• Robert DeCandido PhD

More Bird Migrants Headed Our Way

Updated: Sep 11

Blackburnian Warbler (male) by Doug Leffler:

Very similar to the one we found in Central Park on Sunday and Monday September 6-7.

10 September 2020

Bird Notes: Monday Bird Walks at 8:30am, as well as Sat-Sun Bird Walks at 730am and again at 9:30am, continue through the end of October at least - details below and on our web site (Schedule page). Our apologies for a tardy Newsletter: we have been preoccupied with working on our house. This week we re-did a Bathroom, and added ceiling fans to several rooms. We upgraded most lighting to recessed ceiling LEDs. Bob spent much of Mon-Wed removing 135 garbage bags (40 gallon - contractor Hefty type) of stuff so we could do the work: A good exercise regime while listening to Goldfinches eating sunflowers (seeds in ripe heads) in our yard.

In this week's Historical Notes we present information on migratory birds in September in the NYC area: (a; b; c) provide information for Central Park (+NYC) on earliest dates of arrival and departure of many bird species for autumn 1921-1925; (d) a September 1908 push for an Alien License (gun) law after an Italian shot a conservationist in the Rockaways (near Jamaica Bay); (e) in September 1888, the importance of Menhaden to Fishermen and all predatory fish in coastal New Jersey; and finally (f) a summary of the weather in NYC in August 2020 that made the summer of 2020 the FOURTH hottest on record for our town.

Sachem Skipper (above) in the Bronx (our yard) on 3 September 2020 by Deborah Allen.

Black-and-white Warbler (female) in Central Park on 15 Sept. 2020 by Deborah Allen


Bird Walks for mid-September

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

Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here

1. Saturday, 12 September at 7:30am and again at 9:30am - Boathouse Cafe; 74th street/ East Drive $10

2. Sunday, 13 September at 7:30am and again at 9:30am - Boathouse Cafe; 74th street/ East Drive $10

3. Monday, 14 September at 8:30am - Strawberry Fields (Imagine Mosaic) at 72nd St. and Central Park West $10

If you do the 7:30am walk you can do the second (9:30am walk) for free. You get two for one. Weekend walks will continue through August and into December. Monday walks at 8:30am begin on Labor Day, 7 September and will continue through the end of October. We are still considering doing Friday morning walks...Is there any interest?


Monday evening, 21 September at 6:30 pm at Inwood Hill Park [Manhattan] for Eastern Screech-owls. We will be out for about 90 minutes...bring a light mosquito repellent (10% or less deet) for bare legs/arms. Bring a tiny flashlight for use while walking in the dark on the paths (and if not, don't worry use your phone as a flashlight...and I will have a powerful flashlight - good for photographers). Meet at 6:30pm at the Indian Road Cafe. (The Cafe is open, has great food, and especially nice bathrooms; air-con...has a bar and also restaurant). Here is a map and if you plug in your starting point, you should get directions:


Otherwise, this is the web site of the Indian Road Cafe: http://www.indianroadcafe.com/

And here is the address of the corner where we meet at 6:30pm:

600 W 218th Street in 10034

If you are driving, give yourself an hour to find a parking space...this is important!

Call/Email us with questions: rdcny@earthlink.net

Scarlet Tanager (hatch-year male) in Central Park on 15 Sept. 2019 by Deborah Allen

The fine print: Our walks on weekends meet at 7:30/9:30am at the Boathouse Restaurant (approx. 74th street and the East Drive). Please note: the Boathouse is not one of the buildings that surround the nearby Model Boat Pond - people make this mistake all the time!

Our home phone is 718-828-8262...and Deborah's cell is: 347-703-5554. Email is (rdcny@earthlink.net). 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. We end all our Central Park walks (except Fridays) near the Boathouse at about noon; you can get a cup of coffee and a muffin there (around $6 total) - though the Boathouse is closed right now and will re-open in April 2021 according to the owners. 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 aim to please.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (hatch-year female) in Central Park (The Oven)

14 September 2019 by Deborah Allen

Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)

Sat-Sunday, 5-6 September 2020 (Boathouse Restaurant at 7:30am and again at 9:30am): Please note: the bathrooms at the Boathouse are NOT open. However, we do pass two other sets of bathrooms on the walk. As with last week, the Saturday walks at 730am/930am were definitely the one folks should have been on. It was a continuation of a good flight that began Thursday night (3 September). We had 13 Warbler species and many individuals..plus both Yellow-billed and Black-billed Cuckoos.

