• Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD

Good Trouble: Bird Migrants in an Urban World (Central Park)

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (male) by Deborah Allen

New York Botanical Garden, the Bronx, 22 August 2006

23 September 2020

Bird Notes: We've added a Friday morning 8:30am walk meeting at the North End of Central Park (Conservatory Garden at 105th street and 5th Ave). Along with the Monday walks (8:30am/Strawberry Fields) and the Sat-Sunday walks, we are the only bird walks in Central Park open to anyone/everyone - no need to register in advance. All for $10/person.

Once again, our apologies for a tardy Newsletter: our days off lately have been filled with private bird walks, and when not out looking for birds, continued re-modeling (construction) of our house in the Bronx. In mid-October, we begin replacing 17 old windows with triple pane windows with fiberglass frames, including five bay windows and several tilt/turn ones (European style)...and a fiberglass front door as well.

In the last several days we were awarded the 2020 Trip Advisor Award for best activity in NYC - as we were in 2018 and 2019. Apparently we placed in the top 10% world-wide. This must be a mistake - you be the judge...We are confident we are in the top 1% of good trouble activities. I'll have to use my Photoshop editing skills to correct what the Trip Advisor folks sent:

In this week's Historical Notes we present information on migratory birds in September in the NYC area: (a; b; c) including (a) hunting migrant Passenger Pigeons on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (Grant's Tomb area) in the mid to late 19th century; while (b) details hunting English Snipe and other birds in the marshes of New Jersey (23 Sept 1889); and (c) is a note on Long-billed Dowitcher on Long Island as a late season migrant (26 Sept 1884). Article (d) is short note inquiring about a Black-billed Cuckoo shot in late August 1887 in Brooklyn; and finally (e) fish, crabs and turtles in season in early October 1875 at the Fulton Fish Market with the selling price for each.

Olive-eyed Leafhopper (above), Bronx (our yard) on 14 September 2020 by Deborah Allen.

American Redstart (adult male) in Central Park on 12 September 2020 by Deborah Allen


Bird Walks for Late September

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

Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here

1. Friday, 25 September at 8:30am - Conservatory Garden at 105th street and 5th Avenue. Walk down the front (main) steps and straight ahead by 150 feet to the area between the men's room (on the right/north) and ladies' room (left/south) $10

2. Saturday, 26 September at 7:30am and again at 9:30am - Boathouse Cafe; 74th street/ East Drive $10

3. Sunday, 27 September at 7:30am and again at 9:30am - Boathouse Cafe; 74th street/ East Drive $10

4. Monday, 28 September at 8:30am - Strawberry Fields (Imagine Mosaic) at 72nd St. and Central Park West $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. Monday walks at 8:30am begin on Labor Day, 7 September and will continue through the end of October. Friday morning walks start 25 September and through October at least. What are you waiting for?

Call (718-828-8262) or Email us with questions: rdcny@earthlink.net

Pine Warbler (hatch-year bird) in Central Park on 12 Sept. 2020 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). 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) near 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 in April 2021 according to the owners. 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 aim to please.

Common Yellowthroat (hatch-year male) in Central Park (Tupelo Field)

13 September 2020 by Deborah Allen

Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)

Sat-Sunday, 19-20 September 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. There was a noticeable uptick in the number (diversity) of species seen over the weekend, but overall numbers of individuals were on the low side. Why? We have been locked into a northeast flow (winds coming from the NE) that is driving large numbers of birds south into our area, but mostly pushing them inland to our west. On Saturday, 19 September, we had 17 warbler species with the highlight being two Bay-breasted Warblers feeding on the ground near the Delacorte Theater (under a Tamarack tree, a deciduous conifer). On 20 September (Sunday) we had 13 warbler species, but many more Red-breasted Nuthatches (15) than the previous day (9).

Deborah's List of Birds for Saturday, 19 September: https://tinyurl.com/yy42vund

Deborah's List of Birds for Sunday, 20 September: https://tinyurl.com/y5827576

Finally, Monday, 21 September was the best day of the three weekend days in terms of numbers of species and numbers of birds seen: we had 17 Warbler species; two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers; a Lincoln's Sparrow...and before the walk a Philadelphia Vireo at the Dock on Turtle Pond.

Deborah's List of Birds for Monday, 21 September: https://tinyurl.com/y4b7m8lv

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (hatch-year male) in Central Park on 12 Sept 2020; Deborah Allen



An Account of the Former Abundance of Some Species of Birds on New York Island at the Time of their Migration to the South [1889]


N.B.: The author is writing about the time frame of about 1860-1885. This article was written in 1889, hence the reference to the area near “Grant’s Tomb.”

