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MIGRATION is Fun Amazing and NOW: Central Park BIRDS - May 2022

Updated: May 11, 2022

Bird Notes: Check our Web Site for updates to our walks, especially for this Saturday (14 May): looks like occasional light rain - so we will most likely do the two Saturday walks. Weather for the other days (13 May through 18 May) looks good possibly with winds from the southwest for a night or two. All Thur-Mon (inclusive) bird walks can be found on the Schedule page. Above: male Hooded Warbler (3 May 2022) by Deborah Allen

5 May 2022

This might be the last Newsletter until mid to late May - we are very busy with bird walks and private walks until 25 May. That's good and Thank You All.

In this week's HISTORICAL NOTES we load up so for the next two weeks readers can mull over several rich natural history observations from NYC and environs: (a) May 1924 rare birds in Central Park including Mourning Dove (were hunted extensively at the time) and Whip-poor-will; (b) spring migration in April-May 1947 in Central Park including an "invasion" of Blue-grey Gnatcatchers; (c/d) a "late" Blue-grey Gnatcatcher in Central Park (May 1901), and the northward progression of nesting Blue-grey Gnatcatchers in the tri-state area in spring 1963 - written by not famous enough Gill Raynor - his wonderful obituary follows in (e); then (f) the arrival dates of spring migrants in Bay Ridge Brooklyn in 1882; and finally (g) a migrant Townsend's Warbler in early May 1963 observed by Irving Cantor in Central Pk.

male Scarlet Tanager (3 May 2022) in Central Park by Deborah Allen

Good! Bird Walks for Mid-May - each $10

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

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

2. Friday, 13 May: (8:30am) Conservatory Garden (105th street and 5th Avenue) $10

3!!!. Saturday, 14 May: 7:30am and again at 9:30am; Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe $10

4!!!. Sunday, 15 May: 7:30am and again at 9:30am; Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe $10

5. Monday, 16 May: (8:30am) Strawberry Fields (72nd st. and Central Park West) $10

6. Thursday, 19 May: (8:30am) Dock on Turtle Pond (mid-park at about 79th st.) $10

!!!: if you do the 7:30am walk, you can come on the 9:30am for free (two for one).

*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.

1. Thursday, 19 May: (8:30am) Dock on Turtle Pond (mid-park at about 79th st.) $10

2. Friday, 20 May: (8:30am) Conservatory Garden (105th street and 5th Avenue) $10

3!!!. Saturday, 21 May: 7:30am and again at 9:30am; Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe $10

4!!!. Sunday, 22 May: 7:30am and again at 9:30am; Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe $10

5. Monday, 23 May: (8:30am) Strawberry Fields (72nd st. and Central Park West) $10

6. Thursday, 26 May: (8:30am) Dock on Turtle Pond (mid-park at about 79th st.) $10

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

Grey Catbird Central Park, 1 May 2022 by Deborah Allen

The fine print: *No need to book ahead or pay in advance - just show up at the right time and place and away you go with us! In May-June, our walks on weekends meet at 7:30am and again at 9:30am at the Boathouse Restaurant (approx. 74th street and the East Drive) through early June 2022. Please note: the Boathouse is not one of the buildings that surround the nearby Model Boat Pond - people make this mistake all the time! Friday walks meet uptown at 8:30am at Conservatory Garden (105th street and 5th Ave); Mondays at 8:30am at Strawberry Fields (Central Park West at 72nd street). Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here

WEATHER: 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 (718-828-8262) - if no one answers it means we left for the bird walk. We end all our Central Park walks (except Fridays) at the Boathouse at about 12noon to 1pm; you can get a cup of coffee and a muffin there (around $6 total). Walks last about 3 hrs (less if hot 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 are a helpful group.

male Northern Parula (3 May 2022) in Central Park Deborah Allen

Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)

Thursday 28 April through Monday 2 May (inclusive). We've been under fire from northerly winds most of this spring - bringing us cold air...and holding back migration. Indeed, Deborah Allen photographed a European Peacock Butterfly. It was not an escape from the nearby American Museum (they don't exhibit these butterflies), but probably a migrant from a small population directly north of us near Montreal and upstate NY. More info about Deborah's discovery in our Newsletter in the coming weeks. Saturday began a few days of good observations: the low foraging Orange-crowned Warbler was memorable; on Sunday the first real wave of migration hit. We had high warblers (and everything except sparrows) feeding in just opened oak tree flowers - and after about 11am these migrators started coming lower down for us to see. Frustrating: in the early afternoon Scarlet Tanagers were at eye-level...and we were left wondering where were these birds at 7:30am or 9:30am? Monday was a rain out though we did a free walk for the few people that braved the mist and cold air. Prairie Warblers made a good showing - as they have all this spring 2022.

