This week bird walks on Saturday-Sunday only...we forego the Friday bird walk (heat wave!) because of the 90+f temperatures forecast. Otherwise, an early morning Saturday walk (7:30am) and 9am...and just 9am on Sunday. Winds from Friday into Saturday are forecast to be from the northwest, and this might result in a number of warbler migrants and others in the park.
Our bird photos come from Deborah Allen and include Warbling Vireo (fledgling), Black-billed Cuckoo (hatch-year bird) both from Central Park...and then a few from Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx including a nesting Great Blue Heron.
This week's historical notes focus on long-term changes in the occurrence of waterbirds primarily in Central Park. Some of the info is almost amazing: the rarity of the Double-crested Cormorant as recently as 1958 in Central Park...similarly American (Great) Egret (rare to uncommon until the 1970s); Bufflehead (three was a big count on 7 November 1962); Wood Duck (until the 1990s, to see one in a day was the usual); Canada Goose (until the 1960s: rare transient, flying over). Several (many?) waterfowl species have become much more common in Central Park since 1950. Don't believe us? See the historical information below. We also include two articles on the 16 July 1916 occurrence of three Great Egrets at Van Cortlandt Park (Bronx)...101 years ago, this was amazing. Other notes detail the July (1917) occurrence of a Common Loon on Long Island, and the late January 2001 Great Blue Heron on Turtle Pond (Central Park).
See our web site ( www.BirdingBob.com ) for details about meeting places for the bird walks. Thanks always to the reliable Brad Woodward who maintains our #1 rated web site (awarded the ABA best ethical/science bird guide in NYC for 2016-17-18++).
Deborah Allen sends photos from Central Park and the region:
Warbling Vireo Fledgling (Flying & Perched) near Iphigene’s Walk, Sunday July 16, 2017:
Black-billed Cuckoo at Azalea Pond, Saturday July 15, 2017:
Great Egret: https://www.photo.net/photo/13761972
Pelham Bay Park (Bronx):
Great Blue Heron at nest in late June, 2011:
Osprey with Fish: https://www.photo.net/photo/18284512
Salt Marsh in Infra-red: https://www.photo.net/photo/13637214
Link to all Deborah Allen photos on Agpix site: http://www.agpix.com/results.php?agid=DeAl12
Good! Here are the bird walks for mid-July - each $10
All walks in Central Park:
1. [CANCELED] Friday, 21 July - meet at Conservatory Garden (105th street and Fifth Ave) at 9am. $10
2. Saturday, 22 July - 7:30am and again at 9am - Boathouse [Breeding Bird Survey]. $10
3. Sunday, 23 July - Meet at the Boathouse (approx. 74th street and the East Drive) at 9am. $10
The fine print: In July, our walks on Sundays meet at 9am at the Boathouse Restaurant (approximately 74th street and the East Drive on the lake; it is NOT one of the buildings on the nearby Model Boat Pond). Bathrooms are nearby and ok; they open at about 7am. On Saturdays we continue to meet at the Boathouse (74th street and the East Drive) at 7:30am/9am - but check schedule on web site just in case we are going further afield such as NYBG in the Bronx. You can do either or both Saturday walks for $10. Check the schedule in these emails and on the web site - email/call us with questions/concerns. The Friday walks meet at Conservatory Garden - enter at 105th street and 5th Avenue and walk down the stairs - we meet straight ahead at the end of long (75 meter) grassy area, and adjacent to the men's bathroom (women's bathroom on opposite side about 50 yards away). Our home phone is 718-828-8262...and Deborah's cell is: 347-703-5554. Email is above (= firstname.lastname@example.org).
We end all our weekend Central Park walks at the Boathouse at about noon - you can get a cup of coffee and a muffin there (around $5 total - coffee is now $2.25). Our Friday walks, we usually end up at (or very near) Conservatory Garden, most often at 106th street and 5th Avenue.
Here is what we saw last week (selected highlights) with some anecdotal notes and observations. Not all species we saw are reported here - we list the best:
Friday, 14 July (start at Conservatory Garden [105th street] at 9am) - no bird walk today, heavy rains starting at 9:00am and throughout the day. Actually we started out at 9am, but the deluge forced us to take cover - and then run for the train station in the brief interlude of drizzle.
