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Great Horned Owls in Gotham + A History of March Weather in NYC

American Turkey (female) 20 March 2021 in NYC by Deborah Allen

24 March 2021

Spring Bird Notes: TWO morning Bird Walks starting this weekend through mid-June on both Saturday and Sunday mornings (7:30am/9:30am)...though the forecast for this Sunday is rain - keep an eye on this web site for cancellations. OWL Walks (2)! this Saturday, 27 March (4pm), to a Great Horned Owl nest in the west Bronx; and another on Sunday afternoon (also 4pm meet time/28 March) to a nest in the East Bronx - details below and the SCHEDULE page of this web site.

In this week's Historical Notes, we present brief notes of late winter and spring in NYC: (a) nesting Great Horned Owls in the Bronx in March 2009 by William Heck; (b) an analysis of how the weather in March in the 19th century was much more severe (cold/snowy) than the average March in the last 20 years (since 2000); and finally (c) a re-cap of the weather in NYC in February 2021. The latter two "notes" are by Rob Frydlewicz and appear on his wonderful NYC Weather Blog.

Great Horned Owl on her nest in Pelham Bay Park on 17 March 2021 by Deborah Allen

Bird Walks for Late March 2021

All Walks @ $10/person

1. Saturday, 27 March at 7:30am and again at 9:30am. Bird Walk. Boathouse Cafe; 74th street/East Drive $10. If you do the 7:30am walk, you get the 9:30am walk for free.

2. Saturday, 27 March at 4pm. OWL WALK. $10 - Riverdale Park in the west Bronx - Meet at the FREE parking lot at the north end of Riverdale Park (intersection Palisade Avenue and Spaulding Lane - More DETAILS on the SCHEDULE page

Nesting Great Horned Owls (GHOs) of Riverdale Park in the west Bronx

Meeting Location (Free Parking) - Note RED marker: Parking Lot

Address for your GPS: Intersection of Spaulding Lane/Palisades Ave, Bronx, NY 10471

Use this Google Map for Directions from Your Home: (Click Here) If using Public Transportation (long trip but doable): (Click Here)

3. Sunday, 28 March at 7:30am and again at 9:30am. Bird Walk. Boathouse Cafe; 74th street/East Drive $10. If you do the 7:30am walk, you get the 9:30am walk for free.

4. Sunday, 28 March at 4pm. OWL WALK. $10 - Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx - Meet at the FREE parking lot of the Split Rock Golf Course - DETAILS on the SCHEDULE page

Nesting Great Horned Owls (GHOs) of Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx

Meeting Location (Free Parking): Split Rock Golf Course

Address for your GPS: 870 Shore Road, The Bronx, NY 10464

Use this Google Map for Directions from Your Home (Click Here)

Here's a Map (note red pin) of Parking Lot: (Click Here)

Here's a VIDEO of the GHO Nest we will visit: (Click Here)

If using Public Transportation (long trip but doable): (Click Here)


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


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! Fridays we meet at Conservatory Garden; Mondays at Strawberry Fields - check the "Meeting Points" page of this web site for exact meeting location.

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. 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.

Tundra Swan upstate New York at Point Peninsula on 25 February 2021 by Deborah Allen

Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights):

Sunday, 21 March (Boathouse Restaurant at 9:30am): Well it was not a windfall, but we noticed some changes: our first Golden-crowned Kinglet of the season (one had been reported about 10 days ago), as well as an Eastern Phoebe (others reported in the previous few days). The other highlights were a male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker; increased numbers of Song Sparrows, Common Grackles, American Goldfinches...again nothing amazing this week, but new birds are arriving daily.

Deborah's List of Birds for Sunday, 21 March:

Trumpeter Swan (immature) at Point Peninsula on 25 February 2021 by Deborah Allen


March 23, 2009

From: William Heck

To: Robert DeCandido PhD, Deborah Allen

Subject: NY Botanical Garden [Bronx] OWLS

Bob and Deborah: I got to the Botanical Garden around 4 PM on Saturday. I don't know what you saw in the morning, but I saw a second great horned owl sitting on the edge of a hole half-way up the dead tree at the same time the "male" was in the usual spot. I say second owl, because it was surprisingly small (and very dark), and I wondered if the two owls might have changed positions. As I was walking away, I met two ladies who asked if I had seen the great horned, and when I said I saw both, they didn't believe it as they said they had been looking for the female for 6 weeks. I showed them the 2 owls and they said the "female" was not the same as the female that had been there the last several years--based on size, the dark color and absence of orange on the breast. Anyway, I assume there was a successful fledge since the two owls were there.

