The Nesting Virginia Rails and Eastern Meadowlarks of Manhattan (1900)

Updated: Jun 28

Eastern Meadowlark by Deborah Allen 12 April 2012 on Long Island NY

Eastern Meadowlark

Schedule Notes: Be aware of SCHEDULE CHANGES: This Friday, 10 June is the last Friday walk until August. Also, there is NO bird walk on Monday, 13 June (until Monday, 15 August). AND (very important): This SUNDAY, 12 JUNE the bird walks (7:30am/9:30am) meet uptown at Conservatory Garden at 105th street - it is the day of the Puerto Rican Parade so the lower park is crazy with security/police and people - see here (click on that link!) for complete bird walk schedule. Starting 18 June, all summer Saturday walks meet at 8:30am; and all Sunday walks meet at 9:30am until August - at the Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe.



8 June 2022 to 24 June 2022


Virginia Rails and Eastern Meadowlarks


IMPORTANT: we'll write it again! This Sunday (12 June) the bird walk meets uptown at Conservatory Garden (105th street and 5th Ave) because of the Puerto Rican Day Parade in the lower park area...check the Schedule page of this web site for details/directions.


In this Newsletter we present some of the rich bird and botanical history of the Inwood Hill Park area of northern Manhattan bordering the Hudson River on the west; the Bronx on the north; and parts of Manhattan, especially the Harlem River, on the east. Yes Inwood is known for its wonderful marble (and schist) geological formations - but until fairly recently in geological time, there were extensive fresh (and salt) water marshes and meadows that bordered the present-day park. Breeding birds included Eastern Meadowlarks in the higher drier areas of the meadows, and Virginia Rails, Sora Rails and others in the lower, wetter areas. We send written proof (observations made 1902-1909), from perhaps the best historical article about birds in "old" New York. Enjoy - and don't forget re: Sunday!

Ft. George [Inwood, Manhattan] Looking North towards the Bronx - about 1900

In this week's HISTORICAL NOTES we feature information on Inwood Hill Park, particularly the birds (1887-1909) such as Virginia Rails, Sora Rails and Eastern Meadowlarks. You can see some of the marshes and upland meadows they depended upon in the photo above. We also send some plant notes from field trips done at Inwood Hill Park by the Torry Botanical Club in the 20th Century. Unfortunately, time/space does not allow us to delve too deeply into the geology of the Inwood area; or the fossil Mastodon discovered on Dyckman Street; or the rich history of Native Americans in the park (including an Indian Museum ca. 1930); or some of the extraordinary people of the neighborhood such as Samuel Dvoskin MD.


Historical Note (a) was written in 1887 about the Dyckman meadws "alive with game": Eastern Meadowlarks and BobWhite Quail; Note (b) is a 1909 article of Virginia and Sora Rails nesting in the Dyckman Meadows in 1902-1907, and being able to see them from the nearby elevated train station: the #1 train; in (c/d/e/f) are short observations on the plants of Inwood from field trips made by the Torrey Botanical Club of New York City on their forays into the park 1930-1996.

Sora Rail by Deborah Allen 22 October 2015 in NYC

E.P. Bicknell age 55 in 1915

Good! Bird Walks for mid-June to Late June = each $10

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


Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here


1. Friday, 10 June: (8:30am) Conservatory Garden (105th street and 5th Avenue) $10

Last Friday walk until mid-August when we return from Africa


2!!!. Saturday, 11 June: 7:30am and again at 9:30am; Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe $10

3!!!. Sunday, 12 June: 7:30am and 9:30am; NOTE ALTERNATE MEETING LOCATION $10 MEET at: Conservatory Garden (105th street and 5th Avenue). Today is the Puerto Rican Day Parade! The lower park will be crazy with security and people - so we meet uptown instead.


!!!: 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. Saturday, 18 June: 8:30am ONLY; Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe $10


***2. Sunday, 19 June: 9:30am ONLY; Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe $10


***Sandra Critelli leads this weekend's walks (18-19 June) while we are on Madeira Island (Portugal) doing research on pelagic birds. Deborah and Bob will be back for the Sat/Sun June 25-26 and 2-3-4 July Bird Walks meeting at the same times/location. On 6 July they head off to Kruger National Park in South Africa - back 10 August.


