Saturday, September 17, 2005

Moths and Butterflies

Monarch Chrysalid 9/16/05
photo by M. Winn

The Chrysalid in the black-eyed susan bed at the east side of the Model-boat Pond is about 8 days old. Below, a chart showing the stages of Monarch caterpillar to butterfly. We're still in stage 6. I'll be checking every day now.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

By the way . . .

The picture of the Veery in the last post [which looked a bit different from pictures of the species you'll find in Field Guides, but it WAS a Veery!] was taken at the Azalea Pond. If you want to see some other great pictures of birds in Central Park and other nearby places, or pictures of dragonflies, butterflies and other critters, check out Lloyd Spitalnik's website:

Pale Male Senior and Junior

Pale Male
photo by Cal Vornberger

I'll be telling the story of Pale Male and his dynasty at the Meadowlands Festival of Birding this coming Saturday. Click on on the date 25-08-14 on the Archives to the right, below, for details

Say cheese

That's the only thing this Veery, a member of the thrush family, didn't do yesterday when it posed perfectly for Lloyd Spitalnik in Central Park

Photographer finds an immature redtail in Central Park

A correspondent named Peter Greenberg  wrote me yesterday:


My friend captured some great video of a juvenile red-tailed hawk (one of
Junior's offspring?) devouring a pigeon very near the 59th Street Pond.
My friend witnessed the actual kill, and got the aftermath on video.

I have put the video, two stills, and some explanatory text on my personal
web site:


Peter Greenberg

PS from Marie: I can't imagine that this bird is NOT one of the Trump Parc kids.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Early Birders

In June, 1995, at the end of the "Fledge" party marking the successful launching of Pale Male and Mom I's first nestlings, a mild depression took over many of the gathered hawkwatchers. It had been an exciting few months, waiting for the eggs to hatch, then watching the babies grow, and waiting for them to fly. A real community had formed during that time, and now it seemed to be over. That's when regular birdwatcher Dorothy Poole and I came up with an idea. Why not go on to the other birds of Central Park? And that's when the Early Birders was formed, an informal early morning bird walk for birders of any ability level.

At first the Early Birders met at the Hawk Bench at the Model-boat Pond. After a few years, because so many of the group lived on the West Side, the meeting place was changed to Strawberry Fields directly across the park.

This is the Early Birders' eleventh year.We meet every Wednesday from 7 a.m. to about 9, all year round. A few of the members have been coming from the very start. Others have joined in over the years. Here is this morning's report:

site = Central Park
date = 9/14/05
observers = "Early Birders": Marie Winn, Irene Warshauer, Alice
Deutsch, Joyce Hyon, Eleanor Tauber, Naomi Machado, Deborah McMillan,
Kathleen Howley, Ardith Bondi
Reported by = Ardith Bondi

Black-crowned Night-Heron (Turtle Pond)
Canada Goose
Wood Duck (eclipse male, The Point)
Red-tailed Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Maintenance Field)
Veery (several)
Swainson's Thrush (Maintenance Field)
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird (The Point)
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing (Waterfall, Azalea Pond)
Blue-winged Warbler (Strawberry Fields)
Yellow Warbler (Strawberry Fields, Hernshead, Lower Lobe, The Point)
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler (several)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (several)
Black-throated Green Warbler (Hernshead)
Black-and-white Warbler (several)
American Redstart (several)
Ovenbird (Strawberry Fields, The Point)
Northern Waterthrush (several)
Common Yellowthroat (several)
Wilson's Warbler (Lower Lobe)
Canada Warbler (The Point)
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Maintenance Field)
Common Grackle
House Finch
House Sparrow

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Chris Karatnytsky, a fairly new birder I met last March when we were watching a family of Screech Owls in the North Woods, sent the following communication:   

Dear Marie,

Thank you for the picture of the rose-breasted grosbeak on your
website. I've been seeing these in the ravine but didn't know what
they were.

I wanted to tell you about a sad experience I had yesterday that
others may find useful to know about.

On the evening dog walk on The Great Hill, I picked up a mysteriously
injured mourning dove that had been thrashing around on the ground
and had attempted to fly away from me in a very disoriented fashion
(almost upside-down). I wasn't able to get any assistance in Central
Park and finally wound up at Animal General on Columbus Avenue near 88th

The very kind bird specialist at AG examined the poor dove and
diagnosed paramyxovirus (PMV), apparently a common affliction among
pigeons and doves. (The disoriented flying was the clincher.) The
doctor didn't hold out much hope for my little friend but kept her
for observation, saying they would probably euthanise the bird to
relieve her of any suffering. I had been thinking perhaps she had an
injury that could be healed but this was not the case. Having spent
our walk with her little foot clutching my finger, I was very sorry.

