• Robert DeCandido PhD

Bird Walks Sat-Sun 15-16 August + Owl Walk Re-Scheduled


European Honeybee in Shakespeare Garden on 9 August 2020 by Deborah Allen

12 August 2020


Bird Notes: Due to the weather, we've re-scheduled tonight's OWL WALK (Wed. 12 August) at Inwood Hill Park to Thursday evening 20 August at 7:30pm - details below. The hot weather and potential for thunderstorms does not make a good mix for seeing owls at night...Meanwhile the weather for both weekend days (15-16 August) looks good: cool weather in the 70s/low 80s and migrant warblers arriving in number.


Apologies for re-scheduling the owl walk at the last moment, but the weather forecast for this afternoon (Wednesday 12 August) just does not look promising enough...we will wait a week, and move it to a Thursday evening, 20 August - details below.


So far August has been slow birding - hot weather from the south, and no evenings with winds from the northwest. Migrants are trickling through - but mostly to the west of us...But some migrants are being seen: People are regularly finding Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at the red Cardinal Flowers in Shakespeare Garden; and at the ocean beaches in Brooklyn, or the mud flats at low tide in Inwood Hill Park and Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx, shorebirds such as Semi-palmated Sandpipers (and several other species) are regularly seen. On the warbler front however, only five warbler species have been reliably found on migration so far - this will change soon.

In this week's Historical Notes we present (a) August 1982 birding in Central Park from the book, The Falconer of Central Park (Donald Knowler). The author was a journalist at the United Nations and spent as much time as he could in 1982 (Jan through Dec) birding in Central Park, essentially doing a "big" year. He records a Central Park no one would recognize today: murders, drug sales and other dangers in the Ramble...and a small group of birders including Lambert Pohner (mentioned in the excerpt below) and Sarah Elliott who led bird walks in the park from about 1975 to 2013. Birders today would recognize the pattern of migration: Knowler writes about migrants appearing in early August, with Canada and Blue-winged Warblers being in the "second" wave of mid-August. On the other hand, some of the breeding birds he mentions would be WOW nesters in CP today: Black-capped Chickadee and Tufted Titmouse. However, the Northern Flicker is a regular nesting species today (unsuccessful in 1982) and the Red-bellied was NOT nesting in the park in 1982 (first nesting circa 1988). Knowler's book is available used on Amazon for less than $5...he now lives in Tasmania; and (b) an article on finding the Snout Butterfly in Central Park in late July 1984, with Lambert Pohner as your guide...

Silver-spotted Skipper in Shakespeare Garden on 9 August 2020 by Deborah Allen

Bird Walks for mid-August

All Walks @ $10/person - All walks in Central Park

Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here


1. Saturday, 15 August at 7:30am and again at 9:30am - Boathouse Cafe; 74th street/ East Drive $10


2. Sunday, 16 August 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...


SPECIAL OWL WALK!

3. Thursday evening, 20 August at 7:30 pm at Inwood Hill Park [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 - good for photographers). Meet at 8:oo pm at the Indian Road Cafe (It may be closed due to Covid 2019, but if it is open it has nice bathrooms; air-con...has a bar and also restaurant). Here is a map and if you plug in your starting point, you should get directions:


https://tinyurl.com/y5o9pab5


Otherwise, this is the web site of the Indian Road Cafe: http://www.indianroadcafe.com/


And here is the address of the corner where we meet at 7:30pm:

600 W 218th Street in 10034


If you are driving, give yourself an hour to find a parking space...


Call/email us with Questions: rdcny@earthlink.net

Eastern Screech-owl at Inwood Hill Park (Manhattan), 27 August 2019 by Deborah Allen

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 (rdcny@earthlink.net). 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) - though the Boathouse is closed right now and will re-open...no one knows quite yet. 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.

