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Migrating Birds of Central Park/NYC - Autumn 2023

Updated: Oct 7, 2023

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (female) Central Park on 27 Sept 2023 Deborah Allen

4 October to 18 October 2023

Bird Notes: After last weekend's debacle, we may still be in for more rain particularly on Saturday, 7 October. Keep an eye on our Schedule Page (click) for any cancellations of the bird walks.

Last weekend (Friday-Saturday 29-30 September) we set records. Starting Friday night, 5.38 inches of rain poured down on Central Park through Saturday evening (9th greatest daily rainfall), much of it falling between 8-11 AM on Saturday. While Tropical Storm Ophelia (of 22-26 September) dropped three inches over the course of four days, last weekend's storm dropped that amount in just two hours (and nearly four inches in three hours). This storm brought September’s rainfall to 14.21", making it the second wettest September on record and the fourth rainiest of any month, ever, in Central Park.

Nashville Warbler Central Park 24 September 2023 David Barrett


Swainson's Thrush Central Park on 17 September 2023 Aniket

Above is Aniket's fine photo of a Swainson Thrush. We have been seeing many on our walks...the numbers peaked about 14-15 September when we would "call in" 30-50 per walk using sound from my speaker. We simply used the territorial song of the Swainson's Thrush and after playing for 30-45 seconds, these birds would come flying in from all directions. We could use any number of thrush songs (Hermit; Grey-cheeked), and Swainson's Thrushes come to the sound. These are one of the few species of birds that respond to territorial songs on migration. Why? We don't know...most other birds come in best to "chip" calls - or similar staccato calls (and not songs).

In the previous issue of this Newsletter, the historical snippets we provided on night migration generated some interest, so we continue along these lines. In our HISTORICAL NOTES we send several more articles about night migration here in NYC, and one on Long Island. Historical Note (A) is a 23 October 1914 article about a Golden-crowned Kinglet that flew into an open window at night in lower Manhattan. In the 1920s, these kinglets arrived in NYC about 15 September (noted in that article). This year, the first report of a Golden-crowned Kinglet from Manhattan was on 28 September. This is something to keep an eye on in coming it a trend or just an aberration?

Historical Notes (B/C) date from October 1874 and 1875, and discuss what birds have flown into open windows at night in Manhattan...and what these little birds are like (their behavior) as indoor captives for a few days.

Historical Note (D) is a late September 1891 excerpt from Frank Chapman about watching the night migration of birds on a stormy night from the "torch" of the Statue of Liberty. Chapman makes several interesting observations: Yes there were some birds that were confused by the lights that either collided with glass on the building, or the building itself - but the vast majority of birds flew past the building and the observers; that rain brought the migrants much lower in the atmosphere: Indeed our best birding days in Central Park are when it rains a little overnight (for an hour or two from 1am-5am); and overall, Chapman concludes: "the infrequency with which they [birds] struck the torch, the immense number which passed beyond its rays, and the constancy with which they called and chirped as they flew." Very similar to what we experienced during our research on bird migration at night at the Empire State Building.

Historical Note (E) is an autumn 1889 account from a Lighthouse on one of the small islands in the outer Long Island Sound. The article discusses the night migration of birds viz. the light of the building. The author (a NYC resident, who would later become a surgeon in the army) discusses the effect fog vs. rain has on the migrants. Most importantly, when birds struck that lighthouse they hit on the WSW side, and not straight on (the ENE side). This has also been reported to us from other locations (eg., Kennedy Airport) in the last several years.

Historical Notes (F/G/H) take a different track. Prompted by the occurrence of 150+ (yes 150+) Pectoral Sandpipers on Randall's Island (northeast corner of Manhattan Island) on 21 September 2023, we searched the historical record for information about these shorebirds. In our experience they are not at all common on migration in NYC Parks - we've seen one or two at a time. We found a number of historical names for this bird from 1870-1895 that are no longer in use (Krieker; Grass Snipe). Pectoral Sandpipers can arrive as early as July...the peak seems to be sometime in September, and certain individuals will remain into November. And of course, how have numbers changed through time? "The Pectoral Sandpiper was abundant in the 19th Century, but market hunting greatly reduced its numbers. More recent migration surveys have shown a population decline since the 1980s."

