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Autumn Bird Migration in Central Park Late September 2022

Updated: Oct 1, 2022

Adult male Magnolia Warbler in Central Park on 25 September 2022 by Deborah Allen

28 September 2022 = "Respice Adspice Prospice"

Bird Notes: Keep your eye on the weather for this Saturday-Sunday (October 1-2): the early (28 Sep) forecast has rain for both days. Make sure to check the SCHEDULE page of this web site if the weather looks "iffy." Indeed we ended up cancelling both the Saturday and Sunday bird walks because of the lingering effects of Hurricane Ian that hit the southeastern USA so hard. (We usually post bird walk cancellations by 11pm the night before the scheduled walk, and certainly by 6am the day of the bird walk.)

"Look to the Past. Look to the Present. Look to the Future." We send several Historical Notes on some birds in Manhattan and Brooklyn more than 100 years ago, as well as the flora of Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx sixty years ago: (a) four Central Park birds during autumn migration in 1908 including Connecticut Warbler in September, exactly the time of year we begin seeing them in 2022; (b) a remarkable flight of Red-breasted Nuthatches on Long Island beginning on 20 September 1906; (c) an Eastern Screech-owl and a Short-eared Owl released in Central Park in October 1904; (d) a field trip to the west woods of Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx looking for wildflowers on 15 October 1962. That day 13 species of Aster and 8 species of Tick-trefoil (and many others) were found; (e) the European Starling in Brooklyn in October 1896, "The bird will doubtless widen its range on Long Island, though its extension in this direction since its introduction into New York City, in 1890, has not as yet been rapid."

(above) Chestnut-sided Warbler Central Park (Maintenance Field) 23 September 2022 Deborah Allen

(below) female Rose-breasted Grosbeak Central Park on 24 September 2022 Deborah Allen

Bird Walks for Late September and Early October 2022

All Walks @ $10/person

Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found: (Click) here

1. Thursday, 29 September 8:30am. Bird Walk. Meet at the Dock on Turtle Pond. $10.

2. Friday, 30 September 8:30am. Bird Walk. Conservatory Garden (105th street and 5th Ave) $10. Bob will cover for Deborah on today's walk - Deb will be back next week.

3.!!! Saturday, 1 October at 7:30am and again at 9:30am. Bird Walk. Boathouse Cafe; 74th street/East Drive $10. If you do the 7:30am walk, you get the 9:30am walk for free.

4.!!! Sunday, 2 October at 7:30am and again at 9:30am. Bird Walk. Boathouse Cafe; 74th street/East Drive $10. If you do the 7:30am walk, you get the 9:30am walk for free.

5. Monday, 3 October. 8:30am. Bird Walk. 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).


Call (718-828-8262) or Email us with questions:


The fine print: Our walks on weekends meet at 7:30/9:30am 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! Fridays we meet at Conservatory Garden; Mondays at Strawberry Fields - check the "Meeting Points" page of this web site for exact meeting location.

Our home phone is 718-828-8262...and Deborah's cell is: 347-703-5554. Email is ( 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) near 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 or help to your next destination, just ask someone on the walk - we aim to please.

Broad-winged Hawk (juvenile) over Central Park 24 September 2022 Deborah Allen

Below: Broad-winged Hawk (adult) over Central Park 25 September 2013 Deborah Allen

Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights): Deborah began the bird week on Friday (23 Sept) with small kettles of Broad-winged Hawks over the north end of Central Park, and 13 warbler species. As the northwest winds continued into Saturday, Deb (with help from the folks in our group, especially Matthieu Benoit PhD), counted 502 Broad-wings headed west over the park, seen from the Ramble area of Central Park. We also had numerous small flocks of Blue Jays headed southwest over us during Saturday. The light (less than 10mph at ground level) winds from the NW Friday night into Saturday, also brought small migrants to the park including 18 warbler species, one PHILADELPHIA VIREO and a few Blue-headed Vireos as well. We also tallied up to 10 Wood Thrushes and a few more Swainson's Thrushes (about 10-12) - not as many as last week, but still impressive: we play the call and the birds come in from all directions. By Sunday morning, the overnight winds had shifted to the southwest, and numbers of warblers we found during the day had diminished (15 warbler species). Numbers of migrants continued to diminish into Monday (12 warbler species) and many fewer thrushes. Other highlight birds we found this week included Yellow-breasted Chat; Lincoln's Sparrow; Indigo Bunting; perched Broad-winged Hawks; and many many Brown Thrashers (20-25 on one walk, 26 September = Monday).

Deborah's List of Birds for Thursday, 22 September: CANCELLED due to RAIN!

Deborah's List of Birds for Friday, 23 September: Click Here

Deborah's List of Birds for Saturday, 24 September: Click Here

Deborah's List of Birds for Sunday, 25 September: Click Here

Deborah's List of Birds for Monday, 26 September: Click Here

(above) Prairie Warbler Central Park (North End) on 23 September 2022 Deborah Allen

(below) Yellow-breasted Chat Central Park (Maintenance Field) 23 September 2022 Deborah Allen


Central Park

Mourning Warbler. Miss Crolius and I watched a female of this rare Warbler for over an hour on August 6 [1908]. It was very shy and spent its time in thick clumps of rhododendrons, occasionally walking on the ground and stretching up to pick insects off the lower leaves. While feeding, it gave a whispered sip, as if it were talking to itself. When alarmed, it uttered a sharp chuck, very much like the call-note of the Water Thrush in quality. Once or twice it flew up to a branch about fifteen feet from the ground and sat perfectly still watching us. After a time, it would fly down again into the bushes and resume its feeding. This is the first fall record of this Warbler for the Park, and, indeed, I believe it is very rare at this season in the neighborhood of New York City.

Connecticut Warbler. A young bird of this species was seen by Miss Anne A. Crolius and Mr. Stanley V. Ladow, September 22 [1908]. I have also seen it twice in the immediate vicinity of the city.

Myrtle Warbler. I saw an individual of this species in fall plumage August 28 [1908]. This is three weeks earlier than it is usually seen in this neighborhood.

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. This Flycatcher was almost common in the August migrations. I have records of six individuals, the first having been seen on the 16th of August (1908).

Ludlow Griscom, New York City.

Black-throated Green Warbler Central Park 23 September 2022 Deborah Allen

Remarkable Flight of Red-breasted Nuthatches [1906]. During a vacation spent on Fire Island Beach, New York, in September, a remarkable migration of these birds was observed. Point o' Woods is a cottage settlement, on the barrier beach, at this point about one thousand feet wide, between the ocean and Great South Bay, which is here eight miles wide. The soil is sand-covered with a rank growth of weeds of various kinds, low bushes, scrub-oaks and small pines. On the night of September 20, it was very damp, with a moderate southwest wind and a number of showers. On the morning of the 21st the wind still continued southwest, very moderate, with a temperature of seventy-four degrees at seven a. m. During the night there must have been a great flight of Red-breasted Nuthatches, for they were seen on the morning of the 21st in large numbers. They remained all that day, although there seemed to be a steady movement to the west, which here is the autumn direction of migration. During the night of the 21st, we had more showers, and on the 22d, the wind was strong southeast, with some rain. There was a large migration of small birds during the night, as the bushes were full of Towhees, Cuckoos and Kingbirds, and the Red-breasted Nuthatches were more numerous than the day before. They outnumbered the sum total of all the other small migrants. On the 23d, large numbers of them still were in evidence, but not so many as on the 22d, and on the 24th only a few were seen.