American Goldfinch Male, Shakespeare Garden, 8 August 2020 by Deborah Allen

Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)

Sat-Sunday, 8-9 August 2020 (Boathouse Restaurant at 7:30am and again at 9:30am): Please note: the bathrooms at the Boathouse are NOT open. However, we do pass two other sets of bathrooms on the walk. YUCK! Birding was slow, and the weather was hot and humid. On both days we found four warbler species (Yellow, Black-and-white, Northern Waterthrush and American Redstart), with Saturday featuring many more individuals. Sunday was downright slow...Other highlights: a Ruby-throated Hummingbird came in to the Cardinal flowers (red) in Shakespeare Garden while we were waiting on Sunday morning; and a first of the year Cooper's Hawk (juvenile) was found by us and photographed by Randall Rothenberg. This is the earliest a migrant Cooper's Hawk has been found in Central Park, though they have been seen as early as the first week in August in other NYC Parks (Pelham Bay Park in the Bx for example).

Yellow Warbler [male] near the King of Poland statue in Central Park on 8 Aug 2020

Deborah Allen


HISTORICAL NOTEs


Falconer of Central Park [August 1982].

by Donald Knowler: https://tinyurl.com/y4h96jxe


AUGUST 1982 [pages 103-112]


The wind was listless and the only ripples on the boating lake were caused by the girl I had seen twice in winter, ice-skating and jogging. Now the girl, alone, was rounding the tip of the Point in a rowing boat. Her flaxen hair had been bleached by the sun and a yellow T-shirt hung loosely on a mahogany body. The rowing motion revealed slender but strong arms, the outline of pert breasts whose nipples pushed into the soft fabric of the T-shirt as she pulled on the oars. It was hot and the girl, maybe eighteen years of age, was perspiring gently. She laughed at a group of slightly younger teenage boys on Bow Bridge, who threatened to drop stones into the water to make a splash. Under the bridge she rowed, slowly, and she was soon lost in the glare of sunlight reflecting from her oar strokes.


In the boathouse cafeteria a man sat talking to himself, a middle-aged man in a neatly pressed navy blue suit, his striped shirt unbuttoned at the collar. People paid little attention to him and no one joined in his laughter, when he laughed at a joke he had told himself. At another table outside on the terrace, a man scolded a couple for feeding the pigeons.


"It's unhygienic," he said, the gray stubble on his chin moving as he spoke. He had taken off his holed leather shoes to reveal that he was not wearing socks. His feet were lined with dried dirt, like the tide mark on a beach, and the couple feeding the pigeons nervously sneaked a crumb to a sparrow that had landed on their table. The man saw them, and without looking up, uttered an obscenity into a cardboard cup that had a tea bag floating in it.

A kingbird hawked insects a few feet above the rowing boats on the lake, returning to a nearby linden after each sortie. When perching, the bird held an erect posture. He had a slight crest and his plumage was colored matte black on the head and back, whitish below. Kingbirds, members of the tyrant flycatcher family, were present in the park all summer, but , by 1 August, I had not yet determined if they bred there.


A search for the kingbird nest, and a nagging concern about the mallard family threatened by the night heron, took me in the direction of the Reservoir. Three remaining mallard chicks had lost their mother, but they appeared to be supporting themselves adequately and had grown to half-size, too big now for the heron to seriously consider them as prey. What had happened to the mother? Had she deserted the ducklings, or just lost track of them in a storm that had lashed the park in late July? Was she shot by a pellet gun aimed through the Reservoir fence, or speared in a night time encounter with a heron's bill? I would never know.


I had neglected the Reservoir in summer. But in August there was an interesting arrival in the low-hung shape of a double-crested cormorant, a fish-eating water bird with a snake neck and long bill, hooked at the tip. The cormorant, mid-way in size between a duck and a goose, dives for long periods in pursuit of fish. Unlike members of the duck family, the species does not have a biological process for oiling its feathers, to keep water from seeping into them, and the cormorant has to dry its wings on exposed perches, standing like a black scarecrow. The cormorants are common on the coast during migration; they breed beyond Massachusetts, but visits to the Reservoir by up to forty cormorants had only started occurring in recent years.


Lambert had told me to watch the Reservoir periodically in mid-year because juvenile loons, too young to breed, had sometimes spent the summer there, but he did not have an explanation for the cormorants' recent arrival.


