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Migrant Birds by Day and Night: Central Park/NYC

Updated: Sep 24, 2023

Black-throated Blue Warbler (female) Central Park on 16 Sept 2023 Deborah Allen

21 September to 4 October 2023

Bird Notes: Weather, weather, weather! That is the story for Saturday to Monday (23-25 September). Steady rain is forecast each of these days from the storm moving up the coast. By Monday afternoon it might start to clear...Keep an eye on our Schedule Page (click) for likely cancellations of the bird walks for the next three days - but if there is a break, we will try and sneak in a bird walk. Sunday and Monday mornings seem remotely possible for walks...

Sightings of bird migrants in Central Park have picked up significantly since Friday, 15 September when the first strong cold front of Aug-Sept pushed through our area. The associated northwest winds initiated the movement of everything from warblers to sparrows to raptors. At night one could finally hear "chips" of migrating birds. On the downside, on at least one morning in the last couple of weeks, many dead birds (about 300) were found at one location, the Freedom Tower area in lower Manhattan. By day, as you will see from the photos from the many fine photographers that come on our bird walks, with more birds around, there were many more photo ops possible.

Wilson's Warbler (male) Central Park 16 September 2023 Caren Jahre MD


Chestnut-sided Warbler Central Park 6 September 2023 Steve Hubbard PhD

New York City has a long history of scientists studying the night migration of birds. Early on (1880s) it was primarily to know if and which species migrated at night. Knowledge was anecdotal: Few people were studying birds (= not much was known), and who was out at night looking for birds? One way scientists from the American Museum studied migration was to look for large bird kills at places where these birds were not known to nest or occur by day in summer. The Keepers of Lighthouses (locally the Fire Island Lighthouse) up and down the east coast were favorite people to query - and obtain boxes of dead carcasses. In mid-May 1887 here in NYC, the Statue of Liberty opened to the public on Bedlow's Island. The Statue (specifically the base of Lady Liberty) featured the first large scale use of electricity in the area. A few birds collided that spring, but it was not until August that year that approximately 1,500 birds collided with the Statue, primarily the base. Scientists were fascinated with this...and over the course of the next decade many reports appear in scientific papers about collisions with electrified lines, signs and such. Combined with watching migrants pass across the face of the moon at night provided further insights about when and where birds migrated...and we are still learning today. For example, the research that Deborah and I (+ friends) did at the Empire State Building at night gave the first evidence that Ospreys and Great Egrets regularly migrate at night. Overall night migration in/over cities is a complex subject, with (today) many people working on what are the problems specific to urban areas? Is it certain wavelengths of light (perhaps using green or red light at night would be better), or certain types of light (tungsten vs florescent vs LED)? Are some cities worse than others for bird collisions: Chicago has many more bird deaths than NYC each year; and perhaps glass is a bigger problem for night migrating birds than the lights themselves? (EG., more migrant birds are injured/killed each year in NYC at or near ground level than high up while migrating.) There is no one easy answer, and what is true in one place may not hold in another...Deborah and I along with many many friends in our research added to this body of knowledge - and we took a different approach: we made studying night migration fun. Our project at the Empire State Building got people out at night seeing birds flying in the they migrate in flocks? Do they flap a lot or prefer to glide? What predators chase them at night? What weather factors produce big flight nights where most of the migration can be seen at 1,050 feet (the outdoor deck at the Empire State Building). Of all the research we've done in the world on migration in Thailand, Malaysia, Nepal, Turkey etc etc - we had the most fun with this project in Manhattan. We made discoveries new to science....On the other hand, what we did was of no interest to the local bird clubs. Indeed at one point in autumn 2005, the Board of the NYC Audubon Society instructed its executive director to call the management of the Empire State Building and have our research permit removed. Oh well...through the years it has been amazing how many individuals (and yes even organizations) have attempted to get you know who banned in one way or another - even from doing bird walks in Central Park. No matter: after the rains stop this weekend, hope to see everyone for a bird walk.

