Bird Walks Resume: 25-26 July (Sat-Sun) and Weekends through August
Updated: Jul 22
21 July 2020
Bird Notes: Pardon our absence...we have been fine - just trying to figure out what to say/write. No words can express what we experienced in NYC starting in March: the sounds of ambulances through the night near our home; the death of several birders we knew including Dr. Mitchell Horowitz who died of a massive stroke related to Covid 2019...hearing the tales of close friends who survived the virus at home (Victor and Etta Lloyd) who refused to go to their local hospital in Queens...or another who had to be hospitalized in Manhattan when her blood oxygen was too low. These stories we know all too well. All of us will remember seeing the exhaustion and frustration on the faces of the Doctors, Nurses and other health care workers who bird with us. We truly hope no other community - anywhere - has to experience what we went through here in NYC. Please wear a mask - we have seen how quickly things began to improve here once everyone began wearing a mask - we continue to do so on all our bird walks.
The last Newsletter (mid-March) we described a trip we had just made to Xalapa, Mexico to photograph birds - we were Xalapenos for a few days there. Since that time, we can report on a few highlights of the spring bird season in Central Park that was mostly devoid of birders: our group found a flyover Mississippi Kite on the morning of Sunday, 31 May (the second spring record for Central Park). And we had breeding Ruby-throated Hummingbirds with young fledged in mid-July, though no one could find the nest! This was the second time hummingbirds have nested in the park, the first was in 2014. Just this past Sunday (19 July), we had the first southbound Black-and-white Warbler of the autumn migration...and on Thursday, 16 July, the first southbound warbler, a Louisiana Waterthrush, was found at the south end of the park...a bit later in July than usual.
Our bird walks are resuming: on weekends for now in July-August at 7:30am and again at 9:30am on Saturdays/Sundays meeting the Boathouse Restaurant and Cafe. You can get more details by checking the Schedule page of our web site. Walks remain $10/person and if you do the 7:30am walk, you get the 9:30am walk for free. We might add Friday and Monday morning bird walks beginning in mid August if there is a demand. You must wear a mask!
In this week's Historical Notes we present information about birds in the NYC area in 1920, some 100 years ago including (a) the migration of Tree Swallows and shorebirds starting in early July of that year; (b) Nesting Hummingbirds in southern Connecticut in June-July 1920; and (c) nesting Tree Swallows on eastern Long Island (this species now nests in parts of NYC).
Mexico. Male Gray Silky-flycatcher, between Los Pescados & El Conejo, Veracruz (MX). Tuesday February 18, 2020 by Deborah Allen
London: Rose-ringed Parakeet in Hyde Park, United Kingdom. These birds readily eat apples from your hand preferring green ones to red. 11 March 2020.
Bird Walks for late July (+ August)
All Walks @ $10/person - All walks in Central Park
1. Saturday, 25 July at 7:30am and again at 9:30am - Boathouse Cafe; 74th street/ East Drive $10
2. Sunday, 26 July at 7:30am and again at 9:30am - Boathouse Cafe; 74th street/ East Drive $10
If you do the 7:30am walk you can do the second (9:30am walk) for free. You get two for one. Weekend walks will continue through August and into December. If there is interest/demand, we will add Monday and Friday morning walks starting in mid to late August. Let's see how this develops, or not...
Call/email us with Questions: email@example.com
Virginia Rail at Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx by Deborah Allen on 4 June 2020
The fine print: Our walks on weekends meet at 7:30/9:30am at the Boathouse Restaurant (approx. 74th street and the East Drive) through mid-March 2020. 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 home phone is 718-828-8262...and Deborah's cell is: 347-703-5554. Email is (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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.