1. Deborah's List of Birds in Central Park for Thursday, 28 April 2022: Click Here

2. Deborah's List of Birds in Central Park for Friday, 29 April 2022: Click Here

3. Deborah's List of Birds in Central Park for Saturday, 30 April 2022: Click Here

4. Deborah's List of Birds in Central Park for Sunday, 1 May 2022: Click Here

5. Deborah's List of Birds in Central Park for Mon. 2 May 2022: Rain Out - No Bird Walk

Blue Headed Vireo on 3 May in Central Park Deborah Allen


Some Rare Birds in Central Park [May 1924]

Mr. Hix reported a Mourning Dove (Zenaidura m. carolinensis) in Central Park, May 13th [1924]; also a Whip-poor-will (Antrostomus v. vociferus) and American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) in Central Park, May 3rd and 13th respectively.


Central Park [April-May 1947] After an April that was not notable, the first large wave of migrants arrived on April 29 to May 1. April 30 brought large numbers of White-throated Sparrows (over 700 in Central Park.) The first ten days of May were backward, with record-breaking cold on May 8-10, accompanied by West to Northwest winds. The first big wave came in on May 11, reaching a climax on May 12, with almost equal numbers on May 13. There was a sizable wave on May 18-20, bringing such species as Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Kentucky Warbler, and a small wave on May 22.

The most noteworthy occurrence of the migration has been the unprecedented "invasion" of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers which arrived in mid-April, resulting in at least three known breeding records in Northern N. J. And April also brought a larger than normal flight of Turkey Vultures, and Cardinals (to Long Island). May was noteworthy for the appearance of Townsend's Warbler and Sycamore Warbler [Yellow-throated Warbler], as well as such rarities as Curlew Sandpiper, Lark Sparrow, and abnormal numbers of Cape May, Bay-breasted, Wilson's, and Kentucky Warblers.

Blue Grey Gnatcatcher on 30 April 2013 Deborah Allen

The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in New York City [1901]. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila cerulea) was seen in Central Park, New York City, and positively identified on 22 May 1901.

C. B. ISHAM, New York City. ============

Nesting of the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher on Long Island, NY [1963]. The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) is one of several southern species whose breeding ranges in the eastern states have been expanded northward in the last two to three decades. In 1942, southern New Jersey was listed as the northernmost breeding limit, except for one record from Sussex County in northwestern New Jersey (A.D. Cruickshank, Birds around New York City, The American Museum of Natural History Handbook Series, No. 13, 1942; see p. 352). The first discovered breeding in northeastern New Jersey was in 1947. In more recent years nestings in northern New Jersey, southern New York, and Connecticut have been reported in Audubon Field Notes as follows:

Year: 1957 (Green Village, Morris County, New Jersey);

Year: 1958 (Millburn, Essex County, New Jersey);

Year: 1959 (Summit, Union County, NJ, and Bloomfield, Hartford County, Connecticut); Year: 1959 (Westport, Fairfield County, Connecticut);

Year: 1960 (Tompkins Cove, Rockland County, New York);

Year: 1960 (West Park, Ulster County, New York);

Year: 1961 (Cruger's Island, Dutchess County, New York);

Year: 1963 (Litchfield, Litchfield County, Connecticut). Despite this occupation of range to the west and north of Long Island, and contrary to the inclusion of Long Island in the breeding range of the species by the A.O.U. Check-list of North American birds (Fifth edit., 1957), no evidence of nesting on Long Island has previously been reported. This parallels the case of the Tufted Titmouse (Parus bicolor) which extended its range into southern and central New York and southern New England before gaining a foothold on Long Island. The titmouse is a relatively sedentary species which apparently found it difficult to cross either the waters bounding Long Island on the north and south or the New York City metropolitan area on the west. The gnatcatcher, however, is a migratory species which has occurred as a regular, although uncommon, spring migrant for years and no reason for its failure to nest sooner is obvious. On 21 May 1963 two gnatcatchers were observed in my yard at Manorville, Suffolk County, New York. The following day they were carrying nesting material to a tall white oak (Quercus alba) about 30 feet (9 meters) in from the edge of a mature oak woods. On 23 and 24 May they were building and shaping a nest about 45 feet up in a triple upright crotch. On 26 May the birds were again at the nest but were not seen thereafter and apparently deserted. On 24 May 1963 a second nest was found, by Dennis Puleston, Walter Terry, Alvin Smith, and me, at Noyack, also in Suffolk County and about 25 miles east of the first location. This nest was about 20 feet above ground on a small horizontal limb of a black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) in an overgrown clearing surrounded by large oak woods. The birds were apparently incubating, since one replaced the other on the nest. On 10 June, Puleston found the nest empty but, since it appeared to have been used by young, a successful breeding probably was accomplished.

