Updated: May 25
Bay-breasted Warbler Central Park 17 May Alexandra Wang
24 May 2023
Bird Notes: OK more good news on the weather: no rain for the next several days including Monday Memorial Day (free and easy parking on 5th Ave in the area of 78th street). Peruse our Schedule (click) on our web site for details about our walks, including directions to meeting locations. Finally, for all our walks, we ask you to pay us at the END of the walk or thereabouts as we leave the park (either at 5th Avenue or Central Park West), and not at the beginning. We strive to earn your trust and respect.
Bird Migration for spring 2023 is winding down, but in past years we've found this to be the best time for finding Red-headed Woodpeckers, Yellow-bellied Flycatchers and Mourning Warblers. In Honey-locust trees we also find Blackburnian Warblers feeding on the nectar of the flowers - and caterpillars along the leaves.
In this Newsletter we feature some of the many wonderful photos (videos) our colleagues have taken on our bird walks and elsewhere. You can click on on their name and see more of their work, or learn a bit about them. What we've learned through the years is that we could not do the bird walks without so many talented people pointing out birds to us...making us laugh...In other words giving meaning to our lives. Thank You!
In this week's HISTORICAL NOTES we send info on NYC Owls (1919), Wood Ducks (1900-2023) and local Fish sold in Market (1880). In Historical Note (A), Sam Yeaton describes the common nesting Eastern Screech-owl of Queens on Kissena Boulevard and Douglaston; in Historical Note (B) we provide a brief history of the Wood Duck in NYC - they've nested here since (at least) the 19th century but never in Manhattan. Finally, in Historical Note (C), we provide a price list of fish and others (turtles) for sale at the Fulton Fish Market in lower Manhattan in June 1874: Bluefish at 12.5 cents per pound; Lobster at 8 cents/pound; hard shell crabs $3 per 100; soft shell: 50c. to $1.25 per dozen..
Blackpoll Warbler (male) Central Park 19 May 2023 Edmund Berry PhD
Bird Walks for late MAY 2023
All Walks @ $10/person - all in Central Park
*****Please: Payment at the End of the Bird Walk*****
1. Thursday, 25 May: (8:30am) Dock on Turtle Pond (south end of the Great Lawn at approx 79th street...opposite Belvedere Castle...adjacent to Delacorte Theater) $10
2. Friday, 26 May: (8:30am). $10. Meet at the Conservatory Garden Conservatory Garden is located at 106th st. and Fifth Avenue. Led by Deborah Allen.
3. Saturday, 27 May 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, 28 May at 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, 29 May: (8:30am) Strawberry Fields (72nd st. and Central Park West) $10
6. Thursday, 1 June: (8:30am) - NO BIRD WALK!!!!
Call (718-828-8262) or Email us with questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
(below) male Red-bellied Woodpecker 18 May 2023 Central Park - Sandra Critelli
(below) Chestnut-sided Warbler (male) Central Park 23 May 2023 Caren Jahre MD
The fine print: No need to reserve or pay in advance. Just show up at the right time and place and away you go with us. We ask that you 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 7:10am at the Boathouse (but the Restaurant/Cafe is closed until mid-June 2023 at least).
Friday morning walks meet at Conservatory Garden (mostly closed for renovation in spring 2023): we meet at 106th street and 5th Avenue (north side of Conservatory Garden). 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 through (and including 25 May/Thursday), 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 (email@example.com). 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.
Green Heron Central Park (Turtle Pond) 23 May 2023 Caren Jahre MD
Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)
Thursday 18 May through Monday 22 May 2023: We found great birds and met at least one crazy (yet gloris) person in our meanderings in Central Park last week. As for highlights, my favorite was the Wood Thrush that came in to perch near us several times when we played its calls in the Ramble indicating this bird (a male likely; and half of a pair near the bird feeders) will try to nest soon. See Sandra Critelli's photo toward the end of this Newsletter. We seem to have peaked out in the number of warbler species at 19 on Thursday (18 May) down to 14 on Monday (22 May). But! We have been seeing some good ones on the walks including Bay-breasted and Blackburnians - there are still many 10+ warbler species days left. Other highlights included Scarlet Tanagers (males and females); an Orchard Oriole male (see Anindya Seng's photo below); lingering White-throated Sparrows; and nesting Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Northern Cardinals and Baltimore Orioles. And people...so many wonderful NYC people!