I had my own theory, in defiance of any esoteric explanation that might be advanced by a professional ornithologist at the American Museum of Natural History. It concerned a lone cormorant, heading south, who happened to cut inland and cross Manhattan. The clear waters of the Reservoir looked inviting on a hot August afternoon and the cormorant decided to spiral down with the herring gulls, to investigate the park's marine world. The first underwater dive produced a meal of largemouth bass, and so the cormorant dried its wings on the exposed water pipeline and moved on to the park's other pools and lakes, an explorer, the Christopher Columbus of the avian world. The cormorant of this piece of whimsy discovered nine species of fish and a freshwater jellyfish, making a note of the fish so he could report back to his friends: pumpkin-seed, bluegill, golden shiner, yellow perch, banded killifish, black bullhead, brown bullhead, goldfish, and largemouth bass.


The goldfish were a surprise, easily detected in the murky waters of the boating lake. Honey bees are known to guide other members of their colonies to food sources, so why not the cormorant? Certainly, after I first saw the lone bird, numbers of cormorants were to appear in successive weeks.


Lambert told me the migration south would be a leisurely affair, compared to spring, but during the final days of August and building up to mid-September there were wave days to almost equal those of May. As in early spring, the movement of birds through the park had started slowly. After the Northern waterthrushes [likely Louisiana Waterthrush] and [American] redstarts, the black-and-white warblers appeared in the first week of August. There were also increased numbers of birds I had observed all summer long in the park: night herons, grackles, robins and flickers, all moving south. The leaves on the trees now had a slightly jaded, tattered look like the wings of the butterflies that had laid eggs and were now preparing to die. The leaves were also turning a dark, dirty green before their transformation into shades of brown, red and gold during the fall.


But the weather continued hot in early August, causing the horses that haul the carriages around the lower part of the circular road to foam white and frothy at the bit, to struggle wearily up the slight gradients. Three horses whose lifetime job had been to pull the carriages had dropped dead on New York streets during summer and, on August 4, another beast of burden lay dead on Central Park South. The twelve-year-old carriage horse was covered by a blanket, and mothers led their children away. An autopsy later showed the horse's death was related to the heat. At the scene a summons was issued to the stable owner because the horse's log, to show how long it had worked on the days preceding its death, was not up to date. The other three horses' deaths had been caused by heat exhaustion.

Looking West from The Empire State Building at Night, August 2005


Blue-winged and Canada warblers were the next insect eaters to swarm through the park, and they brought with them a summer storm from the west that tore some of the posters carrying the face of murdered park guard Michael Turner from tree trunks (the police were offering fifteen thousand dollars for information leading to his murderer's conviction). The torrent on August 10 had created bathing pools in rock grooves for birds to wash in, and the storm had also spurred a squirrel to start building his winter nest in a willow. The nest was a mass of green vegetation camouflaged in the tree, but in winter it would stand out as a solid, if untidy, bundle in the crisscross of branches.


Intermittent rain did not deter thousands of schoolchildren from gathering in front of the Bandshell. A summer carnival for the city's underprivileged children had been organized by the Police Athletic League, and disco music boomed through the elms along the Mall. A giant map gave locations of where the street games were being played in the vicinity: "double dutch," hopscotch, tag, and hockey. And at a table manned by a plainclothes policeman there was a display to illustrate another kind of street activity with another kind of street language: "bennies," "block-busters," "coke," "brown sugar, Junk," and "joints." Laid out on the table was the paraphernalia of the drug cult, from syringes to razor blades, and after fingering a plastic poppy and a plastic marijuana plant, the kids in PAL [Police Athletic League] issued T-shirts moved on to another stall, which had free candy and helium balloons.


Many of the same kids were getting hooked two days later in the park. The New York Housing Authority was holding its annual fishing contest for four thousand children of tenants in its housing projects. More hooks were caught in young anglers' clothing and hair than in the waters of the boating lake, giving a break to several thousand fish that had been slipped into the lake for the occasion by the State Conservation Department.


After searching all summer for evidence of kingbirds nesting, I was now convinced I had seen a family party of the flycatchers, although they were some distance away, beyond the Point. I found the kingbirds in the trees where I had seen the ruby-throated hummingbird in May. Two noisy, anxious youngsters were pursuing their parents, demanding food. As the nesting season was closing, I had a tally of sixteen birds breeding in the park and possibly four others.