About the first of September, when there was a strong northwest wind, Passenger Pigeons (Ectopistes migratorius) were sure to appear in great numbers, flying more abundantly in the morning, though there were occasional flocks all day. From our place north to Fort Washington Point, three miles distant, the view was unobstructed, and for the entire distance it was almost an unbroken forest. We could see the flocks make their appearance over the Point, consisting of from twenty-five to over a hundred Pigeons, and come sweeping down over the tree tops seemingly at a speed of about 75 miles an hour, and consequently they soon reached the position where we were awaiting them. The flocks followed each other in quick succession, and as they dashed by before a strong northwester—sometimes quite close to the ground--they did not offer an easy mark for even an expert gunner. I never succeeded in killing more than four with one shot, from a passing flock. On the south side of Manhattanville Valley the ground is elevated, much the same as it is on the north side. Here is one of the old country seats on the Hudson River, known as 'Claremont,' and this place was fixed upon as the most eligible sight for General Grant's Tomb. The original fine dwelling house is still in good condition. During one of these great flights of Pigeons, the house was occupied by some gentleman, whose name l cannot recall, but I remember that from the top of the house, in one morning, a hundred or more were shot by him. These flights continued as long as I lived at Manhattanville, and Pigeons were quite abundant, I was informed, for some years after, but at the present time a single one would be a rarity. Even into October there would be a flight when the wind was favorable, but in the earlier flights they were the most abundant.


NEW JERSEY. Perth Amboy, Sept. 23 [1889]. Shot an English snipe [Common Snipe], in excellent condition, on the Raritan marshes last Monday, and four yelpers [Yellowlegs] Thursday. Also saw several sprigtail ducks [Pintail Ducks?]. There was a great flight of bitterns and reed birds [Bobolinks] over this locality on Wednesday night, and on Friday morning thousands of flickers and red-headed woodpeckers passed to the southwest, flying against a brisk westerly wind. Many were killed hereabouts. Yesterday was moving day for several species of hawks, of which there was a steady migration from sunrise until late in the afternoon; wind northwest, brisk. J.L.K.

American Redstart (female) in Central Park on 12 September 2020 by Deborah Allen

Long-billed Dowitcher. Macrorhamphus scolopaceus. [1886] I think that on Long Island this wader may be called a regular, but not common late fall migrant. September 26, 1884. Mr. F. M. Chapman informed me that he procured three while at Shinnecock Bay. Capt. Lane, of the same place, wrote me that his sons shot three October 6, 1885, and on the next day two more. Mr. E. A. Jackson wrote me that he saw, at Atlanticville, a Dowitcher on the 5th of October, and another on the 9th. They were undoubtedly scolopaceus, as the common form is never found in this locality so late in the season. October 9, 1885, Mr. W. F. Hendrickson shot one at Long Island City. William Dutcher, M.D.


A BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO. Brooklyn, N.Y. 22 August [1887]. Kindly identify (if possible) the bird owning the enclosed head and wing. Would have been happy to have supplied its entire anatomy, but unfortunately a .45-cal. bit of lead prevented. For years I have desired to get a specimen, as there have been many friends disagreeing as to the identity of the bird, some insisting that it is the brown thrasher or thrush, while others hold that it is the rain crow, a species of the cuckoo. A long slim bird, a half larger than a robin, brown above, with dull white on throat and belly. Is often seen and heard on the outskirts of our city. Its notes are most peculiar, at first somewhat resembling the hammering of a large woodpecker on a hollow log, but much louder, and afterward approximating the cooing of a wood dove. A VETERAN READER.

[Your bird is not a brown thrasher, but is a black-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus erythrophthalmus). For an account of its habits see any work on North American ornithology. A short, pleasant account of this species is given in the July number [1887] of the Audubon Magazine. The bird is a common one, but keeps well out of sight.]

Spotted Cucumber Beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata howardi)

on 13 Sept. 2020 by Deborah Allen in our Yard in the Bronx

Fish in Season in October 1875 at the Fulton Fish Market, Manhattan. Fish in Market Fish are in fair supply, with an active demand for the choice kinds for family use. We quote: Striped bass from Rhode Island are worth 20 to 25 cents per pound; green smelts, from Maine, 25 cents; bluefish from Massachusetts and Long Island, 10 to 12 cents; frozen salmon, 50 cents; mackerel from 6 to 20 cents; weakfish, principally from Long Island, 12 cents; white perch, 12 cents; Spanish mackerel, frozen, 50 cents; green turtle, 20 cents; terrapin, $12 per dozen; halibut 18 cents per pound; haddock, 8 cents; kingfish, 25 cents; codfish, 8 cents; sea bass, 18 cents; eels, 18 cents; sturgeon, 10 cents; lobsters from Boston, 8 cents; sheepshead from the Chesapeake, 25 cents; scallops, $1.50 per gallon; salmon trout from the lakes, 20 cents; hard shell crabs, 40 cents per dozen; soft do. $1.50 per dozen; frog's legs, 50 cents per pound; pompano, $1 per pound. Bait. Shedder crabs, $1.50 per dozen; shrimp, $1 per quart; soft clams, 40 to 60 cents per 100.


Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD

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Whimbrel, 13 February 2017. If you look closely at the vegetation at the feet of this bird, you can easily guess that this photo was not taken in NYC...Indeed this is coastal Ecuador!

#AutumnMigrationNYC #BirdWalksCentralPark #BirdsofCentralPark #PassengerPigeon #Whimbrel