Pine Warbler Central Park on 1 Oct 2023 Aniket

Bird Walks: 5 October to 17 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, 5 October (8:30am) $10. Dock on Turtle Pond (mid-park at about 79th st.)

2. Friday, 6 October (8:30am). $10. Meet at the Conservatory Garden Conservatory Garden is located at 105th st. and Fifth Avenue. Led by Deborah Allen.

3. Saturday, 7 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.

4. Sunday, 8 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, 9 Oct. (8:30am) Strawberry Fields (72nd st. and Central Park West) $10



1. Thursday, 12 Oct. (8:30am) $10. Dock on Turtle Pond (mid-park at about 79th st.)

2. Friday, 13 October (8:30am). $10. Meet at the Conservatory Garden Conservatory Garden is located at 105th st. and Fifth Avenue. Led by Deborah Allen.

3. Saturday, 14 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.

4. Sunday, 15 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, 16 Oct. (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)

Black-and-white (male) Central Park 2 October 2023 Deborah Allen

(below) Brown Thrasher Central Park 22 September 2023 Caren Jahre MD

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.

American Redstart Madison Square Park (23rd st/Manhattan) 20 September 2023 Dan Bright

Here is what we saw recently (brief highlights)

21 September (Thursday) through 2 October (Monday) 2023:

Well...not many days to report about bird walks for in the last two weeks: Of the ten scheduled walks, five were cancelled due to rain. When we do go out, we have been averaging 10-18 warbler species per walk, which if you check eBird records, is more than any other person or group sees in Central Park on any given day. This past Sunday-Monday we had the first big push of Golden-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, White-throated Sparrows and Eastern Phoebes in the park. As we move into October, sparrows including Towhees will come to dominate the flight - though warblers such as Black-throated Blue and Orange-crowned will be with us into November.

Deborah's List of Birds for Thursday, 21 September: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Friday, 22 September: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Saturday, 23 September: RAIN! No Bird Walk

Deborah's List of Birds for Sunday, 24 September: RAIN! No Bird Walk

Deborah's List of Birds for Monday, 25 September: RAIN! No Bird Walk

Deborah's List of Birds for Thursday, 28 September: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Friday, 29 September: RAIN! No Bird Walk

Deborah's List of Birds for Saturday, 30 September: RAIN! No Bird Walk

Deborah's List of Birds for Sunday, 1 October: CLICK HERE

Deborah's List of Birds for Monday, 2 October: CLICK HERE

Black-throated Blue Warbler Central Park 2 Oct. 2023 Caren Jahre MD

(below) Golden Crowned Kinglet Central Park on 1 October 2023 Aniket


Golden-crowned Kinglet in a Skyscraper [1914] On the morning of 23 October 1914, one of the porters of the City Investing Building in New York City [lower Manhattan in financial district] brought me a small bird for identification. The poor little fellow had been flying over the great city the previous night and seeing light in a window on the eighteenth floor (some 200 feet above the street) flew in to investigate, and was caught by a porter with sense enough to save its little life. Although I had never seen a specimen close by, there was no difficulty, but great delight, in immediately recognizing it as a male Golden-crowned Kinglet in perfect feather, as I later found by comparing him with Thompson Seton's picture in 'Bird-Life." The partly concealed crown looked like bright threads of beautiful orange-colored silk, and the head feathers had to be parted to disclose the full size and beauty of the fan-shaped crest. In his brief sketch of this bird, Mr. Chapman says, "It is due in New York on the fall migration about September 15." Is it not likely that the mild weather in September and October enabled this smallest of our native birds to prolong its stay in the northern woods. It may be interesting to note that, although he passed through several hands before releasing him in New Jersey, on the day following his capture, in time for a natural supper, he showed not the least fear of men, and, when he started for the nearest tree, was strong of wing and able to care for himself. What a delight it would be to hear him tell the story of his adventure in the Wall Street "district! A Towhee, caught and released under similar circumstances, six years ago, departed minus his tail feathers, so his story would not have been so pleasant. Alex Millar, Plainfield, N. J.


