Saturday, May 30, 2009

Late migration report

Great Crested Flycatcher [flycatching!]
Photo by Bruce Yolton --

Jack Meyer walked in the park this morning from 7 - 10:45 with four other early morning birders. Here's his cheerful report of a typical late migration day:

Starting from Summit Rock, we birded slowly around Turtle Pond then down the west side of the lake and through Strawberry Fields. There were numerous Redstarts & Blackpolls, females predominating. We also saw Magnolia and Canada Warblers, and heard a Common Yellowthroat. There was a singing Chipping Sparrow at Sparrow Rocks. At Turtle Pond we watched a pair of House Finches feeding fledglings, and a Red-tailed Hawk being mobbed by a horde of Grackles and one Red-winged Blackbird. There was a Great Crested Flycatcher at Summit Rock, and in Strawberry Fields we heard but could not find a Wood-Pewee. Despite the obvious slowing of migration, a satisfying morning.

PS from Marie: Like the Wood-pewee, the Great Crested Flycatcher is often easier to hear than to see, and when it's sighted, it's likely to be quite high in a tree. And since it usually shows up in late May when the trees are fully in leaf, it's hard to get a satisfying photo of this beautiful bird. Bravo Bruce for this dramatic [and rare] photo, taken in Central Park several years ago.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Riverside Park Redtails -- hatched around 4/29 --should fledge bet 6/9- 13
Photo by Bruce Yolton -- May 28, 2009

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge Peregrines
Photos from NY Daily News
Five peregrine falcon chicks hatch atop three city bridges

As you all must know, Pale Male and Lola, Central Park's first breeding Red-tailed Hawks, haven't had a successful nest since 2004. That was the year the powers-that-be at 927 Fifth Ave, known far and wide as The Hawk Building, wantonly destroyed the nest where the hawks had been producing glorious chicks year after year for ten years. The "Update" in the 2005 edition of Red-tails in Love --p 273-287] tells the story of the nest-removal crisis.]

So for deprived Central Park hawkwatchers, and for Redtail fans from all over who read this page, I've included on this site that usually sticks to Central Park wildlife, two pictures of other urban redtail have had better luck than our pair.

The first photo was taken by Central Park bird photographer Bruce Yolton, who has been chronicling the progress of several city Redtail families.on his website . The photo shows a Red-tailed hawk nest in Riverside Park near the 79th St. Boat Basin. There are many other photos and even videos on his site :

A link to the second photo above, featuring three new Peregrine Falcon hatchlings on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, was sent in today by Central Park birder Jack Meyer.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Great Singers

Wood Thrush -- 5/18/09

Eastern Wood-pewee
photo by David Speiser -- 9/16/08

Two great singers dominated Central Park's soundscape early this morning--a Wood Thrush [heard east of the Azalea Pond] and an Eastern Wood-pewee, calling persistently near the Tupelo meadow: Pee-oh-weeee, pee-yur. The musical offerings quite made up for the paucity of warblers, agreed our group of birdwatchers out for Steve Quinn's last Tuesday morning walk of the spring. Quinn, a great birder and an especially great identifier of bird song, is Senior Project Manager at the American Museum of Natural History and author of Windows on Nature: The Great Habitat Dioramas of the American Museum of Natural History.

PS If birds had tonsils you'd see them in Lloyd Spitalnik's amazing photo above.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The end is near

Mourning Warbler - [fall] 9-13-07
Photo by David Speiser

Yesterday Rick Cech, author of Butterflies of the East Coast: An Observer's Guide, and long-time Central Park birder, reported the sighting of a Mourning Warbler at the Evodia Field. The last week of May is just about the right time for this small, elusive bird to show up.

The Mourning Warbler is always one of the last species to appear in the park during the spring migration. Sadly, Central Park birders are facing the reality that the exciting season is coming to an end. Most of the huge cohort of birds making the annual journey from southern wintering grounds to northern breeding grounds are now on territory. A few straggler will be showing up during the next couple of weeks and then ...the show will be over

Now the annual influx of migratory birdwatchers from all over the U.S. and the world, who funnel into the park during April and May, crowding the Ramble's narrow paths crying "Did you get the Blackburnian Warbler?" and the like, is also coming to an end. A not altogether unwelcome peace is about to descend on Central Park and its regular birdwatching community.

Some of the avian migrants end their incredible journeys in Central Park itself. Among them are usually a few Baltimore Orioles, Song Sparrows Warbling Vireos, Wood Thrushes; also quite a few Gray Catbirds and Red-winged Blackbirds [we hope];and an inordinate number of American Robins. Finding and observing their nests along with those of the year-round bird residents -- Blue Jays, Cardinals, and an occasional Titmouse and White-breasted Nuthatch, will provide much of the fun for Central Park birdwatchers during the next few months.

Photo by Lloyd Spitalnik - 5/23/08