In our HISTORICAL NOTES we send several articles about night migration here in NYC. One day we should write a book to include all the historical accounts we've collected of birds migrating at night here in NYC - including owls flying into open windows on skyscrapers in Manhattan, small birds such as kinglets flying into illuminated newspaper rooms, and of course the nights when birds collided with buildings such as at Madison Square Park (23rd-25th streets) and a bit further uptown at the Empire State Building. In Historical Note (A) we send an 1889 New York Times article about a conference talk a migration scientist of AMNH gave about his initial findings from Bedlow's Island in 1887-1889.

Historical Note (B) is a 22 September 1953 article, again from the NY Times, about a large (ca. 300) kill of birds flying at night against the Empire State Building. It is interesting that since the 1990s there are no reports of large (> 100) bird kills at the ESB. Perhaps the building is better at hiding bird deaths...perhaps the switch to LED lighting beginning after 2012 has improved matters...During this same time period large bird kills have continued in lower Manhattan at the current Freedom Towers, and previously the World Trade Center - though some years there are hardly any bird kills.

Historical Note (C) is a mid-August 2004 account from the Observation Deck of the Empire State Building about birds circling the building (but no collisions occurring), and a Peregrine Falcon chasing the night migrants. When we did our research at the ESB we often watched both types of events - it was much fun. It was not uncommon to see a Peregrine launch off from atop the spire (approx 1,250 feet) and fly off a great distance to the west and out of sight of our binoculars...and return a minute or so later with a prey item - despite having migrants flying past much closer to the building.

Historical Note (D) is an early October 2004 account from the Empire State Building with a note that many birds flew past with none stopping to circle the Building (lights) because the winds were > 15mph. This was an important finding we "discovered" - that wind speed greatly affects how and if the migrants are affected by building light...One last note for now - though American Woodcocks are often reported as casualties of building (window) kills, as we watched many (> 100) flying at night, they zoomed past the building and never circled or collided.

American Redstart Central Park on 9 September 2023 Aniket

Bird Walks: 21 September to 2 October (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, 21 Sept. (8:30am) $10. Dock on Turtle Pond (mid-park at about 79th st.)

2. Friday, 22 September (8:30am). $10. Meet at the Conservatory Garden Conservatory Garden is located at 105th st. and Fifth Avenue. Led by Deborah Allen.

3. Saturday, 23 September 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, 24 September 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, 25 Sept: (8:30am) Strawberry Fields (72nd st. and Central Park West) $10



1. Thursday, 28 Sept. (8:30am) $10. Dock on Turtle Pond (mid-park at about 79th st.)

2. Friday, 29 September (8:30am). $10. Meet at the Conservatory Garden Conservatory Garden is located at 105th st. and Fifth Avenue. Led by Deborah Allen.

3. Saturday, 30 September 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, 1 October 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, 2 October: (8:30am) Strawberry Fields (72nd st. and Central Park West) $10


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 12 November (until 10 December when we return).

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

Hooded Warbler (male) Greenwood Cemetery (Brooklyn) 4 September 2023 Elizabeth Paredes

(below) Tennessee Warbler Central Park on 10 September 2023 David Barrett

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 outdooor 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.

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 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 ( 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.

Prairie Warbler Central Park on 16 September 2023 Aniket

Here is what we saw recently (brief highlights)

7 September (Thursday) through 18 September (Monday) 2023:

My goodness bird walks are so much fun again! There are many migrant birds in the park, and who knows what is around the next corner? We've gone from the death marches in the hot humid of August to wow, what next? In the last several days we have found many great birds (Philadelphia Vireo; Tennessee Warbler; Yellow-billed Cuckoo - see Deborah's daily lists below for full accounts). And we are seeing something again this year that we first discovered last year: when we play the call of Swainson's Thrush, starting about 10 September, many (many) came in. We are conservatively estimating that we get 30-50 each walk. If you look at bird lists on eBird for Central Park, people are reporting one or two per walk. It amazes and perplexes us, why do Swainson's Thrushes come in during fall migration, to another singing (from my speaker) Swainson's Thrush? Add to these one or two Wood Thrush and Veery, and a bunch of American Robins...more riddles to solve. We've started doing this with Brown Thrasher calls (we brought in seven at one time on 17 September at mid-day), and even Rose-breasted Grosbeaks...we had one adult male Grosbeak dive bomb us on 21 September.

