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Late Autumn Bird Migration: Central Park 2023

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

White-eyed Vireo Central Park on 23 October 2023 Deborah Allen

1 November 2023

Bird Notes: Really important announcements! Starting Sunday, 5 November there will only be SUNDAY bird walks (at 9:30am only) until mid-March 2024. From 5 November through 3 December the walks will be led by Ms. Sandra Critelli. Deb and Bob head off to Tanzania on Sunday, 5 Nov. and return 9 December. Many of you know Sandra and how much fun her bird walks are, so we hope you join her while we are away. Speaking of which, it will be difficult for us to cancel any bird walk if it use common sense. Sandra's cell phone is: 1.917.495.2348. That being said/written - the Sunday 3 December Bird Walk is CANCELLED due to RAIN! All our walks with meeting locations and times are on our web site: Schedule Page (click). This Sunday 5 November is also the NYC give yourself a few extra minutes to get to the Boathouse, and remember there is a nearby tunnel that goes below the East Drive and pops up right at the Boathouse, if the roadway is crowded or fenced off.

Cape May Warbler (male) Central Park 22 October 2023 Edmund Berry PhD

Tempus fugit are the words of ancients. I've often wondered if I could stop time on a bird walk, where would we be? Watching an Eastern Screech-owl family fly in and watch us as we watched them? That would be Winter 1998 in Central Park as part of that reintroduction program. Or the time the bird calls brought in a flock of Pine Siskins to land on us in Conservatory Garden in November 2009? Or would it be better to stop time forever while we called in a singing Kentucky Warbler in the Ramble, early June 2016? If I could stop time on a bird walk maybe it would be with people whom we love and miss, and will see again someday - even if we were looking at Starlings for the rest of eternity. I think, for me, if time stopped on a bird walk, I'd want it to be when everyone was talking...excited...happy to have seen that great bird - whatever it was. Wow that was amazing - we are so lucky. If we all could feel that feeling forever the world would indeed be a different place. (On a more mundane note, don't forget to set your clocks back this coming Saturday into Sunday...yes it's that time again).

Deborah and I are leaving you all soon. While we are away we won't think about the birds we will miss (but do send photos to the Manhattan Bird Alert on Twitter). We will think about all the fun you folks are having while making the world a better place x 10. If Deb and I could somehow travel back to watch you all looking for each of you from behind the last of the golden leaves, we'd smile too. Tempus fugit - see you all soon enough

Eastern Meadowlark Central Park on 28 October 2023 Deborah Allen

[below] Winter Wren Central Park 23 October 2023 Alexandra Wang

In our HISTORICAL NOTES we send an excerpt from the 1984 book, the Falconer of Central Park by Donald Knowler, available on Amazon for $2, click: here. The author was a New Zealand journalist who spent 1982 covering the United Nations, and on his days-off, visiting Central Park. He did the first "big year" trying to find as many bird species as possible January through December 1982 - though no one had come up with the idea of a big year just yet. Historical Note (A) is his November 1982 summary of birds seen and important events in the park. In early November 1982 the annual arrival of so many Lesser Scaup (up to 400 by the end of the month), and some Greater Scaup was happening...ducks we very rarely see these days. On 28 November a Tufted Duck arrived - not seen in the park since the early 1990s. In 1982 there were 10 murders and 25 rapes in Central Park. The park was a different place at a different time: alone you did not comfortably go north of 96th street...and no birder would look for owls at night anywhere.

Historical Note (B) is a New York Times article about the Police trying to solve a November 1982 Central Park murder victim. He was 17-year-old Luis Andres Christian of 72 West 88th Street, who was dressed in a jogger suit. His body was found in the Ramble. But Mr. Christian was not an innocent victim: he was part of a gang of seven youths who had tried to rob two men that night in the Ramble. If you tease this NY Times article apart, there are two aspects of Central Park that have largely disappeared from the park: murder and men in the Ramble at night.

Historical Note (C) is a NY Times obituary for Lambert Pohner a true NYC character, who was a birder in the park from the late 1940s until his death in 1986 at age 59. He was also the first person to start tracking butterfly species and numbers in the park. In the article (as well as in Historical Note (D) we meet a few other people...such as Sarah Elliott (with her trademark orange cap, and when younger, reddish hair) who led bird walks in the park from the 1960s until about 2015. In these articles about Lambert Pohner we also meet budding birders such as Sara Rimer the writer for the NY Times, as well as Maggie Steber who is described as a photographer (she had just arrived from Texas to NYC, and was hired by the AP), and who would go on to make photos in 60+ countries and win many awards. It is amazing who is on bird walks....