William C. Heck

Kelley Drye & Warren LLP


Marches of 19th Century Were Far More Wintry Than They Are Today

Rob Frydlewicz in NYC Weather Blog

Of all the months of the year, March has warmed up the most since the 19th century (1869-1900). While the average annual temperature so far this century (thru 2020) has been 3.6F degrees warmer than the average annual temperature in the late 19th century, March is 6.3F degrees warmer (April is next, at +5.2F degrees). In the 19th century, March's average temperature was 36.5F, which would be considered quite cold for March of recent times (and more typical of what February's average is); the last time it was that cold in March was in 1984. (March 2018 was a cold one by today's standards, with an average temperature of 40.1F).

Eight of the coldest Marches on record are from the 19th century (and 18 of the 25 coldest). Additionally, 16 current record lows in March are from the 19th century as well as 15 record-low highs. (One outlier is March 5, 1880, which had a record high that is still in place.) Five of the six Marches with the most highs of 32F or colder fell between 1875-1896.

Eleven daily snowfall records established in that century still stand today. The first, third and tenth snowiest Marches occurred in 1896, 1888 and 1890. But of all of the snowstorms of one foot or more that the City has had, just one was from the 19th century - the Great Blizzard of 1888 that buried the City under 21 inches of snow. (And for nearly 60 years it was the biggest snowstorm of all time; it's now the City's fourth greatest snowfall).

Ten of the thirty-two Marches had at least one reading in the single digits (for a total of 16). Since then, just five other years have had it happen. The last time was in 1967. The frequency of such frigid March readings dropped from once every three years, to once every generation (24 years).

American Woodcocks in Central Park on 16 March 2017

February 2021 Recap: New York Trudges Through One of the Snowiest Februarys On Record

Rob Frydlewicz in NYC Weather Blog

February 2021 was 1.1F degrees colder than average, and the eighth snowiest February on record, with 26.0 inches measured. More than half of the snow fell on February 1, when 14.8 inches piled up (in total, the storm produced 17.4 inches). This was the largest accumulation ever reported on the first day of February. Another highlight of the month was the severe Arctic outbreak in the middle of the month that plunged Texas, the southern Plains, Midwest and Ohio Valley into the deep-freeze, but barely brushed New York. Although the month was colder than average, the coldest reading was just 17F (the month's only reading in the teens). The month's colder than average status was driven by the average high, which was 2.7 degrees colder than average; meanwhile, the average low was slightly above average (+0.5 degree F). Finally, with 5.13" of precipitation, the month was among the ten wettest Februarys since 1930 (and 21st wettest going back to 1869).

This was New York's coldest February since 2015 and the first colder-than-average month since May 2020. It was also the first year since 2015 in which neither January or February had any readings of 60F or milder. The 15-day period between Feb. 7th and 21st was five degrees colder than average (high/low of 35F/25F), with all but one of the days colder than average (10.2" of snow fell during this period). Temperatures rebounded during the last six days of the month, and were six degrees milder than average (high/low of 48F/38F); temperatures were above freezing for the entire period.

Lenten Rose in Shakespeare Garden, Central Park on 20 March 2021 by Deborah Allen

Like January, there was just a 37-degree range between February's coldest and mildest readings (17F and 54F in February, 14F and 51F in January). Since 1950, the typical range has been 49 degrees (11F and 60F); during these year just six other Februarys have had a smaller range, most recently in 2010 (29 degrees F). Meanwhile, the month's average diurnal variation (the difference between the high and low temperature) was just 9.5 degrees (February's average is 13.5 degrees F), making it just the fourth February with a diurnal variation less than 10 degrees. (The others were in 2010, 1969 and 1869.) This was only the second Jan./Feb. in which both months had diurnal variations less than ten degrees. (The other time it happened was in 1869.) Jan./Feb. 2021's diurnal variation of 9.7 degrees beat out 1869's by 0.1 degree for smallest variation.

This winter's December-February combo was the ninth snowiest on record. It joined four other pairs from this century (the other five happened before the winter of 1962).

February 2021 joined sixteen other Februarys that had 20 inches or more of snow. It was milder than all but two of them (February 1983 and 2006).

Looking at December thru March, February 2021 ranks as the fifteenth snowiest month, just 0.1" behind Feb. 2003, Jan. 1996 and Feb. 1894. This February's hefty snow accumulation was quite a contrast to last February, which saw just a trace.

Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD

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

Rough-legged Hawk (first winter) at Point Peninsula NY (near Watertown on Lake Ontario) on 24 Feb 2021 by Deborah Allen

1 Comment

Sandra Woosley
Sandra Woosley
Apr 04, 2021

The video of the Great Horned Owl on her nest just emphasizes how wonderfully so many of Mother Nature's creatures can blend into their surroundings, thus protecting them and providing security.

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