By comparison, 6 September (Sunday) featured (again) many more people (Thank You!) but fewer birds. We found 10 Warbler species including a Mourning Warbler and a Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

Deborah's List of Birds for Saturday, 5 September: https://tinyurl.com/yypuhaja

Deborah's List of Birds for Sunday, 6 September: https://tinyurl.com/yyhxhj2o

Finally, Monday, 7 September was the slowest of the three weekend days in terms of numbers of birds seen, but we still managed 11 Warbler species.

Deborah's List of Birds for Monday, 7 September: https://tinyurl.com/y5x3epgh

Purple Finch (female) in Autumn 2019 by Doug Leffler. Small flocks of these birds are starting to turn up in the NYC area including Central Park.



Comments on the Autumn Migration in New York City (1921). During a vacation spent on Fire Island, Mr. Griscom stated that the August migration [1921] in the New York City region had been the earliest on record. From September 18th on, however, continued warm weather turned the migration into a late one, although a few early birds still arrived. Among his “earliest records” were the following:

In Central Park (Autumn 1921):

August 27th: Myrtle Warbler (Dendroica coronata), Nashville Warbler (Vermivora r. rubricapilla) and Cape May Warbler (Dendroica tigrina);

September 14th: White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta c. carolinensis);

Sept. 15th: Purple Finch (Carpodacus p. purpureus);

Sept. 24th: Chickadee (Penthestes a. atricapillus);

Among Mr. Griscom’s “latest records” were:

Sept. 22nd: Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) at Riverdale [Bronx];

Sept. 26th: in Central Park, Bay-breasted Warbler (Dendroica castanea)

He [Griscom] also reported the following interesting occurrences: In Central Park, a Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzilvorus) and Mockingbird (Mimus p. polyglottos) on Aug. 27th; a Philadelphia Vireo (Vireosylva philadelphica), Sept. 15th and 16th; an Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea), Oct. 5th.

Comments on the Autumn Migration in New York City (1923). For Central Park [1923], Mr. Griscom reported 8 Mourning Warblers (Oporornis philadelphica) between Aug. 14 and 29 [1923]; Philadelphia Vireo (Vireosylva philadelphica), Sept. 16-17; a Cerulean Warbler (Dendroica cerulea), Sept. 15th seen by Mr. Boulton; a pair of Green-winged Teal (Nettizon carolinense) (1st record), Oct. 26; 2 Pine Grosbeaks (Pinicola enucleator leucura), Nov. 19, by Mr. Charles Johnson (1st record in 20 years), and a flock of Scaup Ducks flying over.

Comments on the Autumn Migration in New York City (1925). Mr. Griscom reported that while August and September [1925] had been very poor for land birds, particularly Warblers, October had been the best since 1907. He submitted records as follows:

Riverdale, Bronx Region: Nashville Warbler (Vermivora rubricapilla), August 18th, earliest date. Whip-poor-will (Antrostomus v. vociferous), August 30th, on migration. Carolina Wren (Thryothorus I. ludovicianus), pair, August 1st, to date.

Central Park: Olive-sided Flycatcher (Nutiallornis borealis), September 3rd; Great Crested Flycatcher (Myarchus crinitus), September 17th, latest date; Pigeon Hawk [Merlin] (Falco c. columbarius), earliest, and Lincoln’s Sparrow (Melospiza l. Iincolni), second fall record, both seen September 22nd, by Mr. Crosby; White-eyed Vireo (Vireo g. griseus), October 8th, latest, Messrs. Crosby and Watson; Pigeon Hawk (Falco c. columbarius), October 13th, latest, and Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularia), October 13th, latest, by Mr. Watson.