Historical Notes (E/F) are two last notes about Lambert written in 2015 by Donald Knowler reflecting upon his time in Central Park and what the park (and Lambert) meant for his life.

Red-tailed Hawk (hatch-year) Central Park on 28 October 2023 Aniket

Bird Walks: 2 November to 18 December (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 as we exit the park, and not in the park as we begin*****

1. Thursday, 2 November (8:30am) $10. Meet at the the BOATHOUSE Restaurant/Cafe at approx. 74th st. and the East Drive. Directions to the Boathouse: CLICK HERE.

2. Friday, 3 November (8:30am). $10. Meet at the Conservatory Garden (CG) located at 105th st. and Fifth Avenue. Led by Deborah Allen. Directions to CG: CLICK HERE (and scroll down a bit)

3. Saturday, 4 November 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, 5 November at 9:30am [ONLY!]. Meet at the the BOATHOUSE Restaurant/Cafe at approx. 74th st. and the East Drive. $10. Directions to the Boathouse: CLICK HERE. This walk led by Ms. Sandra Critelli: 1.917.495.2348.

5. Monday, 6 November - NO BIRD WALK!



1. Sunday, 12 November at 9:30am [ONLY!]. Meet at the the BOATHOUSE Restaurant/Cafe at approx. 74th st. and the East Drive. $10. Directions to the Boathouse: CLICK HERE. This walk led by Ms. Sandra Critelli: 1.917.495.2348.


2. Sunday, 19 November at 9:30am [ONLY!]. Meet at the the BOATHOUSE Restaurant/Cafe at approx. 74th st. and the East Drive. $10. Directions to the Boathouse: CLICK HERE. This walk led by Ms. Sandra Critelli: 1.917.495.2348.


3. Sunday, 26 November at 9:30am [ONLY!]. Meet at the the BOATHOUSE Restaurant/Cafe at approx. 74th st. and the East Drive. $10. Directions to the Boathouse: CLICK HERE. This walk led by Ms. Sandra Critelli: 1.917.495.2348.


4. Sunday, 3 December at 9:30am [ONLY!]. Meet at the the BOATHOUSE Restaurant/Cafe at approx. 74th st. and the East Drive. $10. Directions to the Boathouse: CLICK HERE. This walk led by Ms. Sandra Critelli: 1.917.495.2348.


5. Sunday, 10 December at 9:30am [ONLY!]. Meet at the the BOATHOUSE Restaurant/Cafe at approx. 74th st. and the East Drive. $10. Directions to the Boathouse: CLICK HERE. This walk led by DEBORAH and BOB (just back from Tanzania)


6. Sunday, 17 December at 9:30am [ONLY!]. Meet at the the BOATHOUSE Restaurant/Cafe at approx. 74th st. and the East Drive. $10. Directions to the Boathouse: CLICK HERE. This walk led by DEBORAH and BOB


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

Deborah and Bob will be heading to Tanzania starting 6 November, so walks will only be on Sundays beginning 5 November. We get back on Saturday evening 9 December and will do our best to be at the Sunday 10 December walk despite being jet-lagged!

Any questions send them our way: or call: 718-828-8262 (home)

Green-winged Teal (male) Central Park 30 October 2023 Steve Hubbard PhD

(below) Golden-crowned Kinglet Central Park 18 October 2023 Brad Kane

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 outdoor restaurant opens by about 8:00am, 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, but is still edible.

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: 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 Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe).

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 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 at the Boathouse where we started.

Ovenbird Madison Square Park (23rd st/Manhattan) 28 October 2023 Dan Bright

Here is what we saw recently (brief highlights)

19 October (Thursday) through 30 October (Monday) 2023:

If you are counting, it has been 8 straight weekends when we have had one or more bird walks rained out, including 4 of the last 10 scheduled bird walks. On the other hand, while we have been able to look for birds, we've done pretty good: starting back on 19 October, highlights were two Yellow-breasted Chats, two Orange-crowned Warblers and a Black-billed Cuckoo. On 22-23 October, we found a White-eyed Vireo (thank you Marcy and Bob Katz of Hawaii/Oregon), as well as well as 13 warbler species between those two days. This is an example of how mild October has been...On 26 October Deborah found the first Hooded Mergansers of the season. And on 28 October, on an otherwise slow day, we were the ones to find both Purple Finches and an Eastern Meadowlark.

