Neotropical Cormorant (Iquique, Chile) 4 July 2023 Deborah Allen
23 August to 6 September 2023
Bird Notes: Full-time bird walks continue through early November: Thursday/Friday/Sat/Sun/Monday. Our Schedule (click) on our web site has all the details including directions to meeting locations. The next Newsletter will be published in approximately two weeks. Check past issues to see what was seen at this time in prior years, for example Here and Here .
Bird migration has been progressing nicely these last two weeks with sightings of (and long looks at) some less common species (Hooded Warbler; Worm-eating Warbler) on our bird walks; and others including Baltimore Oriole (15-20 on one walk); Blue-winged Warbler (6); Cape May Warbler (5)...August is a really good month to see migrants.
In this issue we continue with Deborah's photos of Chilean birds - these were taken mostly during pelagic trips offshore to the Humboldt current, and along the nearshore area of the Pacific coast. In the coming weeks we will provide plenty of NYC birds. Through the years we have done much research (with scientific and popular articles) on the birds and flora of NYC...we have a home here...grow tomatoes and native wildflowers in our yard...and fight the traffic/subways too: We care about NYC quite a lot.
Black-browed Albatross (adult) Quintero, Chile on 29 July 2023 Deborah Allen
It was interesting for us to see how important the cold water current (the Humboldt current) off the coast of Chile, Peru and Ecuador is to the weather in the northern hemisphere. We were there! This June, that current, for whatever reason, descended to a deeper level, as it will do every few years. It sets off what is known as an El Nino year...and with warm water at the surface, more moisture and energy makes its way into the atmosphere - and everyone in North America has seen the rain from coastal California to eastern North America that began in the last few weeks. Besides the link above, this one (click) has a better, more in-depth explanation than we can provide herein.
Lluta River Estuary Arica, Chile; near the Peruvian border on 8 July 2023
Several alkaline rivers are scattered through the Atacama Desert that flow from the mineral-rich Andes east to the coast. These rivers are barely drinkable, and not suitable for many crops. However, these are great places to find concentrations of birds along the Pacific Ocean.
In our HISTORICAL NOTES we send an 1892 article from Frank Chapman (whom we profiled in last week's Newsletter), about the Birds of Central Park - this is part one (of three) = Historical Note (A): How about nesting American Redstarts in the park! Next we move from history to contemporary...with a summary of the weather in NYC this past summer. Historical Note (B) is taken from the NYC Weather Archive, a wonderful blog written by Rob Frydlewicz. Watching June's weather here in NYC while we were in Chile, we thought you folks had been hit by weather Armageddon! June began with the smoke of the eastern Canadian wildfires turning the NYC skyline to orange (we saw the photos in Chile). Yikes....Our internet radios (on our laptops) provided hourly updates, and the media made a big deal of how awful the weather was in NYC in both June and July linking it to global warming. We thought the worst...But do the facts (actual numbers) back up the story the media was pushing? Not so much...NYC had much less rain than usual in June-July as expected in an El Nino year in the northeastern USA...BUT we have certainly had hotter summers. Again Historical Note (B) (June) and Historical Note (C) (July) re-cap the actual numbers and compare the NYC summer weather to the annual average compiled since the late 19th century here in Central Park. Just to be clear: yes global changes in weather are happening, especially in polar areas. BUT not everything we experience in weather is caused by global warming.
Slender-billed Prion Quintero, Chile on 24 June 2023 Deborah Allen
Bird Walks: 24 August through 4 September (2023)
All Walks @ $10/person - all in Central Park
*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 - let us know in advance if possible (one day's notice is fine).
*****Please: Payment at the End of the Bird Walk*****
1. Thursday, 24 August (8:30am) $10. Dock on Turtle Pond (mid-park at about 79th st.)
2. Friday, 25 August (8:30am). $10. Meet at the Conservatory Garden Conservatory Garden is located at 105th st. and Fifth Avenue. Led by Deborah Allen.
3. Saturday, 26 August 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, 27 August 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, 28 August: (8:30am) Strawberry Fields (72nd st. and Central Park West) $10
1. Thursday, 31 August (8:30am) $10. Dock on Turtle Pond (mid-park at about 79th st.)
2. Friday, 1 September (8:30am). $10. Meet at the Conservatory Garden Conservatory Garden is located at 105th st. and Fifth Avenue. Led by Deborah Allen.
