Monday, April 16, 2007

PS about Riverside Red

In response to the previous post, Nan Holmes wrote:

Dear Marie,
Why is Riverside Red due to leave before the end of April? Is he heading north? If so why such a long stay in Central Park? I always assumed that migration was a rather constant move, stopping only for food or rest. Do these birds make long stays before they make a final push for their summer residence? Given the warm welcome by New Yorkers, why not stay?

Dear Nan:
Some birds spend the winter in Central Park and other parks in NYC and then go elsewhere to breed. Long-eared owls, for instance, have often spent Nov-April in the park, but they never breed there. White-throated sparrows overwinter in CP, and breed way, way north, maybe sub-arctic. Red-headed woodpeckers have never bred around here. Don't know exactly why, but I'd guess it has something to do with the availability of certain foods they need for feeding nestlings. Meanwhile, plenty of acorns around for winter storage and consumption.

There's another problem. He's the only woodpecker of his species in the area. Riverside Red will have to fly elsewhere to find a true love. As for the New Yorkers' warm welcome, it's hard to believe that these ungrateful birds don't give the smallest hoot or whistle or Chork! about whether we welcome them or not. But that, alas, is the sad truth.

PPS Riverside Red hasn't been staying in Central Park, which is in the central part of Manhattan, but in Riverside Park on the island's western-most side. That park, [and the bird's little roosting area] happens to be right outside my apartment building's front door.