Deborah's List of Birds for Thursday, 19 October: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Friday, 20 October: RAIN! No Bird Walk

Deborah's List of Birds for Saturday, 21 October: RAIN! No Bird Walk

Deborah's List of Birds for Sunday, 22 October: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Monday, 23 October: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Thursday, 26 October: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Friday, 27 October: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Saturday, 28 October: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Sunday, 29 October: RAIN! No Bird Walk

Deborah's List of Birds for Monday, 30 October: RAIN! No Bird Walk

Hermit Thrush Central Park 28 October 2023 Aniket

(below) Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (male) Central Park 8 October 2023 Caren Jahre MD


FALCONER of CENTRAL PARK [November 1982].

by Donald Knowler

An unseasonable heat wave enveloped Central Park on November 1, and the body of a seventeen-year-old youth lay still and cold in the Ramble. The corpse had been found by a jogger in the early morning and as police recovered two knives and three spent .45-caliber shells near the scene of the crime temperatures rose to the upper seventies. It was like summer again-the last of the warblers, the yellow­-rumped, chased insects through the willows at the Upper Lobe, which was still in green leaf in contrast to the rest of the park.

The clues to the killing of the teenager were being pieced together the next day when a decision was made to assign two more detectives to the Central Park precinct, bringing its strength to six detectives and a sergeant. The ten killings of 1982 were more than double those in the previous year and five times those in the year before that.

The heatwave, fueled by southerly winds, persisted for the first week of November. Numbers of lesser scaups were still building up on the reservoir, reaching about one hundred and forty birds by week's end when temperatures would begin to drop again.

On November 4 detectives had charged three youths with the murder of the teenager. A routine check at hospitals had revealed the name of a sixteen-year-old boy who received treatment for a knife wound on the night the youth had been killed. The boy admitted being in the park that evening and, along with the two other accused youths, to having committed several robberies. But the three teen­agers said they knew nothing of a murder.

The willows at the Upper Lobe, which had been the first trees to sprout leaves in the spring, started to turn yellow on November 8, the last time I would see the yellow-rumped warblers. By this time police had identified the dead youth as Luis Christian [See Here more info] from a missing persons report; then a check of his friends led to a man being charged with manslaughter and to the charges against the other three youths being dropped. Christian and all the others had been part of the same gang, robbing in Central Park. On the night Christian died two intended victims had pulled guns and fired at the youths. In the melee, Christian was stabbed in the throat by his friend, staggered and collapsed dead.

Blue-headed Vireo Central Park on 21 October 2023 Sandra Critelli

The smell of rotting leaves-the leaves forming a carpet a foot deep in places-filled the woods; a heavy, gassy, unpleasant odor. Perhaps the pungent smell drove the hermit thrushes south because I was not to see another of the species before the second half of November.

All the summer migrants had gone now except the laughing gulls on the reservoir, and these would remain until the first week of December, meeting briefly with the incoming Iceland gulls from northern Canada.

The pattern was now set for the winter and the focus of the birders switched to the reservoir. The steady build-up of waterfowl brought its surprises. A female ring-necked duck arrived on November 7 and next day four shovelers, two of them fine males, were seen preening themselves amid the raft of lesser scaups, which spread along the entire length of the west side of the reservoir.

The ducks were oblivious to the human drama and agony that haunts that top end of the park, where lights do not work and police patrols are less frequent than in the busier southern areas. Early in November a woman jogger was attacked as she ran around the reservoir footpath. It was the latest of twenty-five rapes in the park during the year, and on November 13 flyers were handed out to thousands of women taking part in a four-mile race, advising the runners to take precautions.

The titmice and chickadees were also taking precautions when a red-tailed hawk flew in low circles across the Great Lawn and then took in the Ramble in a second sweep. The small birds headed for cover and remained hidden until the hawk passed. But there was another kind of danger which tens of thousands of years of evolution had not prepared the titmice for-a human trap. Bird feeders had appeared in a hawthorn bush in the Ramble, which had retained its leaf late into the fall, and then a birder had seen a man hiding in the bush. The man had a bird cage with him, full of confused titmice and chickadees, which were flying in panic against the bars. The bird feeder contained a sticky sub­ stance buried under the seed and this proved an effective method of catching the birds. The birders, however, ordered the man hiding in the bush to release the titmice and chickadees. Protesting in Spanish, the man finally opened the cage's door and the birds flew to freedom. But then he reached into a bag he had at his side, and the two birders thought he might have a gun. They scrambled to safety.