Saturday, 15 July - (start at the Boathouse Restaurant at 7:30am and again at 9am; two walks for $10 total) - frankly Peter Haskell, Mark, Deborah and myself were shocked to find a hatch-year Black-billed Cuckoo in the Ramble. It came right in to the cuckoo calls I was playing (and earlier a Yellow-billed Cuckoo had also come in to my recordings). In Shakespeare Garden we had a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird. (Mark was just wondering aloud when the first hummingbirds would arrive.) And we were all pleased to see a number of Cedar Waxwings throughout the Ramble several of whom must have been recent fledges from successful nests in the park.
Deborah's bird list for the day: http://birding.aba.org/message.php?mesid=1310085&MLID=NY01&MLNM=New%20York
Sunday, 16 July (start at the Boathouse Restaurant at 9am) - today was the day we expected several warbler species. Overnite winds had been from the northwest and with such conditions in July, we usually get a Worm-eating Warbler in July...as well as more mundane species such as Yellow Warbler, Black-and-white, Northern Parula, etc. But today - nothing! About the only significant bird in the Ramble was an out of place House Wren at the Humming Tombstone. However, however, all was not lost: Jeff Ward (at Bow Bridge) and Deborah (at the Maintenance Field) and even Bob (at the Boathouse) all saw the flock of six (6!) Great Blue Herons circling slowly high over the Ramble - and heading north. That was a first for us in July...
Deborah's bird list for the day: http://birding.aba.org/message.php?mesid=1310417&MLID=NY01&MLNM=New%20York
1923. Common Loon. Central Park: Occasionally noted flying over; once on the Reservoir. May 4, 1913 and May 10, 1914 (Griscom); May 6, 1919 (Hix). BRONX REGION. Rare on the Reservoirs and the Sound. April 25 to May 15, 1914 (Chubb); September 17, 1917 (E. G. Nichols) to December 17, 1915 (L. N. Nichols); February 9, 1922 (L. N. Nichols).
1958. Common Loon. Central Park. Very rare fall transient and winter visitant, uncommon spring transient, usually single birds flying over. 9 September 1956 (Peter Post) to 23 November 1948 (Helmuth); 23 December 1945 to 5 January 1946 (Carleton); 19 February 1951 (Paula Messing); 14 March 1935 (Alan Cruickshank) to 2 June 1953 (Cobb); 4 July 1951 (Messing). From 1959 to 1967: no change in status noted.
1958. Common Loon. Prospect Park. Rare fall, fairly common to common spring transient. 13 September 1950 (Alperin, Jacobson) to 7 October 1950 (Kreissman); 8 March 1957 (Whelen) to 6 June 1942. Usually flying over, maximum 100 on 7 May 1950 (Jacobson, Sedwitz). A bird remained on the lake from 17 April to 6 June 1942, and for three weeks was joined by another (Nathan). Birds heard calling twice flying over and once on the Lake (Grant). From 1959 to 1967: no change in status noted.
1974. Common Loon. Central Park. Roger Pasquier did not note any change in status of the Common Loon in Central Park. Today, we get Common Loons regularly in spring and they sometimes remain for several days feeding on fish in the Reservoir. Common Loons are often seen flying over the park in September-October, particularly in the morning before 9am. However, I doubt that anyone in the area will count the 100 or so seen in Prospect Park on 7 May 1950.
1923. Red-throated Loon. Central Park: not seen or noted in the park...perhaps because the identification proved difficult given the optics (binoculars) available in the 1890-1923 time frame. New York State. Specimen taken off Staten Island, 5 November 1907 (Chapin). Otherwise unknown.
1958. Red-throated Loon. Central Park. Five records on the Reservoir, often staying some days. 22 December 1957 (Bloom) to 19 May 1956 (Messing). From 1959 to 1967: no change in status noted.
1958. Red-throated Loon. Prospect Park. Rare spring transient, usually flying over, occasionally spending some days on the lake. 20 March 1942 (Nathan) to 18 May 1950 (Whelen). From 1959 to 1967: no change in status noted.
1974. Red-throated Loon. Central Park. Roger Pasquier did not note any change in status of the Red-throated Loon in Central Park. Today (2000-2017), we get Red-throated Loons rarely in spring (about once every five years), and rarely in autumn.
1923. Pied-billed Grebe. Central Park: Rare transient, observed about once in three years. 11 April 1914 (Hix) to 21 April 1914 (Griscom); 23 September 1921 (Griscom) to 6 November 1904 (Hix). BRONX REGION. Rare transient, only two recent spring records. 22 April 1915 (S. H. Chubb) to 28 April 1917 (L. N. Nichols); 19 September 1915 (L. N. Nichols) to 20 October 1917 (C. L. Lewis).
