Updated: Apr 2, 2022
Bird Notes: This week, beginning 1 April through 10 June, we start the full schedule of bird walks. Friday and Monday walks at 8:30am. Sat-Sun we do two walks 7:30am/9:30am, and if you come to the first walk, you get the second for free (two for one). The entire list of spring bird walks can be found on the Schedule page of our web site - and they remain $10/person. The Turkey Vultures above (27 March 2022) by Deborah Allen at Randall's Island in Upper Manhattan, tell their story below.
1 April 2022
With the photo of the Turkey Vultures, you are likely seeing a "first": the first time these birds have been observed landing in Manhattan, whether it be in a tree or a on a building or anywhere. Here they were on the ground of a baseball field interested in the remains of a pigeon - and a small freshwater puddle nearby. Turkey Vultures nest on Staten Island, and once tried (laid an egg) in the Bronx in a rock crevice in Van Cortlandt Park (2009). These days they are also common spring and autumn migrants over NYC...and on windy days in summer can even be seen soaring above Manhattan as they drift over from the Palisades of New Jersey where they nest.
In this week's Historical Notes we feature four short articles about NYC birds 1882-1982: (a) list of Birds Bay Ridge Brooklyn in spring 1882 featuring spring migrants. This list is compiled by one person, and no where is it stated how often the compiler was in the field. There are major differences to the pattern of spring migration today (2021-2022) compared to 1882. Look how late both Kinglet species were first seen in 1882 (mid-April!) compared to today (mid-late March). Several species such as Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, Killdeer, Common Grackle and Red-winged Blackbird are early April arrivals (1882) whereas today, these arrive significantly earlier (by 10-25 days). On the other hand, he records the arrival time for Hermit Thrush the same as today; (b) Wilson's Warbler is listed as the Green Black-backed Warbler in 1882: we provide a history of name changes for this species (including Pileolated Warbler); (c/d) two brief notes on the 1982 arrival times of Blue-grey Gnatcatcher (mid-April by the hundreds) in Central Park, and Louisiana Waterthrush eating a fish on 2 April 1916 in the Ramble.
American Kestrel (female) on 1 April 2022 looking for clewes (a kind of fish), from Liberty Island. We used our most giant speaker for maximum sound, to bring this falcon in. Try using this audio lure on the Sibley App: the "coo-coo-wait / coo-wait" call.
Good! Bird Walks for Early April - each $10
All Walks @ $10/person - all in Central Park
1. Friday, 1 April: (8:30am) Conservatory Garden (105th street and 5th Avenue) $10
2!!!. Saturday, 2 April: 7:30am and again at 9:30am; Boathouse Cafe $10
3!!!. Sunday, 3 April: 7:30am and again at 9:30am; Boathouse Cafe $10
4. Monday, 4 April: (8:30am) Strawberry Fields (72nd street and Central Park West) $10
!!!: if you do the 7:30am walk, you can come on the 9:30am for free (two for one)
*No need to book ahead or pay in advance - just show up at the right time and place and away you go with us!
Any questions send them our way: email@example.com or call: 718-828-8262 (home)
Ring-necked Duck Central Park (Harlem Meer), 27 March 2022 Deborah Allen
The fine print: *No need to book ahead or pay in advance - just show up at the right time and place and away you go with us! 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 early June 2022. Please note: the Boathouse is not one of the buildings that surround the nearby Model Boat Pond - people make this mistake all the time! Friday walks meet uptown at 8:30am at Conservatory Garden (105th street and 5th Ave); Mondays at 8:30am at Strawberry Fields (Central Park West at 72nd street). Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here
WEATHER: 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 (718-828-8262) - 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 12noon to 1pm; 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.
Red-winged Blackbird (male) Central Park 27 March 2022 Deborah Allen
Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)
Saturday/Sunday 26-27 March meeting at 9:30am at the Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe. The first weekend of spring was pretty good, with Saturday featuring more birds and species than Sunday. On both days we had lots of Golden-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Fox Sparrows and a Yellow-rumped Warbler on both days. Single Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Saturday) and a trio of Peregrine Falcons (Sunday) were the unique birds...but Deborah's photo of three Turkey Vultures on the ground at Randall's Island in upper Manhattan could be a first for Manhattan since at least 1950. Why? We don't know of any Turkey Vulture seen or photographed in Manhattan that perched in tree or standing on a building...much less the ground as in her photo. Anyway, see the links below for what we saw on either/both weekend days.
Deborah's List of Birds in Central Park for Saturday, 26 March 2022: Click Here
Deborah's List of Birds in Central Park for Sunday, 27 March 2022: Click Here
Great Horned Owlets mid-March 2021 in Pelham Bay Park (Bx) Anna Tuzel
Bay Ridge [Brooklyn], L. I., 29 April . Among our last week's birds are pine [siskin] and purple finches on the 22d [April], golden-crested and ruby-crowned wrens [Kinglets] on the 25th, towhee buntings, ferruginous thrush [Brown Thrasher], hermit and tawny [Veery] thrushes, and one downy woodpecker on the 26th; one blue-headed solitary vireo on the 27th; black and white creepers, swifts and purple martins on the 28th; two kingfishers, and one Maryland [Common] yellow-throat on the 29th. Weather still cool.
A. L. Townsend.
Arrival of Spring Birds. Bay Ridge, L. I., Spring 1882.