Tennessee Warbler Central Park 26 October 2023 Deborah Allen

Skandy, the polar bear with a record, was not alone in adversity. Soon a post-menopausal gorilla called Caroline and a mean-tempered and distrustful elephant named Tina would share something in common with him: they would all be without a home. Work had started in November on moving two hundred animals from the Central Park Zoo to other locations, in preparation for a renovation program. But homes had not been found for the trio of imprisoned souls, who had brought so much pleasure over the years to the people on the other side of the fence. Tina, who was twenty­ five, had been dominated for fourteen years by her late mate, and the death of a trainer she loved had added to her paranoia and anger. She was considered dangerous and zoos were reluctant to take her. With Skandy it was a simple case of reputation, his label as a man-killer; and the saddest case of all was that of Caroline-her only fault being her age, her inability to bear a recipient zoo valuable offspring.

Black-billed Cuckoo (hatch-year) Central Park on 18 October 2023 Caren Jahre MD

I had stepped up my visits to Billy [a feral cat] to every second day from the beginning of November because I knew there would be fewer birds to catch when winter arrived. His coat had been growing thick throughout November and the mini-heat wave in the first few days of November made him testy and irritable. At first he had wanted to play, to bite my hand and to be chased across the rocks, but he soon tired of this. He panted with his mouth wide open, dribbling at the tongue, and then looked at me aggressively if I tried to continue the game. Once he struck out with his front paws but stopped short of unsheathing his claws. When the temperature re­ turned to normal he looked happier and encouraged me to stroke his back by arching his spine and rubbing his body against my legs. But Billy never purred, he was not a purring cat.

The temperature touched freezing point on November 16 and Billy was nowhere to be seen. I walked around the outcrop which was his home, calling, but he did not arrive. The bed of grass and leaves in his lair was cold and damp; he had not slept there all night. Maybe he was still out hunting, but it was late morning.He should have been back. I strolled to the rear of the police station house, to the place where I had first seen Billy, the location of his first lair. He was not there, either, and I began to feel a sickness in my stomach, an ache which was rising to block my throat and impair my ability to talk or think of anything but Billy's immediate fate. I strolled around the reservoir and passed a policewoman, whose curly red hair was trying to fight its way out of her Hat-top cap. I wanted to ask her if she had seen a black and white cat, like the one in the Tom Cat advertisements of yesteryear, but I thought she might think me silly, or put me under surveillance as some kind of park maniac. The policewoman was on a newly instituted patrol of the reservoir footpath to deter rapists and muggers,and she walked with a confident stride that did not hide her femininity under the heavy police-issue coat. But her friendly, all's-well smile, was not enough to persuade me to ask her if she had seen Billy.

Every day I went looking for Billy. I left fish at his lair and it went uneaten,and the ache in my stomach intensified. By the fourth day I had difficulty concentrating on my job. On the sixth day of Billy's absence a male ring-necked duck was reported on the reservoir,and I thought the excitement of seeing this uncommon species in the park might take my mind off Billy. On my way to the reservoir I checked the two locations where I had been leaving scrod and was encouraged to find the fish missing from the Ramble lair. But I was guarded in my optimism. Rats could have finally found the fish, I reasoned, but I left a fresh supply at both locations, all the same.

The duck was magnificent, similar to a tufted duck, only with a ring of white behind his neck. But after watching him my thoughts wandered to Billy. I hurried back to the Ramble. From a hundred yards away, through branches now bare of leaves, I saw Billy on the top of the largest rock in the area. He was watching for me. The rock, a favorite sunbathing spot in summer for gays, is situated behind the Azalea Pond. Billy became excited as I approached. I scram­ bled up the schist, finding a foothold in grooves worn by glaciers forty thousand years ago, and when I reached the top Billy scaled down the far side of the rock. He was leading me back to his lair, jumping from rock to rock, looking back at me and opening his mouth in a silent mee-ow.

He had already found the fish above his lair and had eaten it. He demanded more. Luckily I had some left in my pack and he fed hurriedly, swallowing large chunks of fish at a time. I stroked his warm back, digging furrows in his fur with my fingers.

I had to do something about Billy, but I did not know what. From the time he first came to my hand I had thought about taking him to my apartment, and turning him into a fifth-floor cat, with a litter box in the bathroom and meals that came in sealed tinfoil packets, the cat equivalent of the television dinner. That scheme, I decided after much agonizing, would not work out. The land beyond the park, of declawed cats, debarked dogs and de-squeezed pet snakes was not for Billy. He would not fit in, and I knew he would make a run for it down the fire escape the moment I opened a window. There had to be another answer; for the time being I hoped he would dodge the cat-catchers and the cars on the circular drive, and if he ate any rat poison, I hoped he would die quickly and not bite at his stomach where the poison bit.