We are really very lucky to have the talented bunch of people accompanying us on our bird walks. Their photos make up the bulk and quality part of this Newsletter. If you are a registered user of Twitter (free), these three videos by Edmund Berry (his PhD in Physics is from Princeton) show fine birds in Central Park:

Tennessee Warbler on 13 September near West 81st street.

Black-and-White Warbler on our bird walk on 10 September near East 75th street.

Black-throated Green Warbler in Central Park on 15 September 2023

Deborah's List of Birds for Thursday, 7 September: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Friday, 8 September: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Saturday, 9 September: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Sunday, 10 September: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Monday, 11 September: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Thursday, 14 September: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Friday, 15 September: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Saturday, 16 September: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Sunday, 17 September: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Monday, 18 September: RAIN! No Bird Walk

Magnolia Warbler Central Park on 20 September 2023 Sandra Critelli

(below) Birders in the UK looking for a North American Magnolia Warbler at St Govan's Head in Pembrokeshire, Wales (Map) on 21 September 2023 Paul Baker. Wales is well south of London and east of Ireland. For whatever reason(s) September 2023 has been a mega year for North American migrants in the UK. See: this Tweet


Feathered Travelers Killed by Striking the Statue of Liberty

Birds and their Habits Discussed by the Ornithologist Union.

14 November 1889

The congress of the American Ornithologists' Union resumed its session in the rooms of the American Museum of Natural History yesterday forenoon. The attendance was larger than the previous day and included several ladies.

Jonathan Dwight, Jr., read an interesting paper on "Birds that have Struck the Statue of Liberty, Bedlow's Island, New York Harbor." He said that on account of its lighter color more birds strike the pedestal to the statue than the statue itself. The Statue was erected too late in 1886 for the migratory birds, and none struck it that year. The first to strike it was May 19, 1887, and the next late in August, when the lights were said to be put out by birds. Mr. Dwight read a highly-colored newspaper account [see photo below] of the killing of nearly 1,500 birds on the night of August 22-23 [1887]. Its statements excited much merriment. It was utterly untrue that birds were burned or roasted, except in the case of one or two birds which had fallen near the heat. The slaughter of the birds on this occasion was due to the first cold wave of the year, which started the migration. Mr. Dwight also read newspaper accounts of the slaughter of 1888, one account stating that in a single night, 500 birds were killed.

The first date which birds struck the Statue in 1889 was Aug. 5. when 14 were killed. A few others were killed during the month, and a considerable number in September and October. Oct. 24. was the last date at which birds were killed. The whole number killed this year was 690, which was considerably less than in 1888 or 1887. Mr. Dwight began visiting Bedlow's Island Sept. 19 this year and had studied the birds and recorded the species. He found that every cold wave in early fall was followed by migratory birds flying against the Statue. Of the dead birds picked up this year, 60% belonged to one species, the Maryland [Common] yellow throats. The remaining 40% included a great variety.

Discussion followed as to the effect of darkness in causing the destruction of birds and as to whether sparrows and hummingbirds were ever among the migrants killed.