Forty-two species are known to have nested in the park successfully since it opened. The birds I found nesting were: mallard, mourning dove, downy woodpecker, kingbird, blue jay, black-capped chickadee, tufted titmouse, mockingbird, catbird, robin, starling, house sparrow, common grackle, Northern cardinal, house finch, and feral pigeon. The other possible breeders were American kestrel, common crow, song sparrow, and cowbird.

59th Street Pond in August 2006 in Black-and-white Infra-red


The flickers had not made it finally and among the birders there was antipathy toward the starlings. So there was something to celebrate on August 14 when a female kestrel was observed with a starling in her talons. I had not heard of a kestrel taking a bird as big as a starling before. Again the woods fell silent as the kestrel came over, and it was some time before the usually noisy starlings struck up their rising one-note whistle call.


The same day the kestrel struck, the body of the park's seventh murder victim was discovered under low bushes where ovenbirds had returned The victim, shot once above the right ear near West Sixty-third Street, was dressed in a waiter's uniform. Immediately, a team of twenty-five detectives started to canvass restaurants near the park in an attempt to identify the man.


By mid-August I had seen ten warblers, a warbler-like bird called a red-eyed vireo, and a gnatcatcher, which meant the downward migration was fully under way. At times the park would be overrun by Canada warblers, in far greater numbers than I had seen in the spring. I had read that some birds varied their migration route on the southward journey, which could explain the increase in numbers of certain species and the absence of others. Certainly, one warbler, the Connecticut, is only seen in the park in the fall.


The curtain came down on the summer music program on August 16 when the last open-air symphony concert took place in the park. The Indian conductor Zubin Mehta took the New York Philharmonic through pieces by Bartok, Copland, and Mussorgsky. By intermission the sky was pink from the remnants of the setting sun and, high up, on pointed wings and moving fast, what looked like a common nighthawk swerved after insects.


"Birding can make a hermit of one," wrote Lambert in mid-July. "A hermit in a crowd." He explained through the uneven keys of an old typewriter that he had not seen me, or many of the other birders, in the park recently because he had been visiting lesser used areas looking for nests.


The hermit metaphor again made me curious about Lambert's life outside the family of birders and birds. I could not confront him directly, which I considered presumptuous or just plain impertinent, and during our conversations there was never a moment when I could slip in a casual inquiry about, say, his marital status, without obviously taking our discussion off at a tangent. Finally, I took the easy way out and asked one of the other birders what Lambert did for a living, as a starting point to understanding more about him.


My informant was selected carefully, someone who appreciated the difference between curiosity and prying. He was a former journalist, who now loaded newspapers on trucks on weekends so he could spend the rest of his time bird watching.


"Well, Lambert works during the weekends on Staten Island," the former journalist replied after some thought.


"That's the closest I ever got myself."


As the migration of insect-eating birds starts to peak, it is time to concentrate less on the woods and to scan the sky for birds of prey. The hawks and falcons follow the warblers south, preying on them during the journey, and the best place to search for the raptors is from the Bow Bridge, which offers an uncluttered view of the airways.

Looking North from Bethesda Terrace to the "Point" in mid-June 2006


But on August 19 there was a migration of a different kind. Certain butterfly species, particularly the monarchs, also move south, and on this day the sky was full of the satin-winged insects. The butterflies spread their orange, black-edged wings upward and rose in thermals, spiraling so high that they were lost to sight. The streets of the city were also full of the migrating monarchs, and in the final days of August I saw a particularly fine specimen flying along the tracks of the elevated Lexington Avenue subway line through the South Bronx. The butterfly's short life was brought to an abrupt halt by a Number 4 train moving north.


