Saturday, April 08, 2006

Lucky birders find Wilson's Snipe

Cal Vornberger, wildlife photographer [ ] was kind enough to send me the following pictures with a note yesterday [4/7/06]

Hi Marie:

Attached are photos of the Wilson's Snipe I took in the Ravine today.



A number of other birdwatchers were lucky enough to see this regular and early migrant yesterday, all in the Loch/Wildflower Meadow area of the northern part of the park, among them Ardith Bondi, Sylvia Cohen, Jim Demes, Malcolm Morris, Pat Pollock, Dorothy Poole and Starr Saphir. [You may recognize some of these names from Red-tails in Love.] Today it appears the bird is moving south: this morning the long-billed, cryptically colored shorebird was seen and flushed several times by birdwatcher Tony Lance as it moved around on the west side of The Lake .

PS Not so long ago the same bird was called the Common Snipe. That's how I referred to it in my book [p 30-31]where I noted that Tom Fiore finds one almost every year around the middle of March. Cal sent me the following elucidation from the Cornell website:


The Wilson's Snipe was recently recognized as a different species from the Common Snipe of Eurasia. The two snipes look extremely similar, but differ in the shape, patterning, and usually the number of the tail feathers. The Wilson's Snipe typically has 16 tail feathers, whereas the Common Snipe has 14. These numbers vary, however, and a Common Snipe may have from 12 to 18 tail feathers.

I wonder if the Central Park birdwatchers counted those tail feathers.