The scientist that is quoted in this New York Times article, Jonathan Dwight, Jr. grew up on 34th street in Manhattan - in the area where the Empire State Building is today. He trained to be a medical doctor, but when ornithology became a real profession at the American Museum, he was hired at about the same time as Frank Chapman (probably by JA Allen, chairman of the vertebrate department at the time - he interested in birds colliding with lighthouses in North America). Dwight did much work on systematics of birds: he is famous for a treatise on gull plumage among other things, and became interested in the Bedlow Island area (now known as Liberty Island) when the keeper of the island began sending boxes of dead birds to the newly formed museum for their collection. Wondering why so many dead birds were coming from the island, a scientist was sent over to have a look. (Remember at this time, many were struggling with the idea of migration - how many birds migrated? when - day or night - did most migrate? when - time of year - did they migrate? how high did they migrate?). So migration was a buzzword, particularly night migration...and when the scientists looked at the map and found Bedlow's Island - they knew it was important because there was no habitat out there to support so many different types of birds - hence they must be migrating (and migrating at night) - and landing on the island.

In the article above: (a) the number of birds killed at a time when lots and lots more birds roamed the earth than now [= not a lot deaths compared to some cities such as Toronto today/2023 - which in some years see many more bird deaths]; (b) the association of bird deaths with weather patterns (cold front/wave); (c) many more birds killed in autumn than spring; (d) the variation in number killed one year vs. the next - exactly what they find today in lower Manhattan in the area of the Freedom Tower. In some years hardly any are killed, and in other years there might be a night or two such as this year, when 300 or so are killed. Finally, the article mentions that the birds struck the Pedestal of the Statue: my guess is that there were upward pointed spotlights to illuminate the statue on the pedestal, as well as lights in the torch. Some groups of birds, particularly warblers and vireos have always made up most of the bird kills, while others such as gulls, herons, owls, and to some extent sparrows are not common victims if at all.

Leslies Illustrated Newspaper (cover illustration) 15 October 1887

Birds Wing to Death Against Empire State

Ira Henry Freeman in the New York Times on 22 September 1953

Large flocks of migratory birds blundered into the Empire State Building on their way south during the dark hours yesterday morning [22 September 1953], and several hundred dashed themselves to death.

Agents of the National Audubon Society identified nineteen varieties among 277 dead birds. They were mostly different kinds of warblers. Six birds were captured alive. They were banded and released by the society last night.

The cause of the mass death remained obscure. The last time a similar thing happened was on the night of Sept. 11, 1948, when more than 300 migratory birds were killed by flying into the Empire State Building, and hundreds more broke their necks against the City Hall tower in Philadelphia.

"We know there was a big flight southward last night," said Kenneth Morrison, public information director of the Audubon Society. "Yesterday, the woods in Westchester, New Jersey and Long Island were almost deserted by birds, but this morning the brush was full of them.”

At intervals in the last few weeks, migratory birds have been flocking down the Atlantic Flyway, from Canada and New England toward the southern states, and some have gone across the Gulf of Mexico to Central and South America, Mr. Morrison explained.

Cold Air Mass a Factor

''A cold air mass moved down upon us from the northwest last evening, he explained, "and the birds must have taken off in large numbers at sundown. Probably they were moved by the colder temperature and by the favorable, southbound wind."

Exactly why some birds were flying so low as to strike the Empire State Building, which reaches 1,250 feet into the air, ornithologists could not deduce. Warblers and kindred species would normally fly nearly 2,000 feet above the earth.

The Empire State Building went dark at midnight, when the charwomen [cleaning ladies] went home. No employees heard or saw birds striking the windows up to then. But about 7 A.M., when porters arrived to begin their day's work, they found scores of small dead birds on the main observation platform at the eighty-sixth floor, a terrace on the eighty-seventh floor and on roof setbacks at the thirtieth and twenty-first floors. Many others were found alongside the building on Thirty-third Street.

The dead birds were piled into two cartons and given to Andrew Bihun Jr. and Miss Rea King, employees of the Audubon Society.

Bay-breasted warblers were the chief victims, with 104 found dead. The birds caught alive were found stunned but unhurt on the setbacks and were taken in cardboard boxes to the Audubon Society headquarters at 1130 Fifth Avenue where Mr. Bihun banded them for identification by students of bird migration. Last evening he released them from his home in Garfield, N.J. The group comprised four yellowthroat and one bay-breasted warbler and one rose-breasted grosbeak.