1958. Pied-billed Grebe. Central Park. Rare transient. 2 March 1951 (Messing) to 2 May 1954 (Phelan; Peter Post); 12 August 1950 (Carleton, Messing) and 9 September 1941 (Johnson) to 26 November 1956 (Peter Post) and 17 December 1957 (Messing). From 1959 to 1967: a late spring date: one bird seen on 26 May 1961 (Carleton); and a late autumn/early winter record date: 31 December 1965 (Dick Sichel).
1958. Pied-billed Grebe. Prospect Park. Uncommon transient. 9 March 1938 (Jacobson) to 18 April 1953 (Restivo, Usin); in fall, 9 September 1955 (Carleton) to 22 December 1956 (Carleton, Restivo). From 1959 to 1967: no change in status noted.
1974. Pied-billed Grebe. Central Park. Roger Pasquier lists the Pied-billed Grebe as a regular to occasional wintering bird. However, in 1959 at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, seven pairs nested in 1959. By 1961 Herbert Johnson, the refuge manager, estimated at least 40 pairs with young. Amazingly, in his year-long study of the birds of Central Park in 1982, Donald Knowler did NOT see a Pied-billed Grebe - see his book, The Falconer of Central Park. Since at least 2000 (and probably since 1990), we have 2-3 Pied-billed Grebes spending the winter in the park, if the Reservoir remains mostly ice-free.
1923. Double-crested Cormorant. Central Park. No sightings noted in Central Park (and anywhere in NYC) from about 1890 through 1923. NEW YORK STATE. Casual on the Hudson River, Ossining, 22 June 1876 (Fisher). Mr. Brandreth has seen four single birds there in recent years, and knows of another captured in a fish-weir. A common migrant on the coast, the height of the migration in late May and October. Very rare in winter, casual in summer.
1958. Double-crested Cormorant. Central Park. 22 April 1931 (200 flying over Museum of Natural History - Watson); 6 May 1941 (Rich); 2 August 1934 (Helmuth) 20 October 1956 (Peter Post). From 1959 to 1967: a new autumn late date: 21 November 1961 (Denham, Messing).
1958. Double-crested Cormorant. Prospect Park . Rare transient. 26 March 1950 (Russell) and 20 April 1954 (51 birds - Restivo, Usin) to 26 May 1961 (on Lake - Raymond); 11 September 1947 (Jacobson) to 18 November 1948 (Russell). Maximum 62 on 27 April 1957 (Raymond). From 1959 to 1967: no change in status noted.
1974. Double-crested Cormorant. Central Park. Roger Pasquier makes no mention of the Double-crested Cormorant in any of the water bodies of the park in spring/summer or autumn. By the early 1980s in May, I can remember seeing multiple flocks of 25+ birds flying north over the Bronx in the early morning; and certainly by 1990, Double-crested Cormorants were common in three seasons on the Reservoir (Central Park), and occasionally throughout the winter. And this remains true today.
1923. Great Blue Heron. Central Park. Casual visitant; three records, 9 August 1915 (Hix); 17 May 1917 (L. N. Nichols); 1 September 1917 (Hix). BRONX REGION. Rare transient; 8 April 1917 (L. N. Nichols) to 26 May 1912 (L. N. Nichols); 21 September 1919 (L. N. Nichols) to 28 December 1912 (Hix).
1958. Great Blue Heron. Central Park. Uncommon transient, seldom alighting. 14 March 1935 (Cruickshank) to 17 May 1917 (L.N. Nichols); 16 July 1948 (Sutton) to 24 October 1949 (Helmuth). From 1959 to 1967: no change in status noted in Central Park.
1958. Great Blue Heron. Prospect Park. Fairly common transient, seldom alighting. 14 March 1945 (Ferguson) to 22 May 1945 (Soll, Whelen); 9 September 1949 (Jacobson) to 9 December 1939 (Grant); 19 January 1956 (standing on ice on lake - Russell). Maximum seven on 19 April 1954 (Usin). From 1959 to 1967: no change in status noted. In the winter of 1986-87, I regularly watched a Great Blue Heron catching/eating rats along the shore of the lake.