3. Saturday, 2 September 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, 3 September 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, 4 Sept: (8:30am) Strawberry Fields (72nd st. and Central Park West) $10
Call (718-828-8262) or Email us with questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Deborah and Bob will be heading to Tanzania starting 6 November so walks will only be on Sundays beginning 12 November (until 10 December when we return).
Any questions send them our way: email@example.com or call: 718-828-8262 (home)
Belcher's Gull Antofagasto, Chile on 28 June 2023 Deborah Allen
(below) Guanay Cormorants Arica, Chile on 7 July 2023 Deborah Allen
The fine print: No need to reserve or pay in advance for our bird walks. Just show up at the right time and place and away you go with us. Please pay us at the end of the walk when we reach either Fifth Avenue or Central Park West, and not in the park as we begin.
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 7:15am at the Boathouse. The outdooor restaurant opens by about 7:20am, but do note that the prices have been raised considerably (think $6 for a cup of coffee), and the quality of the food has declined.
Friday morning walks meet at Conservatory Garden: we meet at 105th street and 5th Avenue: right at the large (tall) black gates. Deborah Allen leads the Friday walks - she knows more about birds than Bob...Her email is: DAllenyc@earthlink.net 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, 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 (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 on the morning of the walk: check the "Schedule" page of our web site - 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.
Red-legged Cormorant Arica, Chile on 5 July 2023 Deborah Allen
Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)
10 August (Thursday) through 20 August (Sunday) 2023: OK what we can say with confidence is that so far we are seeing the same diversity of species as in prior years, BUT the numbers are way down of certain species. For example, it was not unusual for us to see 15-20 Yellow Warblers in one morning on a bird walk in early-mid August in prior years...This year seeing five on one walk is a good day. Similarly Northern Parula (warbler) is also a common migrant, and we could get 10-15 on a good walk. To date in August 2023, the high count has been two on the same walk. On the other hand, Baltimore Oriole numbers have rebounded this year. They are very responsive to sound, and when I use certain calls these birds, especially first-year individuals, come in from different directions. This past Sunday (20 August), we easily had 15-20. Speaking of sound, if you check our numbers, both in terms of number of migrants seen, and numbers of individual counted, and compare those to anyone (or group) posting on eBird, we see more of each (= more species and more individuals) compared to anyone else. It is because we use sound, and it seems to us that young birds (hatched this year) are especially curious - we get many young birds on migration in the park. Though we continue to get some criticism for using sound, thankfully it is much less than when we started using it some 15 years ago. I think finally the word has spread that in no way, shape or form are we hurting/negatively affecting birds. Don't believe what I say, but do read the comments from fellow PhD experts we compiled in this Newsletter from 2021 - click here.
Deborah's List of Birds for Thursday, 10 August: CLICK HERE
Deborah's List of Birds for Friday, 11 August: CLICK HERE
Deborah's List of Birds for Saturday, 12 August: CLICK HERE
Deborah's List of Birds for Sunday, 13 August: CLICK HERE
Deborah's List of Birds for Monday, 14 August: CLICK HERE
Deborah's List of Birds for Thursday, 17 August: CLICK HERE
Deborah's List of Birds for Friday, 18 August: RAIN! No Bird Walk
Deborah's List of Birds for Saturday, 19 August: CLICK HERE
Deborah's List of Birds for Sunday, 20 August: CLICK HERE
Peruvian Booby Arica, Chile on 8 July 2023 Deborah Allen
(below) Westland Petrel Quintero, Chile on 29 July 2023 Deborah Allen
The Birds of Central Park  Frank Chapman In writing of the native birds which pass the nesting season in the Park, only those species will be included which have been observed there during the present summer. Others have been seen there in previous years, but my object is to give a sketch of the bird-life as it exists now. During the summer birds are not so plentiful in the Park as they are in the country. And yet as a rule birds readily adapt themselves to circumstances, and frequently increase where at first glance the natural surroundings are not favorable. Where they have an abundance of food and are not molested, they will thrive even when other conditions are seemingly against them. There is an instance of a robin building her nest on a railway trestle only a few inches below the level of the track, calmly sitting there while the trains passed directly above her. A phoebe placed its bracket-like nest of mud and moss on a Connecticut River ferry-boat and accompanied the boat on every trip, in no wise alarmed by the bustling crowd about her. A tree swallow accepted as a substitute for the customary hollow in a dead stump or tree a signal-box which hung on a railway semaphore, and each day was lowered and raised when the lamp was filled. Thus it will be seen that birds soon become accustomed to the near presence of man, and, once assured that no harm is intended, even the wildest species become almost as fearless as the sparrow in our streets. Nor is this confidence the result of association and instinct alone; reason and thought are shown. Shooting off the piers at Titusville, on the Indian River, and at Port Tampa, Florida, is prohibited, and as a result wild ducks are so tame and familiar at these places that they are fed with bread crumbs. Once beyond the protected limits, however, they are as wary as the wildest of their race.