A warbler is a common bird, smaller than a sparrow, usually with a brown or slate-colored back and a light breast, the varieties having distinguishing marks and colors on the tail, breast, throat and cheeks.

In the 1948 death-flight the birds also were riding a tailwind created by a cold front moving down over New York from the north, Mr. Morrison said. But that air mass was "shallow" and forced the birds to fly low, he explained, whereas the cold front Monday night extended 8,000 feet above the earth.

DEATH ON THE WING: Harry A. Ebert, acting manager of the Empire State Building observation tower inspects some of the 277 migratory birds that were dashed to death yesterday,

22 September 1953. Photo from the NY Times

Date: Tuesday, 17 August 2004

From:"Robert DeCandido, PhD"

Subject: Night Migration/NYC [NYSBIRDS-L: 12899]


Last night [16 August 2004] at the Empire State Building (ESB) here in midtown Manhattan, there was an extraordinary experience/abundance of birds. At times, I had difficulty hearing someone speak to me since so many birds were making flight calls. I really need a session with Bill Evans in order to distinguish one species from another at night. But if anyone did want to study night flight calls, this would be the place....Anyway, between 10:30pm and 11:45pm, I estimate that there were at least 400 birds circling the tower of the ESB. Most seemed to be warblers (at the ESB, birds at night are difficult to identify to species since the building lights wash out the colors; a few others such as Orioles/Tanagers can be identified). None of the birds collided with the building, and no birds ever came within 15 feet (@5 meters) of the ESB. Also, an adult male Peregrine Falcon flew in at about 11:40pm and made a couple of unsuccessful hunting attempts at individuals in the whirling vortex of birds above my head. This past Saturday evening, a male Peregrine easily caught two birds (one an oriole; the other a warbler-sized bird) in his 8-10 hunting attempts. Peregrine Falcons also were observed making hunting attempts in the spring of 2002 and this past spring (2004) as well. These observations of Peregrines regularly hunting at night are the first such observations for this species. (Other falcons such as the Lesser Kestrel have been observed hunting at night in Spain; Bat Falcons in Asia regularly hunt at dusk/dark; and raptors species such as Marsh Hawks, Peregrines and Levant Sparrowhawks have been observed/tracked migrating at night).

One Nighthawk was chasing and catching moths made easy to see via the lights of the building.

I went up to the ESB Observation Deck last night since the weather forecast was for fog, and I wanted to see its effects upon migrating birds. The good news is that even for the brief stretches when fog partially obscured the tower of the ESB, no collisions occurred, etc. (Late Saturday night it was reported to me that approx. 500 birds landed on the railing, deck and other perching spots when it began to rain heavily.) Better news is that the ESB security guards and on-site personnel (Engineer in charge of lighting) are aware of the migrants. Building Lights were turned off at 12 midnight.

Deborah Allen and myself with the help of many volunteers (Scott Wiley, Rikuro Okamoto, Sandra Critelli, Patricia Essler, Audry Weintraub, Carl Howard, Alice Barner, Mark Kolakowski and others) have been working with ESB Security Personnel to show them the migrants this past spring (2004) and now this autumn. We believe that watching the migrant birds, moths, bats etc. improves their work experience, and gives them something to enjoy. They really like the birds, and watching them flying in the dark is a wonderful, fun experience....Building Management has been incredibly responsive, nice, and receptive to our research efforts. They have been a model for how scientists and the private sector can work together to achieve shared goals. We have the highest praise and respect for ESB personnel and their efforts on behalf of doing what they can to insure a safe flight.

