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Birds Birds Birds - Late April Central Park

Updated: Apr 28, 2023

(male) Yellow-rumped Warbler Deborah Allen

26 April 2023

Bird Notes: Weather through 1 May is unsettled! If unsure if a walk will take place, check the Schedule page of our web site for cancellations or details about our walks. Looking to this weekend (and weather can turn on a dime in the northeast in spring), Saturday looks like rain all day - we have CANCELLED that walk. Sunday looks promising for the this time of the year, we err on the side of "yes do the Sunday walks" - as we did last Sunday, 23 April through light rain. Monday doesn't look good either...keep an eye on our web site. Finally, anything underlined in this Newsletter, for example Schedule (click on it), will lead to more in-depth info.

Here it is - all winter we have been waiting for late April through May...birds are now upon us. Our group was the first to find a Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Baltimore Oriole for Central Park in 2023 - more firsts to come with your help of course. Thank You.

Our HISTORICAL NOTES present birding in spring in Central Park 100+ years ago. In Historical Note (A) we meet Blanche Samek who in late April 1917 records some birds in Central Park, but also comments on the social scene of birding in the Park. Nothing changes...We tried doing research on Ms. Samek - it seems she lived near Columbia University and appears in a couple of other bird notes in the early 20th century...but otherwise a blank. However, however, in Historical Note (B) we meet a very interesting fellow by the name of Issac Bildersee who figures prominently in religious freedom issues in NYC schools. For our purposes he records birds in Central Park (spring 1904) calling attention to the arrival of a Green Crested Flycatcher (Acadian Flycatcher) in late April; Dr. Bildersee also mentions a Mourning Dove (rare in our area in the early 20th century due to hunting); and a Red-headed Woodpecker (13 May 1904 - a bit earlier than when we see them now (late May). But it is Issac Bildersee's actions as Superintendent of Brooklyn's schools that is most interesting and controversial. And believe us - we are no strangers to controversy.

Anhinga Prospect Park (Brooklyn) 26 April 2023 Deborah Allen

Bird Walks for Late APRIL to Early MAY 2023

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

1. Friday, 28 April: (8:30am). $10. Meet at the Conservatory Garden Conservatory Garden is located at 106th st. and Fifth Avenue. Led by Deborah Allen.

2. Saturday, 29 April at 7:30am AND 9:30am. Meet at the the BOATHOUSE Restaurant/Cafe at approx. 74th st. and the East Drive. $10. If you do the 730am walk, you get the 930am walk FREE (two for one). Directions to the Boathouse: CLICK HERE.

3. Sunday, 30 April at at 7:30am AND 9:30am. Meet at the the BOATHOUSE Restaurant/Cafe at approx. 74th st. and the East Drive. $10. If you do the 730am walk, you get the 930am walk FREE (two for one). Directions to the Boathouse: CLICK HERE.

4. Monday, 1 May: (8:30am) Strawberry Fields (72nd st. and Central Park West) $10

5. Thursday, 4 May: (8:30am) Dock on Turtle Pond (south end of the Great Lawn at approx 79th street...opposite Belvedere Castle...adjacent to Delacorte Theater) $10

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

male Black-throated Blue Warbler Michigan 2018 Doug Leffler

The fine print: Our walks on weekends meet on Saturdays and Sundays at 7:30am/9:30am at the Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe. The meeting location is NOT nearby Conservatory Water with its small buildings and Boathouse for model boats...people make this mistake all the time! Here are directions to the Meeting Locations (CLICK HERE) page of our web site. Bathrooms open at about 7:10am at the Boathouse (but the Restaurant/Cafe is closed until June 2023).

Friday morning walks (8:30am) begin on 17 March and run through 2 June. These walks begin at Conservatory Garden (mostly closed for renovation in spring 2023): we meet at 106th street and 5th Avenue (north side of Conservatory Garden). Deborah Allen leads the Friday walks - she knows more about birds than Bob...Her email is: and phone: 347-703-5554. If you want to rent binoculars ($10) please (please) let her know the night before! If you are lost (or god forbid, arrive late) and need to find the group, feel free to call her but do note that 2-3 other people are calling her at the same time...Monday walks at 8:30am meet at Strawberry Fields (at the Imagine Mosaic) which is about 75 meters in from Central Park West. And on Thursdays through (and including 25 May/Thursday), we meet at 8:30am at the Dock on Turtle Pond = where we met all winter).

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. Walks last about 3 hrs (a bit less if cold 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 aim to please. We usually end our M/Th/Sat/Sun Central Park walks at about noon near 79th street and the East Drive.

Grey Catbird Central Park 24 April 2023 Deborah Allen

Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)

Friday 21 April through Monday 24 April: Deb's Friday group knew it would be a good deal just by the number of Hermit Thrushes they saw. New for the park this spring was a Painted Bunting - and add seven warbler species (including Nashville Warbler) to that. Flaco, the Eurasian Eagle-owl is still up in the north end and well-seen today. And for those really lucky, two Evening Grosbeaks munching on ripening elm seeds. On Saturday in the Ramble area, we had 11 warbler species plus the male/female Great Horned Owls that have been here for some time now.