The flight covered three days 21st to 23d while on the 24th the stragglers brought up the rear, a lone laggard being seen on the 25th. At the height of the migration, Nuthatches were seen everywhere, on the buildings, on trees, bushes, and weeds and even on the ground. They were remarkably tame and would permit a near approach; if the observer were seated they would come within a few feet of him. They crept over the roofs and sides of the houses, examining the crevices between the shingles; they searched under the cornices on the piazzas and in fact looked into every nook and corner that might be the hiding-place of insects.

Every tree had its Nuthatch occupant, while many of them evidently found food even on the bushes and larger weeds. On a large abandoned fish factory at least fifty of these birds were seen at one time. The proprietor of one of the hotels told me that five of the birds were in his building catching flies, they having come in through the open doors and windows. They are expert flycatchers in the open, as many of them were seen to dart after flying insects after the manner of the true Flycatchers. It would be exceedingly interesting to know how large a territory this migration covered and to get some records of it from stations north and south of this point of observation, in order to see the rate at which the birds traveled.

William Dutcher, New York City.

Blue-headed Vireo Central Park 24 September 2022 Deborah Allen

Eastern Screech and Short-eared Owl (excerpt) in Central Park - 1904


Chairman National Committee of Audubon Societies

….An attempt was made to associate a Screech Owl in the same cage with the Short-eared Owl, but it proved decidedly unsuccessful and it was impossible to determine which of the two Owls was the most frightened. The Screech Owl crouched in one corner of the cage and uttered a series of low whistles, while the larger bird jumped from end to end of the cage in a frantic manner, hissing and snapping its bill. Peace and quietness was maintained only by a separation of the thoroughly frightened Owls. Shortly after this both Owls were taken at night to a clump of pines in Central Park, New York City, where they were liberated, and the last seen of them was their shadowy forms disappearing in the dim light of the stars twinkling through the arches of the grove. (October 1904).

Nelson's Sparrow Randall's Island (Manhattan) 13 October 2020 Deborah Allen

Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx, New York City. 15 October 1962. The principal part of our walk was in the area called The West Woods. Some of the plants found here on previous trips (Sept. 15 and Nov. 8, 1959) have already been reported in Torreya. We paid particular attention to the Fall asters and goldenrods; of the former we saw thirteen species, which are also common elsewhere in the Torrey Range: Aster cordifolius (Blue Wood Aster), A. divaricatus (White Wood Aster), A. ericoides (= Heath Aster; A. multiftorus of the 7th Ed.Gray), A. laevis (Smooth Aster; near the Swamp Sanctuary, not in the West Woods), A. lateriflorus (Calico Aster), A. macrophyllus (Large-leaved Aster), A. novae-angliae (New England Aster), A. patens (Late Purple Aster), A. pilosus var. demotus (Frost Aster), A. punicens (Purple-stemmed Aster), A. schreberi (Schreber's Aster), A. simplex (Lance-leaved Aster), A. undulatus (Wavy-leaf Aster), and if Sericocarpus is regarded as an aster, then also A. paternus (Wavy-leaf Aster). This station is by far the best in the city for A. undulatus (White-topped Aster); the species is abundant here and presents a wonderful variation in leaf shape, the leaf blades being sometimes oblong or slightly constricted, not cordate at the base. We named eight species of tick-trefoils: Desmodium canadense (Showy Tick-trefoil), D. canescens (Hoary Tick-trefoil), D. ciliare (Hairy small-leaved Tick-trefoil), D. glutinosum (Pointed-leaf Tick-trefoil), D. marilandicum (Smooth small-leaved Tick-trefoil), D. per­plexum (Perplexed Tick-trefoil), D. paniculatum (Panicled-leaf Tick-trefoil), D. rigidum (Stiff Tick-trefoil). The Guara biennis (Biennial Gaura) previously reported (trip of 23 November 1958) was still thriving on the same spot. A few plants of the American pennyroyal, Hedeoma pulegioides, were seen; the three upper calyx-teeth of this species are united halfway and are triangular, as described, not subulate as illustrated in the New Britton & Brown (where apparently the enlarged figure of the calyx is reversed with that of H. hispida).

