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Birds + Mid-April + Central Park = GREAT

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

Common Grackle Doug Leffler

12 April 2023

Bird Notes: The weather is in flux for the coming weekend with Monday 17 April looking to be rainy. If unsure if a walk will take place, check the Schedule page of our web site for cancellations and/or details about all our walks. This week we add Thursday morning 8:30am bird walks, meeting at the Dock on Turtle Pond.

We send an assortment of bird observations from the distant past in this week's HISTORICAL NOTES. In Note (A) in mid-April 1953, Piping Plovers and Horned Larks are reported from Jamaica Bay in Queens; Part (B) of the Historical Notes describes wildflowers of Staten Island in late April 1963; Part (C) provides bird migrants in late April 1882 including Pine Siskins and Purple Finches in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn; Part (D) is a note on the occurrence of Bewick's Wren in Central Park in mid-April 1928; and finally, Part (E) is a longer note from 1923 on the significance of bird migration studies in Central Park.

Blue-headed Vireo Central Park 9 April 2023 Deborah Allen

Bird Walks for MID-APRIL 2023

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

1. Thursday, 13 April: (8:30am) Dock on Turtle Pond (south end of the Great Lawn at approx 79th street...opposite Belvedere Castle...adjacent to Delacorte Theater) $10

2. Friday, 14 April: (8:30am). $10. Meet at the Conservatory Garden Conservatory Garden is located at 106th st. and Fifth Avenue. Led by Deborah Allen.

3. Saturday, 15 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.

4. Sunday, 16 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.

5. Monday, 17 April: (8:30am) Strawberry Fields (72nd st. and Central Park West) $10


6. Thursday, 20 April: (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:

Brown Thrasher Central Park 8 April 2023 Deborah Allen

The fine print: Our walks on weekends starting in early April 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! 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). And on Thursdays starting 13 April and continuing through (and including 25 May/Thursday, we meet at 8:30am at the Dock on Turtle Pond = where we met all winter).

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.

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.

Swamp Sparrow in Michigan Doug Leffler

Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)

Friday 7 April through Monday 10 April: Deb's Friday group started fast with five warbler species; two swallow species; Flaco the Eurasian Eagle-owl...Blue-grey Gnatcatcher and more (see her check-lists below for each day). By Saturday it was quiet - many birds left overnight and few arrived. Nevertheless we managed four warbler species. The best birds were the Golden-crowned Kinglets that came in close trying to find the rest of the flock singing (via my speaker); or the Brown Thrasher that we used sound to lure into the open at eye-level. Sunday brought milder weather and very little wind. The female Ring-necked Duck was still on Conservatory Water - a small cement surrounded pond adjacent to Fifth Avenue - an unusual location for a shy bird. In the woods, a couple of Red-breasted Nuthatches were a surprise. Our best bird was a Blue-headed Vireo at Turtle Pond...but overall fewer birds than yesterday, and many fewer than Friday. Birds are leaving overnight and only a handful are arriving right now. This will change by next week - beyond the 15th of April we will have new good birds everyday. On Monday 10 April (again see check-list below), new birds were very sparse: the one notable exception was a Hooded Warbler found by the famous Wolfgang (8:14am) at the Polish Statue on the east end of Turtle Pond. By the time our group arrived (9:15am) the bird was long gone from the area, and was not re-found by anyone that day. For us, we had many Field Sparrows, Eastern Towhees and the Red-tailed Hawks bringing nesting material to an alcove on the San Remo building aprox. 75th street and Central Park West.

Deborah's List of Birds for Friday, 7 April 2023: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Saturday, 8 April: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Sunday, 9 April: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Monday, 10 April: CLICK HERE

Horned Lark on 31 December 2017 Deborah Allen


April 12 [1953]. Jamaica Bay, Queens County

Horned larks [photo above], piping plovers [below], savannah, sharp-tailed, swamp and song sparrows, great blue herons, a greater yellow legs, marsh hawks and Canada geese were seen in the Jamaica Bay area. Several ruby-crowned kinglets, in the Queens Botanical Gardens, obligingly displayed their colorful crowns. The high point of the day was an excellent view of two clapper rails. Attendance: 4. Leaders, Harriet J. Brown and Marion R. Sonner.

Piping Plover in New Jersey on 3 April 2010 Deborah Allen

April 28 [1963]. La Tourette Park, Staten Island

The group met at the Staten Island Ferry at 10:30a.m. and journeyed by bus to Richmond Town. The hill-side was badly damaged by fire of a week earlier. At the Old Revolutionary Spring we refreshed ourselves with ice-cold water. Field sparrows were singing and an early house wren was heard in the distance. Tent caterpillars were emerging from egg masses and spinning their first webs. The miniature green leaves just emerging from the buds of the wild black cherry will be their food. The plantings of flowering crabs around the foundation of the club house were very attractive in their pink and white colors. In the woodland adjoining the golf course we found Solomon's seal, Canada mayflower, trout lily, spring beauty and Viola papilionacea. Sassafras was in bloom, as was spice bush, while American elm and the maples were already gone to seed. On our way back over lighthouse hill we found that the Tibetan Art Center was open for business. Since it has very beautiful plantings, we decided to visit this exotic place. In the garden were many flowering crabs, Kerria, and many daffodils. The Lotus plants in the oriental pool were still too small to be flowering, but a plant. similar to buck-bean (Menyanthes) was blooming with lovely white flowers in the shallow pool. At the Museum we heard a talk on Buddhism by Dr. Frank Becker, and the history of the Tibetan Art Center was explained to us by Miss Watkins in the Marchais Library. On our arrival in Richmond Town we were introduced to Mr. Starr who has been planting native wild flowers on the grounds of the Voorleezer House. There we found a lovely patch of marsh marigold and Trillium, as well as seedlings of many summer-flowering plants. Attendance: 26.