Gilbert S. Raynor, Manorville, Long Island, New York [See Mr. Raynor's Obit just below]. ======================= Gil Raynor Dies (1918-1995): Top Long Island Naturalist

Gilbert S. Raynor was born in Patchogue Long Island on 23 December 1918, and died on 18 July 1995.

I believe it was a nesting broad-winged hawk in Montauk Gil Raynor was trying to document when he came in contact with a dog tick carrying Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever that would end his life. Gil had always been aware of ticks and had often picked them off himself. When he experienced a high temperature and went to the hospital, they diagnosed it as bronchitis and treated him for that. Gil got worse and, when they finally diagnosed it correctly, it was too late. He fell into a coma that lasted 11 years. With his death this past week, Long Island lost one of its greatest naturalists.

As a teenager Gil began a long and lasting friendship with Roy Latham of Orient. The two spent endless hours together in the field, studying all aspects of natural history. Several orchid voucher specimens currently at the New York State Museum were collected by Latham & Raynor during the late 1930's and 1940's. Roy and Gil were also active in archaeology during the early years of the Southold Indian Museum.

The thing that made Gil such a well-known naturalist was his diversity of knowledge in birds, plants, trees, animals, reptiles. You name it and Gil had probably seen it and recorded when, where and how many he'd seen. One time, I dropped him on Robins Island and picked him up days later so he could study the mice and shrews of that island. His lifelong hope was that someday he'd be able to put all his records into a book on Long Island's natural history, but I'm afraid that dream is still a dream, for his notes, though extensive, are in a meteorologist's shorthand that only Gil could decipher.

Besides bringing up a family of nine, working at the Brookhaven National Lab, doing extensive field work, and being involved in college work for years at night, Gil always found time to do church work, being an elder in the church and superintendent of the Sunday school. He was an important member of Riverhead Town's Conservation Advisory Council, and it was through his detailed knowledge of the freshwater wetlands that Riverhead inventoried and eventually saved those valuable resources. Gil also was a founding member and past president of the Moriches Bay Audubon Society that has proven to be one of the most active on Long Island.

When it comes to keeping records concerning birds, there was none better than Gil. He always carried a small pocket notebook in which he listed everything he saw. It was natural for him to start his own Christmas bird count, calling it the Central Suffolk count. Since 1954, he had coordinated that marathon from dawn to dusk and then some. Besides his own count, he participated each year in the Quogue to Water Mill and Orient counts until he was afflicted with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

I remember one time after one of the counts when we were all gathered at my place and tabulating our sightings. Someone asked if anyone had seen anything special. (It's then that the rarities are brought forth and the "ohs" and "ahs" are sighed.) This time, Gil said calmly, "Yes, I saw a dovekie." Now that is a rather rare bird to see on the Orient count so everyone was quite excited about it. Then Gil went on to say, "and I've got it right here" as he proceeded to lift the live bird out of his pocket. It had evidently hit a (Mattituck) telephone wire and was stunned. Rather than leave it to a cat or other predator to catch, he brought it along for safety. It was typical of Gil's dry humor. How we laughed. The next day, he let it go, but it proved a record for our Orient count.

Everyone in the bird world knew Gil for his records and, of course, for his accuracy concerning them. When the state wanted a coordinator to bring together all the observers and their yearly records of breeding birds in the state, they asked Gil to oversee Marine Region 10, a monstrous five-year project.

Like Roy Latham, Gil Raynor was a self-taught individual. With his background in meteorology from his Navy service during World War 11, he got a job at Brookhaven Lab. Knowing then his field was becoming more and more technical, he applied for a grant to further his education and, with the heavy competition of Brookhaven Lab's personnel, he came out on top. He was a remarkable person. He became so proficient and well-known in his field that he was often sent overseas to deliver papers on technical aspects of meteorology.

During the 1960's, Gil collaborated with the New York State botanist, Dr. Eugene Ogden, on pollen studies at Brookhaven Lab. Results of these studies were published in botanical, meteorological, medical, agricultural, and other scientific journals, including Rhodora, the journal of the New England Botanical Club.