Any questions send them our way: rdcny@earthlink.net or call: 718-828-8262 (home)


Cape May Warbler in Central Park on 2 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! Until and including Saturday, 11 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). HOWEVER, the Sunday, 12 June bird walks meet uptown at Conservatory Garden (105th street and 5th Ave - because of the Puerto Rican Day Parade that closes off much of the lower park). Starting Saturday, 18 June and continue every Saturday-Sunday until early August, bird walks meet at 8:30am ONLY (Saturdays) and 9:30am ONLY (Sundays). These summer walks always meet at the Boathouse. Please note: the Boathouse is not one of the buildings that surround the nearby Model Boat Pond - people make this mistake all the time! Summer walks are led by Ms. Sandra Critelli: 917-495-2348 and Email: sandracritelli@gmail.com

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. ONE LAST NOTE: if one of the summer walks between 13 June and 12 August, if there is concern about the weather, call or email Sandra Critelli: 917-495-2348 and Email: sandracritelli@gmail.com


Wilson's Warbler in Central Park on 8 May 2022 by Deborah Allen

Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights):


Thursday 26 May through Monday 30 May 2022 (inclusive).


1. Deborah's List of Birds in Central Park for Thursday, 26 May 2022: Click Here

2. Deborah's List of Birds in Central Park for Friday, 27 May 2022: Click Here

3. Deborah's List of Birds in Central Park for Saturday, 28 May 2022: Click Here

4. Deborah's List of Birds in Central Park for Sunday, 29 May 2022: Click Here

5. Deborah's List of Birds in Central Park for Monday 30 May 2022: Click Here


Friday 3 June through Monday 6 June 2022 (inclusive).


1. Deborah's List of Birds in Central Park for Friday, 3 June 2022: Rain! No Bird Walk

2. Deborah's List of Birds in Central Park for Saturday, 4 June 2022: Click Here

3. Deborah's List of Birds in Central Park for Sunday, 5 June 2022: Click Here

4. Deborah's List of Birds in Central Park for Monday 6 June 2022: Click Here


Friday 10 June through Sunday 13 June 2022 (inclusive).


1. Deborah's List of Birds in Central Park for Friday, 10 June 2022: Click Here

2. Deborah's List of Birds in Central Park for Saturday, 11 June 2022: Click Here

3. Deborah's List of Birds in Central Park for Sunday, 12 June 2022: Click Here


Dyckman Valley [Manhattan] Looking North from Ft. Tryon - about 1900

HISTORICAL NOTES


NEW YORK MEADOWS ALIVE WITH GAME [1887]. A few days ago, while proceeding with a survey over the Dykeman Meadows [see photo above], at Kings Bridge, at the extreme upper end of Manhattan Island, where the new ship canal is to pass, we had the pleasure of coming in range and raising three woodcock, five meadowlarks and two snipe. On Sept. 17 [1887], when engaged on the line of the old aqueduct, passing through the grounds of Mr. Lewis G. Morris [see obit below], at Fordham, we marked down fifteen fine, fat, plump Meadowlarks within a line of 200yds. of the old aqueduct, which is there quite secluded by a cedar wall environment. Again in various meadows on the river line the like pleasant things occur, with a continuous call note from morn till nightfall, and erewhile the night moon sheds its modest silver rays upon the gloaming, we hear the most welcome call of King Bob White. CANONICUS (Westchester, Sept. 17).


Eastern Meadowlark by Deborah Allen 9 April 2021 in Central Park

LEWIS G. MORRIS DEAD [1900].

New York Times 22 September 1900


Member of Distinguished American Family-Advanced Harlem Ship Canal Project.


Lewis G. Morris, one of the oldest residents of Westchester County and the Borough of the Bronx, died at his residence, Mount Fordham, Morris Heights, at 4:15 o'clock yesterday afternoon. He was born Aug. 19, 1808, in Fordham, and was a son of Robert Morris of Mount Fordham and Frances Ludlam of Goshen, Orange County.


Mr. Morris was descended from old Revolutionary stock. He was a grandson of Richard Morris, Colonial judge to the Admiralty, and Second Chief Justice of New York State and a grand-nephew of Gouverneur Morris, Washington's Minister to France, and of Lewis Morris, signer of the Declaration of Independence.


