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Migrants are Here: Central Park Birding Early April

Ring-necked Duck (female) 2 April 2023 in Central Park Deborah Allen

6 April 2023

Bird Notes: The weather looks good for all of this week's bird walks, Fri-Mon inclusive. See Schedule page of our web site for details, especially the Calendar towards bottom. We add a Thursday morning walk (8:30am) starting 13 April. Finally, note that anything underlined herein (click on it) leads to more detailed info, such as the Schedule within this Newsletter.

In this week's Historical Notes (a) in early April 1888, organizations in NYC began a campaign to fund a monument to John James Audubon. We provide info from their first flyer that begins: "We are largely indebted to Audubon for the present lofty standard of American natural history". Audubon spent many years living in NYC, so it is sad to see the cancel culture folks moving to eliminate any association with his name. Part (b) of the Historical Notes describes the March 1933 flight of Fox Sparrows into Central Park (more than 100 on 31 March 1933), and as late that year as 25 April. These days, and really for the last 30 years, a good day for Fox Sparrows is 6-10 in the Ramble. Part (c) provides a brief history of the Brown-headed Cowbird in Manhattan and Brooklyn. In our estimate, this species has declined as a migrant and breeder here in Central Park during the last 10 years. Finally, Part (d) summarizes the weather for March 2023 that was the 25th warmest March of all time (since 1868), and 1.8F degrees above the average for all March temperatures combined. Taken together with January and February, the average temperature for these three months was the mildest on record, almost 6F degrees above the average for these three months since 1868. From the NYC Weather blog written by Rob Frydlewicz

Long-eared Owl Central Park 3 April 2023 Caren Jahre M.D.

The arrival of any owl in Central Park is cause for celebration for many and consternation for a few. Inevitably, social media attacks begin on those deemed unethical owl watchers (i.e. the people having fun and learning). No matter. This was the first Long-eared Owl in the park since 15 December 2020...Our group was the first to find that one as well. For a history of NYC Long-eared Owls read this Newsletter.

Bird Walks for EARLY to MID APRIL 2023

All Walks @ $10/person - all in Central Park

1. Friday, 7 April at 8:30am. $10. Meet at the Conservatory Garden Conservatory Garden is located at 106th st. and Fifth Avenue. Led by Deborah Allen.

2. Saturday, 8 April 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.

3. Sunday, 9 April 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.

4. Monday, 10 April: (8:30am) Strawberry Fields (72nd st. and Central Park West) $10

5. Thursday, 13 April: (8:30am) Dock on Turtle Pond (south end of the Great Lawn at approx 79th street...opposite Belvedere Castle...adjacent to Delacorte Theater) $10

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

Dark-eyed Junco (female) Central Park January 2022 Goodbye to Winter!

The fine print: Our walks on weekends starting in early April meet on Saturdays and Sundays at 7:30am/9:30am at the Dock on Turtle Pond (approx. 74th street along the East Drive. The meeting location is NOT nearby Conservatory Water with its small buildings and Boathouse for model boats...people make this mistake all the time! Directions to the Meeting Locations (CLICK HERE) page of our web site. And on Thursdays starting 13 April and continuing through (and including 25 May/Thursday, we meet at 8:30am at the Dock on Turtle Pond = where we met all winter).

Friday morning walks (8:30am) begin on 17 March and run through 2 June. These walks begin 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: 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.

Our home phone is 718-828-8262...and Deborah's cell is: 347-703-5554. Email is ( If you are lost and trying to get to the bird walk, call Deborah's cell phone...but remember on weekends there will be 2-3 other people calling who are also lost - please be patient. If in doubt about whether a walk will take place or not the morning of the walk: check the main landing page of this web site as well as the "Schedule" page - if the walk is cancelled, information will be posted there by 6am the day of the walk, and usually by 11pm the night before. If still confused and as a last resort, call us at home - if no one answers it means we left for the bird walk. 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.

Fox Sparrow Central Park 20 March 2011 Deborah Allen

Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)

Friday 31 March through Monday 3 April: OK we are officially in migration season when we start seeing Golden-crowned Kinglets in bunches, albeit in low numbers (2-3). There were Eastern Phoebes on all our walks. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers (almost all males) were around - look especially on Sweetgum trees. The sapsuckers are perhaps the only bird on migration we've seen that will defend a tree they feed on from other sapsuckers (and birds). Highlight birds included Ring-necked Ducks (see first photo at the top of this Newsletter), Flaco the escaped Eurasian Eagle-owl (at the north end of the park on every Friday walk); the Long-eared Owl we found on the Monday walk (see Dr. Caren Jahre MD's photo - she got the best image of anyone!)...but no sign of Geraldine the resident Great Horned Owl who spent 13+ months with us here in Central Park.

Deborah's List of Birds for Friday, 31 March 2023: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Saturday, 1 April: RAIN! NO Bird Walk

Deborah's List of Birds for Sunday, 2 April: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Monday, 3 April: CLICK HERE

Golden-crowned Kinglet in Central Park on 2 April 2023 Deborah Allen



Circulars have reached us issued by the committee of the American Ornithologists' Union and of the Linen Society of New York, appointed to solicit subscriptions for the proposed Audubon monument. The members of the A.O.U. Committee are Messrs. Geo. Bird Grinnell, G.B. Sennett and Wm. Dutcher, of that appointed by the Linen Society Messrs. L. S. Foster, C.S. Allen, M.D., and J. Nathan Dwight, Jr. The committee of the Linen Society circular says, "We are largely indebted to Audubon for the present lofty standard of American natural history, his name has given inspiration to many, and the grandeur of his achievements in this department of science has produced a line of successors of which America is, and may well be, proud. Genius knows no national bounds, great men are cosmopolitan; in honoring Audubon, the American, Frenchman, the hunter-naturalist, the artist-ornithologist, the indefatigable and ardent lover of nature and depicter of her manifold beauties, we feel that all the world will heartily commend the project and rejoice at its successful conclusion.” The circular of the A.O.U. Committee says: "It is true that America’s painter-naturalist has left behind him in his great work a monument more enduring than stone or brass, but it is fitting that America should show her appreciation of one of her greatest sons by the erection of a tribute which shall honor the living not less than the dead, the present not less than the past, and shall tell to each one who visits his tomb that Americans are not unmindful of their great dead." Subscriptions may be sent to any member of either committee.


