on that ramp from 9:20-9:35am. We will then join up with the group that drives in and parks at the free parking lot. (Deborah will meet that group.)

Please Note: apparently on the #6 train route this weekend, there is track work going on. So at 125th street you will switch to a shuttle bus (free) that will take you to 138th st. and Brook Ave (Bx), where you can get back on the #6 train (free)...and then continue to the last stop. So plan on adding an extra 20 minutes to your trip...

See the MTA web site for directions:

-- Type in as your destination: Pelham Bay Park

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

For those Driving! DO NOT drive to the Orchard Beach parking lot - we are not meeting there! We are meeting at a free parking lot at the old Rice Stadium: Watt Avenue and Middletown Road (Bronx 10465). For driving directions, use this as your destination: Aileen B. Ryan Recreational Complex, Middletown Road, The Bronx, NY 10465. Parking is free! Meet Deborah at that lot at 9:30am...and if you are lost take her cell number: 347-703-5554

2.***Sunday, 30 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: or call: 718-828-8262 (home)

Carolina Wren at Jamaica Bay by Deborah Allen on 22 June 2019

Carolina Wren at Jamaica Bay by Deborah Allen on 22 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 ( 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.

Black-billed Cuckoo at Jamaica Bay by Deborah Allen on 22 June 2019

Black-billed Cuckoo at Jamaica Bay by Deborah Allen on 22 June 2019

Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)

Saturday, 22 June (Jamaica Bay Wildlife Reserve in Queens at 10am) - our best finds were the two cuckoo species: two Black-billed Cuckoos (see above) and one Yellow-billed (see below)...all three birds on the trail to the north of the Visitors' Center (to the right as one exits the rear of the building). We believe both species nest here. Other highlights include the sheer number of Yellow Warblers throughout the area; the male American Redstart that came in close to us; Willow Flycatcher (so many mosquitoes here!), and Great Crested Flycatcher...and the Clapper Rail calling to us, but not seen.

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Saturday, 22 June:

Yellow-billed Cuckoo at Jamaica Bay by Deborah Allen on 22 June 2019

Yellow-billed Cuckoo at Jamaica Bay by Deborah Allen on 22 June 2019

Sunday, 23 June (Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe at 74th st and the East Drive at 7:30am/9:30am) - this is late June birding, and it will continue this way through July in Central Park: nesting Warbling Vireos; nesting Cedar Waxwings; nesting Baltimore Orioles...If you come to the Central Park walks for the next few weeks (until early August) with an open mind to plants (there is an orchid in bloom in Central Park/NYC that is fairly common), and enjoying the park, you will have a great time. If you want to see rare birds...wait until early August when the first southbound birds will arrive in number. For those keeping track, the pair of Tree Swallows at Turtle Pond seem to have abandoned their potential nest due to pressure from Starlings; and one reliable Central Park observer (Roger Pasquier) found singing Acadian Flycatcher and Eastern Wood Pewee last week (21 June)...and Roger and I both agreed that there is only one Wood Thrush remaining in the Ramble (south side of Belvedere Castle), while the other two singing males left the park in the past two weeks. Amazing to think we had three singing (male) Wood Thrushes at one time this spring in the Ramble - and no pairs were formed - and no nesting behavior observed.

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Sunday, 23 June:

Boat-tailed Grackle October 2014 at Jamaica Bay

Boat-tailed Grackle October 2014 at Jamaica Bay


Seven Years of Bird-Watching in Chelsea (Manhattan) Laurence F. Hawkins The following is a record covering the years 1944-50 of birds I have observed from my third-floor apartment windows, which look out upon a row of typical Manhattan back yards. The ten yards visible contain sixteen Ailanthus trees; several of the yards are grassy, with a few bushes; most are quite bare; one large yard is cemented over and provides a playground for a nursery. These yards are located between 14th and 15th Streets just west of 7th Avenue, and are enclosed on each side (north and south) by five or six four-and-five-story houses. Attracted chiefly by the view of trees, my wife and I moved to our present quarters in the fall of 1941. Not being a bird student at that time and assuming, as people generally do, that no birds other than English Sparrows, Starlings, and Pigeons frequent the thickly built-up sections of the city, I did not look for birds in our trees. But seeing a male Scarlet Tanager in the spring of 1942, and again in 1943; finding a Hummingbird at a red geranium on the window sill; observing a Nuthatch on the trunk of the nearest tree,these experiences led me to realize that country birds may be seen now and then in downtown Manhattan. It was not until April 15, 1944, however, that it occurred to me to begin keeping a record of my 14th Street birds. This was the date on which I saw what looked to me like a sparrow with a bloody pate; after studying it with opera glasses, I saw that the bird was not injured but possessed a crown of red feathers. Thumbing through my Audubon's Birds of America, I identified the bird as a Redpoll. Soon I began to look for birds, and the more I looked the more birds I saw. I bought field glasses, later 8-power binoculars. I had trouble identifying birds from the Audubon pictures, and finally discovered Peterson's Field Guide, I enlarged my acquaintance with birds by making trips to the city parks and to the country. Of course I had many difficulties in making identifications at first. In presenting this list, however, I have made a genuine effort not to yield to wishful thinking. I include some birds seen flying above (most of the smaller ones I can't identify), as well as birds in the trees or on the ground. I have classified my birds as "permanent residents," "winter residents," and "migrants"; but I base these classifications upon my own observations in this location, not upon those of Mr. Cruickshank in his Birds around New York City. Strictly speaking, there are no "summer residents" here, except for some of the House Sparrows. As for summer visitors, if they come in June, I consider them spring migrants; if in July or August, fall migrants. (I probably miss a good many of them because of the thickness of the foliage and also because of my frequent absence from the city.) Certain birds that are permanent residents of the New York City region are seen here only as migrants; for example, in this record I clarify Chickadees among the "migrants." The Duck Hawk [Peregrine Falcon] is a permanent resident of the region, but for five years I have seen Duck Hawks only as winter residents. Here is the record, including a few notes from 1951: Permanent Residents The only birds that are permanent residents of this neighborhood are the Pigeons and the House Sparrows. One flock of kept Pigeons is to be seen almost daily, wheeling through the air for exercise, and also some apparently free birds dart constantly from one tall building to another. I have also seen single birds and even flocks flying in a straight line across the city. As for the House Sparrows, only one or two pair winter here as a rule; others arrive in the spring, to raise their broods, to spend the summer and most of the fall. In the fall these birds, quite numerous at this season, spend the day elsewhere but return in the late afternoon to spend the night under the eaves. These sparrows often drive away more "interesting" birds; thus they constitute an unfavorable element in this environment for the visiting birds. Starlings, though common permanent residents of the city, rarely appear in this neighborhood. Only three birds seen: Feb. 16, 1945 (attacked and driven away by sparrows); Dec. 8, 1948; May 9, 1949. Herring Gulls may be mentioned, since they are frequently seen flying over this part of the city in winter, and rarely in summer. Winter Residents Duck Hawks [Peregrine Falcons]. The last five winters (1946-50) I have seen a Duck Hawk and at times two hawks, on and about a tall building several blocks' away. I first discovered and identified this bird on Oct. 7, 1946; the next day it perched in one spot all day long. I saw it again the following day, but not after that until Jan. 6, 1947; then again on Mar. 5. On Oct 9 1947, I saw two Duck Hawks; that winter I saw one or two birds at frequent intervals (on 17 days) up until Mar. 7, 1948. On Nov. 5 1947, I saw a Duck Hawk and a Buteo circling about (the Buteo looked to me like a Broad-wing, but a Broad-wing is most improbable on this date); the Duck Hawk attacked the Buteo and drove it away and a short time after, I saw the Duck Hawk perched on a ledge of the building plucking a pigeon. On Jan. 21, 1948, I noted pigeons streaming across the sky in all directions and among them the Duck Hawk. During the winter of 1948-49 I saw one or two Duck Hawks on 11 dates (Sept. 24 to Feb. 3). In the fall of 1949 I discovered the Duck Hawk quite early (Sept. 2), but did not see it again until Nov. 4. I saw one or two hawks again on 13 days between Nov. 5, 1949, and Apr. 19, 1950. (On Feb. 7, I saw one of the hawks catch a Pigeon.) In 1950 I spotted the Duck Hawk on Sept. 20 and on nine other days up to and including Dec. 2. (On this last date I saw the hawk drop like a dive bomber, from a great height, onto a flock of Pigeons.) As I revise this paper, on Jan. 19, 1951, I have just seen two Duck Hawks. On Oct. 11, 1945, a small hawk-like bird pursued a smaller bird across the rooftops toward me, wheeled and flew away; it seems to me extremely likely that this was a Sparrow Hawk [American Kestrel].

juvenile Herring Gull on 14 October 2015 at Pelham Bay Park

juvenile Herring Gull on 14 October 2015 at Pelham Bay Park

Migrants Once about six years ago (I did not record the date) I caught sight of perhaps a dozen large grayish birds that flew over this house at rooftop level and rounded the corner of a taller building. I had no time to distinguish markings, but I am now convinced that these birds must have been Black-crowned Night Herons. Laughing Gulls. May 6, 1950 (overhead); May 26, 1951. Black-billed Cuckoos. Sept. 23, 1947; Sept. 9, 1950 (immatures). Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Sept. 26, 1949. Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Spring of 1943 (at geranium on window sill). Belted Kingfisher. March 22, 1951, female seen at 7a.m. and 11:30a.m.-1p.m., perching in the tree and on a building. Flickers. Regular visitors in the fall; seen on 15 dates between Sept. 25 and Oct 23; also, when there are waves of migrating birds passing overhead I usually recognize Flickers among them. Only two spring birds: Apr. 11, 1947; Apr. 7, 1950. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. Eleven fall birds: Sept. 24-Oct. 16. Hairy Woodpeckers. July 8, 1949; (or Downy.?) Sept. 21, 1949; Nov. 6, 1949 (2). (Woodpeckers do not, as a rule, remain here more than a few minutes.) Crested Flycatchers. Sept. 21, 1947; May 31, 1949. Phoebes. I have 14 fall dates for Phoebes: Sept 21-Oct. 24. Phoebes seem to feel quite at home here, and have stayed, I feel sure, for two or three days. My only spring dates are Mar. 28 and Apr. 8, 1949. Yellow-bellied Flycatchers. June 12 and Oct. 6, 1945; Sept. 25, 1946. Wood Pewees. Seven spring birds: May 11-June 2; five fall birds: Sept. 13-17. Singing Pewees, May 22, 27, 1951. Least Flycatchers. (some may be other Empidonaces). Six s