1974. Great Blue Heron. Central Park. Roger Pasquier makes no mention of the Great Blue Heron on any of the water bodies of the park in spring/summer or autumn. By 2001, one individual spent some of the winter near Belvedere Castle on Turtle Pond (see New York Times article below). And in spring 2016, I had a flock of seven fly over my head while I was birding in the Ramble at 5:50am on a Saturday morning in May. Finally, six (6!) all probably young birds, flew over the Ramble headed north high above Central Park on Sunday, 16 July (8:33am) - seen by Jeffrey Michael Ward, Deborah Allen and myself. This heron, since circa 2013, now nests in the Bronx (Pelham Bay Park) - so times have indeed changed for the better for this bird.
1923. Great Egret. Central Park. No sightings noted in Central Park from about 1890 through 1923. One record near Ossining before 1900 (Fisher); Mr. Brandreth knows of two recent occurrences in the Ossining area (on the Hudson River), the last in September 1921, and has heard reports of five others having been seen. BRONX REGION. Three birds appeared July 16, 1916, in a small swamp just south of the Van Cortlandt Park Subway station, and were discovered by Mr. S. H. Chubb. They became entirely accustomed to the crowds and the roar of the traffic, and were successfully photographed with Kodaks by several people. One remained until October 9. The next year a single bird reappeared, and was present July 19 to August 5 (S. H. Chubb).
1958. Great Egret. Central Park. Five records, 13 July 1948 (Sutton) to 23 September 1951 (Helmuth). Maximum 8 on 24 August 1956 (flying over - Messing, Post). First recorded in 1948. From 1959 to 1967: no change in status noted in Central Park.
1958. Great Egret. Prospect Park . 4 May 1952 (Alperin, Jacobson); 21 July 1953 (4 birds - Usin). From 1959 to 1967: no change in status noted in Prospect Park.
1974. Great Egret. Central Park. Roger Pasquier makes no mention of the Great Egret. By 1990, Great Egrets were regular summer visitors to the different water bodies in the park. Today they are still common in the park in summer, and as east to west (and west to east) flyovers over the northern end of Central Park.
1923. Canada Goose. Central Park. Now very rarely seen flying over [by 1923]. 2 May 1899 (Chubb); 18 May 1900 (Chubb); 11 October 1904 (Hix); 21 November 1918 (Chubb). BRONX REGION. Rare transient, seldom alighting. 9 October 1915 (Hix and L. N. Nichols) to 22 December 1909 (Griscom and LaDow); 13 March 1915 and 15 March 1920 (E. G. and L. N. Nichols).
1958. Canada Goose. Central Park. Rare transient, flying over. 28 March 1945 (Robert Cushman Murphy) to 18 May 1900 (Chubb); 7 October 1953 (Irv Cantor, Messing) to 21 November 1918 (Chubb). 275 on 18 October 1952 (Messing, Post); 200 on 25 April 1953 (Skelton). From 1959 to 1967 in Central Park: one on the Reservoir, 8 December 1964 (Carleton).
1958. Canada Goose. Prospect Park. Rare to uncommon transient. 27 March 1949 (Kreissman) to 6 May 1939 (Nathan, Tengwall) and 19 May 1944 (Soll); 7October 1950 (Whelen) to 24 November 1938 (125 birds - Manny Levine, Tengwall). Maximum 181 on 14 April 1944 (several flocks - Nathan, Soll). From 1959 to 1967: no change in status noted in Prospect Park.
1974. Canada Goose. Central Park. Roger Pasquier does NOT mention the Canada Goose as a breeding species for Central Park, or as a non-breeding resident. So we have to assume that even in 1974, the Canada Goose was an uncommon visitor to the park. In his year-long study of the birds of Central Park in 1982, Donald Knowler mentions Canada Geese in passing, but not that this goose bred in Central Park that summer. See his book, The Falconer of Central Park. Since at least 1990, Canada Geese have nested in Central Park.
1923. Mallard. Central Park. No sightings noted in Central Park from about 1890 through 1923. NEW YORK STATE (1923). Apparently now very rare. No recent records in our area, except near Ossining, where it is uncommon (Brandreth). BRONX REGION. Feral birds are now common throughout the year, and truly wild birds cannot be satisfactorily differentiated. Twenty-five years ago (1900) it was an event to record this species near New York City, but thanks to the abolition of spring shooting, it is now seen annually in spring in favorable places in northern New Jersey, such as the Overpeck marshes in the Englewood region. Tame birds, originating from the Zoological Garden, now occur throughout the year in Van Cortlandt Park, on the Bronx River, etc., and must not be confused with really wild birds.