Mr. Morris's home, Mount Fordham, was in the possession of the family for many years prior to the Revolutionary War. The original mansion was burned by the British. The present house was rebuilt by his father, Robert Morris, and enlarged by Lewis G. Morris.


Since 1838 he has taken a deep interest in the navigation of the Harlem River. It was largely due to the efforts of Mr. Morris and his neighbors that the Harlem River is spanned by the aqueduct bridge, known as High Bridge, instead of by a solid structure which would have prevented the navigation of the stream.


From 1838 almost to the present time [1900] he has advocated the improvement of the Harlem River. It was due largely to his efforts that the United States Government has at last completed the cut known as the Harlem Ship Canal, connecting the Harlem and Hudson Rivers.


Mr. Morris, before the old farm at Fordham was encroached upon, took a great interest in agriculture, and was one of the first breeders and importers of Short Horn and Devonshire cattle and south down sheep.


When his farm became too small he purchased another at Scarsdale and on these two he raised his celebrated herds of cattle. He visited Europe in the fifties [1850s] and in England he made some remarkable selections of livestock.


These animals he imported to Cuba, Sandwich Islands, and South American ports and it may be said that the importation of the Short Horns by Morris, Becar, Thorn, and the Alexanders of Kentucky has resulted in the improvement of the breed of American cattle so that the development of the Texas steer has developed into one of the greatest of American Industries.


Some of the descendants of Mr. Morris's stock were taken back to England again.


Mr. Morris served as President and was for a time one of the most active members of the New York State and Westchester County Agricultural Societies, and at the time of his death was a member of the Royal Agricultural Society of England.


Mr. Morris, though unskilled in military life, as far back as 1840 was Inspector, with the rank of Colonel, in the Division of New York Militia, which at that time included the Counties of Rockland, Putnam. and Westchester. When the civil war broke out Gov. Morgan appointed Mr. Morris a member of the War Committee, which was charged with the duty of raising recruits.


Mr. Morris married Emily Lorillard, who died in 1850, and he had been a widower ever since Mrs. Morris was a daughter of Jacob Lorillard, a well-known merchant in the swamp [who owned a tobacco mill on the Bronx River that became the grounds of the NY Botanical Garden]. Mr. Morris having no daughters, Lucretia, a daughter of a dead brother, was at the head of his household for the last forty years.


He leaves one son, Fordham Morris, and two grandchildren. Alice Cheesman and Lewis G. Morris, Jr., daughter and son of a dead son, Francis Morris.


Virginia Rail by Deborah Allen 2 June 2022 in NYC

VIRGINIA AND SORA RAILS NESTING IN NEW YORK CITY (1909).

J. A. WEBER.


The marshes inhabited by the rails are situated at the northern portion of Manhattan Island and extend northward and eastward from the foot of the hill at Fort George (190th Street and Amsterdam Avenue). These marshes formerly lined the shore of the Harlem River, but through street improvements have been separated from the river and cut up into small areas. The water in these marshes no longer rises and falls with the tide and the only connection with the river is through drain pipes under the streets; consequently the water is more or less fresh.


The rails first attracted my attention during the early part of June, 1902, when my brother who had climbed into an oak tree overlooking the marshes, shouted to me that he saws one Water Chicken running about in the swamp. I made a thorough search of the marshes on the 24th of the same month and secured a specimen which proved to be the Virginia Rail (Rallus virginianus). It was the 4th of June, 1905, however, before I discovered any nest and eggs. This nest was found in the cattail marsh situated on Ninth Avenue between 205th and 206th Streets. The eggs were scattered in and around the nest and had been emptied of their contents by some animal, probably by a muskrat. I found a dead rail in the vicinity but was unable to determine the cause of her death.


On June 1, 1907, I found a Virginia Rail on her nest, incubating ten eggs, in the patch of rushes about half a block south of the Dyckman Street subway station. The bird allowed me to approach within three feet of her, when I flushed her from the nest by a sudden movement on my part to gain a solid footing. She remained in the immediate vicinity of her nest while I adjusted my camera, strutting about with her feathers puffed up and wings spread like a turkey cock, giving her a rather formidable appearance: at the same time she uttered a low grunting sound which I had never heard from a rail before and quite unlike their characteristic notes. The male showed his interest by his sharp “kckk-ck-k-ck-k-cck.” all evidently trying to lead me away from the nest.