Saturday was slow but we had one of the few Blue-headed Vireos of the day. Sunday was not very birdy - but some migrants arrived overnight including the earliest ever Cape May Warbler (see Deborah's photos herein), and the first of season Ovenbird. Monday was rain rain...glad everyone stayed home. Sunday, everyone was shocked we did not one but two bird walks in the rain...turnout was actually rather good. Anyway, we had a male Baltimore Oriole land briefly above us (thank you tape/recordings), and at the very end of the walk a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird feeding on an extensive bed of flowering Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginiana). On the way out of the park, the Good Gloria (with a PhD in Physics from Stanford University) and I heard a Prairie Warbler, our first for the season. Good Gloria's husband is the Good Cliff who was chairman of the medical department at Sloan-Kettering (after getting an Md/PhD at the University of Washington).

Deborah's List of Birds for Friday, 21 April 2023: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Saturday, 22 April (scroll down a bit): HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Sunday, 23 April: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Monday, 24 April: CLICK HERE

Blue Jay Central Pk 24 April 2023 D. Allen


Spring Migration in the 'Ramble,' Central Park,

New York City [Late April 1917].

Writing of one of his boyhood friends, Henry James says, in 'A Small Boy and Others,' "He opened vistas, and I count ever as precious anyone, everyone, who betimes does that for the small straining vision." In my own case I always remember gratefully as one who "opened vistas" a frail young woman in a raincoat whom I saw one very stormy day in the spring of 1917 in the bird section of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. We were both looking at birds' nests, and being the only two persons in that part of the building, we began quite naturally to talk. I remember that I was bewailing my fate because, after having spent six very delightful weeks on a farm in the Berkshires - from the middle of March to the end of April – here I was obliged to return to my home in the city just at the time when Spring was offering her most interesting treasures to a lover of flowers and birds.

"When you have tramped the fields and woods in April," I went on, "when you have hunted down the first hepaticas, trailing arbutus, violets, bloodroot, saxifrage, and wake robin [Trillium]; when you have heard the Song Sparrow's cheery outburst and the Red-winged Blackbird's vibrant note of spring-when you've seen the early Bluebirds perching on the dusky red berry-cones of the sumach, the ground all white with newly fallen snow, the electric blue of the birds making stunning contrast to the red berries against a white background-then you'll admit that it's not easy to extract much comfort from looking at dry-as-dust stuffed specimens in a museum."

She laughed sympathetically and said, "Why don't you try the 'Ramble' in Central Park for birds? I can't promise you any trailing arbutus, but you will find large numbers of birds migrating through in spring and fall."

The next morning found me in Central Park bright and early, and every morning thereafter for the month of May. Of course, I missed some of the earliest migrants, but in spite of my late start, I was able to get a list of more than seventy species of birds, one of them being that rare creature, the Mourning Warbler. The record for a single day's observation, so far as I know, was forty-five species, and the season record for the largest total observed was ninety-one by Dr. M. P. Denton.

Not the least interesting part of the daily excursion was the opportunity of meeting other bird-lovers who had discovered the 'Ramble.' The mere fact that you carried a pair of bird-glasses was introduction enough for these enthusiasts, and they unhesitatingly stopped you to exchange notes about their latest find and yours.

There was the Clergyman from New Jersey who came two or three times a week and insisted that the country was not nearly so good for birds as the 'Ramble.' There was the Famous Surgeon who stole away from anxious patients for an hour almost every day to refresh his own weary soul. There was the Biologist who "loved every bit of life," as she put it, and never missed a chance to study it. There was the Boarding-house Lady who came each morning after her marketing to forget her material cares by quoting Dr. van Dyke's, "The Woodnotes of the Veery" and by hunting for that elusive bird. There was the Naval Reserve Man who had left Yale to enlist, who came every morning for the week that he was on leave and "hoped his boat would be ordered where there would be interesting birds to watch." There was the Park Policeman who was the first to see the Black-billed Cuckoo (on whose pronunciation we could not agree). There was the Park Gardener who never forgot to show newcomers the roost of the Black-crowned Night Heron. And, oh, there were lots of others of us, but you must come and see for yourself.

And among us all was the keenest good-natured rivalry as to who should be the first to see the new arrivals from the South; and woe betide you, a newcomer, if you had seen some species which an old hand at the game had missed, or if you claimed to have seen a bird some days before it was due. So, if you would have new vistas open before you, if you want one of the best things of spring, even if you are city-bound, you have only to go to the 'Ramble' and join the bird colony.


Veery in Michigan 2018 Doug Leffler

Bird Notes from the Vicinity of New York City, 1904

Notable Birds 0f Central Park.

April 30 and May 1: Green-crested Flycatcher [= Acadian Flycatcher];

May 1 and 8: Fish Crow;

May 6 and 13: Lincoln's Sparrow observed continually for more than an hour and a half, at times at a distance of less than ten feet;

May 6, 7 and 14: Golden-winged Warbler;

May 10, 14, 15 and 21: Nashville Warbler, heard singing on the first two occasions;

May 10, 14 and 15: Bay-breasted Warbler;

May 10: Mourning Dove;

May 10 and 14: Gray-cheeked Thrush;

May 13: Red-headed Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, White-crowned Sparrow;

May 28: Mourning Warbler.