1958. Mallard. Central Park. Up to 50 feral birds resident, going to the Reservoir when the lakes freeze; 147 birds on 23 January 1949 (Helmuth), an increase of about 100 over the usual count for that winter. From 1959 to 1967 in Central Park: Maximum 175 on the Reservoir, 8 February 1965 (Carleton).
1958. Mallard. Prospect Park . Feral birds resident, augmented in fall and winter to about 70 tame birds, perhaps from neighboring areas. From 1959 to 1967: no change in status noted in Prospect Park.
1974. Mallard. Central Park. Roger Pasquier does NOT mention the Mallard as a breeding species for Central Park. It may be that he regarded all Mallards as feral birds and took no notice that this duck was nesting in the park. However, in his year-long study of the birds of Central Park in 1982, Donald Knowler mentions Mallards as breeding in the park...he writes about Black-crowned Night Herons attempting to catch/eat Mallard ducklings. See his book, The Falconer of Central Park. Since at least 1990 (and more likely since at least 1980), Mallards are year-round residents in the park and nest annually in Central Park. In winter, additional Mallards arrive in the park.
1923. Northern Shoveler. Central Park. No sightings noted in Central Park from about 1890 through 1923. NEW YORK STATE (1923). New York State: One record at Ossining in October (Fisher); three birds shot there in the fall in the past 7 years (Brandreth). BRONX REGION. A fine drake seen on the Baychester marshes 22 March 1920 (L. N. Nichols).
1958. Northern Shoveler. Central Park. Rare winter visitant. 6 November 1966 (Messing) to 18 April 1943 (Irv Cantor). Fifteen to twenty years ago favored the 59th street Pond, now usually seen on the Reservoir. From 1959 to 1967 in Central Park: Maximum 10 pairs on the Reservoir, January 1963 (Messing).
1958. Northern Shoveler. Prospect Park . 21 November to 1 December 1955 (female - Carleton, Restivo, Russell). From 1959 to 1967: two males on 6 June 1965 (Raymond).
1974. Northern Shoveler. Central Park. Roger Pasquier mentions the Northern Shoveller as a regular and occasional wintering bird in the park. By comparison, in his year-long study of the birds of Central Park in 1982, Donald Knowler mentions two Northern Shovellers as arriving on Belvedere Lake (= Turtle Pond to us) in early October (1982) that were mixed in with about 70 mallards. Knowler also writes (for early January 1982): "I headed for the Reservoir in the hope of seeing something unusual or unexpected on the sheet of water, some rare species of gull or duck, knowing that at least the familiar wintering ducks would be there. Sure enough, a flotilla of about 300 Lesser Scaups was spread out alongside the west wall of the Reservoir, with a smattering of Canvasbacks, and Ruddy Ducks among them."
1923. Bufflehead. Central Park. No sightings noted in Central Park from about 1890 through 1923. NEW YORK STATE (1923). Formerly fairly common on the Hudson at Ossining (Fisher), now rare (Brandreth). Still occurs off Staten Island and on the Long Island Sound. BRONX REGION. Rare on the Long Island Sound, decreasing; 7 December 1921 to 24 March 1922 (L. N. Nichols).
1958. Bufflehead. Central Park. Five records, 26 October 1957 (eight birds - Peter Post) to 22 January 1956 (Peter Post). From 1959 to 1967 in Central Park: No change in status noticed during these years.
1958. Bufflehead. Prospect Park. 10 November 1924 (Walsh); 28 November to 5 December 1943 (Soll). From 1959 to 1967: 7 November 1959 (Carleton); Three seen on 7 November 1962 (Raymond, Yrizarry); 7-8 March 1966 (Carleton, Raymond).
1974. Bufflehead. Central Park. Roger Pasquier does NOT mention the Bufflehead in Central Park suggesting that this bird was a rare winter visitor to the park. Similarly, in his year-long study of the birds of Central Park in 1982, Donald Knowler mentions having seen a Bufflehead, but my impression is that he considered it a rare to uncommon winter duck. From 1995-2010, Buffleheads were more common in winter on the Reservoir than they have been in the last couple of years.