I, too, was moving north, against the flow of the monarchs, in the latter part of August. A business trip took me to the Canadian capital of Ottawa, and I had an opportunity to see firsthand why the downward migration starts so early. By August 22 chill winds were already blowing from the Arctic, and the leaves on the maples in downtown Ottawa were dying. Wasps were gripped in death throes on the sidewalk, and cedar waxwings traveled along the banks of the Ottawa River searching for berries, as they would do all winter. Over the river in Quebec, Cape May and chestnut-sided warblers, and redstarts, headed toward the United States and warmer weather. I arrived back in New York on August 28 to catch a wave day. The cold front from Canada had pushed the temperature down to fifty-nine degrees and the brisk northwesterly winds brought at least eighteen species of warbler with them. The park was alive with birds. A new species for the year, a yellow-breasted chat, was seen on the Point. I missed the chat, a skulking bird, which is the largest of the warbler family and rare in the park; but I picked up my first thrush of the fall, a veery. The wave continued the next day and was well-timed for Lambert and Sarah, who were leading their third bird walk of the year. I spent an hour studying a batch of Cape May warblers on the Point and wanted to believe they were the same birds I had seen in Canada, although the chances of that were a million to one. Loose flocks of cedar waxwings also came through the park, their cicada-like call harmonizing with the crickets.


The scribbled sign said: "Snake poet - 25 cents." Along with an open shoebox, the sign lay at the base of a tree that contained a woman in her early twenties, who was reading poetry to a small, silent crowd looking up at her. Around her neck was a very long and very thick boa constrictor, which kept trying to slide away. The girl, dressed in a black leotard and bright red ballet shoes, raised her voice as she wrestled with the serpent, which featured so strongly in her poetry. I sympathized with the snake, carpet-patterned and so eager to explore the boughs of the tree. I did not like the poetry, either.


Billy [a feral cat] lacked his usual sparkle. There was dust on his coat, and his head hung wearily. It was early morning on the last day of August, and I thought Billy might have been hunting all night, without success. Young birds that had been easy prey all summer were now flying on strong wings and were as hard to catch as their parents. So Billy was grateful for the handout of fish, raw and fresh and pungent-smelling and flaking in my fingers. His nose twitched as he caught the aroma; he rose slowly to his feet, yawning, lowering his head and coming straight to me without hesitation. He bit hard and swallowed hurriedly, and on the second bite he sank a tooth into my finger, drawing blood. I flinched. He backed off. But the smell of the fresh fish drew him to me again. A breakthrough, he had taken food from my hand, and within two weeks he would come running when I called.

Locust Borer Beetle in the Wildflower Meadow (CP) in June 2008


In February, the ice on the boating lake near West Seventy-fifth Street had looked firm and safe enough when thirteen year-old Enzo DiBello and his younger brother, Victor, ventured on to it, gingerly at first. Then it cracked under them; that sickening crack, loss of balance, freezing water making the boys gasp for breath. Fifty people, hearing the boys' screams, looked on helplessly until two bystanders edged their way across the ice toward the struggling brothers. Although the ice had started to give way under the rescuers, they managed to stand upright in the muddy water and grab hold of the boys.


Victor, nine on his last birthday, wrapped in a blanket, his face purple with cold, would never again see the lake covered in ice. On August 31, chased by Enzo in a game of tag, he ran under a bus near their home in Ozone Park, Queens, and was killed outright.

European Paper Wasp in Shakespeare Garden, CP on 8 August 2020 by Deborah Allen


A BUTTERFLY AFICIONADO STALKS THE SNOUT

By SARA RIMER


JULY 30, 1984


Lambert Pohner has seen the snout. The small butterfly, named for what looks like a long, skinny nose protruding from its head, is rare in New York City, and urban butterfly watchers speak of it reverently as ''the legendary snout.'' Mr. Pohner says he has sighted eight snouts so far this summer, all in Central Park.


''This is the summer of the snout,'' said Mr. Pohner, who has seen more than 40 summers come and go in the park during the years he has monitored the wildlife there. In summers past, he said, he considered himself lucky if he saw a single snout.


The nature lovers of Central Park form their own society, and almost everyone knows of Mr. Pohner's obsession with the snout.


''He was always going on about the legendary snout butterfly,'' said Donald Knowler, a British naturalist and journalist, recalling the early days of his friendship with the man he calls ''the sage of Central Park.''


''He'd phone me up and say, 'Hey, we had the snout today!' ''


Some people, particularly those who collect butterflies, can hardly conceal their envy. ''I've looked five years for the snout,'' said Jeff Ingraham, who helps prepare exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History and would like to add the snout to his extensive personal collection.


''Of 181 species in New York State,'' Mr. Ingraham said, ''this is the most difficult to get.''


