Friday, March 06, 2009

Phoebe time

Eastern Phoebe -- Central Park -- April 10, 2008
Photo by Lloyd Spitalnik

A member of the Flycatcher family, a notable tail-flicker, and Central Park's first spring migrant, the Eastern Phoebe usually arrives a week or two before the vernal equinox.

On March 10, 1909, almost exactly 100 years ago, ornithologist Ludlow Griscom, then working at the American Museum of Natural History, walked across the street into Central Park and saw his first Phoebe of the year . In 2000 I beat Griscom by a day, spotting my first spring Phoebe on March 9. But most years the first Phoebe report is about a week later, and my bird calendar has many Phoebe entries on March 15, 16 and 17.

Happy Phoebe hunting!