Warbler Migration NOW + One More Night of the Owl
Updated: Feb 28
21 August 2019
Bird Notes: Try to make the 7:30am walk on Sat/Sundays: Birds are more active then. As the weather cools, starting Thursday night, we should have a major wave of migration heading south on winds from the northwest: Fri/Sat/Sun/Mon should be great for seeing migrants. On Thursday evening 22 August there is a 6pm walk in Central Park (90 minutes) with Sandra Critelli. All walks: $10! More details on each of these walks below.
Hurry, Hurry, Hurry: check the weather for Fri-Mon this week! The forecast is for cool (75f during the day) and dry: perfect weather to bring warblers heading south on migration - and to see them on one of our bird walks on Fri/Sat/Sun/Mon mornings - see schedule below.
Note! Perhaps our final Eastern Screech-owl walk for summer will be at Inwood Hill Park on Tuesday evening 27 August - meet at the Indian Road Diner just across the street from the park at 7:30pm. See their web site for directions (or email/call us for info): Meet at 600 West 218th Street @ Indian Road New York, NY 10034 https://tinyurl.com/y5o9pab5 We have seen screech-owls every time we have gone out this summer...the last time we were there (22 August) we saw at least five different Eastern Screech-owls...and very close! See photos above and below in this Newsletter.
In this week's Historical Notes, we present: (1) Part B of a 1934 New York Times article on the "savage" Eastern Screech-owls nesting in Douglaston, Queens - and the patrol that was organized to track them down; (2) a summary of the weather here in NYC (Manhattan) for July 2019 by Rob Frydlewicz. We had 5+ inches of rain...and it was quite warm at times (the 11th warmest July on record here in NYC); and with all the rain, July 2019 became the second rainiest of the fifteen hottest Julys ever in NYC. Are we getting warmer? See chart below. You decide:
Rob Frydlewicz writing on his New York City Weather Archive blog https://tinyurl.com/y56n3hjg
Variegated Fritillary, Turtle Pond, Sunday August 18, 2019 by Deborah Allen
Good! The Bird Walks for mid-late Summer
All Walks @ $10/person
Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/ya65n5a8
a. Thursday Evening, 22 Aug at 6pm Boathouse Cafe; 74th st/East Drive (Central Park) - with Sandra Critelli [SandraCritelli@gmail.com] - 1.5 hours at dusk in the Ramble for birds, bats etc.
1. Friday, 23 Aug at 9:00am Conservatory Garden; 105th street and 5th Avenue (Central Park)
2.***Saturday, 24 Aug at 7:30am/9:30am Boathouse Cafe; 74th st/East Drive (Central Park)
3.***Sunday, 25 August at 7:30am/9:30am Boathouse Cafe; 74th st/East Dr. (Central Park)
4.***Monday, 26 Aug at 8:00am/9:00am Strawberry Fields at West 72nd Street and Central Park West - meet at the "Imagine" Mosaic (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.
5. Tuesday, 27 August at 7:30pm - Inwood Hill Park in Manhattan for Eastern Screech-owls. We will be out for about 90 minutes...bring a light mosquito repellent (10% or less deet) for bare legs/arms. Bring a tiny flashlight (and if not, don't worry use your phone as a flashlight...and I will have a powerful flashlight). Meet at 7:30pm at the Indian Road Cafe (has nice bathrooms (you don't have to purchase anything to use them); a nice bar that sells soda and iced or coffee. We meet right outside. NOTE WELL: Parking is atrocious in the nearby neighborhood...give yourself at least an hour to find a spot (basically too many apartment buildings and too few parking spots for everyone You have been warned!).
More info on Indian Road Cafe:
Here is a map, and if you plug in your starting point, you should get directions: https://tinyurl.com/y5o9pab5
This is the web site of the Indian Road Cafe where we meet (outside): http://www.indianroadcafe.com/
And here is the address of the corner where we meet at 7:30pm: 600 W 218th Street in 10034
Any questions send them our way: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 718-828-8262 (home)
Eastern Screech-owl at Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan on Thursday evening 15 August
by Felipe Pimentel PhD
The fine print: Our walks on weekends meet at 7:30am and again at 9:30am at the Boathouse Restaurant (approx. 74th street and the East Drive) through November. 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 (email@example.com). 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.
Male Prothonotary Warbler, 59th St. Pond, Central Park, Saturday August 17, 2019 by Deborah Allen
Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)
Thursday, 15 August (7:30pm for Eastern Screech-owls at Inwood Hill Park) - what changed from last week looking for owls at the same time/place? Tonight the Eastern Screech-owls came in, stayed close to us (one at eye-level) about 10 feet away...and allowed photographers to shoot till their hearts were content. And despite all the shutters going off and the hushed conversations (and giggles of joy), the screech-owls just sat there looking at us as we looked at them. No amount of moving around or small sticks breaking underfoot scared them away. Indeed, at each spot we left the owls perched, before the owls left us...
If Deborah and I had to guess, we believe there are at least two different families of Eastern Screech-owls at Inwood. Tonight, we probably found/saw five different Eastern Screech-owls, and heard a few more that we never did see. All of this is good news for the owls and people of this very urban park at the north end of Manhattan.
Saturday, 17 August (Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe at 74th st and the East Drive at 7:30am/9:30am) - wow 11 warbler species today. We know it is a good day right away when we walk up the hill from the Boathouse, play the tape and bring in several warblers of multiple species. Wherever we went, we played the tape and in came the birds: most common today were American Redstarts (up to 25), but surprising numbers of others: 7 Blue-winged Warblers; 7 Black-and-whites; 5 Northern Waterthrushes (all at 59 street Pond area)...and first of season Worm-eating Warbler and Canada Warbler. Add singles of Prothonotary Warbler (seen before 7:30am by both Deborah and me - see photo above), as well as (after lunch) male Prairie Warbler and female Hooded Warbler - both found by Deborah Allen for the rest of us...at 59 st. pond. Thanks Deb! Other birds of note today were multiple Blue-grey Gnatcatchers and at least four Baltimore Orioles.
Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Saturday, 17 Aug: https://tinyurl.com/y53jukqz
Chestnut-sided Warbler (First of Season) in the Ramble, Central Park on Sunday, 18 August 2019 by Deborah Allen
Sunday, 18 August (Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe at 74th st and the East Drive at 7:30am/9:30am) - Saturday night into Sunday was primarily a "fly-out" night and not much arrived in Central Park. Though diversity was still there (we found 8 warbler species, including a first of season Chestnut-sided Warbler - see Deborah's photo above), numbers were still lower than Saturday. For example, where we could find 3-5 American Redstarts at certain locations on Saturday, today the best we could do at any one location was three Redstarts...and usually only one per stop. Three great warblers continued today from yesterday: the male Prothonotary at the 59th street pond, as well as the male Prairie that Deborah found yesterday...and a Hooded Warbler in the area of Tanner's Spring that we saw, but omitted from our list (apologies).
Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Sunday, 18 August: https://tinyurl.com/y3xoznvm
Tuesday, 20 August (7:30pm for Eastern Screech-owls at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx) - starting at 7:30pm on a clear, warm (but breezy) night, we had a few minutes to "kill" before optimum screech-owl time. So we waited, and I played the tape occasionally (no response). At Inwood Hill Park (Manhattan) the owls respond earlier, probably because when we are in the woods at Inwood, it is darker, sooner. At at our first stop tonite, we were at the edge of the woods (open area) along the water, so in effect, it gets darker later. We have learned through experience that screech-owls get most active the closer to complete dark it becomes. Tonight that proved to be about 8:03pm by my watch. The screech-owls called back to us starting at about 7:50pm, but it was not for another few minutes that one took flight, and we saw it...and another ten minutes (8:15pm) or so that the first screech-owl flew in above us. For the next 45 minutes or so, we played cat-and-mouse with this individual (a red-brown morph bird - and it was an adult), and then a second owl that came in later (all grey - we believe a young bird - really good news - see Deborah's photo just below). Both were shy tonight, and especially shy of the light I used to show them to folks. At Inwood, we regularly have screech-owls come in and stare into my light, often for many minutes (though other owls use leaves to shield themselves or turn their bodies away). We don't understand the physics of this (just as we don't understand how the Snowy Owls we see at JFK airport can sit on the grassy medians next to jets landing and taking off all day listening to all that jet noise so close). Anyway, sometimes Eastern Screech-owls come in and stare into the light and sometimes not...to us there does not seem to be any rhyme/reason why one week they do and another week they don't. Just as last week at Inwood we had several Eastern Screech-owls come in and sit close to us, and the same group of owls a week before stayed further away...and for less time. Whooooo knows?
Finally, by 9:05pm, we made a trip up to the north end of the park along Broadway (near Horse Stables), here we consistently get Eastern Screech-owls in winter, but we rarely have luck in summer. We don't know why...perhaps the birds that roost here by day are already gone to hunt much further away by the time we reach them (8:50pm last night)...perhaps there are no owls here in summer - they nest elsewhere and/or roost elsewhere when leaves are on trees. We don't know. And unlike August 2018 when we found a Barred Owl here (the beginnings of the Barred Owl invasion into our region in fall/winter 2018-2019), we found no other owl species in the north woods tonight.
Immature Gray Morph E. Screech-Owl, Van Cortlandt Park, Tuesday August 20, 2019
Cooling Thunderstorms Prevent July 2019 From Ranking Among 10 Hottest Julys
by Rob Frydlewicz writing on his New York City Weather Archive
As July 2019 came to a close it appeared the month was about to join three other Julys from the 2010s ranked among New York's ten hottest Julys. As late as 3PM on 31 July (7/31) the day's high/low was 87f/76f, and if that low temperature held the month would have tied July 1966 as ninth hottest (both with average temperatures of 79.66f). But then mid-afternoon thunderstorms erupted between 3-4:30 and the temperature tumbled to 70f - making it the day's new low. This brought July 2019's average temperature down to 79.56f, pushing it to eleventh place, 0.05 degree cooler than July 1949 (79.56f vs 79.61f). However, as a consolation prize, July 2019's average low was warm enough for it to rank fifth in this category.
Besides the thunderstorms of 31 July (7/31), thunderstorms on 7/17 and 7/22 also resulted in lows that occurred in the evening. Much of the month's rain fell from these two rainstorms, with 2.33 inches falling on 7/17-18 and 2.19 inches on 7/22-23. So far this year these are 2019's two biggest 24-hour rainfalls. And with 5.77 inches measured July 2019 became the second rainiest of the fifteen hottest Julys. This was after just 0.08 inch of rain fell in the first ten days of the month. Last July , which had nearly seven-and-a-half inches of rain, also started out dry, with just 0.24 inches measured in the first eleven days of the month. See Chart Below:
There were ten days in July 2019 with highs of 90°+ (average is eight), making it the sixth July of the decade to have this many, the most of any decade. See Chart Below:
This July joined 36 others that have had ten or more days with highs of 90f+. However, July 2019's ten torrid days had the "coolest" average temperature, tied with July 1887 (91.7f). July's hottest temperature, 95f on 7/20 and 7/21, was one of the coolest readings for hottest temperature among the Julys with ten or more 90f+ days; those other months' hottest readings averaged 99.4f (half of them had hottest readings in the triple digits). But the average low on July 2019's hot days, 74.9f, was warmer than 24 of the 36 other Julys.
July 1's low of 65f was the "coolest" reading of the month. Only July 2008 has had a warmer "coolest" reading (66f on three dates). The month had two days with lows in the 80s, which were the same two days that had highs of 95f. It joined ten other Julys that had two or more lows in the 80s. Lastly, this was the unprecedented tenth year in a row in which July had no readings in the 50sWhat was notable about July 2019 was its consistent warmth but absence of extreme heat (excluding heat indexes). 26 days had highs of 85f or warmer, one shy of the July record, which has happened in three years: 1944, 1966 and 1993 (the average number of such days is 17). Additionally, 24 days had lows of 70f or warmer, the second most on record; only July 2010 had more, with 25 (the July average is 15) I refer to the week of 7/16 as as New York's "Hell Week" because, historically, it is the week most likely to have readings of 90f or hotter. And this year six of July's ten 90-degree highs were concentrated during this week. The one day not in the 90s, 7/18, was stuck in the 70s all day (high/low of 79/71) due to overcast skies and northeasterly winds. Ironically, 7/18 has been the date most likely to have a high in the 90s/100s.
What was notable about July 2019 was its consistent warmth but absence of extreme heat (excluding heat indexes). 26 days had highs of 85f or warmer, one shy of the July record, which has happened in three years: 1944, 1966 and 1993 (the average number of such days is 17). Additionally, 24 days had lows of 70f or warmer, the second most on record; only July 2010 had more, with 25 (the July average is 15).
I refer to the week of 7/16 as as New York's "Hell Week" because, historically, it is the week most likely to have readings of 90f or hotter. And this year six of July's ten 90-degree highs were concentrated during this week. The one day not in the 90s, 7/18, was stuck in the 70s all day (high/low of 79f/71f) due to overcast skies and northeasterly winds. Ironically, 7/18 has been the date most likely to have a high in the 90s/100s.
July was the third month in a row with more than five inches of rain, joining three other years which had five or more inches in May, June and July (1984, 1989 and 2009). Although the 18.05 inches that was measured was nearly five inches above average it was significantly less than what fell in the other three years.
For the fifth year in a row, the 4th of July had a warmer high than the previous year. And with a high of 90f, this year's was the hottest 7/4 since 2012.
Finally, through 31 July 2019, 92 days have had measurable precipitation so far this year. July 2019 has had eleven days with some precipitation. Only three other years have had as many days with precipitation in the first seven months as this year: 1916 and 2018 both had 92 days and 1950 had 95 days. Among these four years, 2019 had the most total precipitation in the first seven months: 33.19 inches so far this year; 33.05 inches last year (2018); 20.17 inches in 1950 and 26.48 inches in 1916.
Eastern Screech-owl at Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan on Thursday evening 15 August by Felipe Pimentel PhD
Marauding Bird Again Foils Posse'
New York Times June 1934
Douglaston Youth takes up the Hunt with Beanshooters and Rifles, but in Vain.
Archers Stalk Attacker
Scoutmaster and Broker, One who was Scratched, Get no Glimpse of Angry Owl.
For hours last night [June 1934], the youth section of the Douglaston section of the vigilantes of Douglaston, Queens, laid down a barrage in the leafy recesses above 241st Street, in an onslaught against the savage night bird that has attacked at least five persons.
With beanshooters and slingshots, buckshot and low caliber rifles, even putty blowers made effective by adding phonograph needle darts to the expelled pellets, about twenty school children carried on the hunt begun by an equal number of adults on Sunday night.
Though they got no chance to aim at where the bird was, for the marauder never appeared, they took every opportunity to shoot at where the bird might be. And, like the older hunters of the night before, who had been armed with lawn rakes, rug beaters, tennis racquets, clubs, a bayonet and even a machete', they failed to even ruffle a feather. A charmed life was attributed to the bird by harassed householders.
Russell Cardigan, a stock broker, who was one of the victims of the bird, joined the younger hunters at a late hour. Mr. Cardigan appeared with Raymond Newberry of 6 Carolina Road, a scoutmaster, and both were armed for business with bows and arrows.
For two hours, Mr. Newberry tracked his quarry - at a distance of course; Douglaston residents don't like to have their trees climbed promiscuously - with Mr. Cardigan ready to send a trusty shaft into the man-scratching bird, believed to be a screech-owl.
Whether the winged enemy was aware of the scoutmaster's reputation as an archer or not, it successfully hid its tracks and remained within the shelter of its wispy hide-out. Mr. Newberry unstrung his bows with a grimace of disappointment. Unlike the younger recruits in the ranks, he had not even got a shot.
Mr. Cardigan was less despairing. He was going to play Indian all right, he said; he had to make a good dare to Mr. Newberry. But then he was going to swat with a six-foot bow. He demonstrated. The bow-string gave a wheezy screech. The owl, if it heard it, probably cocked an eye.
Eastern Screech-owl at Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan on Thursday evening 15 August by Felipe Pimentel PhD
Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD Follow our Bird Sightings on Twitter: @DAllenNYC and/or @BirdingBobNYC
Along the Bronx River at West Farms, December 2009: Black-and-white Infra-red image