Kinglets and Warblers in Captivity [1875]

Jersey City, N.J., December 24th, 1875

My husband brought home, at different times, last October, several kinglets, one of which was the ruby-crowned, and the other the golden-crested, that had flown into his office in the top of the building, at mid-night. They were all let loose in the house, and soon became very tame. At one time a gold-crest and a pine-creeping warbler [Pine Warbler] were brought home by him, which we had for a night and day. For the first five or six hours they kept flying from the top of one door or window rising to the top of another; but after that the kinglet became bolder, and began to investigate the premises, and later in the day he would alight on the heads of any and every person entering, and allow himself to be handled even by our little two-year old. For food, he appeared to pick up crumbs, and helped himself to lice on some plants in the window. Catching sight of himself in a hand mirror lying on the table, he immediately hopped upon the glass, and began an energetic flapping of his wings, at the same time chirping loudly, as though to attract the attention of his vis a vis.

I remarked it as a curious fact that, while he paid so much attention to his reflection, returning again and again to the mirror, he never noticed the warbler, or attempted to strike up an acquaintance with him. This kinglet, like all the rest, seemed entirely at home, and even when the window was opened and he was pushed out, he came flying back several times before he could make up his mind to leave us. But at last he did, and the last we saw of the gay little chap he was gleaning among the grape vines. Meanwhile the warbler seemed perfectly untamable, and would let no one come near enough to touch him. As night came on he became very restless, and threw himself against the window panes in frantic efforts to get out. This violence was very different from his demeanor during the day, since, although sad and shy, he made no attempt to escape from the room, and I regarded it as an indication that it was his invariable habit to migrate at night, remaining quiet during the day. Seeing his distress, we opened the window and the captive joyfully darted out, and shot like a rocket up into the southern sky. Two white-throated sparrows were also caught at the office, and were taken home by a gentleman of our acquaintance and caged. He succeeded in reconciling them to confinement, but one died without any apparent cause, after four or five weeks. The other became so tame that he was given the liberty of the room, and would not leave even when the window was open. At last, only a few days ago, as he was standing on the sill of the open window, a sudden movement frightened him, and he hastily flew away. Mrs. E. I.


Night Migrants at the New York Herald Tribune [1875]

One would hardly think of looking in the composing, or even the editorial rooms, of a New York daily paper for living birds, yet during the last month [October 1875] several birds, migrating at night, have flown in at the windows of The Tribune [lower Manhattan opposite City Hall in Financial District] rooms on the top floors of their new building about midnight, and their names have been taken. Thus came a ruby-crowned kinglet (Regulus calendula), a golden-crested kinglet (Regulus patrapa); a pine-creeping warbler (Dendroica pinus), a white-eyed vireo (Vireo novaborencis), two white-throated sparrows (Fonotrichia albicolis); a snow bird [Dark-eyed Junco] (Junco hyemalis); and last, Wilson's black-cap [Wilson's Warbler] (Myiodioetes pusililas).

Cape May Warbler Greenwood Cemetery (Brooklyn) 24 September 2023 Elizabeth Paredes

Night Migration at the Statue of Liberty (1891)

Frank Chapman American Museum of Natural History

On 26 September 26 1891, it was the writer's good fortune to pass the night with several ornithologists at the Bartholdi Statue [Bedloe's Island = Liberty Island] in observing the nocturnal flight of birds. The weather was most favorable for our purpose. From the balcony at the base of the statue we saw the first bird enter the rays of light thrown out by the torch one hundred and fifty feet above us at eight o'clock. During the two succeeding hours birds were constantly heard and many were seen. At ten o'clock a light rain began to fall and for three hours it rained intermittently. Almost simulta­neously there occurred a marked increase in the number of birds seen about the light, and within a few minutes there were hun­dreds where before there was one, while the air was filled with the calls and chirps of the passing host.