Virginia Rail in NYC - 2 June 2022 by Deborah Allen

The nest was placed in the usual position near one of the streamlets which intersect all of these marshes forming an irregular network, in the center of a circular of growing cat-tails. It consisted of a mass of cattail blades and stems, placed layer upon layer, the foundation resting on the mud, so that the rim of the nest was 7 inches above the surface of the water. The inside of the nest was rather shallow, 4 X 4 inches in diameter, and lined with cat-tail blade chips to 2 inches in length.


I discovered another nest of the Virginia Rail on June 6, 1908, in the small marsh bordering on Dyckman Street, with two baseball fields adjoining it on the east and south. The nest was placed within twenty feet of the street where hundreds of people as well as vehicles pass daily and large crowds often assemble to witness the Speedway trotting races or the baseball games. Yet the little mother rail quietly sat on her ten eggs, apparently unconcerned about the civilization around her. She was fully as tame as the former bird and acted in a similar manner. I tried to photograph her on the nest but she refused to return to the nest while the camera was near it; I had no difficulty however in taking snapshots of her as she crossed and re-crossed the narrow lanes through the cattails made by the ditches of water.


Within an hour after finding the above nest, I discovered a nest of the Sora (Porzana carolina), containing 14 eggs. This bird, unlike the Virginia Rail, was very shy, necessitating several visits to the swamp to accurately identify her. Approaching the nest ever so stealthily should she dart from the nest, and go off splashing through the water, before you were within fifteen feet of her, the only indication of her and her mate's presence being a call note at a distance from the nest.

Sora Rail by Deborah Allen 22 October 2015 in NYC

The marsh in which this nest was built is situated on the south side of 207th Street between the foot of the new bridge across the Harlem River at this point and the 207th Street subway station. The marsh is so close to the subway station that some of the passengers noticed and watched me from the station platform while I was floundering about among the rushes. Yet strangely enough the noise of the numerous passing trains did not deter these shy birds from nesting in such close proximity.


The nest of this bird differed in many ways from the Virginia Rails' nests. It was suspended in a clump of cattails; the material composing the nest extended about 5 inches above and below the surface of the water, leaving the bottom of the nest about 11 inches dear of the mud below it. The foundation of the nest looked like a miniature hammock and the bird probably formed it by simply trampling down the dead lower blades still adhering to the growing cat-tails. The composition of the nest, like that of the Virginia Rail's, consisted of cat-tail blades, but the lining of the nest presented a distinct departure being made of fine marsh grasses in place of the chips of flat cat-tail blades. The inside of the nest was 3 X 4 inches in diameter and 2 inches in depth, and deeply cup-shaped in contrast to the rather flat form of the other bird. It was loosely arched over by the growing rushes surrounding it and concealing the bird so that it was difficult to identify her. A narrow runway of fallen dead cat-tails led to the nest; this appears to be a characteristic feature of all the nests of this family of birds I have found. The water in this swamp was 16 inches or more in depth throughout, due to a clogging of the drain pipe. I was unable to find any Virginia Rails in this swamp; evidently this depth of water is preferred by the Sora but not by the former bird.


The breast of the Sora is about 1 inches in diameter and it seemed wonderful to me how the little bird managed to keep her fourteen comparatively large eggs warm. She succeeded however, for they were found to be in various stages of advanced incubation. So deeply cup-shaped was the nest that the eggs around the edge were in an almost vertical position thereby considerably reducing the horizontal area to be covered. Upon a subsequent visit to the nest, two of the eggs were found in the center of the nest lying on top of the others; a habit also shared by the domestic hen of placing one egg in this position. The bird probably shifted the eggs occasionally so as to get the others in this position to give them an extra amount of heat and render their hatching more certain.


