Sunday Birding in Central Park in Summer at 7:30am/9:30am for $10

Updated: Feb 28, 2020

Wood Thrush nest in the Ramble by Deborah Allen on 7 July 2019

17 July 2019

Bird Notes: This coming Sunday, 21 July, we continue our summer schedule of Sunday bird walks at 7:30am/9:30am. Hot weather (mid-90s F) is forecast for the weekend - but we will be there at the Boathouse (shaded) on time, cool and ready to go. We are still planning Eastern Screech-owl walks at dusk in August at Van Cortlandt Park (Bronx) and Inwood Hill Park (Manhattan).

This weekend is shaping up to be the first one of the summer with 90F+ temperatures. That is perfect for morning birds and butterflies. Indeed, we will be searching diligently for the Snout Butterfly (photo below), a summer specialty of Central Park. See Historical Article #2 below for more info.

In this week's Historical Notes, we provide summer reading for birders interested in escaping the heat of NYC: (1) a 1772 article on the introduction of the Lobster to NYC; (2) a 30 July 1984 NY Times piece on stalking the Snout Butterfly in Central Park; (3-4) two notes on the rarity of the Black Skimmer in NYC: 1874 in the Rockaways (Brooklyn) and 1924 in the Bronx; (5) an "early" Purple Sandpiper on Long Island on 28 July 1925; (6) an August 2012 Loggerhead Sea Turtle in Jamaica Bay (Brooklyn); and finally, (7) a 10 July 1881 story about fishing for Bluefish and Blue Sharks on Long Island.

American Snout, Laupot Bridge, Sunday 7 July 2019 by Deborah Allen

American Snout Butterfly, Laupot Bridge, Sunday 7 July 2019 by Deborah Allen

Good! The Bird Walks for mid-late July

All July Walks in Central Park @ $10/person

Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here:

1.***Sunday, 21 July at 7:30am/9:30am - Boathouse Cafe; 74th st/East Drive (Central Park)

2.***Sunday, 28 July at 7:30am/9:30am - Boathouse Cafe; 74th st/East Dr. (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)

Adult Barn Swallow at Nest in Central Park, The Reservoir, Sunday 14 July 2019 by Deborah Allen

Adult Barn Swallow at Nest in Central Park, The Reservoir, Sunday 14 July 2019 by Deborah Allen

The fine print: On Sundays 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 Fri/Sat/Mon walks will resume in early to mid-August.

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.

Wood Thrush by Doug Leffler on 18 September 2018

Migrant Male Northern Parula, Maintenance Field, Sunday 14 July 2019 by Deborah Allen

Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)

Sunday, 14 July (Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe at 74th st and the East Drive at 7:30am/9:30am) - somewhere along the way of writing this, our web site decided to delete our observations...Oh well. So we summarize again!

The Wood Thrushes we have been following successfully fledged young from their nest at the northwest corner of the Ramble (see Deborah's cover photo at top). Karen Evans, Peter Haskell and Tom Ahlf saw the young in the nest on Wednesday (10 July), and this past Sunday we could only find adults low in the shrubs in the same area - likely keeping an eye on young Wood Thrushes. (As an aside we have Blue Jays nesting in our yard in the Bronx...and when the young fledged on Wednesday, 17 July, they both ended up on the ground with at least one adult within a few feet all day.) Good news this past Sunday in Central Park came also in the form of several Northern Flickers in the Ramble - young and adults from a nest. We found a young Downy Woodpecker (see Deborah's photo below) - a recent fledge from a Central Park nest. And we also found another Northern Parula migrant, this one a male hatched in spring 2018 somewhere north of us...

Remember! The month of July is the nadir of bird observation in Central Park. But, if you come to the Sunday walks in July with reasonable expectations, they are likely to be met.

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Sunday, 14 July:

Young Cedar Waxwing 23 August 2018 by Doug Leffler

Juvenile Downy Woodpecker from a Central Park nest, Warbler Rock, Sunday 14 July 2019 by Deborah Allen



Here is another item that is of interest. While speaking of New York, and the oysters found there, Benjamin Franklin goes on (1772): "LOBSTERS are likewise plentifully caught hereabouts, pickled much in the same way as oysters, and sent to several places. I was told of a remarkable circumstance about these lobsters, and I have afterwards frequently heard it mentioned. The coast of New York had already European inhabitants for a considerable time, yet no lobsters were to be met with on that coast; and though the people fished ever so often, they could never find any signs of lobsters being in this part of the sea; they were, therefore, continually brought in great well-boats from New England, where they are plentiful; but it happened that one of these well-boats broke in pieces at Hellgate, about ten English miles from New York, and all the lobsters in it got off. Since that time they have so multiplied in this part of the sea, that they are now caught in the greatest abundance." Wm. H. BREWER.