Central Park (corner 5th Ave and 59 street) looking West 1886

Greater scaups, with bottle-green rounded heads, could now be seen among their smaller cousins on the reservoir, and by Thanksgiving Day numbers of lesser scaups had increased to about three hundred. Ten canvasbacks were with them but the day belonged to a male buffehead with three females. The white sides of the drake's body stood out brilliantly in the sun and against the sparkling blue water, as though he were a painted, glazed piece of fragile porcelain and not a warm-blooded, feathered creature molded from nature. A cold front from the north had pushed the buffeheads into the park, and I saw the species for three days running, their arrival coinciding with a build-up of scaups to well over four hundred birds, and the sighting of a tufted duck drake on November 28.

The disused children's paddling pool had a coating of thick, crinkled ice and wrapped up warm to keep out the cold was the teenage girl I had seen so often in the park­ the beautiful, graceful girl with flaxen hair. She sat on a swing near the defunct pool and kicked backward to start the momentum of the swing. She pressed hard into the supporting chains and moved forward. When gravity pulled, she bent her legs under the seat to speed her motion. In three or four swinging motions she was rising almost as high as the bar holding the swing. The rushing wind pressed her fawn woolen trousers against her legs as if the material were wet and sticking to her skin. The wind tossed her pale gold hair and she puffed her cheeks in exhilaration. The girl caught sight of a young man running toward her. She stopped pushing into the chains so the swing would slow down, and she could drag her feet in the dirt to stop it.

In sign language the young man asked his girlfriend something like, "Are you having fun?"

With her hands, the deaf-mute girl said she was.

Cape May Warbler at Sapsucker Wells Central Park 19 October 2023 Deborah Allen

A red-headed woodpecker had set up base in the park during the fall but I had consistently missed the bird, as with so many species in the latter half of the year. The woodpecker was frequently seen gathering acorns for a winter store in an oak near the statue of a husky near East Sixty-sixth Street. The husky, named "Balto," had been the lead dog of a team that carried diphtheria serum to a stricken hamlet in Alaska in the 1920's, and he now looked in disdain at all the pooches wearing their woolen winter coats. A terrier chased a bird feeding on the ground and when the bird took wing I recorded my 131st species. It was the red-headed woodpecker, a juvenile that had not attained its red-head plum­ age. The barking dog was a minor worry because blue jays had discovered the woodpecker's winter stock of acorns and were trying to raid it. The woodpecker, only slightly smaller than the jays, succeeded in driving them off.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet Central Park 18 October 2023 Steve Hubbard PhD

I had known Lambert [Pohner - click here for more info] nearly eleven months but still did not know what he did for a living, and I would not find out. I did have one more piece to the jigsaw of his psyche. He was a bachelor. He did not tell me this, but I phoned his home one evening to inquire whether he had seen a tufted duck reported in the park and a woman answered the telephone. She said she was Lambert's mother.

Lambert's mother, I was told later, was in her eighties, born in Germany, and, like mothers everywhere, felt it her maternal duty to nag Lambert about such things as his style of dress and his smoking. Among the rules of her home was one that forbade smoking, so Lambert could be seen some evenings taking a puff on the doorstep of their apartment building.

I only spoke to Lambert's mother on the one occasion. When I asked if Lambert had seen the duck, she sounded puzzled. "I don't know. He doesn't tell me anything," she replied.

Vesper Sparrow Prospect Park [Brooklyn] 30 October 2023 Lotus Winnie Lee


14 November 1982 - New York Times

With the arrest last week of a 20-year-old man, the police believe they have solved the baffling slaying of a youth whose body was found 1 November 1982 in Central Park.

It was a case that involved many elements besides the search for the killer, including an unidentified victim who the police first thought had been killed during a robbery and who, it is now believed, was actually intending to commit a robbery.

''At one point, we had three perpetrators charged with murder,'' a detective said, ''and we still didn't know who the victim was.'' In addition, the police say, witnesses questioned by the police saw only a fragment of the incident and might not have been aware that anyone had been killed. Still others involved in the incident - among them, the intended robbery victims - have not been found.

The case began on the morning of November 1 [1982], when two passers-by spotted the body of a man dressed in a jogger's outfit in a section of Central Park known as the Ramble. The victim had a fatal puncture wound in his neck.