Ridgeway’s 'Manual of the Birds of North America,' states the size of the Sora's eggs as 1.23 X .89 inches; the average size of the above set is 1.18 X 0.89 inches, but the loss in size of the individual egg is amply supplied by the larger number of eggs in the clutch, numbering 14 while Ridgeway’s' Manual quotes the number as 9 to 12. The measurement of two sets of Virginia Rail's eggs showed an average of 1.32 X 0.98 and 1.22 X 0.92 inches proving the eggs of this bird to be larger than the Sora's; but the difference in size is not as apparent as the difference in color and the distribution of the markings. The ground color of the Virginia's eggs is cream buff, that of the Sora is much darker, being deep brownish buff. The eggs of both species are abundantly spotted and speckled with chocolate brown and a few purplish gray and greenish spots and specks; but the spots of the Virginia's eggs form a dense cluster around the larger end, while on the Sora's they are evenly distributed over the egg with no tendency to cluster at the larger end.

During the past few years building operations and street improvements have encroached so much on the breeding grounds of the Rails, Red-winged Blackbirds and Meadowlarks, that I fear the breeding of these birds in this locality will soon terminate.


Dyckman Meadows [Manhattan] Looking East towards the Bronx - about 1900

Comments:


"The report of nesting rails, by the way, specifies locations that no longer exist! There is no marsh at 207th street. It isn't clear which 207th street station he is referring to, but I assume that only the #1, the elevated, was up and running in 1908, so this would presumably have been the remnant west side, and the bridge he refers to would therefore be the Fordham Road/207th street bridge. The marsh must have been right next to and under the bridge, where the parking lots now are. It sounds as though there has been significant fill-in and expansion of the shoreline itself, too. By comparison, in the area of the A train 207th street station not only is there no Marshland, but there is the great ridge lying between the road and the Hudson River, so even then there would have been no continuity with the shore at that location."

=========

From: Historical ecology of Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan, New York. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 135(2), 2008, pp. 281-293. Judith M. Fitzgerald and Robert E. Loeb.


"Although the legal proceedings to establish Inwood Hill Park originated in 1903, title became vested in New York City by a Supreme Court order issued April 21, 1925. The condemnation proceedings of 1903 caused many estates to be abandoned years before the land was purchased for the park. Little was preserved, especially no botanical descriptions, from these relicts of architectural grandeur and elegant gardens. "The Harlem Ship Canal was completed in 1938 after cutting through rock in a freshwater marsh called Dyckmans Meadows. Most of the wetland vegetation in Spuyten Duyvil was destroyed, including a stand of Caulophyllum thalictroides (Blue cohosh - now extirpated in all of NYC; it prefers low, wet ground) at the west ridges northern base. Parks Commissioner Robert Moses directed the filling of the Inwood Hill Park marsh with debris from subway excavations to form six baseball fields. After the hurricane of 1938 toppled the oldest Liriodendron tulipifera tree in the park (and toppled more than 1000 trees in Central Park), the remaining marsh was filled for a soccer field.


On the way to Inwood Hill Park on 2 May 2009 rdc

Wood Thrush

March 9, 1930. Field Trip of the Torrey Botanical Club:

Inwood Hill Park

Leader: Helene Lunt

47 members and guests present. Before skirting Inwood's northern shore line, we stopped to study some of the winter buds of:

Ailanthus glandulosa Morus alba Quercus alba var latiloba Quercus velutina Quercus bicolor Quercus coccinea Nyssa sylvatica

