Updated: May 12
5 May 2021
Spring Bird Notes: If you were thinking of doing a bird walk this spring, now is the time: the best birds arrive now through late May. We have FIVE mornings of Bird Walks (Thu/Fri/Sat/Sun/Monday) AND evening walks on Tuesday and Thursday at 5:30pm with Ms. Sandra Critelli. See the SCHEDULE page of this web site for meeting locations/info.
The good news in speaking with people on our bird walks is that >95% have been vaccinated. And in the bigger picture, if only birding in Central Park was a way for all birders to work as a team to report bird sightings (the Manhattan Bird Alert on Twitter). There we are at about 75%...
In this week's Historical Notes, we send articles on the Yellow-throated Warbler (YTWA) in NYC and Long Island from 1907-1951 that include (a) July 1907 observations of a YTWA from Theodore Roosevelt at Oyster Bay (LI) along with his nesting Black-throated Green Warblers; (b) the late April 1919 occurrence of the YTWA in Propsect Park, Brooklyn; (c) a mid-April 1919 YTWA in Central Park; and finally (d) a late April 1951 YTWA at Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx, NYC.
Yellow-throated Warbler (YTWA) first spring male - [below and above photos by Deborah Allen] in Central Park on 1 May 2021. Photo below shows spread tail of a young (first spring) bird...NOTE the tapered (more pointed/slender at the tip) outer tail feathers of a young bird, rather than the truncated (more rounded/broader at the tip than on younger birds) tail feathers of a adult. Females have a brown wash on the flanks - these are important details that Deborah Allen looks for to age migrants....And compared to prior occurrences, this YTWA was right on time: This individual was originally found on Wednesday, 28 April in the Ramble by RDC and David Barrett when it flew in over our heads near Warbler Rock - and then flew away a few seconds later. Bob then used his recordings to bring the bird back to a low flowering Hawthorne tree near the Swampy Pin Oak area where it fed on nectar from the flowers for several minutes - at eye level. All told this YTWA spent four days in the park - and was seen by many many people. See below for additional YTWA photos including an adult female.
Bird Walks for Early to mid-May 2021
All Walks @ $10/person
1. Thursday, 6 May at 8:30am. Bird Walk. Dock on Turtle Pond. $10. Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here
1a. Thursday, 6 May at 5:30pm. Bird Walk led by SANDRA CRITELLI. Boathouse Cafe; 74th street/East Drive $10. Every Thursday up to and including 20 May.
2. Friday, 7 May at 8:30am. Bird Walk. Conservatory Garden; 105th street and 5th Avenue (uptown!) $10. Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here
3. Saturday, 8 May at 7:30am and again at 9:30am. Bird Walk. Boathouse Cafe; 74th street/East Drive $10. If you do the 7:30am walk, you get the 9:30am walk for free.
4. Sunday, 9 May at 7:30am and again at 9:30am. Bird Walk. Boathouse Cafe; 74th street/East Drive $10. If you do the 7:30am walk, you get the 9:30am walk for free.
5. Monday, 10 May at 8:30am. Bird Walk. Strawberry Fields (IMAGINE MOSAIC) at 72nd st. and Central Park West (inside the park) $10. Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here
6. Tuesday, 11 May at 5:30pm. Bird Walk led by SANDRA CRITELLI. Boathouse Cafe; 74th street/East Drive $10. Every Tuesday up to and including 18 May.
7. Thursday, 13 May at 8:30am. Bird Walk. Dock on Turtle Pond. $10. Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here
7a. Thursday, 13 May at 5:30pm. Bird Walk led by SANDRA CRITELLI. Boathouse Cafe; 74th street/East Drive $10. Every Thursday up to and including 20 May.
Call (718-828-8262) or Email us with questions: email@example.com
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! Fridays we meet at Conservatory Garden; Mondays at Strawberry Fields - check the "Meeting Points" page of this web site for exact meeting location.
Our home phone is 718-828-8262...and Deborah's cell is: 347-703-5554. Email is (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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.
Black-and-white Warbler (first-spring male) Central Park on 1 May 2021 by D. Allen
Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights):
Thursday, 29 April (Dock on Turtle Pond at 8:30am): TOTAL RAIN OUT! No Bird Walk
Deborah's List of Birds for Thursday, 29 April: No Bird Walk (Rain)
Friday, 30 April (Conservatory Garden at 105th st. at 8:30am): Wind Wind Wind (but but but): the wind kept the birds low...and good looks at 17 warbler species (+ Dr. Gillian Henry on our walk) - made the morning amazing.