Deborah and I will have more to say about night migration from the ESB in the coming weeks. In NYC, the study of night migration has a long history (to at least 1887), and we want to bring that to light.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Central Park 19 Sept. 2023 Caren Jahre MD

10 October 2004: Night Migration at the Empire State Building

Despite the blustery conditions, there were some exciting moments for the remainder of the night on Sunday night. The skies became mostly clear after 9pm, and this facilitated picking up the migrants against a black background. Similarly, people on the deck watched as a Peregrine, soaring about 75 feet above, made repeated stoops at the migrants from about 9:15pm onwards. About 40 people from several countries (and Adam from Rochester who photographed the soaring Peregrine with his Canon Digital camera) watched the Peregrine make 29 dives and catch 7 birds in the span of about 25 minutes. The falcon would catch a bird, drop it off, zoom out from the building and then "wait on," hanging in mid-air above the Observation Deck for the next group of migrants (or an individual) to appear. There were many misses too, but it seemed like the falcon was sometimes not fully engaged in those attacks. After 10:30pm, two falcons were flying about the Tower, mostly out of my sight on the south side of the building. I had to leave at 10:55pm. There were about 415 migrants between 10-11pm, and approx. 700 for the night (7-11pm). No birds collided with the building, and the flight pattern of the migrants was similar to past nights when winds were strong (> 15mph): birds primarily came around the west side of the building, facing into the wind (so they looked sideways when they were above us) and flapping madly. I believe they do this so that they have more control in the way they pass a structure that they perceive could be a hazard if not negotiated properly. By facing into the wind, the migrants can exercise finer maneuvers than if they just let the wind carry them (ie., a tail wind). Once they make the right turn and are mid-way past the building (and were then above us), they then turn south and let the wind carry them at more or less full speed, and we watched them zoom away.

American Kestrel West 25th st. and Broadway (Manhattan) Sept. 2023 Dan Bright

Some birds are never affected by building lights at night in NYC: this list includes Peregrine Falcons as well as migrating shorebirds, ducks, geese and some others. They fly past with no problems that I have ever seen. And of the birds that are killed, not all members of that species are attracted to lights...What I am saying here is that response to night light varies from bird to bird. Some birds will be killed on every night in NYC: some will be attracted to lights; some will hit buildings; some will hit plate glass; some will end up starving because they landed in poor quality (stopover) habitat the next day; others will be blown out over sea and perish (unless they land on a ship). So birds are going to die for many reasons. Habitat loss, and degradation of existing NYC habitats is a critical one. Again, we have no idea of how birds fare once they land in and begin feeding in NYC parks. Even on foggy nights birds know where the Empire State Building is. I have seen how they fly round and round and then move off...That birds collide on such nights is well known and documented, and I can email anyone interested a list of articles and newspaper accounts of such nights. So on nights when many birds are killed, something qualitatively different is happening after midnight than during the hours when I can watch them (8-11:45pm). Whether turning off the lights of New York City's tall buildings (or leaving them on) is better or worse for birds, is unknown. That needs to be studied. I can make a case for both sides of the issue, but until someone actually sees and studies what happens when birds collide here in NYC, everyone is speculating...The policy of lights out or on may vary from building to building depending on whether the building is mostly glass (Trump Tower/United Nations) or mostly solid (like the ESB). Overall, plate glass and migrating birds is an issue that needs to be examined in greater detail. Tonight (Monday 11 October 2004) will be good again to see migrants, and it sounds like Friday night after the next cold front passes will be good again. To watch the birds migrating is a wonderful experience, and one that everyone seems to enjoy. To hear them calling at night, is great too. It can be downright noisy at times. Put a Peregrine up there, and it adds to the experience. The night migration of birds could be such a spectacular experience for many people and birders here in NYC. Most people know conceptually that most birds migrate at night. To see and experience the migration with one's own eyes, surrounded by the spectacular view of NYC at night, is to make that knowledge real. That is the real challenge then, how to make this a fun experience for as many people as possible so that they come away wanting to know more about birds, and wanting to become stewards of the environment.


Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD

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

(above) Veery Central Park 5 September 2023 Steve Hubbard PhD


(below) Red-tailed Hawk Central Park 7 September 2023 Caren Jahre MD


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