Some distance from the body, which was discovered about 700 feet west of the park's West Drive between 75th and 76th Streets, detectives found two knives and three spent .45-caliber shells.

There was no identification on the body, and for nearly a week the police had no idea who the victim was. As they sought to make an identification, they also tried to unravel the mystery of the slaying. An autopsy established that the murder had taken place the night before the body was found.

The police made a hospital check, and Lenox Hill Hospital gave detectives the name of a 16-year-old youth who had been treated for a knife wound, said Sgt. Richard Darling, commander of the Central Park Precinct detective squad. The youth was picked up for questioning.

The youth, according to police sources, admitted having been in the park that night, along with a number of other youths, and having committed several robberies. But he said he knew nothing about a murder or the victim.

On Nov. 4, the youth, his 15-year-old brother and a 15-year-old friend were arrested on charges of killing the still unidentified victim.

Apart from the question of who the victim was, the detectives were not convinced that they had the full story. The three suspects told the police that they had been joined on their robbery spree by several other unidentified youths, and detectives tried to find the others.

The next day, the police got a missing-person report that led to the identification of the victim as 17-year-old Luis Andres Christian of 72 West 88th Street. The identification, in turn, led detectives to one of the victim's friends, Miguel Perez, 20, of 483 Amsterdam Avenue, near 84th Street.

Last Wednesday, Mr. Perez was arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter in the fatal stabbing of Mr. Christian. The charges against the three initial suspects were dropped.

Detectives say they now believe that the three youths initially arrested, and four others they teamed up with - including the slain youth and Mr. Perez -had tried to rob two men in the park. However, their intended victims, whose identities are not known, had guns and resisted, the sergeant said.

There was a struggle and shots were fired. The assailants and their intended victims fled. In the melee, the police say, Mr. Christian had somehow been stabbed in the throat by Mr. Perez. He staggered and collapsed. Had Mr. Christian been an innocent victim of a crime, Sergeant Darling said, the charge against his accused killer would be murder, and the others in the robbery group would face similar charges. But because Mr. Christian is now regarded as a ''participant'' in a crime, the charge against Mr. Perez, under the law, is manslaughter.

Yellow-breasted Chat Central Park on 19 October 2023 Deborah Allen


SARA RIMER more info about Sara here and here

10 JULY 1986

Lambert Pohner, a naturalist who watched over the birds and butterflies of Central Park for more than 40 years, through every season, undaunted by snowstorms and heat waves, died Monday at Lenox Hill Hospital. He was 59 years old and lived in Manhattan.

It was a rare day when Mr. Pohner, who lived a convenient six-block walk from the park, could not be found somewhere between the Ramble and the Reservoir, wearing his trademark bush hat with the bird feathers in the brim, his binoculars around his neck. He was often accompanied by one of his closest friends, Edna Thompson, a retired nurse who shared his love for the park.

He greeted fellow bird watchers with exuberant accounts of what he had just sighted: ''I had the snipe at the lower lobe!'' ''I just saw a spring azure!''

Donald Knowler, a British journalist and naturalist, made Mr. Pohner the hero of his book, ''The Falconer of Central Park,'' published in 1984, a portrait of the park's wildlife and human characters. ''The sage of Central Park,'' Mr. Knowler referred to Mr. Pohner. ''May was his favorite month,'' said Mr. Pohner's friend and fellow birder, Sarah Elliott. In May were the days when Mr. Pohner could sight 30 species of warblers. Seasonal Walks

With Ms. Elliott, Mr. Pohner led seasonal bird and butterfly walks that introduced newcomers to the wildlife of Central Park. ''He made me stop and look at the birds and appreciate them,'' said Maggie Steber, a photographer who had gone on many such walks. ''He was so joyous about it, he made you feel like you had been missing something incredible.''

Mr. Pohner hated hot weather. But even in summer, when most of the other birders abandoned Central Park for Maine and Canada and other cool places where the birds go, Mr. Pohner remained true to his 800-acre urban territory.

He turned then to tracking butterflies, and though the park was hardly a butterfly paradise, by dint of his faithfulness he had sighted more than 27 species in the last seven years.

Two summers ago he created a stir among Central Park nature lovers when he kept sighting the snout, a small butterfly, rare in New York, that is named for what looks like a long, skinny nose protruding from its head.

Mr. Pohner's life was in Central Park, and he gave scant biographical details. On weekends, he worked in his family's soft drink concession on Staten Island. He is survived by his mother, Theresia Pohner of Manhattan, and a sister, Emma DeVito of Staten Island.