Bird experts, of course, know that paramyxovirus is a contagious
avian disease, transmitted through standing water and carried by
mites that attach themselves to the birds' bodies and feathers. But
the average lay person, including neophyte birders like myself, would
not be aware of this. Normally, I imagine that nature would take
care of itself: a sick bird would hide itself to die under a bush
while healthy birds would fly away or roost, thus lessening their
chances of infection. Still, there is always a possibility of the
disease spreading through contact among birds. Any human coming
across such a sick bird would have to decide what they are able to
do, given the situation. Obviously, taking it to a vet would be
kind. This would ease the suffering of one ailing creature, as well
as decrease the possibility of a more widespread outbreak. I was not
cautioned to stay away from such birds or told that they presented a
danger to animals like canines and felines (or humans), but I washed
my hands very well afterwards nonetheless.

I hope the information is useful.


Monday, September 12, 2005

Catching Birds

Rose-breasted Grosbeak, immature

American Woodcock

Lloyd Spitalnik caught the two above with his camera. He writes:

Both of these photos were taken on Sat. 9/10/05. The grosbeak was eating Jewelweed in the Oven. There have been several there. The American Woodcock was taken just above the Laupot Bridge going towards Mugger's Woods. Regina [Central Park Conservancy Woodlands Manager] has been telling me that she was sure she was seeing one near the Humming Tombstone. This is a pretty early date to see one of these.

Mothers and a dreaded moth

Thought you'd like a look at the Mother scene. Many people on their way to or from dinner at the fancy Boathouse restaurant nearby stop to ask what we're doing. Some climb over the low fence in their high heels to get a closer look. Often they are are astonished by the beauty of the Underwing moths. [Most people think all moths are small brown insects that eat sweaters!]

The third picture was a rare find -- a female gypsy moth caught in the process of laying eggs. [We alerted the horticulture people -- having these eggs hatch in Cewntral Park would not be a good idea.]

Nick standing on a "borrowed" trash basket
in pursuit of an Oldwife Underwing

The Mothers peering at a moth
[The high-voltage smiler is Davie Rolnick.]

Gypsy Moth, female, laying eggs.
[The eggs are the brown mass below the pure white moth.
By the way, the female Gypsy Moth is one of the few flightless moths.]

photos by Julia Rolnick

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Mysterious hanging object at the Model-boat Pond

photo by M. Winn

Last night the youngest and perhaps most enthusiastic member of the Central Park [non-maternal] Mothers, Aiden Smith, aged four,, together with his father David, mother Paula, and younger brother James, aged 18 months [ a provisional member since he is more interested in flashlights than in moths], led us from the Moth Tree, [which we had decided to check, just in case, even though the moths seemed to have abandoned it -- and Lo! we found an uncommon Underwing moth called The Darling] to inspect a mysterious object he had discovered in the middle of a Black-eyed Susan flowerbed on the east side of the Model-boat Pond.

It was a lovely object on its own; my photograph does not do justice to the luminous green color, nor to the delicacy of the row of gold and black dots underneath the cone-shaped top. But in its future was something more beautiful still.

Nick pointed out that you could faintly see the outline of the creature that lay within, waiting for the right moment to emerge. For those of you who didn't recognize that odd green hanging object immediately, it is a chrysalid, and below you will see what it contains:

Monarch Butterfly
Photo by Lloyd Spitalnik

Great fall migration day

A good number of Central Park's  "Big Gun"  birdwatchers were among yesterday's observers, as well as a great photographer, Cal Voernberger. His great new book, The Birds of Central Park, is now available for order on, or, and should hit the bookstores any day.

site = Central Park
date = 9/10/05
observers = david speiser and many others throughout day: Phil
Jeffrey, Lloyd Spitalnik, Cal Vornberger, Brian Hart

American Woodcock (North of Laupot Bridge 4:15ish pm)
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Maintenance field)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (maintenance)
Least Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher (maintenance)
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Swainson's Thrush
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Cape May Warbler (locust grove)
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler (maintenance)
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Northern Waterthrush
Mourning Warbler (oven )
Common Yellowthroat
Canada Warbler
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Common Grackle
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
House Sparrow

Starr Walks - More Info

In my posting about Starr Sapir's Fall Migration birdwalks in Central Park [9/8] I failed to include her schedule for Mondays and Wednesdays. Here it is:

Mondays -- 9/12 to 11/7

Wednesdays 9/14 to 11/9

Leave 81st St. and Central Park West at 7:30 a.m. sharp