1923. Wood Duck. Central Park. Very rare visitant, formerly much more frequent. The recent records are 21 September 1904 (Bildersee); 18 September 1909 (Hix) to early October, 1909 (Anne A. Crolius); 6 May 1910 (Griscom); 29 September to 8 October 1917 (Hix). BRONX REGION. Still breeds regularly in the swamp at Van Cortlandt Park. Arrives as early as 27 March 1920 (E. G. Nichols). Migrants were unquestionably present 9 September 1916 (C. L. Lewis). The latest date is 11 November 1916 (Hix). As many as forty birds have been seen in a flock. The swamp at Van Cortlandt Park is the best place near New York City to observe the Wood Duck.
1958. Wood Duck. Central Park. Uncommon transient. 25 March 1956 (Peter Post) to 6 May 1910 (Griscom) and 12 June 1955 (Post); 10 July 1948 (Sutton); 13 August 1951 (Messing) to 21 December 1948 (Helmuth) and 12 January 1958 (Carleton). From 1959 to 1967 in Central Park: One was seen on 15 May 1962 (Guy Tudor).
1958. Wood Duck. Prospect Park. Uncommon transient. 8 March 1953 (Restivo, Smith) to 18 May 1957 (Carleton) and 6 June 1945 (Soll, Whelen); 20 July 1913 (Vietor); 9 August 1955 (Carleton) and 21 September 1955 (Carleton) to 14 November 1953 (Restivo, Smith, Usin); 21 December 1957 (Brooklyn Bird Club) and 1 January 1913 (Vietor). From 1959 to 1967: One was seen on 22 November 1961 (Raymond).
1974. Wood Duck. Central Park. Roger Pasquier does NOT mention the Wood Duck as a regularly seen winter bird for Central Park - or in spring/autumn. The status of the Wood Duck was the same for Knowler in 1982 - he regarded it as an uncommon duck in fall/winter. He made special efforts to go see a pair of young males at the Upper Lobe of the lake in October 1982. When he scared them up from the Upper Lobe, he re-located the two Wood Ducks in a dry spot along the Gill in the Ramble - and scared them away from that location as well. See his book, The Falconer of Central Park. Since about 2005, Wood Ducks in small number (up to five) are year-round residents in the park - but do not nest here. Manhattan is the only boro of NYC where Wood Ducks are not nesting as of summer 2017.
[American] Egrets (Herodias egretta) in Van Cortland Park, New York City . -- Three individuals arrived on 16 July (1916) and have taken up their constant abode in the pond at Broadway and 242nd Street for the past week. They are attracting attention and admiration. Great numbers of Kingfishers and Little Green Herons are also sharing the good fishing. -- S. H. Chubb, American Museum Nat. Hist., N.Y. City.
American Egrets in New York City 
By CLARK L. LEWIS, JR., New York City
With a photograph by the author
LAST summer (1916) three beautiful American Egrets (Herodias egretta) made their appearance in Van Cortlandt Park, New York City. They were reported to have arrived on July 16. As the neighborhood appealed to them, they settled down in the vicinity of the pond, at the southern-most extremity of the Park, and remained for a number of weeks. The birds finally disappeared, one by one, the first to leave quitting the Park sometime around August 10, the next, a few days later, and the remaining Egret on October 10.
Their roosts were located somewhere in the northern part of the Park woodlands, just where I do not know. At the approach of dusk the Egrets would rise into the air and fly northward. Their flight was slow and graceful, and often I would watch them until they were lost from sight in the darkening horizon. Every morning found them back at the pond where they spent the long summer days, feeding upon small fish, insects, and other forms of Heron food.
The neighborhood of the pond seemed far too civilized and noisy to warrant any length of stay for these birds, whose habitual haunts are semi-tropical swamps and marshes. The pond is bordered on the north by a much-used automobile road-way, on the east by a branch line of the New York Central Rail Road, on the west by Broadway with its noise of passing vehicles, Subway trains, trolley cars and never-ceasing crowds of pedestrians, and on the south by a small strip of land which boasted of a few trees and wild vegetation. Tall grass formed a border around the pond. The water was practically open and thus afforded the Egrets plenty of room to move about.
However, this change of atmosphere and surroundings did not seem to trouble these beautiful white creatures, but made them rather unsuspecting and fearless. Excellent observations of the birds, some as close as eight to ten feet, were obtained. On September 9 I took several photographs of the remaining bird. The one shown here gives a characteristic pose.
