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Inner City Nature: NYC 07/2021

Updated: Jul 15, 2021

Female Red-winged Blackbird on 10 July 2021 at NYBG (the Bronx) by Deborah Allen

14 July 2021

Bird Notes: For July, there are only SUNDAY morning bird walks at 7:30am and again at 9:30am. Starting early to mid-August we will go "full-time," meaning bird walks on Fridays through Mondays as the fall (southbound) migration heats up - and yes there can be many migrants in NYC Parks starting in August! See the SCHEDULE page of this web site for the most up-to-date info for bird walks and meeting locations/times including if we have cancelled (or plan to cancel) because of inclement weather.

In the last two weeks of Sunday bird walks we have made discoveries no one else has in Central Park: new early arrival dates of Louisiana Waterthrush (11 July) and Swamp Sparrow (4 July) heading south. Yes fall migration has begun! Also, we found very early southbound Worm-eating Warblers (4 July) a species that is traditionally the first warbler species seen in July. If we get overnight winds from the northwest, we will soon have Yellow Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Canada Warbler, Northern Waterthrush and others.

In this week's Historical Notes, we send notes (a/b) on the weather in NYC for May (about average but with some cold spells) and June (the ninth hottest ever); in (c) we provide a June 1924 account of nesting Ruby-throated Hummingbird at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx; and in (d/e) we send field trip notes of plants seen at Van Cortlandt Park (Bronx) in June 1961; and in Canarsie (Brooklyn) in July 1961 - exactly sixty years ago.

The non-native orchid Helleborine (Epipactis helleborine) common in Central Park

July 2021 Deborah Allen

Garter Snake at Warbler Rock on the west side of the Ramble (Central Park) 11 July 2021 Deborah Allen

Bird Walks for mid-July 2021

All Walks @ $10/person

x. Saturday, 17 July. NO BIRD WALK!!!!

3. Sunday, 18 July 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.

x. Saturday, 24 July. NO BIRD WALK!!!!

4. Sunday, 25 July 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.

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). 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.

Red-eyed Vireos at NYBG (Bronx) on 10 July 2021 Deborah Allen

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

Sunday, 4 July (Boathouse Restaurant at 7:30am/9:30am): yes July...the summer doldrums of Cardinals, Grackles etc. BUT! Today we managed two extraordinary finds: a Swamp Sparrow at the "Oven" which is the earliest record of a southbound individual of this species ever seen in Central Park; and our first southbound warblers of the season: not one but two Worm-eating Warblers at the Tupelo Field, called in with the use of my tape. This species is a well-known early migrant in our area, traditionally the first southbound warbler seen by early July...although not a common one. Overnight winds from Saturday into Sunday had been from the northwest...and as predicted, we had migrants. Adding to these migrants were the ongoing White-throated Sparrows (3) on the west side of the Ramble.

Deborah's List of Birds for Sunday, 4 July 2021: Click Here


Sunday, 11 July (Boathouse Restaurant at 7:30am/9:30am): good things come in small packages and in small number. This morning on the first walk we found and photographed a Louisiana Waterthrush - the earliest one has ever been seen on fall (southbound) migration in Central Park. Add to this were the three White-throated Sparrows (west side of the Upper Lobe), and Barry Barred Owl in a couple places in the Ramble - several of us also saw her flying. However, where are the Baltimore Orioles (almost all gone south?); only one Warbling Vireo (this is worrisome)...and Grey Catbird numbers seem to be down as well.

Deborah's List of Birds for Sunday, 11 July 2021: Click Here

Robber Fly in the Bronx (our backyard) on 12 July 2021 Deborah Allen


May 2021 Weather in NYC

Rob Frydlewicz

Last May [2020], the month's weather highlight was an Arctic outbreak in the second week of the month that produced the coldest reading in May (34F) since 1891. May 2021, meanwhile, experienced one of the chilliest ends of any May, as May 28-31 tied May 1884 for the latest four-day streak with lows in the 40s. This chilly ending was responsible for the coolest three-day Memorial Day weekend on record.

Despite the month's chilly ending, an extended period of above-average temperatures from May 15-27, that was six degrees milder than average, kept the month close to average, temperature-wise. And a very wet May 28-30, in which 2.57" was measured, balanced what, up until then, had been a dry May (these three wet days had as much rain as the previous six weeks). So, when all was said and done, the month was very close to average on both the temperature and rainfall fronts (-0.3 degrees F, and +0.40").

Before May's chilly and rainy close, six days in the 10-day period between May 18-27 had highs in the 80s. This included highs of 89F and 88F during the weekend of 5/22 and 5/23; by contrast, the following weekend had highs of 51F on both days. This reading (which was eight degrees colder F than the average low for these two dates) tied a record for the coolest high on 5/29, and set a new record (by four degrees) on 5/30.