Ms. Elliott and a group of his other friends are planning a memorial service for Mr. Pohner on 2 October 1986, which would have been his 60th birthday. It will be held, fittingly, in Central Park.

Northern Pintail Central Park on 13 October 2023 David Barrett

Lambert Pohner of Central Park

SARA RIMER more info about Sara here and here

13 JULY 1986

It is people like Lambert Pohner who give quality to the life of New York, or any city. Mr. Pohner, who died last week at the age of 59, was simply ''Lambert'' to the flocks he often led through Central Park, introducing the birds and butterflies.

An elf of a man, with a white beard and bush hat, he never revealed his private life; he lived with his mother and sometimes worked at the family's soft-drink stand on Staten Island. But on most days, he patrolled the 800 acres of the park, binoculars in hand, scanning the treetops and underbrush for winged creatures.

He would share his passion on two distinct levels. Several times a year, he and a partner, Sarah Elliott, took groups of amateurs through the park to show off the rich variety of birds or butterflies. But he would show a special fervor when he was guiding serious birders, or recruiting a novice park ranger into the ranks of the initiated. Lambert Pohner conducted his enriching missions for 40 years. Like the objects of his fancy, he was one of New York's treasures.

Northern Parula Warbler Central Park 26 October 2023 Alexandra Wang

1 April 2018

I’m sitting on a park bench looking up at a mountain as far away from Central Park as it is possible to get. The mountain at the end of the earth is wreathed in a fine blue haze, the colour of the cerulean warbler, a haze formed of eucalypt oils which ooze from blue gums and stringy barks on hot days.

The gums and the mountain – its sharp outline standing as if cut from paper with sharp scissors – cement time and place in Tasmania, but I’m not thinking of this island state at the tip of Australia, next stop Antarctica, and the things you see from a park bench there; butterflies and birds with names like the mountain blue and the mountain parrot. I’m sitting on a park bench in Central Park, New York, in the spring of 1984 with an elf of a man, adorned with white beard and woollen hat. His name is Lambert Pohner.

Lambert is looking forward to the butterfly season when monarchs and swallowtails will flip and flutter through the magnolias and azaleas, and over the heads of roller-bladers, and joggers, and lovers, and muggers and all the other people who make up the population of Central Park. For now, though, he is contenting himself with birds which arrive before the butterflies, and is waiting on his favourite bench, near a place called the Azalea Pond, for his first sighting of ruby-throated hummingbirds for the year.

Like birds and butterflies arriving in spring, and leaving in the fall, Lambert often flits through my thoughts, usually when I sit on a park bench wherever I am at the time. Park benches always summon the spirit of Lambert, it’s as though he’s sitting there with me, talking birds or butterflies, or the people who watch them.

All those years ago, as a foreign correspondent posted to New York and cutting a lonely furrow on weekend visits to Central Park, I was lucky enough to find in Lambert someone to reignite my interest in birdwatching, and someone to open my eyes to the marvels Central Park held for the nature lover. And the natural world beyond. Lambert’s interest in butterflies, however, I found difficult to share. The migratory adventures of birds arriving in Central Park meant more to a young Englishman with a zest for foreign travel. I hunted the magnolia and Canada warblers, the bluebird and Baltimore oriole while Lambert enthused over the swallowtail, the mourning cloak and the snout.

One butterfly stood out, though, probably because I had learned of its remarkable migratory journey from its breeding grounds in Mexico. It was the monarch, or “da monaark” as Lambert would announce it when it fluttered by. The arrival of the migratory monarchs each spring filled him with as much excitement as the first glimpse of the hummingbirds hovering above the azalea blooms.

Carolina Wren Central Park 8 October 2023 Aniket

We cut curious figures, Lambert and I, when I joined him in his search for the monarchs and on his insistence on searching for the rarer snout; Lambert the urban naturalist, the sage of East 83rd Street, a bachelor who had devoted his life to birds and butterflies, and this young gung-ho correspondent, out of Africa, with girlfriends dotted up and down the East Village. I’d forgotten all this, at least the butterfly part of it, until I sorted through some yellowing newspaper cuttings from my days in New York, mainly reviews of The Falconer of Central Park, which I wrote when I lived there. Among them were not just reviews, and letters about the book, but a cutting from The New York Times which gave an account of Lambert’s butterfly passion, with the headline “A butterfly aficionado stalks the snout”.

