Saturday, January 26, 2008

More about our Bird Star [Post III]

Photo by Lloyd Spitalnik - 25 January '08 -

It's Saturday at Union Square Park: Greenmarket vendors, amateur art sellers, dog walkers, tourists, street musiucians [today-- a country-music fiddler] and --now a regular feature-- scores of birders with telescopes, camera, binoculars of every price range, converging on the south-west corner of the park -- in the little island with the Ghandi statue -- to see the Scott's Oriole

Eric Salzman, a composer and a notable birder, (as well as the book editor for many birding magazines) sent the following optimistic note to e-birds:

The Scott's Oriole in Union Square appears to me to be in the process of molt. If so, and if it continues to find enough food to sustain itself, I think it would be unlikely to wander off. So we may have the pleasure of being able to watch it molt into adult plumage over the coming weeks!

And Robb Jett, who usually does his birding in Prospect Park , posting all news on his excellent website -- --visited the bird today. His report and the bird's GPS coordinates , are below:

The Scott's Oriole was still present in Union Square Park when I left at approximately 11:30AM. I watched it for about 1 hour during which time it moved back and forth between a grassy patch at the south end of the dog run and the preferred area behind the Mohandas Gandhi statue. When I arrived it hadn't been seen for about 30 minutes but was eventually located perched in a tree 50 yards due east of the
statue, on the west side of the equestrian statue of George Washington.

In the unlikely event that you get lost in Union Square Park and need to use your GPS unit, here are the coordinates for the three areas described:




Quick Update- [post II]

As of 9 a.m. this morning -- the Scott's Oriole is still in Union Square Park, hanging out near the Ghandhi statue

As of last night:
1. Long-eared Owls---present!

2. West Side screech owls -- furtive but...present. [If you are the irresponsible person who has been playing calls, doing screech imitations and engaging in other very disturbing activities in front of the owl cavity -- STOP it! You are endangering these owls. If you are attending a fly-out at ths pair's nest and meet this irresponsible person, please express your strong disapproval.]

Bob and the well-heeled Levy

Photo by Bob Levy who sent in the following comment:

For a few weeks I have consistently found a small flock of House Finches near the playground adjacent to the southeastern edge of the Metropolitan Museum of Art between East 80th and 79th streets close to Fifth Avenue. The playground has a decorative entrance known as the Levy Gate upon which a prominent but tasteful plaque identifies the generous donor. Who is this apparently well-heeled Levy? Well friends it surely wasn't me or, as far as I know, any of my relatives. It’s a nice coincidence that I share the same last name but I would much rather have the bucks it cost to put the gate there. Sigh.

Oops. Please forgive that self-pitying digression and let me return to the brief and none too surprising back-story about this image.

This particular group of finches has always perched too high for me to get a close-up shot of them but on this occasion the birds had conveniently congregated in a Hawthorn Tree along the edge of the path where I habitually enter Central Park. Historically I have found House Finches to be skittish and difficult to approach but in this instance you might say I got a fortuitous vegetative assist from Nature. Ok, you probably would not put it that way but I did because once again it was the allure of ripe Hawthorn berries that induced a bird to linger long enough for me to snap its picture. So I enthusiastically say “Thank you male House Finch” and “Thank you Hawthorn Tree.” I might add, “Thank you Hawthorn Berry at least in your predigested form” but on second thought maybe I won’t.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Orchard Oriole: NOT

The bird I blithely reported in its appearance in Union Square Park yesterday turned out to be a BIG DEAL BIRD: a Scott's Oriole, a species that has never before been reported in New York State--or, in fact, anywhere nearby. Here it is as it was seen by huge numbers of birders in the park today -- even me.

Photo of Scott's Oriole taken on Jan. 24m 2008 by David Speiser. A link for more oriole pix by Speiser:

Many of Central Park's best birders were in Union Square Park to view this unusual bird Among them was Lloyd Spitalnik who wrote on the Metro Birding Briefs listserv:

Hi all,
Just arrived home after viewing and photographing the bird for the last several hours. I'll try to put some photos on my website by this evening. [see link below]

Based on today's behavior, I think the best strategy is to wait in one place and let the bird come to you. You can stand either, outside the park on B'way just north of 14th St. looking east or in the park looking west. There is a fenced off area where holly trees and some viburnum are and the bird comes back to these trees and shrubs about every 10-15 minutes. Some birders have brought in orange halves but I never saw the bird go to them. Instead, it sometimes fed on a Kaiser roll. It was also going to sapsucker tracks (the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is there) and at times was eating berries from the holly tree. Good luck if you go. This is a very exciting bird to have in NYC.

Lloyd Spitalnik

Also there today was Bob Paxton, a noted historian, a well-known birder and former president of the Linnaean Society. He wrote:

Quoting Jaramillo & Burke (1999) *New World
Blackbirds, The Icterids*: "Scott's Oriole is prone to
vagrancy, both to the north and the northeast as an

For the record, last winter an adult male Scott's Oriole was at a
Mechanicsburg, PA, feeder for a first state record in February-March
2007 and an adult female Audubon's Oriole was at a feeder in Jefferson
Co., Indiana in January-February 2007. There were no previous US
records for this species north of Texas. Pictures in North American
Birds 61:2 (winter season 2006-2007), pp. 364 and 365.

Bob Paxton

UPDATE: just posted on e-birds:

As of 4:00PM today (Jan 24) the bird was still in the SW corner of the Park and being very cooperative.

Wayne Mones

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Owls and an Orchard Oriole

Photo of the West Side female screech owl taken by Donna Brown 1/22/08 Check her website for details:

Made it to the West Side owl tree today--three other owlers present.
Fly-out was at 5:40 pm. Only the male emerged. We believe the female is sitting on eggs!

The following report is not not a Central Park sighting but took place at a park that happens to be right across the street from my office --Union Square Park-- where today at about 3:30 I sent in the the last missing parts of my book, the Bibliography and the Acknowledgements . Now I'm really finished. Whew! Finally I can devote myself to pleasant tasks like posting reports on this website.

Ardith Bondi, who took the photo of the Orchard Oriole above, writes:

This afternoon, Wednesday, January 23, 2008, Alice Deutsch led me to an Orchard Oriole in Union Square Park. It was feeding on sap from some Sapsucker holes (Alice saw the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker drill them) and crumbs on the ground in the fenced-in area behind the Ghandi statue. Alice said she and Lenore Swenson first spotted this bird in the same location on December 4.

As for Central Park bird life, Pat Pollock sent in the Central Park Report to e-birds::
In addition to the Yellow-breasted Chat at the Conservatory Garden

3 woodpeckers: Hairy, 2 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers,
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Hermit Thrushes - 3 sightings

We also saw Pied-billed Grebe
DC Cormorant
Several (f) Hooded Mergansers