The birds presented a singular appearance. As they entered the limits of the divergent rays of light they became slightly luminous, but as their rapid wing-beats brought them into the glare of the torch they reflected the full splendor of the light, and resembled enormous fireflies or swarms of huge golden bees.

At eleven o'clock we climbed to the torch and continued our observations from the balcony by which it is encircled. The scene was impressive beyond description; we seemed to have torn aside the veil which shrouds the mysteries of the night, and in the searching light reposed the secrets of Nature. As the tiny feathered wanderers emerged from the surrounding blackness, appeared for a moment in the brilliant halo about us, and continu­ing their journey were swallowed up in the gloom beyond, one marveled at the power which guided them thousands of miles through the trackless heavens. While by far the larger number hurried onward without pausing to inspect this strange appari­tion, others hovered before us like humming birds before a flower, then wheeling retreated for a short distance and returned to repeat the performance; or pass us as did the first class mentioned, while others still, and the number was comparatively insignificant, struck some part of the torch either slightly or with sufficient force to cause them to fall stunned or dying. It was evidently by the merest accident that they struck at all; and so far as we could judge they were either dazzled by the rays of the light and thus unwittingly flew directly at the glass which protects it, or came in contact with some unilluminated part of the statue. During the two hours we were in the torch thousands of birds passed within sight, but less than twenty were killed.

This fact, in connection with the comparative or entire absence of birds on clear nights, very plainly shows that conclusions based solely on these casualties may be not only misleading but erro­neous. In other words, the number of birds which strike a light is a poor index to the number which have flown by or above it in safety.

Throughout the evening there was a more or less regular fluc­tuation in the number of birds present; periods of abundance were followed by periods of scarcity, and the birds passed in well-defined flights, or loose companies, probably composed in the main of individuals which had started together.

The birds chirped and called incessantly. Frequently, when few could be seen, hundreds were heard passing in the darkness; the air was filled with the lisping notes of warblers and the mellow whistle of thrushes, and at no time during the night was there perfect silence. At daybreak a few stragglers were still winging their way southward, but before the sun rose the flights had ceased. The only birds identified were several species of warblers and thrushes, one red-eyed vireo, two golden-winged woodpeckers, one catbird, one whip-poor-will, and one bobolink. The most interesting and important results of the night's observations were, the immediate effect of rainfall in forcing birds to migrate at a lower level, the infrequency with which they struck the torch, the immense number which passed beyond its rays, and the constancy with which they called and chirped as they flew.

An almost virgin field awaits the investigator who will system­atically observe night-migrating birds with the aid of a tele­scope. Messrs. Allen and Scott, at Princeton, and the writer, assisted by Mr. John Tatlock, Jr., at Tenafly, New Jersey, and at the Columbia College Observatory, have alone recorded the results of observations of this nature. Their labors, however, were too brief to more than show the possibilities which await more extended effort.

Yellow Warbler Central Park 23 September 2023 Caren Jahre MD

The Bird Notes from Little Gull Island, Suffolk Co., N.Y. [1889]