Mr. Griscom also reported a Goshawk (Accipiter atricapillus) shot, October 7th, 1925, by Mr. Justus von Lengerke at Stag Lake, Sussex County, N. J., the earliest date for the region. Two (2) Northern Phalaropes (Lobipes Iobatus) at Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, May 27th.

Mr. Nathan reported definite breeding evidence of the Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podireps) and Coot (Fulira americana), at Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.

Bronx Park, Chimney Swift (Chetura pelagica), October 11th.

Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, August 23rd, Red Knot (Tringa canutus).

Central Park, August 23rd, Nashville Warbler (Vermivora rubricapilla); September 22nd, Hairy Woodpecker (Dryobates v. villosus).

New York Bay, August 23rd, Least Tern ( Sterna antillarum) and Black Tern (Hydrochelidon nigra surinamcnsis).

Englewood, N. J., August 30th, 4 Olive-sided Flycatchers (Nahtallornis borealis).

Mr. Eaton reported a Stilt Sandpiper (Micropalama himantopus), at Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, August 18th.

Mr. Baker reported Laughing Gull (Larus atricilla) from Fort Lee Ferry, October 10th, and a Tennessee Warbler (Vermivora peregrina), in Central Park, October 11th.

Miss Samek and Mrs. Rich reported 2 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers at Central Park, September 10th.

Swainson's Thrush in Michigan by Doug Leffler. These birds are just arriving in NYC Parks.

Alien License Law [September 1908]

Apropos of the discussion now going on in several states in regard to license laws, it may be noted that, as might be expected, the strongest reason for a high alien license is furnished by the actions of aliens themselves. The most important feature of the license is not revenue (though that has its importance and is equitable), but the fact that it restricts many aliens (largely Italians) from hunting at all, and enables wardens to more easily investigate the hunting done by those who continue to go gunning.

Coming from a country devoid of appreciation of the economic value of birds, and where the smallest of feathered creatures are considered legitimate prey and food for man, Italians are strongly inclined to shoot the song birds of this country, as the most easily secured dainty to add to a none too varied larder. Despite the plea that has been made for them by some of the newspapers, viciousness, quite as much as ignorance of the law, is shown by these aliens, as evinced by frequent assaults on wardens who are enforcing the laws. The case of game warden, Daniel Edwards, of Beacon Falls, Conn., whose face was filled with shot by an Italian violator of the game law, is still fresh in mind. This is perhaps, the most atrocious case, but the news items coming into the National Association office contain very many accounts of lesser assaults and threatened assaults on wardens.

Some months since, one of our special wardens, an enthusiastic bird student and earnest protectionist, was trying to check some of the violations he had frequently witnessed on his outing trips near New York. On September 14, last [1908], he "found an Italian, at Rockaway Beach, about one and one-half miles from the railroad station, using two wounded Semipalmated Sandpipers as decoys. I told him that he was violating the law, but he pretended not to understand me. I picked up one of the struggling birds, when he said, in fairly good English, 'let go, or I shoot!' I walked toward him holding the bird behind me, intending to explain the case to him. We were then about ten or fifteen yards apart. He discharged one barrel of his gun, intending, I believe, to scare me. Although most of the shot went wild, four pellets lodged in my right leg, below the knee. Seeing that he had hit me, he turned and ran, with his bag, in the direction of Jamaica Bay, where there are numerous small houses. I tried to follow him, but my leg inconvenienced me and I was soon out-distanced. Returning to the beach, I killed the remaining bird, having killed the other while talking to the Italian. I then removed two of the pellets, being unable to dislodge the other two, as the calf of my leg was already inflamed. I hurried home and dressed my leg, removing the other two shot next morning. I have been to Rockaway twice since then but I have not encountered my assailant again."

An alien license, high enough to be almost prohibitive, in all states where aliens are found in numbers (which means almost every state in the Union), is one of the most important measures of game legislation, not only in the interests of the preservation of game, but also for the better safe-guarding of life and limb of the wardens. B. S. BOWDISH.