[To one who has known the Egret when every man's hand was raised against it, and nearly every woman's head bore the aigrette plumes which gave eloquent, if silent, testimony to her heartlessness, it is as surprising as it is pleasing to observe that under proper protection this beautiful bird may again become a part of our lives. In a vain effort to rob it of protection in New York, the milliners' agents claimed that the Egret did not belong to the fauna of that state, but the photograph and observations of Mr. Lewis are welcome evidence to the contrary. Ed.]
Common Loon . Gavia immer - Observed as late in the spring as June 1 (1907, Mr. Sinai) and we presume in fall migration July 9 (1911, Mastic). Mr. W. T. Helmuth reports this species from Easthampton July 6 to 7 (1915). Perhaps these early July birds should be considered as summering or even as stragglers from the spring migration. One, in immature plumage, was seen off the Mastic Beach on June 24, 1916. Migrating Loons fly with the bill open. Doubtless so heavy and short-winged a bird requires a great deal of oxygen for protracted flight. The migration of the Loon is a very interesting and irregular one. The species arrives from the north early in August, so far as we know young birds as well as adults, and is frequently met with through the month. A lull then ensues, and during September and October the Loon is usually decidedly uncommon. There is frequently a flight early in November. After another lull the main flight of the fall takes place the latter part of December, and usually by the first of January the wintering individuals are left behind. Their numbers vary greatly in different parts of the island from year to year. The spring migration starts with the first mild weather in March, increasing steadily until the last week of the month and the first week in April, when the species is abundant, traces of the summer plumage being evident. From this time till the 20th of May, very few Loons are seen, at least at the western end of Long Island. Those seen are usually still in the winter plumage even in the middle of May. From May 20 to June 1, there is another big migration of Loons mostly in full summer plumage. They are most abundant from May 24 to May 28, and a few days later only stragglers remain.
One Heron is Calling It a Migration in New York.
New York Times - 29 January 2001
As legions of urban bird-watchers, layered in down and wool will attest, New York has gradually become a year-round residence for some species that once migrated farther south.
But this winter a new cold-weather visitor, a great blue heron often seen perched beside the frozen Turtle Pond in Central Park has startled birders and park rangers.
Great blue herons are large, slender-legged wading birds that shallow marshes and ponds in search of fish, and usually depend on open water to survive but even in the iciest weather park officials say, “Manhattan's current heron appears, able to fend for itself.
“This is the first time we know of that the great blue heron has wintered in Central Park," said Henry J. Stern, the parks commissioner. "It's very unusual to have a heron as a guest in mid-January. He's definitely out of season, but he seems to be managing all right."
In recent years, as parks and marshes have become cleaner, the graceful birds have become a fairly common sight throughout the metropolitan area during the summer months. A few of the birds have been seen in Central Park, along with green herons, that nest below Belvedere Castle beside Turtle Pond, and black-crowned night herons that are often seen at Central Park Lake.
But while great blue herons have been spotted before in coastal areas of New York and New Jersey in winter months, park officials say most depart for warmer states.
Mr. Stern said this particular heron was probably not a year-round Manhattan resident, and might have flown south from a colder habitat. “It's the most widely distributed wading bird in Canada," he said, "so it's possible that he came down from Canada and that this is as far as he's going to travel."
Other birds, including the park's red-tailed hawks, coots, mergansers, canvasback, goldeneye and bufflehead ducks - not to mention the pesky Canada geese - are finding the relatively warm New York winters to their liking.
“It would be an effect of global warming because the birds don't travel unless they have to," Mr. Stem said. "If they can survive a winter in a northerly climate, it saves them a lot of gas."
Park Rangers sometimes care for injured or starving birds during the winter months, particularly ducks that become trapped by ice. They keep a close eye on the great blue heron, looking for distress. As far as we can tell he's doing all right" said Alexander R. Brash, chief of the Urban Service, "though one day when I saw him he did look pretty cold."
Mr. Brash said that even on the coldest days, the bird has been able to find open water for fishing at the edges of frozen park ponds where water flows in or out. He added that herons will catch small rodents or birds if fish are not available. “I wouldn't even put it beyond him to wander over to a trash can if he was hungry enough," he said. "They're big and they're smart - Quintessential New Yorkers."
Mr. Stern said he did not know whether the heron's winter appearance in the City is a one-time event or part of a trend for the species. "We're always pleased to host such large and exotic birds as the blue heron," he said, "and we hope this is the beginning of a long and happy relationship, because they're just beautiful to look at."
Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD