Late September Birding: Great Weather and Even Better Birds

Updated: Feb 28, 2020

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (hatch-year female) by Deborah Allen on 15 September 2019 - at the "Oven" in the Ramble of Central Park

18 September 2019

Bird Notes: Great weather for the next week. We guarantee warblers, vireos and flycatchers on every walk.

In this week's Historical Notes, we present: (1) the first known occurrence of the American Golden Plover in Bronx County on 14 September 1924 - since one was just found on 15 Sept. (2019) at the Jerome Park Reservoir in the west Bronx. This species was rare in the past and remains so to this day; (2) an unusually high number of Laughing Gulls in Manhattan/Bronx in early September 1924; these days this gull breeds in NYC - it is one of a number of birds that have become more common in our area in the last 100 years; finally (3) the conclusion of September 1982 from Donald Knowler's wonderful book, The Falconer of Central Park. Take note of the number of murders/deaths in the park back then; the general malaise of the economy; the number of homeless people living in the park; and that some scientists thought we might be entering a time of global cooling because of worldwide volcanic activity. People who lived through the 1970s and early 1980s have to blink twice when they walk through Central Park these days - it is a new world. Better in many ways...but missing the raw, Lou Reed NYC milieu we grew up with.

Black-throated Green Warbler (adult female), Shakespeare Garden (Central Park), Sunday 15 September 2019 by Deborah Allen

Black-throated Green Warbler (adult female), Shakespeare Garden (Central Park), 15 Sept 2019 - Deborah Allen

Good! The Bird Walks for mid-late September 2019

All Walks @ $10/person

Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here:

a. Thursday Evening, 19 September at 6pm Boathouse Cafe; 74th st/East Drive (Central Park) - with Sandra Critelli [] - 1.5 hours at dusk in the Ramble for birds, bats.

1. Friday, 20 Sept. at 9:00am Conservatory Garden; 105th st. and 5th Avenue (Central Park)

2.***Saturday, 21 Sept. at 7:30am/9:30am Boathouse Cafe; 74th st/East Drive (Central Pk)

3.***Sunday, 22 September 7:30am/9:30am Boathouse Cafe; 74th st/East Dr. (Central Pk)

4.***Monday, 23 Sept. 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.

Any questions send them our way: or call: 718-828-8262 (home)

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (Michigan) by Doug Leffler on 16 Sep 2019

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (Michigan) by Doug Leffler on 16 September 2019

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! Fridays we are uptown at 9am only (Conservatory Garden at 105th street and 5th Avenue; nice bathrooms there); on Mondays at the Imagine Mosaic of Strawberry Fields (west 72nd street about 75 meters inside the park from Central Park West; no bathrooms here but we will pass bathrooms by 10am or so).

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.

Eastern Wood Pewee (Michigan) by Doug Leffler on 16 Sep 2019

Eastern Wood Pewee (Michigan) by Doug Leffler on 16 September 2019

Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)

Thursday Night, 12 Sept (6pm in Central Park [Meet at Boathouse] with Sandra Critelli) - Sandra reports she was surprised since forecast was not good and real weather even worse and visibility was terrible (dark from the thick clouds above). There were many Chimney Swifts flying above; Ruby-throated Hummingbirds vying for nectar at the Jewelweed patch at the Oven (and several Rose-breasted Grosbeaks there as well). And Raccoons headed out for dinner early in the low light.

Friday, 13 September (9am at Conservatory Garden/105th st and 5th Ave): of the days that followed, Friday was the best one in terms of number and diversity of species. Thursday night into Friday had moderate winds from the northeast that started a big movement of migrants from Canada into the area. We got some of them...if the winds had been from the northwest (rather than from the northeast), many more birds would have been seen in the park. Nevertheless, the Cape May Warbler at the Great Hill (Vicki Seabrook); the Prairie Warbler along the Loch (Ryan Serio); and the Wilson's Warbler at the Island in the Meer were the best of the 13 warbler species. Others reported Yellow-breasted Chat and Philadelphia Vireo from the north end - we missed those, but instead had 5 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks pop up out of one patch of Jewelweed along the Loch - thanks tape!

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Friday, 13 Sept:

Saturday, 14 September (Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe at 74th st and the East Drive at 7:30am/9:30am) - Numbers of individuals counted declined noticeably this other words many more birds left the park overnite than came in. Highlights included a well-seen Yellow-bellied Flycatcher at Belvedere Castle overlook; Black-throated Green Warbler at Shakespeare Overlook (the honey locust and Siberian elm trees here have been very good for warblers lately); four total Northern Waterthrushes...overall 14 warbler species: the best of the Fri to Mon time frame. Numbers of birds were low, but wherever we went, we found something. And to watch two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds chasing each other back and forth at the Oven in a contest for the best feeding spots in a patch of Jewelweed, that was fun. At times we had them hovering in front of us, or cutting between folks on the bird walk.

