Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Central Park nature-lovers' most valuable resource

Rusty Blackbird [female] in Ramble - 1/22/06
Photo by Lloyd Spitalnik

No, not the Rusty Blackbird above in all her white-eyed splendor, though of course birds are our great resource in Central Park. I'm talking about the park's daily bird-reporters.

Tom Fiore ranges through the park, north and south, just about every day and sends his sightings to the website NYC Bird Report. NYCBR provides the city's birdwatchers with up-to-date information sent in by top birders. [Http://]

Jack Meyer walks through the Ramble daily. Besides posting a daily list on the listserv e-birds, a compendium of sightings from Central Park and other city parks, he also sends his sightings to NYCBirdReport. [ To receive e-birds write to]

Below is Jack's list of birds seen on yesterday's walk. The Rusty Blackbird has been around for a while, but for most of us it was thrilling news to hear that it was singing. A sign of spring.

For me the Eastern Towhee on Jack's list was particularly gratifying. The night before, as four of us wandered through the North Woods following the Great Horned Owl, we suddenly heard an unexpected sound: Wheet, wheet. Unexpected because it was getting dark and most birds had retired for the night. Unexpected, too, because it sounded very much like the call note of a Towhee, but rarely does one see that species in the park before April or after November. Now here it was on Jack Meyer's e-birds list for January 24. A quick check on the NYCBR site revealed that Tom Fiore had seen a Towhee the day before that. Hurray. Now I feel confident that the bird that sounded like a Towhee in the North Woods on Monday night really was a Towhee and not a figment of my imagination.

DATE: Tuesday, 24 January 2006
LOCATION: Central Park

Canada Goose
American Black Duck (Lake.)
Northern Shoveler
Bufflehead (5, Turtle Pond.)
Ruddy Duck (Several, Lake.)
American Coot (Lake.)
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Several.)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (1 Lower lobe, 1 Boathouse.)
Downy Woodpecker (Several.)
Northern Flicker (Ramble.)
Blue Jay
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
American Robin (Strawberry Fields.)
Northern Mockingbird (Boathouse.)
European Starling
Eastern Towhee (Male, Strawberry Fields.)
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Rusty Blackbird (Singing, in bamboo by Willow Rock, 7:45 AM.)
Common Grackle
House Finch (Several, feeders.)
American Goldfinch (Feeders.)
House Sparrow