Deborah's List of Birds for Friday, 30 April: Click Here
Saturday, 1 May (Boathouse Restaurant at 7:30am/9:30am): The morning was special because of the amazing looks we had of the Yellow-throated Warbler at the Ladies Pavilion (Hernshead) area of the west side of the lake. And again, we had 17 warbler species...plus four vireo species. And we used the tape to bring all of them closer, and the two Evening Grosbeaks from far off to right over our heads. Go Sound!
Deborah's List of Birds for Saturday, 1 May: Click Here
Sunday, 2 May (Boathouse Restaurant at 7:30am/9:30am): the day of the Cerulean Warbler (see Deborah's photo below): there were two in the park this morning...plus an additional 16 warbler species; an Indigo Bunting and more.
Deborah's List of Birds for Sunday, 2 May: Click Here
Monday, 3 May (Strawberry Fields [Imagine Mosaic] at 72nd street and Central Park West at 8:30am): Today the recordings from my tape did not work very well to bring birds in...one or two at a time, but not the 5-10 we are accustomed to "reeling" in. I don't know why this happens occasionally. It was slightly cooler today...and we noted that the new arrivals were foraging like crazy in the trees...Highlights today were the Orange-crowned Warbler seen all too briefly; Great Crested Flycatcher and Eastern Kingbird.
Deborah's List of Birds for Monday, 3 May: Click Here
Cerulean Warbler (first spring male) 2 May 2021 Central Park (Humming Tombstone area). Similar to adult male but with distinct white line behind the eye. Deborah Allen
Yellow-throated Warbler + Black-throated Green Warbler - Long Island
On June 19th , in company with Mr. John Burroughs, I visited President Roosevelt at his country place, Sagamore Hill, Oyster Bay. The President, who is an enthusiastic student of Natural History, took us for a long walk through his woods and fields. He was particularly anxious that we should see and hear the Black-throated Green Warbler which was breeding in his woods for the first time. He had no difficulty in showing us two or three singing males that were evidently breeding, as the President said that they were always to be found in their respective localities, and generally singing from one particular tree.
At luncheon the President entertained us by telling about the birds he had observed at the White House grounds at Washington, remarking that people used to stare at him as he stood gazing up into the trees, like one demented. No doubt they thought me insane, he remarked. Yes, said Mrs. Roosevelt, and as I was always with him no doubt they thought I was the nurse who had him in charge.
President Roosevelt was so fortunate as to find the Yellow-throated Warbler (Dendroica dominica) near his house at Sagamore Hill, Oyster Bay, about July 18th. This is probably the first Long Island record for this bird, and one of the very few records of its appearance so far north as New York. The President wrote me very enthusiastically about this discovery, showing his keen appreciation of so rare a find and his great knowledge of the habits and habitat of North American birds.
The spring of this year was a most unusually late one and bird migration was, in consequence, quite irregular. A brief but very warm spell in March brought many of the early spring migrants ahead of their usual time, while the inclement weather of April and a large portion of May delayed many of the later species.
Yellow-throated Warbler (male) 12 April 2009 Central Park Deborah Allen
Yellow-Throated Warbler in Brooklyn, N. Y. On April 28, 1917, while in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, N. Y., in charge of a group of fifteen members of the bird-study class of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, I heard, near the Rose-Garden, an unfamiliar song and found to my surprise that the songster was a fine male Yellow-throated Warbler. Never did an accidental visitor receive a more positive identification and live to tell the tale. Of the sixteen observers, fourteen had opera-glasses and the other two eight-power binoculars. All observed the bird for half an hour in fine light at a varying distance of from ten to twenty-five feet, and it was still in full view when they left. Many had manuals and, mark by mark, compared the printed description or the colored picture with the bird before them. The sharply defined yellow area on the throat and breast, the black streaks on the white flanks and sides, the white belly, the head-marks, the gray back and rump, and the white wing-bars were carefully noted. The song, which was repeatedly heard, was, as described, "like the Indigo Bunting's, but shorter." While there were several pine trees in the neighborhood, the bird spent all of the time it was under observation in the terminal branches of deciduous trees, alternately searching for food and singing. Edward Fleischer, Brooklyn, N. Y.