Rough Grouse, St. Lawrence County in upstate New York by Deborah Allen on 22 June 2020
Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)
Sunday, 19 July 2020 (Boathouse Restaurant at 8:30am): Surprise to many - we have been doing free bird walks on Sundays since early May...this past Sunday, 19 July, we had the first Black-and-white Warbler of the season...but otherwise not much of note: one White-breasted Nuthatch (nested this summer); a pair of Carolina Wrens; some Barn Swallows...a typical mid-July walk. However, this coming weekend will be better because northwest winds are forecast for Friday - bringing us some migrants for the weekend.
male Yellow Warbler by Deborah Allen at Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx on 6 June 2020
THE SEASON. June 15 to August 15, 1920 New York Region. The beginnings of the southward migration fall in this period. Tree Swallows are reported as gathering about the Hackensack marshes [New Jersey] in early July. There was a further decided general increase in their numbers about August 12. Other Swallows which breed commonly in the region were also moving. C. H. Rogers estimated between 800 and 900 Barn Swallows at Long Beach [Long Island] on the morning of August 8. Before eight o'clock comparatively few birds were seen, and these feeding; a heavy flight took place between eight and ten, after which fewer were migrating. July to August is the time of year when the majority of land-birds cease singing and are difficult to find; and the time when the majority of the northern breeding shore-birds are sweeping southward along the coast. This season the coastwise marshes have not dried out as they sometimes do, a condition doubtless correlated with an unusual abundance of such birds. Several species were very early in putting in an appearance. At Mastic, L. I., a Least Sandpiper and a Lesser Yellowleg, in company, were noted on June 27. A week later, July 4, there were more Lesser Yellowlegs, also Dowitchers; July 11, a Solitary Sandpiper; July 17, a Wilson's Snipe! A Solitary Sandpiper reported from Kingsland, N. J. (on the Hackensack) July 5 (C. H. Rogers), is exceptionally early. The Pectoral and Stilt Sandpipers at Mastic (both first noted July 24), and Jack Curlew [Hudsonian Godwit] on Long Island in general, are above their ordinary numbers. The Pectoral was decidedly more numerous in the past than it has been in recent years, but seems to be increasing again. The Jack Curlew [Hudsonian Godwit] is one of the more regular migrants along the Sound side of the island, where shore-birds in general are poorly represented. It may be seen steering a steady course to the west along the Sound, passing close to the northern headlands. The writer has long been aware that the Duck Hawk regularly persecutes coastwise shore-birds, and expects to meet with it whenever these become particularly abundant. Early in August he saw a Cooper's or Sharp-shinned Hawk attempt to pick up a Woodcock in the woods. Puddles of water in a wheel rut of a certain road frequently had borings beside them, and one afternoon a Woodcock was found sitting motionless, facing such a puddle, and the road beyond, its long bill slanting down across its breast. After about three minutes by the watch, a shadow dropped down, and a flutter resolved itself into, first, the Hawk, which had missed, turning upward with dark-barred tail broadly spread to disappear in the arching branches and foliage above, second the Woodcock's wing-twitter slanting up and away through the trees in a direction opposite to that it had been facing. It must have been very quick. J. T. Nichols, New York City.
Least Bittern (adult male) by Deborah Allen on 16 July 2020 at Wallkill NWR, Sussex Co., New Jersey
A Hummingbird Story - June/July 1920 Four of the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds' nests that I have found were built on branches hanging out over the water of a stream or pond. Three nests were on red or silver maple trees on lawns, and four more in some orchard or wood. I had begun to believe that I knew something of the sort of a place a Hummingbird would choose for a nest, or that lichens added concealment by making the nest look like a 'mossy knot,' as we have all heard, but my opinions were rudely upset the past summer by a pair of Hummers who emphasized anew that it is unwise to make a positive statement of what any bird will or will not do. A lady who had been reading in a hammock swung from the porch roof noticed a Hummingbird dart in and out of the veranda; as she left the hammock something dropped from the sliding block regulating its height and she was surprised and grieved to find it a partly built Hummingbird's nest. It was small wonder that the birds were concerned, while to have a pair of these dainty birds choose one's veranda for a home and then unintentionally to tear the nest from its position was indeed a tragedy. The nest was gently replaced and pinned in position, the cushions removed from the hammock, that the birds might have the whole porch and welcome if they would only return and continue nesting. As though nothing had happened they continued building the nest higher, fastened it to the block with spider threads and the pin was removed. On June 2, or four days later, the first egg was laid, and, after an interval of a day, the second egg was laid. The nest was still so shallow it seemed as though the eggs would roll out as the hammock swung in the breeze. The young hatched on June 15, after eleven days' incubation, during which time the nest was built higher. The male had disappeared sometime before this and was not seen again, leaving all the work of the nest and the caring for the young to his mate. On July 2, the young were tilling the nest to overflowing, and as all the authorities I could consult said the young left the nest in from 'ten days' to 'about three weeks,' they might leave any day. Whether or not this was an exceptional nest, or inclement weather made more brooding necessary with less time to search for food, thus retarding the growth of the young, is an interesting question; or possibly the earlier authorities may have been mistaken when they said the young leave in 'ten days.'
Least Bittern (juvenile) by Deborah Allen 16 July 2020 at Wallkill NWR, Sussex Co., NJ
========================================== The Tree Swallow on Long Island - 1920 THE Tree Swallow ordinarily does not nest near New York City, where it arrives on its southward migration the beginning of July; but on the eastern portion of Long Island it is locally a not uncommon nesting-bird. The present note deals with its occurrence on the south shore of the island. About June 1, 1912 (May 27, May 29, and June 2) Dr. Frank Overton, of Patchogue, found a pair going in and out of one of several old abandoned hydrants by the side of a road through deserted farm land overgrown with low pines. The opening to the nest was only a couple of feet from the ground. The hydrant in which it was placed was in East Patchogue, about one-half mile from Great South Bay and within 400 or 500 feet of a pond. The accompanying photographs by Dr. Overton were taken at this time. From him I learned that Tree Swallows nested at this spot in succeeding years, that in 1915 there were two or three pairs, and that formerly Bluebirds nested in the hydrants. He had not seen the Bluebirds for several years. On June 15, 1914, the writer found his first Long Island Tree Swallow's nest in a hollow stub overhanging a creek at Moriches. The old birds were carrying food to the young within, and it is a remarkable fact that one of these adults had the brown upper parts characterizing the immature plumage of this species. The accompanying photograph of this nest was taken on June 20. I believe that this nesting site was not occupied in 1915, but several Tree Swallows (probably two or more pairs) were seen nearby (at Mastic) throughout the summer, and probably bred. Though no nest has since been found, there have usually been a pair or two in the general vicinity each summer. At Mastic one does not look for a decided increase of Tree Swallows over individuals which may have bred nearby, so early as at localities close to New York City. The present season (1920), these southbound migrants were not noticed until between August 10 and 15. Neither do these new arrivals ordinarily assemble in the very large flocks common farther west. Yet a great many pass through in fall migration, swiftly, in straggling flocks or flights. Studying shore-birds on the marshes behind the dunes on autumn-like mornings perhaps just as the September sun has mounted high enough to impart a grateful warmth after the chill of dawn, two or three darting forms go by, one hears the diagnostic double note to right and to left, and for a minute or two there are Tree Swallows in every direction, streaming past into the West like snowflakes before a gale. After early October the occurrence of the species is sporadic. A majority of the birds must go north in spring by some different route, as they never seem to be numerous at that season, We know of no earlier regular arrival date for Long Island than March 19. February 16, a date given in Eaton's 'Birds of New York' (from Dutcher), seems purely casual. In the fall any Tree Swallows seen later than November 25 may also be considered casual. Attention may be called to a record in the Christmas, 1919, Census, of one observed in a snow-storm on Gardiner's Bay, December 21, by Lord William Percy and Ludlow Griscom. When one gets a good view of them, our different Swallows are well marked and easy to identify. They also present differences in size, flight and call notes which one learns to recognize. However, it may aid in the determination of a bird darting by at a difficult angle, to call attention to the white on the Tree Swallows' flanks, which encroaches on the dark upper parts in front of the tail so as to be conspicuous. The Tree Swallow also has an angle in the posterior outline of the wing unlike the other species, as though the primary feathers projected more abruptly beyond the secondaries. ======================================
Least Sandpiper at Brigantine (Forsythe) NWR in New Jersey on 22 September 2018
Rough-legged Hawk (dark morph) at Ft. Pierre National Grasslands (South Dakota) on 6 February 2020
Rough-legged Hawk (light morph) at Ft. Pierre National Grasslands (South Dakota) on 6 February 2020
Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD
New York: Adirondack Mountains on 22 June 2020