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Birding Central Park: Mid-May 2022

Updated: May 13, 2022

Bird Notes: Weather for the weekend 14-16 May is (happily) cloudy with no rain in the forecast! All walks will take place as scheduled: Fri-Mon (inclusive). All our bird walks can be found on the Schedule page of this web site. Above is a male Orchard Oriole.

13 May 2022

This might be the last Newsletter until late May - we are very busy with bird walks and private walks until 25 May. That's good and Thank You All. I know we wrote this last week...but this time we really mean it!

In this week's HISTORICAL NOTES we take it easy with only two short notes: (a) spring migration mid-May 1921 in Madison Square Park (23rd-25th streets in Manhattan; Central Park is 59th to 110th streets). The author James P. Chapin (click on his name) is a native New Yorker who grew up on Staten Island. The article details a mass fall out of migrants on those two days in Madison Square Park: note the number of Grasshopper Sparrows (8) on 15 that time Grasshopper Sparrows nested in NYC and were much more common in the region - when grasslands were more abundant/widespread. Note also the number of Ovenbirds (still a common migrant) on 15 May. On the other hand, for mid-May many warbler species are not common: Black-throated Blue for example - only two observed. And for every species, there are fewer remaining on the following day - that seems obvious...but shows that waves of migrants (with peaks) move north and not in a steady continuous overnight flow. Fog on the evening of 15 May...almost like weather conditions tonight, 13 May (Friday) of all dates.

In historical note (b) we send a summary of the weather for April 2022: slightly chillier and somewhat rainier than average compared to the last 125+ years of weather data collected here in NYC...from the NYC Weather Archive by Rob Frydlewicz

Black-crowned Night Heron (9 July 2018) in Central Park by Sandra Critelli

Good! Bird Walks for Mid to Late May - each $10

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

1. Friday, 13 May: (8:30am) Conservatory Garden (105th street and 5th Avenue) $10

2!!!. Saturday, 14 May: 7:30am and again at 9:30am; Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe $10

3!!!. Sunday, 15 May: 7:30am and again at 9:30am; Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe $10

4. Monday, 16 May: (8:30am) Strawberry Fields (72nd st. and Central Park West) $10

5. Thursday, 19 May: (8:30am) Dock on Turtle Pond (mid-park at about 79th st.) $10

!!!: if you do the 7:30am walk, you can come on the 9:30am for free (two for one).

*For all our walks: no need to book ahead or pay in advance - just show up at the right time and place and away you go with us. Binoculars can be rented for $10.

1. Thursday, 19 May: (8:30am) Dock on Turtle Pond (mid-park at about 79th st.) $10

2. Friday, 20 May: (8:30am) Conservatory Garden (105th street and 5th Avenue) $10

3!!!. Saturday, 21 May: 7:30am and again at 9:30am; Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe $10

4!!!. Sunday, 22 May: 7:30am and again at 9:30am; Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe $10

5. Monday, 23 May: (8:30am) Strawberry Fields (72nd st. and Central Park West) $10

6. Thursday, 26 May: (8:30am) Dock on Turtle Pond (mid-park at about 79th st.) $10

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

Grey Catbird Central Park, 9 May 2020 by 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! In May-June, 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.

male Black-and-white Warbler (1 May 2021)

in Central Park Deborah Allen

Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)

Thursday 5 May through Monday 9 May (inclusive). Northeasterly to east winds have rained down on us off the ocean for many days now. However, because it is peak migration time, birds were on the move - nothing can hold them back. It might shift the peak of migration to our west, but the birds will not be stopped. After a wonderful Thursday (5 May) walk with 15 warbler species coming in very close to us (thanks to the calls used), no one could go out birding Friday/Saturday due to the heavy rains. We shouldn't say "no one" because there are always a few crazy birders lurking...and we learned of lots of birds on the move from photos of bird photographers in Central Park. Even at our home in the Bronx looking out into the pouring rain through our kitchen window, we saw Rose-breasted Grosbeak and White-crowned Sparrow in our backyard on Saturday. But those northeasterly winds - yikes. Day after day. Sunday (8 May) we had 20 warbler species including a Yellow-throated Warbler, and followed this up with 19 warbler species on Monday. So looking at Deborah's lists below all will seem fine. BUT! It was the number of birds that appeared to us to be below average for this time of the year. Let's see what the coming two weeks will bring - there are always surprises. So if you are religious, pray for winds from the west to southwest!

1. Deborah's List of Birds in Central Park for Thursday, 5 May 2022: Click Here

2. Deborah's List of Birds in Central Park for Friday, 6 May: Rain Out - No Bird Walk

3. Deborah's List of Birds in Central Park for Saturday, 7 May: Rain Out - No Bird Walk

4. Deborah's List of Birds in Central Park for Sunday, 8 May 2022: Click Here

5. Deborah's List of Birds in Central Park for Mon. 9 May 2022: Click Here

female American Kestrel (21 May 2008) at her nest on 105th street near Broadway (Manhattan) Deborah Allen


Migrants in New York City [May 1921]

Madison Square Park, Manhattan

On May 15, 1921, Madison Square [20-23rd streets between Madison Ave and 5th Ave, Manhattan], a small park in the very heart of Manhattan, was the scene of an astonishing migratory bird exhibit. Bewildered in the thick weather of the preceding night, large numbers of small birds had dropped into this haven of refuge and through the kindness of Mr. George Gladden who telephoned me of this remarkable event, I was able to make a rough census on two successive days, and to investigate the cause of such an unusual happening.

Arriving about 1 p.m., I was surprised to find the birds swarming over the lawns, but relatively few of them up in the trees. It was a novel sight to watch Redstarts and a Chestnut-sided Warbler flitting about on the close-cropped sod, and the birds seemed so ravenously hungry that even Maryland [Common] Yellowthroats were to be seen pecking at the pieces of bread thrown in by passers-by. Grasshopper Sparrows appeared more at home, as they crouched low in the short grass, where they probably found more natural food.

The total number of birds, on the 15th, I estimated at about 525, exclusive of House Sparrows. Ovenbirds were decidedly in the majority, scattered everywhere through the park, while the next most abundant birds, White-throated Sparrows, were gathered in more or less of a flock in the center of the Square. Twenty-three species of native birds were seen alive, and one more, the Magnolia Warbler, was represented among the birds picked up dead.

By the following day more than three-fourths of the birds had left. Among those remaining, of course, were some that had suffered injuries, but others seemed quite

unhurt. Of the larger and stronger species, such as the Catbird, Towhee, and White-throated Sparrow, even a smaller proportion was left. The species and the estimated numbers of individuals present on these first two days are as follows, but Ovenbirds and a few others remained for many days thereafter.

May 15 (Monday) --- May 16 (Tuesday [1921]

Lincoln's Sparrow 1 --- 0

Chipping Sparrow 8 --- 2

Field Sparrow 4 --- 1

White-throated Sparrow 100 --- 15

White-crowned Sparrow 2 --- 0

Swamp Sparrow 4 --- 0

Grasshopper Sparrow 8 --- 1

Towhee 50 --- 8

Northern Water-Thrush 2 --- 2

Ovenbird 200 --- 60

Maryland Yellow-throat 80 --- 30

Yellow-breasted Chat 1 --- 0

Redstart 4 --- 2

Chestnut-sided Warbler 1 --- 1

Black-throated Blue Warbler 2 --- 0

Myrtle Warbler 1 --- 0

Parula Warbler 2 --- 1

Black-and-white Warbler 7 --- 1

House Wren 3 --- 0

Brown Thrasher 3 --- 0

Catbird 35 --- 4

Wilson's Thrush [Veery] 3 --- 0

Gray-cheeked Thrush 2 --- 0

Many birds of the species enumerated above were found dead in the vicinity of Madison Square, and the cause of the disaster is not far to seek. The night had been very

foggy, and it was against the tower of the Metropolitan Life Building, to the east of the Square, that the birds had hurled themselves. The brilliant electric lights at its apex, and the illuminated clock-dials lower down doubtless played a part. So many of the dead birds had been carried off before my arrival that it was impossible to estimate accurately the number that had succumbed. The superintendent of the Metropolitan Life-Building tells me that about one hundred were found on the building, but two or three times that number probably fell in the park and on nearby streets. We noted that few Towhees or Sparrows had been killed; most of the casualties were among the weaker Warblers.

James P. Chapin, American Museum of Natural History, New York City.


NYC Weather Archive by Rob Frydlewicz

April 2022 was 0.9F degrees chillier than average and somewhat rainier (despite there being practically no rainfall in the month's last 11 days). The chilliest reading was 38F (on 2 April), the mildest was 79F (14 April). The last time the chilliest reading was this mild was in 2012. Only two other Aprils have had a milder reading for their coldest reading: in 1878 (42F) and 2010 (40F). The month's temperature range was 41 degrees, well below the usual range of 50 degrees (since 1980, 32° to 82°). On the day the high reached 79° in Central Park, the high at Newark Airport soared to 88° (and it was in the low 70s at LaGuardia and Kennedy airports).

The month's rainfall of 4.53 inches was similar to that of April 2020 (4.49") and April 2019 (4.55"). Much of the rain fell from two storm systems that brought 1.15" on 4/7-8, and 2.09" on 4/18-19. Just 0.02" of rain fell between 4/20-30, which was the least to fall in the last third of April since 1942, when no measurable rain fell after 4/11 (that April is the second driest on record).

Six days had highs in the 70s, an average number, with five of them on consecutive days (4/12-4/16). The average high of 73° during the streak was twelve degrees above average. This was the lengthiest such streak in April in 11 years. The streak ended the day before Easter Sunday, which, with a high/low of 51°/41°, was the chilliest since 2009.

Finally, the last three days of the month had afternoon humidity levels that bottomed out at 11%, 9%, and 14%. The 9% reading on 4/29 tied for the third lowest in the years since 2000. This was the most arid three-day streak since March 28-30, 2007. Very low humidity was also reported on the 15th and 22nd (13% and 15%, respectively).

Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD

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

Laughing Gull (27 June 2015) in Pelham Bay Park (the Bronx) by Deborah Allen


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