Yellow Warbler Dendroica aestiva (photo above). Standing on the concrete at the foot of the tower on foggy nights and looking upward, we could see around the lantern a broad halo of light, probably one hundred feet in diameter. Outside of this halo was total darkness. This phenomenon, I presume, was caused by the reflection and refraction of the light by the minute particles of water in the vicinity of the lantern; and the darkness beyond was due to the fact that very little, if any, of the small portion of light that penetrated beyond the fifty-foot limit reached the eye. The migration, which had just begun when I arrived, could be splendidly observed by means of this patch of light. The birds could be seen flying to and fro in all directions, generally keeping within the ring, as if reluctant to leave the region of light and go into the darkness beyond. Although it would be an easy thing to distinguish the different families from each other in the strong light of the lantern, it would take a good deal of practice to tell the species apart. One species, however, was easily distinguishable as the birds flew back and forth, the Yellow Warbler. It was, indeed, a pretty sight to see these birds flitting around, their yellow breasts and bellies illumined by the rays from the lantern. I identified but one other species in the halo, the Redstart. Charles B. Field said, however, that he could sometimes in the migrations distinguish Robins and Catbirds. He also remarked that in the fall migration all the birds struck on the W.S.W. side of the lantern, instead of on the E.N.E., as it might be supposed they would. All the birds that were picked up from the concrete were also on the W. S. W. side of the tower, showing that they very probably struck on that side. In fact the Yellow Warblers were seen on both Great Gull and Little Gull Islands. But few birds of any kind struck during my stay, probably because, although a number of the nights were foggy, none were stormy.

Pectoral Sandpiper Randall's Island (Manhattan) 26 September 2023 Deborah Allen

Occurrence of the Pectoral Sandpiper near Salem, N.J. [1905]

The absence of recent records of the Pectoral Sandpiper (Pisobia maculata - photo above) in the Delaware valley moves me to make known at this late date the capture of a male by Dr. H.B. Wharton, 16 September 1905, at Salem county, N.J. The specimen was preserved by me and is in my collection. FRANK L. BURNS, Berwyn, Pa.

Pectoral Sandpiper (Tringa maculata); krieker; meadow snipe; fat bird; short-neck; jack snipe; marsh plover; grass snipe; robin snipe; red-back. On account of its creaking, shrill cry, it is called the krieker on the Northern New Jersey coast, but further south it changes its name to short-neck and fat bird. On the inland meadows of New Jersey it is known as the robin snipe and meadow snipe. On Long Island it assumes several of the above names. It is said to never stool [land near a decoy/wood carved bird], but we have seen it do so occasionally.

Two days snipe shooting at Atlanticville, Long Island [2 October 1886], scored as follows: 10 yelpers [Greater Yellowlegs]; 1 plover [Black-bellied Plover]; 1 brant bird [Ruddy Turnstone]; 4 English snipe [Common or Wilson's Snipe]; 3 dowitchers; 57 kriekers [Pectoral Sandpiper]; 20 leadbacks, 12 ox-eyes [Semi-palmated Sandpiper and/or Least Sandpiper]. 4 October 1886: 12 yelpers [Greater Yellowlegs]; 10 English snipe [Common or Wilson's Snipe]; 21 kriekers [Pectoral Sandpiper]; 6 leadbacks ; 69 ox-eyes [Semi-palmated Sandpiper and/or Least Sandpiper]. 6 October 1886: The old gunner shot 21 large snipe, 15 were yelpers or large yellowlegs, 4 plover (blackbreast), 1 golden plover, 2 yellowlegs, 1 robin snipe [Red Knot], 36 kriekers, 1 English snipe [Common or Wilson's Snipe]; 69 ox-eyes. Frank. J. J. De Roder.


J. T. NICHOLS, American Museum Nat. Hist., New York City 1916

An early but rare spring migrant; March 22 (Eaton) to May 30, 1913 (Freeport, Thurston). Fairly common from late July through October; the earliest fall record is July 6, 1911 (East Hampton, W. Helmuth), and the latest, November 10 (Eaton).

Though the common haunt of this species is suggested in one of its vernacular names (Grass Snipe), it is not infrequently found also on mudflats and along the margins of marshy pools and streams. It usually travels and feeds in small bands of its own, but sometimes one or two birds are observed in a scattered flock composed chiefly of the smaller species of snipe. The Krieker joins ranks on the wing, but become more loosely organized after alighting to feed. Each bird moves slowly along, and probes into the mud with a rapid drilling motion of its bill, which apparently remains closed, though the tip, at least, must be opened beneath the surface when a morsel is located. 'We have seen one squat in a skulking attitude on the mud behind a short cat-tail stub, when it had been annoyed by persistent stalking; and we have also seen birds wade into a little stream and swim a foot or two to the other side.