The roar and bustle of city life, therefore, and the thousands of promenaders who each day throng the Park would not in themselves render it an undesirable home for birds which generally haunt more secluded places. It is not the shy birds which are wanting, but those which are immediately affected by their living foes -- cats, English sparrows, and small boys. For example, such common species as the oven-bird, Maryland yellow-throat, and the chewink [towhee] are rare or entirely absent. There is an abundance of ground exactly suited to their habits, and it is probable their absence is to be accounted for by the fact that they all nest on the ground, and for this reason their young are far more likely to fall victims to prowling cats than the young of those species which nest in trees. Again, bluebirds and house-wrens, which by preference nest near the habitation of man, are rare in the Park. In this instance the English sparrows are likely to be the evil agents, for they preempt all the boxes and snug nooks in which the wrens and bluebirds would place their nests. However, although the bird-life of the Park does not compare with that of the country, there are nevertheless, many interesting species at home there, and they will serve the bird-over as subjects of hours of quiet study. Next to the ever-present English sparrows, the robin is the most abundant bird in the Park. Young robins differ from their parents in having spotted breasts, thus showing their relationship to the thrushes; for our robin is not a robin at all, but a thrush. It bears, only the slightest superficial resemblance to the English robin, after which it was named by the early settlers, but our bluebird is more closely related to the English species. A few robins sometimes pass the winter in the Park, and by the 1st of March they are joined by bands of migrant brethren which have been wandering through the South. March is a month of chorus-singing, and the birds remain in flocks; but in April they pair, and by the last of that month are nesting. The young birds leave the nest about June 1, and the female generally proceeds to rear a second brood, while the male instructs the first-born in the art of worm-hunting over the lawns. The robin has never been accorded a high rank as a songster, but his song has a cheerful, home-like ring to it which endears him to every lover of nature's music. Frequently the birds may be heard singing in a far-off undertone; their bill is closed, and to the casual observer they are apparently interested listeners to some other bird's vocal efforts.
Inca Tern Valparaiso, Chile on 28 June 2023 Deborah Allen
The wood thrush is generally given second place on the list of American song-birds. His song does not compare with that of this more Northern cousin, the hermit thrush; indeed, nothing equals that. But it is, nevertheless, a thrilling performance. Always a tender, devout song, it arises from the surrounding roar of city life with a more than usual purity and calmness. The wood thrush reaches the Park from his winter home in Central America about May 5. There are a few now in the Ramble, but at the northern end of the Park they are fairly common, and in the early morning or late afternoon as many as three may be heard singing at one time. The song is rich and flute-like, and under favorable conditions may be heard nearly half a mile. The tawny thrush is apparently not nesting in the Park this year, and there should be no difficulty, therefore, in distinguishing the wood thrush, for it resembles no other Park bird. The back and tail and bright reddish brown, the breast white, heavily spotted with black. It is somewhat smaller than a robin. After hearing the whining, nasal note from which the catbird has received its name, one may well listen with surprise to its exquisitely finished song. To be sure it is a vain, conscious performance, and although one may not admire the manner of the songster, it must be admitted that there is foundation for his conceit. The catbird is the self-appointed guardian of whatever part of the woods of thickets he happens to have "taken up a claim" in. Seat yourself in the farthest corner of his domain, and he as at once on hand to inquire your business. He is always present, also, at the little misunderstandings which sometimes occur among his feathered neighbors. When, as too frequently happens in the Park, a cat on evil purpose bent comes prowling through the woods, the catbird's vigilance is certainly to be commended. His petulant voice gives warning, and a group of angry, scolding birds soon surround the intruder and berate her until she seems literally ashamed of herself and is glad to slink away. Catbirds winter in Florida, the West Indies, and Central America. They reach the Park about May 5, and are common summer residents