Deborah's List of Birds for Thursday, 18 May: CLICK HERE (scroll down a bit)
Deborah's List of Birds for Friday, 19 May 2023: CLICK HERE
Deborah's List of Birds for Saturday, 20 May: RAIN! No Bird Walk
Deborah's List of Birds for Sunday, 21 May: CLICK HERE
Deborah's List of Birds for Monday, 22 May: CLICK HERE
Orchard Oriole (male - first spring) in Central Park on 21 May 2023 Anindya Seng PhD
(below) Eastern Screech-owl in the Bronx 31 December 2020 Deborah Allen
The Screech Owls on the Streets: Queens 1919.
A common nester in our street trees and backyards was the Screech Owl. In 1919 people in Flushing were familiar with owls (Barn, Long-eared and Screech) and no one disturbed the little Screech Owls. For example, there was one in a hole in a maple about twelve feet above the ground on the corner of Sanford Avenue and Kissena Boulevard in front of St. Josephs Home, and a sign nailed to the tree called it to the attention of all passerbys and said, "Please do not disturb this owl." Squirrels on the other hand were rare. A friend of mine, seeing a squirrel in his neighborhood, made a house and nailed it to a tree in his backyard. Immediately he got a Screech Owl, which lived there for many years. A Robin lays four eggs in an open nest, visible to all predators and exposed to all weather conditions. It usually successfully raises only one chick to flight. It breeds twice a year so its annual progeny is two rather helpless birds, very subject to predation by cats, etc. Yet Robins are plentiful and nest in our street trees. A Screech Owl also lays four eggs in a well-protected hollow tree and usually fledges all four, much less subject to predation than baby Robins. Hence it is logical to conclude that Screech Owls would be more abundant than Robins. But in 1990 Robins were abundant and Screech Owls have apparently been extirpated in northeastern Queens. However in 1919, Screech Owls while perhaps not abundant, were actually plentiful. And this was for many years. I remember one Christmas Census after World War II when Frank and Norton Smithe counted 13 Screech Owls in Douglaston alone. There were more Red-phase than Gray-phase Screech Owls but both were present. I have a photo I took in 1924 of Harrison Skeuse holding a Gray-phase in each hand. These were taken out of two holes in two adjacent Apple trees at the south end of Oakland Lake gully.
Wood Duck in Central Park 17 March 2013 Deborah Allen
Wood Duck in Manhattan and Brooklyn 1900-2023
1923. Wood Duck. Central Park. Very rare visitant, formerly much more frequent. The recent records are 21 September 1904 (Bildersee); 18 September 1909 (Hix) to early October, 1909 (Anne A. Crolius); 6 May 1910 (Griscom); 29 September to 8 October 1917 (Hix). BRONX REGION. Still breeds regularly in the swamp at Van Cortlandt Park. Arrives as early as 27 March 1920 (E. G. Nichols). Migrants were unquestionably present 9 September 1916 (C. L. Lewis). The latest date is 11 November 1916 (Hix). As many as forty birds have been seen in a flock. The swamp at Van Cortlandt Park [the Bronx] is the best place near New York City to observe the Wood Duck.
1958. Wood Duck. Central Park. Uncommon transient. 25 March 1956 (Post) to 6 May 1910 (Griscom) and 12 June 1955 (Post); 10 July 1948 (Sutton); 13 August 1951 (Messing) to 21 December 1948 (Helmuth) and 12 January 1958 (Carleton). From 1959 to 1967 in Central Park: One was seen on 15 May 1962 (Guy Tudor).
1958. Wood Duck. Prospect Park. Uncommon transient. 8 March 1953 (Restivo, Smith) to 18 May 1957 (Carleton) and 6 June 1945 (Soll, Whelen); 20 July 1913 (Vietor); 9 August 1955 (Carleton) and 21 September 1955 (Carleton) to 14 November 1953 (Restivo, Smith, Usin); 21 December 1957 (Brooklyn Bird Club) and 1 January 1913 (Vietor). From 1959 to 1967: One was seen on 22 November 1961 (Raymond).
1974. Wood Duck. Central Park. Roger Pasquier does NOT mention the Wood Duck as a regularly seen winter bird for Central Park - or in spring/autumn. The status of the Wood Duck was the same for Knowler in 1982 - he regarded it as an uncommon duck in fall/winter. He made special efforts to go see a pair of young males at the Upper Lobe of the lake in October 1982. When he scared them up from the Upper Lobe, he re-located the two Wood Ducks in a dry spot along the Gill in the Ramble - and scared them away from that location as well. See his book, The Falconer of Central Park. Since about 2005, Wood Ducks in small number (up to five) are year-round residents in the park - but do not nest here. Manhattan is the only boro of NYC where Wood Ducks are not nesting as of spring 2023.