Paul Stoutenburgh

Chipping Sparrow 23 April 2022 in Central Park D. Allen

Arrival of Spring Birds. Bay Ridge, L. I. [Brooklyn], June 4, 1882.

Below I give a list of some arrivals of birds during the past spring [1882]:

Hermit thrush, April 8;

brown thrasher, April 27;

wood thrush, May 2;

tawny [Veery], May 3;

robin, all winter;

catbird, May 2;

brown creeper, March 2;

golden-crowned kinglet, April 18;

ruby-crowned [kinglet], April 25;

marsh hawk, April 21;

fish-hawk [Osprey], April 2;

sparrow-hawk [Kestrel], April 21;

pigeon-hawk [Merlin], April 8:


tree-sparrow, Feb. 16;

song-sparrow, Feb. 18;

white-throated, Feb. 28;

fox-colored, May 8;

[Eastern] towhee. April 26;

white-crowned, May 22;

chip-sparrow, April 22;

field, May 23;

yellow-bird [Goldfinch], May 2;

purple-finch, April 22;

indigo-bird [Indigo Bunting], April 20;

[Empidonax spp.] pewee [Least Flycatcher?], May 2;

[Eastern] kingbird, May 7;

[Eastern] wood-pewee, May 22;

great-crested flycatcher, May 21;


golden crowned thrush [Ovenbird], May 17:

black and white creeper, April 29;

Nashville, May 10;

yellow-rump, May 10;

black-throated green, May 17;

black-throated blue May 18;

blue yellow-back [Northern Parula], May 20;

chestnut-sided, May 20;

blackpoll, May 20;

blackburnian, May 22;

summer [Yellow], May 8;

Maryland [Common] yellow-throat, April 20;

green black capped [Wilson's Warbler], May 20

redstart, May 20;

yellow-breasted chat, May 3


blue-headed solitary vireo, April 26;

warbling, May 5;

white-eyed, May 13;

yellow-throated, May 20

red-eyed, May 20;


Baltimore oriole, May 2;

orchard (male of second year), May 10; male full plumage, May 18;

purple-martin, May 21;

white-bellied [Tree] swallow, May 21;

sand martin [Bank Swallow], May 20;

barn-swallow, April 2,

cow-bunting [Cowbird], April 8;

rose-breasted grosbeak, male, May 8; female, May 10;

redwing-blackbird, April 1;

purple-grackle, April 2;

golden-winged [Northern Flicker]. April 2;

yellow-bellied woodpeckers [Yellow-bellied Sapsucker], April 2

redhead [Red-headed Woodpecker], May 10;

yellow-billed cuckoo, May 22;

kingfisher, April 3;

humming-bird, May 3;

night hawk, May 6;

[Chimney] swifts, April 29

green heron, May 9;

[Black-crowned] night heron, May 21,

least sandpiper, May 22;

spotted, May 20;

semi-palmated, May 19;

killdeer plover, April 8;

blackbreast [Black-bellied Plover], May 14;

wild geese, flying north, April 9.

A. L. Townsend.

Townsend's Warbler 16 July 2016 in Washington State D. Allen


On the morning of 4 May 1963, while observing a heavy flight of warblers and other migrants in Central Park, I heard a strange warbler song. It was song patterned like that of the Black-throated Green Warbler but somehow different. After a short search I located the source of the song in the lower branches of a nearby tree. It was a warbler, and it superficially resembled the Black-throated Green Warbler. As I observed the bird from underneath, I immediately saw that this bird had dark cheek patches and that the underparts were yellowish with side streakings. The back and wing pattern were similar to the Black-throated Green Warbler, but the back was more heavily streaked. The bird flew out of sight after this short but close look from underneath.

I had seen pictures of the Townsend's Warbler [photo above] in various books and decided on this identification. However, the bird was not a bright, "picture-book" male Townsend's Warbler: the black in the cheek patch and the yellow of the face and underparts were not a bright black and yellow. This indicated that the bird was a sub-adult male.

I later examined skins at the American Museum of Natural History and found some spring Townsend's Warblers that checked rather closely with the description given above. I also compared the spectrographs of the songs of the Townsend's Warbler and the Black-throated Green Warbler and found them similar.

The bird defied the search of many observers the rest of the morning. In the afternoon two observers, Betty Loeb and Ben Gilbert, independently found and identified the bird as a Townsend's Warbler.


Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD

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

male Black-and-white Warbler (3 May 2022) in Central Park by Deborah Allen


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