Below I give a list of some arrivals of birds during the past spring:
hermit thrush, April 8;
brown thrasher, April 27;
wood thrush, May 2;
tawny [Veery], May 3;
robin, all winter;
catbird, May 2;
brown creeper, March 2;
golden-crowned kinglet, April 18;
ruby-crowned [kinglet], April 25;
marsh hawk, April 21;
fish-hawk [Osprey], April 2;
sparrow-hawk [Kestrel], April 21;
pigeon-hawk [Merlin], April 8:
tree-sparrow, Feb. 16;
song-sparrow, Feb. 18;
white-throated, Feb. 28;
fox-colored, May 8;
[Eastern] towhee. April 26;
white-crowned sparrow, May 22;
chip-sparrow, April 22;
field sparrow, May 23;
yellow-bird [Goldfinch], May 2;
purple-finch, April 22;
indigo-bird [Indigo Bunting], April 20;
[Empidonax spp.] pewee, May 2;
[Eastern] kingbird, May 7;
[Eastern] wood-pewee, May 22;
great-crested flycatcher, May 21;
golden crowned thrush [Ovenbird], May 17:
black and white creeper, April 29;
Nashville, May 10;
yellow-rump, May 10;
black throated green, May 17;
black-throated blue May 18;
blue yellow-back [Northern Parula], May 20;
chestnut-sided, May 20;
blackpoll, May 20;
blackburnian, May 22;
summer [Yellow], 8;
Maryland [Common] yellow-throat, April 20;
green black capped [Wilson's Warbler], May 20
yellow-breasted chat, May 3
blue-headed solitary vireo, April 26;
warbling, May 5;
white-eyed, May 13;
yellow-throated, May 20
red-eyed, May 20;
Baltimore oriole, May 2;
orchard (male of second year), May 10; male full plumage, May 18;
purple-martin, May 21;
white-bellied [Tree] swallow, May 21;
sand martin [Bank Swallow], May 20;
barn-swallow, April 2,
cow-bunting [Cowbird], April 8;
rose-breasted grosbeak, male, May 8; female, May 10;
redwing-blackbird, April 1;
purple-grackle, April 2;
golden-winged [Northern Flicker], April 2;
yellow-bellied woodpeckers [Yellow-bellied Sapsucker], April 2
redhead [Red-headed Woodpecker], May 10;
yellow-billed cuckoo, May 22;
kingfisher, April 3;
humming-bird, May 3;
night hawk, May 6;
[Chimney] swifts, April 29
green heron, May 9;
[Black-crowned] night heron, May 21,
least sandpiper, May 22;
spotted, May 20;
semi-palmated, May 19;
killdeer plover, April 8;
blackbreast [Black-bellied Plover], May 14;
wild geese, flying north, April 9.
— A. L. Townsend.
Wilson's Warbler (male) 13 May 2011 in Central Park Deborah Allen
Wilson's Warbler (above and below)
The naming of this bird has an interesting history. Peter Simon Pallas, in Russia, described a new species of bird brought back by Joseph Billings from Kodiak Island, Alaska in 1790, then a Russian territory. Pallas named it "pileolata," meaning a skullcap. From this root we have pileolated or pileated, meaning a cap or crest, and referring specifically to the pileum, the top of a bird's head from bill to nape. The description was published in September 1811, after Pallas' death. The bird became known as the Pileolated Warbler.
However, earlier in February of that same year, 1811, Alexander Wilson published a record of a "new" species found in New Jersey. He named it the "Green Black-capped Flycatcher." Even though the record from Alaska was 17 years earlier, Wilson published a few months earlier than Pallas. Thus we have today Wilson's Warbler and not Pileolated Warbler. [Read The Pileolated Warbler in the Spring 1992 American Birds article by John Farrand, Jr.]
The name has been changed several times, apparently in about this order: Green Black-capped Flycatcher, Wilson's Black-capped Flycatching-Warbler, Wilson's Black-capped Warbler, Wilson's Warbler.
The yellower birds of the West have long gone by the name Pileolated Warbler, but subspecies names were dropped in the 1950's. If you were to look in the 1940 book Birds of Oregon by Gabrielson and Jewett, or the 1953 book Birds of Washington State by Jewett, Taylor, Shaw, and Alrich, you would find that the bird was called the Golden Pileolated Warbler.
Wilson's Warbler (male) 22 January 2016 (yes) near the Bronx River Deborah Allen
Central Park Spring 1982. “The next birds to arrive came in bulk. Hundreds of Blue-grey Gnatcatchers, relatives of the kinglets, flooded into the park in mid-April . They could be seen in virtually every tree, creeping through the treetops like feather-tailed mice in search of insects. On the forest floor there was a similar invasion of Hermit Thrushes. Within a week, this phase of the migration would be over, only the occasional Gnatcatcher or thrush being caught in the surge of the next species to hit the park.” Donald Knowler
Louisiana Waterthrush 8 April 2010 in Central Park Deborah Allen
Louisiana Waterthrush Eating Fish. On 2 April 1916, a very early Louisiana Thrush (Seiurus motacilla) appeared in Central Park, New York City. It was remarkably tame, walking about the edges of some small ponds, and at one time going under a low bridge upon which several persons were standing. The most remarkable action on its part was to dart toward the surface of the water and seize a small fish perhaps an inch and a half in length. The bird did not swallow the fish whole, but pecked it bit by bit, probably consuming all of the flesh. George E. Hix, New York, N. Y.
Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD
Turkey Vulture with small bone at Randall's Island (Manhattan) 27 March 2021 D. Allen