Besides the last four days of the month, which were 13 degrees cooler than average, there was an eight-day period from May 5-12 that was five degrees below average. (However, the chilliest reading of the month, 42F, was on 5/1.)

Finally, the last six days of the month all had measurable precipitation, the longest rainy streak since one of eight days in May 2019 (5/10-17). However, this year's streak had a touch more rainfall (2.68" vs. 2.56").


June 2021 Weather in NYC

Rob Frydlewicz

Two 4-Day Heat Waves Make June 2021 One of NYC's 10 Hottest

With a scorching high of 98F on the last day of the month (along with a heat index of 106F), June 2021 became New York's ninth hottest June. This was Central Park's hottest temperature since 2013, and the hottest reading in June since another 98F high in June 1994. June 30 was also the last day of the month's second four-day heat wave, which was just the second time there were two heat waves of this length (or longer) in June (the other was in June 1943, the hottest June on record).

The month's eight days with 90+F highs were the most in June since June 1991 (which had nine). Only four Junes have had more such hot days: 1943 (11), 1966 (10), 1925 (9) and 1991 (which was slightly cooler than June 2021, ranking as 14th warmest).

The month had nine days with lows in the 70s, tying it for ninth most in June. The month's five days with lows of 75F or warmer were the most since there were six in June 1943. (June 1909 had the same number as this June.) In the years since 1940, the low of 76F on 6 June was the fifth earliest date for a low this warm.

Ironically, despite the month's warmth, this June had the latest occurrence of a reading in the mid-50s since 1995, occurring on 6/23 (54F). This was the coolest reading of the month (twelve degrees F below average).

The month's two four-day heat waves were three weeks apart: June 6-9 and June 27-30. The first heat wave averaged a high/low of 91F/74F (13 degrees above average), the second was 94F/75F (nine above average). Both heat waves had a day with significant rainfall at night, 0.47" on 6/8, and 0.65" on 6/30. Without these heat waves, the other days of the month were one degree cooler than average.

Besides the high of 98F, the last day of June was also the rainiest day of the month (0.65"). If it hadn't been for this rainfall, this would have been the second June in a row with less than two inches of rain, something that hadn't happened since 1978 and 1979. These night time thundershowers cooled the temperature to 73F, erasing the day's morning low of 80°. (If that sultry low had remained the day's low, this would have been the seventh, rather than ninth, hottest June.)

With eight days of 90F+ readings by 30 June, the month of 2021 joined 20 other years (since 1869) to have that many by that date (1991 had the most: 15). The last time there had been this many by this date was in 1994. Prior to that, between 1923-1994, this many days in the 90s by the end of June occurred much more regularly, once every four years.

Finally, in an interesting contrast, while the last four days of June had highs in the 90s (eleven degrees above average), the last four days of May all had lows in the 40s (ten degrees below average).

American Oystercatchers at Nickerson Beach (Nassau Co., LI) on 5 July Deborah Allen


Bronx County - 1924

On May 30th [1924], a hummingbird's nest was observed in the Botanical Garden near the Boulder Bridge, built on the drooping branch of a red maple directly over the water of the Bronx River. It was in such a position that any one standing on the bridge could look down upon it and readily see one of the eggs in the bottom of the nest at a distance of not more than nine or ten feet away. When first found, although only one egg was seen, doubtless both eggs had been laid for several days, for on visiting the nest on the morning of June 11th, evidently the second of the two eggs had hatched out sometime during the night, the first young bird having come out probably two days earlier. At first the young grew rather slowly and seemed quite helpless for the first eight or nine days, with plenty of room in the nest. Not until about June 25th did the birds begin to crowd each other, one bird seeming quite a bit larger than the other, and always sitting well above its nest mate. June 28th the larger bird was seen almost constantly preening itself, vibrating its wings and at times almost rising out of the nest. The next day both birds were quite active, frequently shifting their positions, sometimes facing in the same direction, sometimes in opposite directions and both had grown so large that the nest seemed none too big for the one alone. June 30th, the birds were on the nest in the morning, but somewhere between two o'clock and five o'clock in the afternoon, the larger bird disappeared not to be seen again in the vicinity. The smaller bird, with the nest to itself and plenty of room and food, now seemed to grow more rapidly. It remained in the nest about two days after its sibling had gone. However, the old bird had been seen feeding it for the last time the evening of July 2nd. The next morning by seven o'clock both birds were gone and not observed again about the premises. From the above it seems the young are about three weeks old before attaining power of flight. No male bird was seen at any time during these observations. The nest itself, saddled over a branch about one half an inch in diameter, at a point where a much smaller branch grew out, was considerably shallower and greater in diameter when deserted than when containing eggs. This was owing to the stretching of the rim by the growing birds as well as to the old and young birds frequently perching on the rim and flattening the nest out to a noticeable degree. In its present condition the cavity of the nest measures one and one-eighth inches across and seven-sixteenths inches deep. When first noticed it seemed to have a depth nearly equal to its diameter at the rim. It is made of about the usual materials. A soft, velvety, vegetable fiber constitutes the bulk of the nest, the outside being covered with bits of lichen and bark bound together with spider's webs.