This surprising group at 204th Street and 10th Avenue constitutes one of the few remaining stands of native growth on northern Manhattan. Typical of the fast disappearing vacant lots of Gotham, here were colonies of Ailanthus, with the Ailanthus silk-moth cocoons (Philosamia walkeri) festooned about and dangling within easy reach, offering particular delight to some of the younger members of our group. . . . As we went through Cooper Street, a Japan Pagoda Tree (Sophora japonica) was an object of unusual interest to many who had never before seen this valuable tree... A good specimen of Broussonetia papyrifera near by was also illuminating to the student, inasmuch as this particular tree showed to advantage both opposite and alternate buds. Passing over much historic ground we entered Inwood Park where close by as recently as 1925 was unearthed the lower jaw of a mastodon. The commencement of the magnificent stand of tulip trees greeted our sight here, and several cameras were focused on a most unique object, a young black birch growing out of the trunk of one of these superb Liriodendrons. We examined the very beautiful bursting buds on Ulmus fulva, noted the tortuous branching of old Sassafras trees, and found the new plants of Leonurus cardiaca. Paulownias with their upright paniculate flower bud clusters attracted attention. The marsh on the way to the "Great Tree" was resplendent with the staminate catkins of Alnus rugosa; and we were surprised to come upon Symplocarpus foetidus in an advanced stage. In all likelihood this is the last showing of the species on Manhattan Island. Presently we came to Shora-kap-kok, the dell which is replete with Indian lore and where there is now an Indian Museum. The museum was opened for us, and Mr. Reginald Pelham Bolton, historian of Inwood, told of the efforts to preserve the spot and to bring back some of the wild flower life to the region. Spirits were high and the day fair, and many who had not before crossed these paths marveled at the variety of woody plants: the splendid oaks, noticeably Quercus montana, also Q borealis and Q velutina; here a brilliant Cornus amomum or there a Benzoin aestivale about ready to flower, and revealing on careful search the cocoons of the Promethea moth. Further search brought to view a few Cecropias near by. Upon reaching the extreme northern limit of Inwood Hill, we passed a number of fine ornamental trees, remnants of another era: Pinus nigra, showing the "scars" of the yellow bellied sapsucker, an interesting Fraxinus excelsior with its black winter buds, Magnolia soulangeana, and Pinus sylvestris.

Inwood Hill Park 6 August 2019 in Infra-red B/W

May 3, 1936. Field Trip of the Torrey Botanical Club:

Inwood Hill Park

Trip leader: Hilda Vilkomerson

In alternate sunshine and thunder showers, ten members and guests of the Club explored the ledges and valley of Inwood park, Manhattan, on Sunday afternoon, May 3. Sixty-three species of woody plants were seen, of which twenty-five were in bloom. Of these, the most conspicuous was the cloud of fragile white flowers of the shadbush (Amelanchier canadensis), and the most interesting were the greenish flowers of the hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), with their curious horn-like stigmas, long-pointed and recurved. The fine stands of oaks on the hillsides, and the tall tulip trees in the Glen appear to be but slightly affected by the extensive draining, grading, and road-building operation which are still in progress. But the delicate herbaceous plants in Shor-a-kapkok Glen are fast retreating before the advance of the steam shovel. Despite the "improvements," however, the Dutchman's breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) seems to be holding its ground, for a number of fruiting plants were found, as well as a few belated flowers. The robust jack in the pulpit, too (Arisaema triphyllum), is determined, apparently, to survive. Several patches of toothwort (Dentaria laciniata) were in bloom, and one plant of D diphylla. The blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) was in flower, but very few specimens were seen. The famous old giant tulip tree near the spring, now in the last stages of decrepitude, still stands at the edge of Spuyten Duyvil. But only the glacial potholes at the head of the Glen, together with the Indian caves in the shelter of Cock hill cliff, remain unchanged by the swirl of progress around them.


April 30, 1949. Field Trip of the Torrey Botanical Club:

Inwood Hill Park

Leader: Joseph Monachino.