Yellow-throated Warbler in Brooklyn, N.Y. On the morning of April 29, 1917, while walking through Prospect Park, Brooklyn, I was attracted by a loud ringing song quite strange to me, though somewhat suggestive of that of the Indigo Bunting. I easily located the singer in some low maple trees on the bank between the Rose Garden and Flatbush Ave. In its actions the bird was very deliberate, strikingly different from most members of its family in this respect. I was able to approach within a few feet as it was so tame or perhaps exhausted from its unusual journey, and I was thus able to identify it at my leisure. I could see no trace of yellow in the line in front of the eye which would
indicate that the individual belonged to the western race known as the Sycamore Warbler, but as the amount of yellow is variable and the geographical probability is in favor of the Yellow-throated Warbler I leave the subspecific identification open. This is in all probability the same bird seen by Mr. Fleisher (see above) on the day previous and identified as the eastern subspecies. Later in the day I again saw the bird, in company with Mr. Preston R. Bassett. It was not singing on this occasion but was still so tame and deliberate in its movements that it was easily studied. Since then on subsequent visits to the same locality I have been unable to find any trace of the bird.
Ralph M. Harrington, Brooklyn, N.Y.
May 8, 1917. The President in the chair. Nine members (Dr. Dwight and Messrs. Fleischer, Gladden, Hix, J. M. Johnson, Marks, McMahon, L. N. Nichols and Rogers) and ten visitors present. Mr. Fleischer stated that he and a party of fifteen bird students, all with glasses (including two pairs of 8x), on April 28, had studied for over an hour at from 10 to 25 feet, in good light, a singing male Yellow-throated Warbler (Dendroica d. dominica) in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Every marking, including the yellow lores, had been carefully noted and compared on the spot with book-descriptions and pictures. Mr. George Schoonhoven had seen the bird two days later. Mr. Nichols remarked that he and two others had carefully studied it on the twenty-ninth (April 1917).
male Black-and-white Warbler (first-spring)
Central Park on 1 May 2021 by D. Allen
Yellow-Throated Warbler in Central Park In Central Park, New York City, on April 15, 1919, I had the pleasure of seeing a Yellow-throated Warbler (Dendroica dominica ssp.). The yellow throat and breast were plainly seen, as were also the black cheek-patches and streaks on sides. My identification was promptly checked up by examination of skins in the Natural History Museum. The bird evidently stayed in the vicinity, as it was seen authoritatively several times later in the same week. Laidlaw Williams, New York City. [16 April 1919 was a stormy day. On the 17th the bird was seen again by Albert Pinkus, and Messrs. W. DeW. Miller and H. L. Hartshorn, from the American Museum, accompanied him to the Park, corroborating the identification. Dr. E. Eliot has since called on the 'phone to report having seen the Yellow-throated Warbler on April 17 in an oak tree near the Schiller Statue. The others had seen it at 'the point' which projects into the lake. It has not been reported since the 17th, though observers have been on the lookout for it. Mr. Miller was not satisfied as to whether the bird belonged to the South Atlantic or Mississippi Valley race of this species, and since he has had powerful glasses available to determine this point, no one has seen it. John T. Nichols]
female Yellow-throated Warbler 20 April 2005 Central Park Deborah Allen
note brown "wash" on sides of this bird = Female YTWA
Yellow-throated and Pine Warblers Feeding on the White Pine Scale Insect. On December 17, 1950, Mr. William R. Solomon and I found a Pine Warbler (Dendroica pinus) in a small, dense grove of White Pine (Pinus strobus) and Scotch Pine (Pinus sylvestris) located within the boundaries of the Split Rock Golf Course, Pelham Bay Park, Bronx County, New York. After observing and identifying the bird, we noticed that it was rubbing its bill along and among the needles of the White Pine. After collecting some needles, we found small white splotches irregularly scattered along them. Professor Herman T. Spieth of the City College of New York kindly identified these white forms as those made by the wintering stage of the White Pine Scale Insect (Chionaspis pinifoliae). The Pine Warbler was observed during the following two weeks and was found still feeding in the same manner. Although the White Pine Scale Insect occurred on both (P. strobus and P. sylvestris) the Pine Warbler was never seen feeding in the Scotch Pines. Mr. Solomon and I revisited the Pine Grove on April 28, 1951, and were fortunate enough to find and observe a Yellow-throated Warbler (Dendroica dominica). The bird was observed for three and a half hours and was only seen feeding in the Scotch Pine (P. sylvestris). It acted and fed in a manner similar to that of the Pine Warbler. While the Yellow-throated Warbler was under observation, I believe it fed continually on this scale insect. Although neither bird was collected and the stomach contents of the warblers were not examined, I would say that this scale insect (Chionaspis pinifoliae) must have constituted the major source of food for the birds while they were observed in the pine grove. Maurice L. Russak, 1675 Metropolitan Avenue [the Bronx!], New York 62, New York.
Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD
Barred Owl (Barry) Central Park 2 May 2021 Deborah Allen