wherever there is sufficient undergrowth. The catbird is about nine inches long, slate-colored, with a black cap, and as Coues expressively put it, a red patch in the seat of his trousers. When any one tells you that he has seen a "wild canary" in the Park, you may feel reasonably sure that the bird which has attracted attention is a summer yellow warbler. They are very common, and, through their habit of frequenting the shrubbery of our lawns, are more often brought to popular notice than any other species of the large genus of wood-warblers to which they belong. The birds of this genus are peculiarly North American, but the modest little summer yellow warbler with his near relatives has a more extended range. He has cousins in every island of the West Indies, and Mexico, in Central America, in the United Stated of Columbia, and even in the Galapagos Islands, distant 800 miles from the mainland of South America. Nor do his claims to distinction end here, for he has won for himself a deservedly high reputation as an architect, and as such is the only bird which outwits the sneaking cowbird. The cowbird, as is well known, is a very immoral character, and by placing her eggs in other birds' nests, deliberately shirks the labor of nest-building. She invariably, too chooses the nest of a bird smaller than herself, in order that her larger young may have the best of the "struggle for existence," and in spite of the fact that her ends are frequently thwarted, she seems to consider the downy home of the summer yellow warbler a fit asylum for her disinherited progeny. The warbler are not to be imposed upon; they realize the gravity of the situation and are equal to it. By adding another floor to their dwelling, they seal the unwelcome egg of the cowbird in the cellar, as it were, and begin house-keeping anew. If they are so unfortunate as to be victimized again, they do not despair or abandon their home, but place a third floor to the structure, which soon has three stories of eggs. By the time this third apartment has been completed, the laying season of the cowbird is about past and the devoted warblers are left to rear their own young in peace. The cheerful song of this bird is one of the characteristic bits of bird-music in the Park; it is a high, rapidly utter "chee-chee-chee-chee, cher weroo." The bird's resemblance to a canary consists only in its general yellow appearance, for on closer examination the back is seen to be greenish yellow, the breast streaked with brown, while the slender bill is obviously not adapted to the canary's fare of seeds.
Peruvian Diving Petrel Arica, Chile on 9 July 2023 Deborah Allen
In the woods at the north end of the Park there are a number of redstarts. The redstart is a warbler with the habits of a flycatcher added to a very reckless dashing manner of his own. With a yet-black back, orange-red and black patches at the sides of his white breast, and tail, his plumage is striking, and he displays it to the utmost by keeping consistently in motion, darting from limb to limb, spreading his tail, or failing through the air with as much skill as the gymnast who does the "dead-drop." In the plumage of the female, the black and orange-red of the male are replaced by brown and yellow. One of the most common and generally distributed birds in the Park is the red-eyed vireo. It asks only trees for a home, without much reference to what occurs below them. Given trees, he divides his time quite systematically between catching insects and singing, alternating music with cut-worms, or, as Mr. Beecher is said to have put it: "That little fellow has found a land of plenty up there, and he says grace like a little Christian at every mouthful." In calling his bird the "preacher" Wilson Flagg has caught the true character of its song. "Through constantly talking, he takes the part of a deliberative orator who explains his subject in a few words and then makes a pause for his hearers to reflect upon it . . "You see it--you know it--do you hear me?--do you believe it?" are the words with which he makes a verbal transcript of the vireo's song, and an excellent description it is. The red-eyed vireo is about six inches long, olive green above and white below, with a white streak reaching from the bill over the eye. Unlike the red-eyed vireo, the warbling vireo is rather particular in this choice of a home, and give preference to elm trees; the drives on either side of the Park and the Mall, where these trees are frequent, are therefore its favorite haunts. It is smaller than the red-eye, but very similar to it in coloration, and the best distinguishing character between these two species in the field is the marked difference in their song. The song of the warbling vireo is a rich, firm round warble with a singular alto undertone. Frank M. Chapman.