“This is the summer of the snout”, Lambert had told the reporter, who observed in her story that the butterfly enthusiast, then 57, had seen more than 40 summers come and go in the park. And there was an observation by me, on Lambert’s obsession with butterflies and the snout, about Lambert boring me with butterfly stories, of phoning me to say: ‘‘We had the snout today!”

Along with the birds, the snout, the monarch and the butterfly announcing the arrival of summer that year, the mourning cloak (The Times reported Lambert spotted it at midday on April 3), were to enrich what had been a bereft, lost first few months in New York. It had been hard city to settle into without friends and the ones I found in bars were soon replaced by Lambert and his wonderful tribe of birders in Central Park.

The three years I spent in New York were to prove the most memorable and rewarding of my life but eventually the time came for me to return to my homeland of Britain. I had been away from Britain too long, 13 years or so traveling Africa and North America, and I felt I needed to return home to touch base. I didn’t lose Lambert, and his snout and monarch sightings and stories, however. He still kept in touch, sending me weekly letters with poems and drawings of what he had seen in the park.

His last communication told me of a roosting long-eared owl in an evergreen and, on a London subway train, an owl’s feather fluttered to the floor when I opened the letter. A few weeks later I received a telephone call from New York to say Lambert had died suddenly. I had no idea Lambert had been ill, his letters never revealed it, a lump in the neck had been checked out and had turned into something sinister. He died shortly after the diagnosis. If he had said, told me he was dying, I would have been on a plane immediately. I don’t think he wanted that though. The butterfly and bird wanderings would never have been the same with the “mourning cloak” now taking on a different meaning. And I never got to go to the funeral. I had severely injured my arm on another sortie to Africa and I was awaiting surgery to have the pins removed which had held the broken arm in place.

I was sent the obituary which appeared in The New York Times, of course, with a reference to Lambert being the “hero” of the book I had written about a year in the life of the park. And I sent a brief eulogy to be read at a memorial service the birders held for Lambert at the Azalea Pond in the park. But it wasn’t closure and most painfully I never did get to return to New York, to go birding again with Lambert, as I said I would. And I have never since returned, it would still be too painful. All those wonderful memories relived would come at too high a price. “One of these days,” I merely say to my family when they suggest we take an overseas holiday far from the Tasmanian city of Hobart which we now call home, to Central Park, so they can witness themselves the places I wrote about, and the landmarks they see so often on the television and movie screen.

I have my memories. That corner of the planet, just 843 acres of it, made such impression on me – when I was still at a relatively young, impressionable age – that I sometimes think a part of me resides there. I travel between two worlds in mind and spirit. That’s a thought so bizarre, irrational, that it makes me feel uncomfortable, and uncomfortable, uneasy I certainly felt one day towards the end of the southern hemisphere summer, in early 2015.

I was sitting on a bench and thinking of that parallel universe, Central Park. A beautiful, if robust butterfly the colour of chestnuts in the fall bounced by on jerky undulating flight, carried by a warm northerly breeze blowing in from the Australian outback. It looked incredibly like the monarch which had first been pointed out to me by Lambert in the summer of 1982, and when I trained my binoculars on it, its black, veined pattern on the upper wing told me it was. The spirit of Lambert was in flight, my old, long-dead friend fluttering right before my eyes, carried on an upward draft against a backdrop of the Tasmanian high country.

I was soon to discover the butterfly I had known during the years I lived in New York did indeed reach Tasmania on occasion. In Australia it is called the wanderer, instead of the monarch, and this was perhaps the reason I had overlooked it in the past, at least the knowledge of its existence in the far south. Migratory monarchs, wind-blown from their southern migration in the fall within the United States, had reached Pacific Islands, had established populations there and in turn had colonised Australia, although sightings of them on the island of Tasmania remained rare. Although all the evidence was there, I was not after a rational, scientific explanation for the monarch’s arrival on a sunny day in Tasmania. I wanted to believe my monarch had come all the way from the Azalea Pond in Central Park. It was Lambert come to look for me.

Donald Knowler, Hobart, Tasmania, June, 2015 -----

Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD

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

(above) Saddle Billed Stork (male) in Kruger National Park (South Africa) August 2022 Deborah Allen


(below) Remember! Deborah and Bob will be in Tanzania from 5 November until Saturday 9 December. We hope to lead the Sunday, 10 December Bird Walk at 9:30am. Below is our rental 4WD in Kruger National Park - June 2022

1 Comment

Nov 04, 2023

Outstanding images as always. Great work, Steve & Teresa U.K.

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