JULY 30, 1984

Lambert Pohner has seen the snout. The small butterfly, named for what looks like a long, skinny nose protruding from its head, is rare in New York City, and urban butterfly watchers speak of it reverently as ''the legendary snout.'' Mr. Pohner says he has sighted eight snouts so far this summer, all in Central Park.

''This is the summer of the snout,'' said Mr. Pohner, who has seen more than 40 summers come and go in the park during the years he has monitored the wildlife there. In summers past, he said, he considered himself lucky if he saw a single snout.

The nature lovers of Central Park form their own society, and almost everyone knows of Mr. Pohner's obsession with the snout.

''He was always going on about the legendary snout butterfly,'' said Donald Knowler, a British naturalist and journalist, recalling the early days of his friendship with the man he calls ''the sage of Central Park.''

''He'd phone me up and say, 'Hey, we had the snout today!' ''

Some people, particularly those who collect butterflies, can hardly conceal their envy. ''I've looked five years for the snout,'' said Jeff Ingraham, who helps prepare exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History and would like to add the snout to his extensive personal collection.

''Of 181 species in New York State,'' Mr. Ingraham said, ''this is the most difficult to get.''

''He lusts after the snout,'' said Mr. Pohner, who shuns the collector's net and can hardly bear the thought of a captive butterfly.

Mr. Pohner saw his first butterfly of the year - a mourning cloak - at midday on April 3 in the Ramble. The start of the butterfly season, however, is always a bittersweet time for the 57-year-old Mr. Pohner, for by inclination he is a bird man.

His season is winter, when as many as 19 species of ducks can be observed upon the waters of the Reservoir. But in the summer, many of the birds flee Central Park, driven away by the heat and crowds. Even Mr. Pohner's characteristic effervescence is diminished by the humidity. ''I'd really like to be living next to a glacier in the summer,'' he said the other day, hiding from the sun under his trademark bush hat and a long- sleeved shirt as he sipped his morning coffee beside the Lake.

Yet unlike most of his fellow birders, who abandon Central Park in the summer for Maine and Canada and other cool places where the birds go, Mr. Pohner remains faithful to his 800-acre urban territory.

''I took a trip to Maine,'' he said. ''It's not my country.''

Any Butterfly 'Is a Prize'

Butterflies, he says, add enchantment to summer: ''Every year I look forward to the butterflies coming back. Summer is butterflies.''

It is not easy being a butterfly person, as Mr. Pohner calls himself, in Central Park. ''Central Park is like a desert for butterflies,'' he said. ''Anything you see in Central Park is a prize.''

In the last five years, he says, he has sighted 27 species of butterflies in the park, including the often-seen tiger swallowtail and cabbage white, as well as the harder-to-find spicebush swallowtail and, of course, the legendary snout.

For skeptics, he has a butterfly album containing his own color photographs. With his friend Sarah Elliott, he has published a small pamphlet, ''Butterflies of Central Park.''

Seeking the Snout

Mr. Pohner, who works part time in a family business on Staten Island, spends most of his time in Central Park. Weather permitting, he looks for butterflies almost daily. The sun was shining the other morning, and after he finished his coffee, he headed for the Ramble - a prime butterfly spot. He was accompanied by Edna Thompson, who is a retired nurse, and Mr. Knowler.

Mrs. Thompson, a frequent companion of Mr. Pohner on his walks, had seen the snout five times. But Mr. Knowler, after spending the last two summers in Central Park researching his recently published book, ''The Falconer of Central Park,'' in which Mr. Pohner is the hero, had begun to despair of ever seeing the snout.

It did not look as if this would be his day either. As the noon hour came and went, Mr. Pohner and his friends had seen the usual scores of cabbage whites and the occasional tiger swallowtails and question marks. Beside Belvedere Lake, they had seen two alfalfas alight on dandelions.

Walking from the lake toward Shakespeare Garden, they had run into Mr. Ingraham, the collector. Mr. Ingraham, as usual, had not seen the snout.

A Joyful Yelp

''It's always the same,'' Mr. Knowler said. ''When you come looking for butterflies, they're not here.''

The group paused for a rest in the garden, among the day lilies and hydrangeas. It was there, with his companions hot and hungry and discouraged, that Mr. Pohner suddenly let out a joyful yelp: ''Snout! Snout!''

And there it was, fluttering