Northern Royal Albatross Quintero, Chile on 24 June 2023 Deborah Allen
After a May characterized by consistent sunny skies, June 2023 will likely be remembered for the one day, 7 June, when smoke from Canadian wildfires shrouded the New York City in an otherworldly orange haze. This overshadowed the fact that June was the driest since 1999 (with 1.62 inches of rain. It became the 19th driest June overall.) It was the coolest June since 2009 (two degrees below average). Besides 7 June there were other days that experienced low visibility because of the wildfires, including the last three days of the month. Other June highlights included:
The first two days of June were hot and sunny (with highs of 87F and 91F), but then the rest of the month was 2.6 degrees cooler than average with only five days having above average temperatures.
Less than 48 hours after a high of 91F on 2 June, the low on 4 June was 49F: the first reading in the 40s in June since 2000.
There were just nine days with highs of 80F or warmer, about half the average number of days (17). This was the fewest since 1985, which also had nine days with highs of 80F or warmer. (June 1958 had eight.)
June's first day with a low in the 70s was on 6/25 and came more than two months after the year's first such low on 14 April (the earliest date ever for a low this warm).
June and May were both cooler than average, the first time back to back months were below average since April and May 2020. This was also the second month in a row with less than two inches of rainfall (and it was the fourth year in a row in which June had less than three inches of rain). June 2023's rainfall was nearly three inches below average.
2023 became the 11th year in which three of the years' first six months had less than two inches of rain.
Snowy Crowned Tern Quintero, Chile on 28 July 2023 Deborah Allen
This post may be one of the few weather-related articles that doesn't hyperventilate about hot weather in the middle of summer. Despite New York's news media hyping the foreboding term "heat dome" any time the local forecast called for a high approaching 90F, just five days had highs in the 90s in July, and there were no heat waves. The hottest reading was just 93F. And while, globally, July was the hottest month on record, that wasn't the case in Central Park, as it was the 20th warmest July (average high/low was 86.4F/71.7F. This was 1.5 degrees F above average).
Every day but one had a high of 80F or warmer (the typical number is six days), comparable to last July which had no such days. As for low temperatures, both July 2023 and 2022 reported 24 days with lows in the 70s, tying three other Julys for third most (July 2020 had 26; July 2010 had 25). Although it had a below average number of days in the 90s (five versus seven), July had an above average concentration of highs that were 88F or 89F, with ten counted.
July was slightly wetter than average, with 5.34 inches of rain measured. This was almost double what fell in May and June combined (which had 1.29" and 1.62", respectively). More rain fell in the first four days of July (1.66") than what fell in all of June. This included 0.63" of rain that fell on 4 July, the most on Independence Day since 1981 (when 1.76" fell).
The month's greatest daily rainfall was 1.32" on 16 July (0.91" fell between 11 A.M. and 1 P.M.); this daily total was more than what fell in all of April. On that day (16 July), which had a low of 74F, the high reached just 78F, which is the coolest high temperature ever reported with a low this warm - just a difference of 4F degrees.
Only five days had below average temperatures, all of which occurred in the second half of the month. Meanwhile, seven days were five or more degrees above average.
July's temperature range was only 27 degrees, from 66F to 93F. This is compared to an average range for all Julys in NYC of 34 degrees (62F to 96F). Only one year has had a smaller range (July 2004's 24-degree range).
Although there were no heat waves there was a streak of eight days with highs of 85F or warmer (July 22-29). Finally, high dew points were a consistent feature of July as two-thirds of the days in July experienced dew points of 70F or warmer, giving the air an uncomfortable, tropical feel.
Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD
(above) Peruvian Pelican near Quintero, Chile on 29 July 2023 Deborah Allen
(below) Peruvian Booby Arica, Chile on 8 July 2023 Deborah Allen
(below) White-chinned Petrel Quintero, Chile on 29 July 2023 Deborah Allen
(below) Northern Royal Albatross Quintero, Chile on 24 June 2023 Deborah Allen