Though the Krieker is an unusually trustful snipe, it is well known, on the other hand, for its lack of response to decoys. We were especially pleased, therefore, with an experience we had at East Pond, Hicks Beach, on 30 September 1911. It was near dusk when a band of eight or ten small snipe appeared, flying low over the eastern end of the pool and heading our way. The birds swung gracefully from side to side as they came on, and having caught sight of our decoys, wheeled in over them. They had scarcely passed by before they turned and dropped in, closely bunched, at the edge of the mud-fiat, 18 feet in front of us. There they stood daintily, eyeing the occupants of the scanty blind with curiosity or wonder, as it seemed, rather than with suspicion or alarm; but after some moments they took wing and departed.

The Krieker has two distinct notes -- a short kuk or chup, and a hoarse, rolling whistle, k-r-r-r-u, k-r-r-r-u.

The heavy streaks on its breast end in a rather abrupt line across the body, and serve as a good field identification mark. These dark markings, however, are of protective value when the Krieker's head is erect, for the breast is then practically a part of the upper surface of the body, where dark coloring is required to render the bird inconspicuous among its surroundings.

Pectoral Sandpiper Randall's Island (Manhattan) 24 September 2023

Changes in Numbers of Shorebirds on Long Island 1909-1919

J. T. NICHOLS, American Museum Nat. Hist., New York City

As to changes during the ten-year period, unusually large numbers of the Greater Yellow-legs in 1919, unusually small numbers of that species and the Black-breasted Plover, and large numbers of the Hudsonian Curlew in 1920, are probably fortuitous as was one of the well-known periodic flights of the Stilt Sandpiper in 1912. The changes of perhaps greater significance which the writer believes to have occurred over the ten-year period are as follows: a marked decrease of the Semipalmated Sandpiper; a decided increase of the Pectoral Sandpiper and Wilson's Snipe; an appreciable increase of the Dowitcher, Stilt Sandpiper, and Golden Plover; a gradual increase and decrease again of the Western Willet and greater frequency of the Marbled Godwit in the closing years.

The question which naturally follows upon the above remarks is what relation the present numbers of shore-birds bear to those of the past. So far as data with which the writer is familiar are concerned numbers in the past are for the most part a matter of pure hypothesis; in fact the present estimate has been drawn up with the idea of having something a little more definite to go by in the future. To judge from hearsay and some shooting data about thirty years before the decade under discussion the two Yellow-legs, Black-breasted Plover and Hudsonian Curlew, are present in approximately the same numbers now as then, the Pectoral Sandpiper and Dowitcher have fallen off. Of course, we know that the Golden Plover has fallen off greatly from its one-time abundance, but the break probably occurred more than thirty years ago. The south shore gutter along which the majority of migrants flow is still full of them, giving an impression of greater abundance than really exists, whereas formerly they very probably overflowed from it into considerable territory which is now unoccupied. The apparent recent increase in the Pectoral Sandpiper and Dowitcher, species which had been notably reduced even along their main migration route, and of the Golden Plover, is a hopeful sign as regards efficiency of recent legislation. One could not expect signs of increase even if such an increase exists in species where there has been little apparent falling off for many years.

"The Pectoral Sandpiper was abundant in the 19th Century, but market hunting greatly reduced its numbers. More recent migration surveys have shown a population decline since the 1980s."


Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD

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

(above) Whimbrel Randall's Island (Manhattan) 24 September 2023


(below) Semipalmated Plover Randall's Island (Manhattan) 26 September 2023 Deborah Allen

1 Comment

Oct 06, 2023

Some more stunning shots, good skiils Bob and Deb. Steve and Teresa Atkinson UK.

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