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Saturday, 14 Sept:

Black and White Warbler (female) at Shakespeare Garden (Central Park) on 15 September 2019 by Deborah Allen

Black and White Warbler (female) at Shakespeare Garden (Central Park) on 15 September 2019 by Deborah Allen

Sunday, 15 September (Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe at 74th st and the East Drive at 7:30am/9:30am) - compared to Saturday we had a lot more people on the walk...a further conversation about ethics with Karen Evans - and lots of walking to find birds in ones and twos here and there. It is on days such as these my great wish is to have lots of birds to go along with lots of people - but that will have to wait for next Sunday. In the meantime, we found an Ovenbird in the Ramble (same spot as Saturday) that hopped up onto a branch and stared at us with its small crest puffed up; a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher at the Maintenance Field; three Black-throated Green Warblers (two at the honey-locust and elm trees mentioned in the Saturday report); and found two Pine Warblers (first of season) in a hackberry tree at the northwest corner of the Great Lawn - for a total of 11 warbler species for the morning. And an Eastern Towhee - the sparrows re arriving...One day I will write a summary of just people: all the ethical ones and the one outlier too.

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Sunday, 15 September:

Monday, 16 September (Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe at 74th st and the East Drive at 7:30am/9:30am) - the overnite weather into Monday morning were winds FROM the northwest, and this is very good for the park. I could sense a change in the number of birds: many Veerys were foraging again on paths in the Ramble...and during the day the first Connecticut Warbler of the season was found near the southeast corner of the Reservoir. For the bird walk, it was very sparse at Strawberry Fields where we began. It continued slow through most of the walk (we totaled 12 warbler species today). The best spot was Belvedere Castle deck and the nearby Shakespeare Garden deck (Whisper Bench) with warblers such as Prairie and Canada. However, it was at the end of the walk where it became amazing: we were watching 2-3 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds battling each other below eye-level for the best perching spots in the Jewelweed patch at the Oven. This is an amazing spot to sit and watch/photograph at this time of the year. Nearby a small bird in the willow trees caught my eye: a yellow-green Tennessee Warbler. Someone said they thought they saw a Cuckoo, so I began playing the cuckoo calls...quickly one Yellow-billed Cuckoo flew in high above us, and then two more Yellow-billed Cuckoos into the willows of the Oven. They were quite hidden (and silent)...but with patience one could find them. Later that morning, someone would find two more Yellow-billed Cuckoos near the Pinetum, and another was seen in Bryant Park. So if I forget this coming Friday, remind me to play cuckoo calls - looks like this is a good week to find them on migration.

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Monday, 16 September:

Scarlet Tanager (hatch-year male) at Shakespeare Garden (Central Park) on 15 September 2019 by Deborah Allen

Scarlet Tanager (hatch-year male) at Shakespeare Garden (Central Park) on 15 September 2019 by Deborah Allen


Black Skimmer and Golden Plover in Bronx County [1924]. On 14 September 1924, we noted a Black Skimmer flying north, off Hunt Point. Approaching us from the direction of "Hell-Gate," it hovered for a moment, and alighted on a mud-flat, not thirty yards distant, in company with a large number of Gulls. After taking wing, it flew by, and we were at once impressed by the remarkably long slender wings, the forked-tail, the sharply contrasting black and white coloration and the low, easy flight over the water. None of us had ever seen the species before in life, but we were able to name it before referring to a text-book. Moreover, this is not a bird likely to be confused with any other North American species. Our friend, Mr. J. T. Nichols, informs us that a "northward invasion" was underway, this summer, the birds being recorded more freely in Long Island waters, than since 1898, when another such movement took place. He attributed the birds' presence "inland" to the storms which had been sweeping the coast line. On the same date the writers met with a couple of Golden Plovers, on a nearby stretch of burned meadow. They were approached within seven or eight yards and were watched on the ground for over a quarter of an hour. A decidedly yellowish tinge covered the top of the head and the middle of the back. The call-note was heard at regular intervals. When the birds finally flew, we were careful to note the gray axillars which at once distinguish this species from the Black-bellied Plover. It is perhaps only proper to add that the writers have been long familiar with the Black-bellied Plover in life. J. AND R. KUEIZI AND P. KESSKI, New York City.

Abundance of the Laughing Gull (Larus atricilla) about New York City [1924]. During the past late summer and early fall there was an unusual abundance of the Laughing Gull in the vicinity of New York City. It was first reported in the latter part of August. On September 6 [1924], the writer counted around 50 along Brooklyn's water front. The following day about 25 were seen from the Fort Lee ferry (125th street). The largest flock was seen at the mouth of the Bronx River on September 28. On this date there were fully 1000 birds in the flock and their cries were deafening. At this writing, October 8, there are still some birds present. GEORGE E. HIX, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Monarch Butterfly in our backyard in the Bronx (10462 zip code) feeding on Mexican Sunflowers by Deborah Allen on 15 September 2019tember 2019

Monarch Butterfly in our backyard in the Bronx (10462 zip code) feeding on Mexican Sunflowers by Deborah Allen on 15 Sept 2019

Falconer of Central Park [September 1982].

by Donald Knowler: <