Near Leonia, N.J. April 17: Pigeon Hawk [Merlin], Duck Hawk [Peregrine], American Pipit;

August 21: Sora Rail.

Near Grantwood, N.J. May 15: Yellow-bellied Flycatcher; July 10: Tufted Titmouse.

Near Englewood, N. J. (Woodland avenue and Mountain road). July 10: Kentucky Warbler, Carolina Wren.

Bronx Park. June 8: Cooper's Hawk;

June 10: Broad-winged Hawk, Lawrence's Warbler.

Coney Island (Manhattan Beach). June 19 and 23: Least Bittern.

Long Beach, L. I. July 24: Long-billed Curlew. Two Long-billed Curlews flew by me at a distance of about forty feet and at an altitude of about fifteen feet. When I first saw them they were flying directly toward me, but my presence caused them to swerve slightly from the original line of their flight. The weather at the time was very stormy and very heavy rain accompanied by a violent southeast wind;

July 31: Rough-winged Swallow, Herring Gull.

Isaac Bildersee, New York City.

Dr. Isaac Bildersee (1887-1952)

Issac Bildersee was a controversial figure in post World War II New York. At the time, plans were already in the works to fill the marshlands of Canarsie [Brooklyn]. New York City was experiencing an influx of Jewish immigrants who survived the Holocaust. As Emma Roland Matthews wrote in the Canarsie Courier before World Wars I and II, it was not unusual for churches to hold Christmas pageants and parties at local public schools. In December of 1947, Superintendent of Brooklyn Schools, Isaac Bildersee, issued an order that banned the singing of Christmas carols with strong religious connotations in all Brooklyn Public Schools.

The order also banned any religious symbols, decorations or references to the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah. Bildersee defended the action as an act to protect all religious groups from offense. Federal and State courts agreed with Bildersee citing that the United States and New York Constitutions grant the right to religious freedom and public schools are required to maintain a separation between church and state.

Cherry Trees in Central Park May 2014 Deborah Allen

Issac Bildersee (1887-1952)

Both the playground and school are named for Issac Bildersee (1887-1952), the controversial assistant superintendent of Brooklyn public schools during the 1940s.

Born and bred in New York City, Dr. Bildersee came from a family closely tied to the cause of education. His sister Adele Bildersee was Dean of Brooklyn College, and his other sister Dorothy served as principal of Brooklyn's PS 217. Dr. Bildersee received his B.A. from City College in 1905, and spent the remaining 47 years of his life as a dedicated teacher and executive in the New York City school system. Bildersee taught in three Manhattan elementary schools, then taught English at De Witt Clinton High School from 1920-1922. In 1922, he was appointed principal of PS 205 in Brooklyn. From 1929 to 1946, Dr. Bildersee served as principal of the Seth Low Junior High School in Brooklyn. From 1946 until his death, he was an assistant superintendent of Brooklyn public schools.

In December 1947, Bildersee issued a controversial order banning the singing of Christmas carols with strong religious connotations in 23 of Brooklyn's public schools. Bildersee's ban quickly led to controversy among many groups, including the Department of Education, the Commission on Moral and Civic Affairs of the City Protestant Council, and the Catholic War Veterans of New York.

Bildersees order also banned any religious symbols, decorations, or references to the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah. Some groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Jewish Council, favored the ban. Many other groups opposed it. The Roman Catholic Knights of Columbus called the order an insult to Christmas. Bildersee insisted that his order was not meant to discourage holiday celebration, but to protect all religious groups from offense. He explained that the ban had been issued in accordance with the state constitution.

Although the United States and New York Constitutions grant the right to freedom of religion, public schools are required to maintain a separation between church and state. On 5 December 1947, Superintendent William Jansen of Brooklyn public schools overruled Bildersee's ban and issued an official letter suspending the Christmas carol ban. Jansen ruled that schools would hold holiday events deemed appropriate by the individual schools' principals. He also wrote it is expected, as always, that the principle of freedom of religious worship will be respected. Dr. Bildersee died on 23 August 1952, at the age of 65, in Star Lake, NY, leaving behind his wife Selena and three children.

The City of New York acquired this property in Brooklyn in 1960 for the purpose of building a playground in conjunction with the construction of the Bildersee School. The population of the Canarsie neighborhood was growing rapidly at the time, and the construction of I.S. 68 was required to relieve overcrowding in Junior High School 211 (John Wilson Junior High).

The playground opened on 23 November 1965, as the I.S. 68 Playground, jointly operated by Parks and the Department of Education. The playground now features basketball and handball courts, benches, and tables. In 1985, the parkland was renamed after the adjacent school, further honoring Bildersee and his dedication to both the schools of New York City and the ideals of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.


Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD

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

Magnolia ("Tupelo Field") in Central Park 24 April 2011

1 comentário

27 de abr. de 2023

Loved the 1917 memoir by Blanche Sameks


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