Ten Torrey members and guests joined in the botanical trip to Inwood Hill Park in the northwestern corner of Manhattan island. J. K. Small, in an article entitled "The jungles of Manhattan island -- II" (Journal N Y Bot Garden 38: 308-316, 1937) listed the trees and shrubs of the area. A careful survey of Inwood Hill would certainly discover many additional species not noted by Small. These might serve as the subject of a short supplement, which would be not only interesting in itself but also, in a retroactive way, enhance the value of Small's census. For instance, the deerberry and the lowbush blueberry were listed by Small, but not Vaccinium corymbosum and Vaccinium atrococcum observed by the group. On the top of a hill was seen Lyonia mariana, which the writer first noticed there in 1936. Small listed the flowering dogwood, but missed Cornus racemosa (C. panicualata). We stopped to examine this species because of its peculiar leaf-scars which are deciduous in the springtime like those of Hamamelis. Cornus rugosa (C. circinata) is quite rare in the area, and Small's oversight of it is understandable. We suspect that the introduction in Inwood Hill park of Rubus phoenicolasius and Ribes sativum (the Common R. vulgare of manual, the anther sacs being separated by a broad connective) must have antedate Small's study, but these two were missed. Small's paper dealt with only the woody plants. It should be profitable to publish on the herbaceous flora of Inwood Hill park. This park and Fort Washington Park are the only two remaining wild areas of appreciable size in Manhattan, and a complete list of their plants could have historical interest not far in the future. The TBC noticed quite a number of flowers on the April 30th trip. Especially attractive were large colonies of Dentaria diphylla and Alliaria officinalis. On the east face of an old stone wall grew a beautiful cover of Linaria cymbalaria. The writer has seen the kenilworth ivy in the same mossy wall since at least 1933, the same miniature violet dragon heads, two yellow spotted in front and sharp spurred behind. A close group of Podophyllum peltatum formed a low continuous canopy of shield shaped leaves, which when lifted revealed the large, white waxy flowers, nodding and richly fragrant. In the center of each blossom. Another interesting observation for the Torrey group was the seedling habit of Acer pseudopalatanus. Notwithstanding its ditcotyledonous classification, specimens were observed with three and four cotyledon leaves in a whorl, and sometimes two with one deeply cleft. Judging from the curvature, the bi-lobed form is apparently best interpreted as two partly united cotyledons. On the way out of the park, near the end of our trip, we saw along the walk a plantation of Quercus ilicifolia. The many dangling catkins presented an unusual and especially charming effect, being almost at eye level because of the scrub habit of the oaks. It is recommended that the trip be repeated next year and a detailed list be kept of the species seen.


April 20, 1958. Field Trip of the Torrey Botanical Club:

Inwood Hill Park


Leader: Jane Meyer.

The hundreds of Benzoin (Lindera) or spicebush that were in full bloom made the walk of particular pleasure. The group was interested to find cut-leaf toothwort (Dentaria laciniata) in bloom but crinkleroot or two-leaved toothwort (Dentaria diphylla) was just in bud. There seemed to be a number of stands of these two plants. Dutchman's breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) was found blossoming, but it is thought that his wild flower is not growing in such abundance as it was several years ago. Kenilworth ivy (Cymbalaria muralis) was found in its accustomed place, covering a considerable portion of a stone foundation and its delicate blossom was admired. It is always a pleasure to rediscover this ivy. Very few birds were sighted. Attendance 17.


April 20, 1996. Field Trip of the Torrey Botanical Club:

Inwood Hill Park and Fort Tryon Park


Leader: Dr. Patrick L. Cooney.


The gardens at Fort Tryon Park had a great number of blooms creating a very pleasant atmosphere. Some of the planted species in bloom included Korean rhododendron, flowering quince, Johnny jumpups, glory of the snow, and candy tuft. Non-horticultural species in bloom included spicebush (Lindera benzoin), periwinkle (Vinca minor), Norway maple (Acer platanoides), lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria), common blue violet (Viola soraria), purple dead nettle (Lamium purpureum), and groundsel (Senecio vulgaris). At Inwood Hill Park the most impressive species because of its numbers was Dutchman's breeches (Dicentra cucullaria), which almost covered one of the hills with its white blooms. A real standout was Kenilworth ivy (Cymbalaria muralis, Scrophulariaceae), which we found growing on an abandoned mortared wall. It has light violet flowers arranged in a two over three pattern. Other species blooming in the park included cornelian cherry dogwood (Cornus mas) and gill- over-the-ground (Glechoma hederacea), as well as red and Norway maple (Acer rubrum and A. platanoides). It felt odd to see groundsel tree (Baccharis halimifolia) on the Harlem River side of the park, but it is near the brackish waters of the Hudson River. Another interesting plant was the escape species, jetbead (Rhodotypos scandens). The weather was overcast and cool. Attendance was 10.

=========================== Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD Follow us on Twitter: @DAllenNYC and/or @BirdingBobNYC

E.P. Bicknell's residence on Hewlett Long Island in 1915

Prairie Warbler 12 May 2022 in Central Park Deborah Allen

#InwoodHillPark #Manhattan #VirginiaRail #SoraRail #EasternMeadowlark