Wood Duck Summer Shooting Condemned . Wood Ducks bred here (Long Island, N.Y.) this season and all summer long I have seen scattered birds, and now small bunches are beginning to appear in the ponds close by. I saw one nice bunch of seven, a few mornings ago, in a pond right close to several houses.
JOHN H. HENDRICKSON, Jamaica, L. I.
WOOD DUCKS. Staten Island 20 May 2012
Sunday 20 May 2012
North Mt Loretto State Forest (Snag Swamp)
Of the several pairs of Wood Ducks nesting in this forest, One nest had fledged just this morning. I watched the ducklings jump from the cavity into the water. In this nest, there were a total of 15 chicks and they were very active. Since the birds and their parents were very wary, I was only able to get one decent picture of the mother leading all of the chicks. Including the chicks, there was a total of 25 Wood Ducks seen this morning in the complex. What a great number!!
Wood Duck at NYBG (the Bronx) 8 June 2011 Deborah Allen
Bluefish August 1990 Pelham Bay Park (the Bronx)
Fish in Fulton Market [Manhattan] - 1 June 1874
The market is abundantly supplied with fish, and prices are unusually low. We quote:
Striped bass, 15 cents to 20 cents per pound; bluefish [above] from Long Island, 12.5 cents per pound; Salmon, Kennebec, 60c, California, 30c. Mackerel, 12.5c.; shad, Connecticut River, 35c each; weakfish, 10c per pound; white perch, 15c.; Spanish mackerel, 5c.; green turtle, 18c; terrapin, $12 per dozen; halibut, 2c. per pound; haddock, 8c.; kingfish, 20c ; codfish, 8c.; blackfish, 10c; flounders, 8c; porgies, 10c; sea bass, 10c.; eels, 18c; lobsters, 8c.; sheepshead, 15c; scollops, $1 per gallon; soft clams, 40c to 60c per 100; brook trout, 50c. or Canada, and $1 per pound for Long Island; hard shell crabs, $3 per 100; soft shell., 50c. to $1.25 per dozen.
June is the Angler's month.
Some fine striped bass have been taken from the boat house floats on the Harlem River; also in the Little Gate, and off 120th street, North [Hudson] River. Bluefish have struck in the Long Island coast, and large numbers have been taken near Orient. The fishermen at Canarsie [Brooklyn] have also sent a number to market. Although the pound nets in the Great South Bay are taking large quantities of weakfish, the fish seem disinclined to take the hook, owing perhaps to the fact that the channels are full of schools of young bunker [mossbunker/menhaden], upon which they feed. A few weakfish have been taken in Prince's Bay. Sea bass and blackfish are biting freely in the South Bay off Babylon and Islip, and the squid will soon be in order in the inlet.
Fish at Fulton Market . The old Fulton Market in this city, which has been doomed to demolition by the Board of Health, has been twice partially destroyed by fire within a few months. This Fulton Market is the principal fish market in the United States. The New York Star has given the following interesting statistics: 95% of the fish disposed of in this city comes through this market, and is distributed thence East, South and West. Six million pounds of codfish and 1,000,000 pounds of bluefish passed through the market last year. Thirty-two vessels, bringing fish direct to the market, were engaged in cod-fishing, and thirteen smacks at the same time in blue-fishing. A large quantity of fish was in addition brought in boxes from the New Jersey and Long Island coasts and from Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The annual production of weakfish passing through the market is estimated at 335,000 pounds. There are in addition millions of pounds of other fish, eels, shad, mackerel, perch, etc.
During the year 1876, according to the report of the Royal Canadian Fish Commission, there was imported from Canada into this country over 1,500,000 pounds of salmon, the greater part of which passed through this market, and this is represented to be a fair sample of the business done. In the season codfish, sea-bass, lobsters, eels and blackfish are kept alive in crates. Mr. Eugene G. Blackford also keeps trout alive in tanks expressly built by him for the purpose. This market is a favorite resort for ichthyologists. Mr. Blackford states that the fish business done at Fulton Market is considerably in excess of $2,000,000 per annum.
Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD
(above) Wood Thrush 21 May 2023 Central Park - Sandra Critelli
(below) Wild Pink (Silene pensylvanica) May 2002 - Pelham Bay Park (Bronx)
(below) Asiatic Dayflower (Commelina communis) in Central Park - June 2006