Leader, Mathilde P. Weingartner.

Trout Lilies Central Park 9 April 2010 Deborah Allen

Bay Ridge [Brooklyn], L. I., April 29 [1882].

Among our last week's birds are pine [siskins] and purple finches on the 22d [April], golden-crested and ruby-crowned wrens [Kinglets] on the 25th, towhee buntings, ferruginous thrush [Brown Thrasher], hermit and tawny [Veery] thrushes, and one downy woodpecker on the 26th; one blue-headed solitary vireo on the 27th; black and white creepers, swifts and purple martins on the 28th; two kingfishers, and one Maryland [Common] yellow-throat on the 29th. Weather still cool.

A. L. Townsend.

Bewick's Wren Thryomanes bewickii in Bellingham (WA state) 24 February 2016 Deborah Allen

Thryomanes bewickii in New York City [1928].

On April 10 [1928], my brother observed a Wren in Central Park, New York City, which passed so quickly he was unable to determine the species. On the 13th of April, a Wren, probably the same individual, was seen by two other observers, but it was not until April 20 that the bird was positively identified as Thryomanes bewickii. This, according to all authorities, is the first record of Bewick's Wren in New York State. The little visitant from other parts seemed to like Central Park, for he stayed with us until May 15, favoring us daily with his sweet, Song Sparrow-like warble, always uttered soto voce, as if a little awed by the noises of a great city; and he obligingly showed himself to the many bird lovers who came from all over the city to see him. We were sorry to have him leave us, and hope he will repeat his visit next year.

ETHEL A. CAREN, New York City, N.Y.


Central Park [1923]. Probably no locality in America has been visited so often, so regularly, and by so many people, as Central Park. It is an ideal station for studying the migration of birds, and is unquestionably the best place for the insectivorous transients in the Region. Astonishing as this statement may seem, it is amply justified by the facts, and Warblers, for instance, are more abundant here individually and specifically than anywhere else. It is an oasis in a vast desert of city roofs, in which the tired hosts must alight to rest as the day breaks, and where the great variety of shrubbery and trees affords an ample food supply and shelter.

The Ramble, an area of about two acres between 72nd and 77th Streets, and particularly remote from the main carriage drives, is the best place. The great majority of the 186 species recorded from the Park have been seen here. The relatively small size of this list is explained by the almost total absence of water-birds. Many species are, of course, rare or casual, such as nearly all the permanent residents, and all species preferring aquatic or open country habitats. These birds have particularly decreased as transients in the last eight years, during which many trees and shrubs have died, reducing the available cover. The chief factor is, however, the great increase in the number of people using the Park. Ten years ago [1912] one could spend a whole morning in the Ramble, and scarcely see a soul. Now it is certain to be full of people after 10 o'clock, except in bad weather. As a result, the eighteen native species nesting in 1908 are now reduced to 8. In 1908, 22 species wintered, several in numbers. Last winter no native species were found. While this is regretted by those who have been Park enthusiasts for many years, it has if anything improved the Park as a station for migrating birds. Every individual seen can be determined with certainty as a transient, or is definitely known not to be one. As an example, I may take the Scarlet Tanager [photo below]. In the country where it is a common summer resident, its arrival in spring and its departure in fall can, of course, be determined. But it is quite impossible to determine with certainty that migrating individuals are passing through this Region in maximum numbers about May 16th and until May 25th, or that the species starts moving south in late August or early September. These questions can be answered in Central Park. Accordingly migration records are given in the greatest detail.

Scarlet Tanager in Central Park 3 May 2012 Deborah Allen

The decrease of birds mentioned above has not, however, affected the regular transients, which are as abundant as ever. Those who can possibly do so are advised to visit the Ramble as frequently as possible from April 1st to May 30th and from the first week in August to the end of October. If they are energetic enough they should go in the early morning, especially in May. Later in the day they are certain to miss many species, as the birds are scared and scattered by the crowds. Many days will of course be very barren, as nowadays there are practically no birds in between flights. On May 10, 1922, 66 species were observed in the Ramble, of which 60 were transients. It would be utterly impossible definitely to duplicate such a list of transients in one day anywhere else in the Region. Between the dates given above over one hundred species can be seen annually.

In the brief space available I cannot adequately describe the wealth of material, founded on daily observation, available for the present report. For instance, Miss Anne A. Crolius, a most reliable and conservative student, visited the Park more than 250 times annually between 1895 and 1915, a record of consistent observation probably unequaled in this country. Ever since 1907, when my observations commenced, dozens of observers have hunted in the Ramble every spring. The dozens last spring were totally different from the dozens eight years ago, and all were totally different people from the dozens in 1907, but while their interest lasted I saw most of them every day and collected the migration records of interest that I knew to be reliable. Every year there have been those who kindly cooperated in my effort to obtain complete records, and who interrogated mutual acquaintances whom I missed, and handed on the information of interest.

Ludlow Griscom, New York City


Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD

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

Cherry Blossoms in Central Park 23 April 2015 Deborah Allen


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