A Late Migration of Fox Sparrows [Spring 1933]. We have had an unusual visitation of Fox Sparrows (Passerella i. iliaca) in our New York district this spring. Last year in Central Park we observed only a few individuals; this year the first one was observed on 26 February 1933; they straggled in every few days thereafter, but on 31 March 1933 we had a "wave," more than one hundred of them feeding on two small lawns. They gradually disappeared, but on 25 April 1933 (an exceedingly late date for this vicinity) we had another small visitation in Central Park. At Battery Park, a small area, at the southern end of Manhattan, six of these sparrows also arrived on the 25th [April 1933]. At this writing (28 April) there are still a few left in our area--an exceptionally late date.

Marc C. Rich

120 Broadway, NYC. Fox Sparrow Central Park 9 April 2013 Deborah Allen


1923. Brown-headed Cowbird. Central Park: Rare visitor on migration, ten records in the last twenty-one years; April 14, 1901 (Chubb) to May 15, 1913 (Griscom); October 6, 1911 (Hix) to November 9, 1907 (Griscom). BRONX REGION. Uncommon summer resident, decreasing; no midwinter records; March 13, 1919 (L. N. Nichols) to November 15, 1916 (L. N. Nichols) and January 3, 1919 (C. L. Lewis and E. G. Nichols). 1958. Brown-headed Cowbird. Central Park: Common spring, abundant fall transient. [Migrants in spring seen from] 12 March 1949 (Bruce Gordon) to 30 May 1952 (Bruce Gordon); [exceptional in summer:] 11 July 1957 (Messing); [remaining until:] 26 November 1956 (Post); occasional in winter. One young in Robin's nest 1956 (Bloom). Maximum 425 on 31 October 1957 (Carleton). In the 1959-1967 time frame, in Central Park: no change in status. 1958. Brown-headed Cowbird. Prospect Park : Fairly common transient, breeds; occasional in winter. Departure 14 November 1942 (Grant, Tenwall). Maximum of 50 was seen on 5 May 1950 (Jacobsen, Whelen). In the 1959-1967 time frame, in Prospect Park: no change in status. 1974. Central Park. Not mentioned by Roger Pasquier as a breeding species for the park. Today, we see adult males and females all summer - and also fledgling Brown-headed Cowbirds indicating that this species breeds here each year.

Brown-headed Cowbird (male) in Pelham Bay Park (Bronx) 8 April 2008 Deborah Allen

March 2023 was 1.8 degrees above average, continuing the year's streak of months with above average temperatures. However, it wasn't nearly as above average as January (+9.8 degrees) or February (+5.2). Still, eleven days were five degrees or more above average (and three were five degrees or more below average). Among all Marches it was the 25th mildest. The three previous Marches were all milder (2022 ranks #17, 2021 #13, and 2020 #7).

The mildest temperature in March was 63F (on 3/21 and 3/26), which was chillier than the mildest readings of February and January, which were 70F and 66F, respectively. (On average the mildest reading in March is around 70F.) This was just the ninth March to have its mildest reading chillier than January's or February's. The previous time it happened was in 2008. March 2023 had six days with highs in the 60s, all occurring between 3/17 and 3/27.

The warmest reading of March was also the warmest reading in ten other Marches, making 63F the most frequent warmest reading in March. The coldest reading was 29F (3/19), the mildest coldest reading in March since 2010. (On average the coldest reading in March is around 20F.)

This March was only 1.1 degree milder than January (historically, it's about nine degrees milder). Although this was one of the smallest temperature differences between the two months, there have been thirteen Marches that were colder than January. (The last time this happened was in 1960.)

Twelve days had average mean temperatures (i.e., falling between one degree below average and one degree above average), which is the most to be reported in March (in the years since 1960) and the most of any month since June 2014 (which had 13). Seven of the days with average temperatures were consecutive (3/7-13).

Twelve days also had humidity levels that dropped below 25%, the most in March this century. (April 2010 had the most of any month, 13.) They were concentrated in the 15 day period March 16-30, with ten of the days reporting very low humidity. The lowest humidity level was 13% during the afternoon of 3/21.

March's total precipitation was 3.32 inches, nearly an inch below average. Combined with February's 1.28", February/March was the 17th driest on record. (The driest and second driest Feb/Mar were in 2012 and 2009.) Besides this year, March 1975 also had 3.32" of rain, while March 2000 had 3.31" and March 1871 and March 1911 had 3.33".

Just 0.1" of snow was reported (on the morning of 3/7). Twenty-two other Marches have had less. (And three others had the same 0.1" as 2023.) This brought the winter's snowfall to 2.3", making this the least snowy winter on record (0.5" less than the winter of 1972-73).

Finally, Jan-Feb-Mar 2023 became the mildest on record, just ahead of the first three months of 2012.

Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD

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

Cherry Blossoms in Central Park April 2014 Deborah Allen


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