There was a good stand of Scrophularia marilandica (Figwort), mostly in fruit but with some corollas remaining, these dull green outside, maroon within, the staminode maroon, with broadly flabellate blade, wider than long. The giant hyssop was the variety with leaves softly pubescent beneath, Agastache scrophulariae foliavar mollis (Purple Giant Hyssop), the re­maining flowers were white or faintly pink, the calyx minutely, rather sparsely puberulent externally. Triosteum perfoliatum (Feverwort or Late Horse Gentian), known here for many years, was still thriving; the group of Galium circaezans (Wild Licorice or Licorice Bedstraw) was small, but this species has become rare in the City. Five grasses regarded by Norman Taylor as rare in southern New York were examined: Hystrix patula (Eastern Bottlebrush Grass), Brachyelytrum erectum (no Bronx record by Taylor = Long-awned Wood Grass), Oryzopsis racemosa (Black-fruited Rice Grass; a small clump; this species was reported for Van Cortlandt Park by E. P. Bick­nell, according to Taylor, 1915), Muhlenbergia sobolifera (Rock Muhly), M. tenuifiora (Slender Muhly). Not uncommon either in Van Cortlandt Park or elsewhere in the Bronx is the Whitegrass, Leersia virginica var. ovata. In numerous instances in the field we saw that the lower branches of its inflorescence are of ten solitary, not whorled, as stated in the key character to the species in The New Britton & Brown, but thanks to our observation, the correction will be made in the forthcoming condensed revision presently in the hands of the printer.

Leader, Joseph Monachino. Attendance 17.

Green-winged Teal Pelham Bay Park (the Bronx) 21 October 2020

The Starling (Sturnus vulgarus) on Long Island [1896]. The European Starling seems to have successfully established itself on Long Island. In the summer of 1896 I was informed that this bird was nesting in the tower of the Boys High School Building at Marcy and Putnam Avenues, Brooklyn. Of the accuracy of this report I was unable at the time to acquaint myself personally. Lately, however, the Starlings may be seen perched on, and flying about this tower at almost any time. It is apparently a place in which they have taken up a permanent abode. Flying from these high perches they look not a little like Martins, and might be mistaken for them at a season when the latter birds are present. A Starling was killed about a year ago in the immediate outskirts of Brooklyn by a boy who knocked it down with a stone. I am unable to give the date. I first noted the Starling in the field on October 8, this year when a flock of a dozen or more was seen perched in a tree by the roadside near the Kensington Station. During this and the next month I saw them in this locality several times. Once or twice one or more birds were seen on the piazza roof of a suburban cottage in apparently friendly company with English Sparrows. On October 22, about thirty individuals of this species were seen in this neighborhood. Two specimens were shot, the stomachs of which were sent to Dr. Merriam, chief of the United States Biological Survey. The bill of fare of the Starling has not been materially changed by its transportation to another continent. It enjoys in England at about the same time of year, about the same food. In the one full stomach examined (the other was nearly empty), ninety-five per cent of the contents was animal matter, mainly insects (multipeds and beetles, larval lampyrids, grasshoppers, crickets, ichneumonid, caterpillar), but also included two small pieces of bone, "probably belonging to some batrachian." The five per cent was merely vegetable rubbish. Dr. Merriam kindly stated that the contents of this stomach, examined by Prof. Beal, agree essentially with those of three stomachs taken in England in October. The bird will doubtless widen its range on Long Island, though its extension in this direction since its introduction into New York City, in 1890, has not as yet been rapid.

William C. Braislin, M.D., Brooklyn, New York.


Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD

Follow our Bird Sightings on Twitter: @DAllenNYC and/or @BirdingBobNYC

Reservoir, Central Park looking southeast from the northwest corner

European Starling Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge (New Jersey) 8 October 2015

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