BLUEFISH AND MENHADEN [September 1886]. DURING the past week the menhaden steamers along the coast of New Jersey have struck oil, for the long-absent fish have appeared in numbers sufficient to cause rejoicing among the fishermen. The bluefish have also come in with them, and large catches are reported along New Jersey, Long Island and the Massachusetts coast. The market has been well supplied with fish of this species, and although the price has kept up fairly, several cargoes have been bought for the freezers.

Anglers are likewise rejoicing with the marketmen and the oil men, for their interests are really identical, and the lively catboat has been seen scudding over the waters of Barnegat Bay and off Absecom, Sandy Hook and Fire Island in great numbers during the past week, and fish of 6 and 8lbs. have been comparatively frequent, while schools of 3 pounders have been plenty. It is true that they put in an appearance late in the season, and at the risk of having the chestnut bell rung up on us we will venture the remark “tis better late than never.”

The news that the fish had struck in spread very rapidly, and the squidders along the New Jersey coast, who had been watching daily for any sign of success among the catboats, got out their lead and bone imitations as soon as the trollers and the gulls gave them notice that bluefish were coming in, and, standing upon the beach, they threw their artificial squids into the surf with very fair success. At first those who pursued the more artistic method of capture, known as chumming, lacked bait, but before the week closed the wielders of the rod and reel reported some fair catches about Fire Island Inlet, for the menhaden boats which had bait to sell had the baskets at the masthead and this sign was hailed with joy by the rod fishermen, and soon the oily slick from their chum was drifting seaward through the inlet of Great South Bay and the hungry bluefish were following up the trail.

Picture Winged Fly (Delphina picta) on 3 Sept. 2020

by Deborah Allen in our Yard in the Bronx

August 2020: A Continuation of Summer's Above Average Temperatures

by Rob Frydlewicz https://tinyurl.com/y5ruus5j

Like June and July, August 2020 in New York City was warmer than average, but not to the degree of the two preceding summer months.  It was 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit above average and the 23rd hottest August on record in New York City.  This followed June 2020, which was 16th hottest (2.3 degrees F. above average), and July, which was 7th hottest (+3.5 degrees F.) in the history of NYC. There were no scorching heat waves, but the number of days with lows in the 70s was above average.  Tropical Storm Isaias, which struck on the 4th, was August's weather highlight followed by a thunderstorm on the 12th that was the month's biggest rain maker.  Overall, the month's 5.03 inches of rain was a touch above average. There were four days in the 90s and six days with highs of 88F or 89F.  The hottest reading of the month was 92F. The two days with the warmest lows (78F on Aug 2 and 77F on Aug 11) failed to have highs of 90+ F.  There were no heat waves and none of the days in the 90s were back to back. Tropical storm Isaias was largely a wind event, with well under an inch of rain measured.  A gust of close to 50 mph was clocked in Central Park while the area's major airports all had gusts around 70 mph.  By comparison, a severe evening thunderstorm eight days after the tropical storm produced 1.76 inches, more than three times the amount from Isaias (0.55 inches). In NYC, this was the seventh August in a row with no lows in the 50s (coolest reading was 62F.).  There were 19 days with lows in the 70s, which was well above average (13).  Only six Augusts in NYC history have had more; five others also had 19.  However, the number of days with lows of 75F+ was just slightly more than average, ranking 29th (and tied with six other years).  The fourth longest streak of days with lows of 70+, 20 days, ended on 7 August (just two shy of the longest streak). Finally, here in NYC, the summer of 2020 was the fourth hottest on record (tied with 1983).  However, it was tied for fourth warmest average low but 18th hottest average high.  Rainfall was slightly above average, and August 2020 was the second wettest of the ten hottest Augusts (just 0.11 inches behind 1983) - see Chart below.

The Ten Hottest Summers in NYC History. Five of the hottest have occurred since 1999.


Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD

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

False Milkweed Bug (Lygaeus turcicus), 8 Sept. 2020. It is a mimic of the Small Milkweed Bug (Lygaeus kalmii). Photographed by Deborah Allen in our Yard in the Bronx.

#AutumnMigrationNYC #BirdWalksCentralPark #BirdsofCentralPark #RubythroatedHummingbird #MossBunker