R. S. Williams

Great Egret Central Park (Turtle Pond) in May 2006

Great Egret in Infra-red Black-and-white digital

24 June 1961. Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx, N.Y. The trip was primarily for the study of insects under the leadership of Dr. John Pallister, Research Associate in Coleoptera, Department of Entomology, The American Museum of Natural History, but botany was also represented both in its relationship to insects and for its own interest. Some plant galls were cut open and the larvae within examined. The fly larvae were seen to be wrigglers, worm-like in appearance and movement, clinging by means of suckers at their hind ends; the lepidopterous larvae were shown to have thoracic legs and to move with an undulating motion. We observed the larvae of the irridescent-golden tortoise beetle on the field bindweed; they appeared to fan themselves with the remains of cast-off skins held on tail-like forks at the ends of their bodies. With each moult the forks of the last stage is telescoped out upon the new, and the number of cast skins can be counted. Mulford Martin of The New York Botanical Garden was on hand to identify the mosses. He delighted us with the gemmae cups of Tetraphis pellucida, tiny leafy rosettes nesting green minute lenticular bodies. There was some controversy regarding a cat-tail that had thick spikes and broad leaves as in Typha latifolia but the staminate and pistillate portions of the spike separated, not contiguous. The spatulate stigmas and the tetrad pollen (checked by J. Monachino at The New York Botanical Garden) proved it to be really T. latifolia, the so-called forma ambigua. The typical narrow-leaved cat-tail was also present in the Van Cortlandt swamp, and also a thick-spiked (2 cm. thick) broad-leaved (12mm. broad) kind without question of T. angustifolia affinity, perhaps the taxon named T. glauca. Attendance 12.

Leader, John Pallister. Reported by Eleanor Yarrow.

Locust Borer Beetle Central Park in August 2006 Deborah Allen

Locust Borer Beetle on Goldenrod

30 July 1961. Canarsie, Brooklyn, New York. The fact that our knowledge of the distribution of the local flora is still far from complete after more than 200 years of study is well-illustrated by the fact that the fifteen people who visited the Canarsie section of Brooklyn on 30 July 1961 observed 93 species of plants, 11 of which have not previously been reported from Kings County [Brooklyn]. The writer has yet to take a field trip in this area without being able to add at least one plant to the county list. And Kings County is by no means unique in this respect. Listed below are the 19 plants encountered on the July 30 field trip which have not been included in earlier reports. An asterisk [*] preceding the name indicates a new record for the county; the rest of the species listed are on the New York State Museum check list of Kings County flora.

Pteridium aquilinum latiusculum = Bracken (Eagle) Fern

*Humulus japonicus = Japanese Hops

Polygonum caespitosum longisetum = Oriental lady's thumb

*Gleditsia triacanthos = Honey-locust

*Acer negundo = Boxelder

*Phlox paniculata = Garden Phlox

*Verbena urticifolia = White Vervain

Mentha arvensis = Field (Wild) Mint

*Mentha spicata = Spearmint

Diodia teres = Walter poorjoe or Rough Buttonweed

*Sambucus canadensis = American Elderberry

*Erigeron annuus = Common (Annual) Fleabane

*Agrostis gigantea = Black Bent or Redtop Grass

Panicum clandestinum = Deer-Tongue Grass

Phleum pratense = Timothy Grass

Setaria viridis = Green Foxtail Grass

*Carex vulpinoidea = Fox Sedge

Rhynchospora glomerata = Clustered Beaksedge

*Scirpus cyperinus = Woolgrass Sedge

On practically every field trip in late summer the question as to whether a certain plant is a wild-lettuce or a sow-thistle usually arises, for both Lactuca and Sonchus are relatively common. Actually, in our area it is not difficult to separate the two genera when they are in flower. In the Northeast, at least, flowers of Sonchus are yellow; Lactuca flowers may be yellow, bluish, or white (cream). The yellow Lactuca, however, has a filiform beak separating the body of the achene from the pappus. Yellow-flowered plants with beaked achenes are therefore Lactuca; if no beak is present, the plant is Sonchus. The only fly in the ointment is a yellow-flowered form of L. biennis. The pappus of Sonchus is always very white; that of L. biennis, on the other hand, is sordid to olivaceous or tawny.

Leader, Karl L. Brooks.


Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD

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

Reservoir, Central Park looking southeast from the northwest corner

Reservoir, Central Park 6 June 2006

#WeatherNYC2021 #HummingbirdNYBG1924 #BirdWalksCentralPark

1 Comment

Unknown member
Jul 14, 2021

Birding bob is great, love to see him pissed off the birders on NY Times youtube channel. Thumbs up!

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