''He lusts after the snout,'' said Mr. Pohner, who shuns the collector's net and can hardly bear the thought of a captive butterfly.


Mr. Pohner saw his first butterfly of the year - a mourning cloak - at midday on April 3 in the Ramble. The start of the butterfly season, however, is always a bittersweet time for the 57-year-old Mr. Pohner, for by inclination he is a bird man.


His season is winter, when as many as 19 species of ducks can be observed upon the waters of the Reservoir. But in the summer, many of the birds flee Central Park, driven away by the heat and crowds. Even Mr. Pohner's characteristic effervescence is diminished by the humidity. ''I'd really like to be living next to a glacier in the summer,'' he said the other day, hiding from the sun under his trademark bush hat and a long- sleeved shirt as he sipped his morning coffee beside the Lake.


Luna Moth in Manhattan (105th st. and 5 Ave) in July 1998


Yet unlike most of his fellow birders, who abandon Central Park in the summer for Maine and Canada and other cool places where the birds go, Mr. Pohner remains faithful to his 800-acre urban territory.


''I took a trip to Maine,'' he said. ''It's not my country.''


Any Butterfly 'Is a Prize'


Butterflies, he says, add enchantment to summer: ''Every year I look forward to the butterflies coming back. Summer is butterflies.''


It is not easy being a butterfly person, as Mr. Pohner calls himself, in Central Park. ''Central Park is like a desert for butterflies,'' he said. ''Anything you see in Central Park is a prize.''


In the last five years, he says, he has sighted 27 species of butterflies in the park, including the often-seen tiger swallowtail and cabbage white, as well as the harder-to-find spicebush swallowtail and, of course, the legendary snout.


For skeptics, he has a butterfly album containing his own color photographs. With his friend Sarah Elliott, he has published a small pamphlet, ''Butterflies of Central Park.''


Seeking the Snout


Mr. Pohner, who works part time in a family business on Staten Island, spends most of his time in Central Park. Weather permitting, he looks for butterflies almost daily. The sun was shining the other morning, and after he finished his coffee, he headed for the Ramble - a prime butterfly spot. He was accompanied by Edna Thompson, who is a retired nurse, and Mr. Knowler.


Mrs. Thompson, a frequent companion of Mr. Pohner on his walks, had seen the snout five times. But Mr. Knowler, after spending the last two summers in Central Park researching his recently published book, ''The Falconer of Central Park,'' in which Mr. Pohner is the hero, had begun to despair of ever seeing the snout.


It did not look as if this would be his day either. As the noon hour came and went, Mr. Pohner and his friends had seen the usual scores of cabbage whites and the occasional tiger swallowtails and question marks. Beside Belvedere Lake, they had seen two alfalfas alight on dandelions.


Walking from the lake toward Shakespeare Garden, they had run into Mr. Ingraham, the collector. Mr. Ingraham, as usual, had not seen the snout.


A Joyful Yelp


''It's always the same,'' Mr. Knowler said. ''When you come looking for butterflies, they're not here.''


The group paused for a rest in the garden, among the day lilies and hydrangeas. It was there, with his companions hot and hungry and discouraged, that Mr. Pohner suddenly let out a joyful yelp: ''Snout! Snout!''


And there it was, fluttering about a young hackberry tree, a delicate creature with white spots on its black wingtips. As promised, its long mouth parts protruded, suggesting a snout.


''It looks like the Concorde,'' Mrs. Thompson observed.


Mr. Knowler, enthralled, gazed at the butterfly through his binoculars. ''It made my day - seeing the snout,'' he would say later.


Mr. Pohner, who said he did not care if passers-by thought he was crazy, chanted the snout's proper name: ''Libytheana bachmannii! Libytheana bachmannii!''


The snout hovered nearby for several minutes and then was gone. Their spirits restored, the trio headed for a celebratory snack at the Lake.


Mr. Pohner found this most recent snout sighting thrilling, but hardly incredible.


''People say there are no butterflies in Central Park,'' he said. ''They just don't open their eyes.''

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Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD

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


Bearded Vulture (Lammergeier) in Nepal, November 2016


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@2020 ROBERT DECANDIDO, PhD