Saturday, April 12, 2014

YELLOW & PINK IN THE PARK: a photo essay by Murray Head

Hi Marie,

Watching a newly arrived Palm Warbler. 

                                                                        On the hunt:


Welcome to The Park.

Spring reveals its beauty in pink.

photos and captions by
Murray Head

Bluebird sighting!

Eastern Bluebird - photo courtesy of

Anders Peltomaa reports today:

Hi all,
It was a glorious morning in Central Park. FOS species included Black-and-white Warblers (3 in total), Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and the highlight bird, a male Eastern Bluebird found by my friend Brian Padden (I reported it, but Brian was the one who found it.)
Please forgive us city birders for getting excited over a bluebird, but we do not see Eastern Bluebirds in Central Park every year. I have not looked back at my records but of the top of my head this is the 5/6 bird that I have seen in the 8 years that I have been birding over here.

Anders Peltomaa

Tom Fiore adds:

On Sat, Apr 12, 2014 at 11:00 AM, Thomas Fiore wrote:
Saturday, 12 April, 2014 - Central Park, Manhattan, N.Y. City

In addition the the male Eastern Bluebird that Anders P. has reported in the Ramble's "Tupelo meadow" area this a.m., there were most, perhaps all the species as reported yesterday for the Ramble area, including a male Black-and-white Warbler in the areas east & s.e. of the Evodia Field very early this a.m., and Blue-headed Vireo near Bow Bridge, on the Ramble side, plus Louisiana Waterthrush silently stalking the lower Gill, towards the lake & many other expected migrants. At least 3 Pine Warblers, including 2 bright males, several Palm Warblers, & at least 1 Yellow-rumped Warbler were in the vicinity of the King Jagiello statue east of Turtle Pond early, & while being watched all of these & some other songbirds seemed to be moving towards either the s. path of Turtle Pond or possibly towards the eastern Ramble, this around 8 a.m.  2 Baltimore Orioles that overwintered remain in (or near) the Ramble, this a.m. 

At the north end, a Wilson's Snipe has been at the Loch's "bamboo thicket" area, moving a little & allowing at least occasional views with patience, thanks to John Wittenberg & Karen Fung, watching with K. Wada, & Malcolm Morris as well as myself. M. Morris also had a modestly early male Common Yellowthroat appear at the south slope of the Great Hill, not too far above the prominent balanced boulder that sits a bit above the path on the n. side of The Pool. When going to look for that, M.M., Sandy Paci, and I saw a beautifully-plumaged Savannah Sparrow, as well as 3 Field Sparrows in that meadow just above the balanced boulder, & there were some other nice birds in that area as well, such as male E. Towhee and Chipping Sparrow, etc.  At the Blockhouse in the north woods, K. Wada, M.M. & I watched 2 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers play in a couple of Hackberry trees, very slightly east of the Blockhouse on the main path. Also present were both species of Kinglet, as are being seen elsewhere around the park.

At the reservoir, what is now at least the 4th Red-necked Grebe of this year was photographed, in near-full breeding plumage, this grebe seen at sunrise near the n. side. I did not see the most recent ("3rd") drab-plumaged R.-n. Grebe this morning so it may have moved out.

good spring! birding,

Tom Fiore,

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wilson's Snipe TODAY

Nathan O'Reilly writes today [4/10]:
Attached is a photo of the Wilson's Snipe I saw this morning in Central Park. Tom Fiore asked me to pass it along to you.

Wilson's Snipe-Central Park 4/10/14 - photo by Nathan O'Reilly

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher -- photo courtesy of

Sally Svenson sent in this report two days ago. Somehow it fell through the cracks. [And it's one of my favorite birds!]

Sally writes:

As no one seems to have picked it up, I thought I would pass along for the benefit of those who keep "first of the year" records: My husband and I saw a belted kingfisher in the Loch at the northern end of Central Park at around four o'clock on Saturday afternoon, April 5--very vocal.

Joe's AMNH walk this morning

  No. Flicker -- photo by DAVID SPEISER - Central Park, 4/3/08

Joe Dicostanzo of the AMNH reports:

A beautiful, but still a bit cool morning for my American Museum of Natural History walk. There were birds around, but it did require some work. Highlights below.

Northern Shoveler – many fewer than last week, but still about 20 or so between the Lake and Turtle Pond
Red-tailed Hawk – two still seem to be nest building on the San Remo, but they seem to have shifted their interest from the north tower to the south tower
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – at least three in various locations
Northern Flicker -  numbers are building up; at least five around the ramble
Eastern Phoebe – 2
Brown Creeper – by feeders
Golden-crowned Kinglet – one south side of Turtle Pond
Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 2
Hermit Thrush – 2
Yellow-rumped Warbler – 1, south side of Maintenance Meadow
Louisiana Waterthrush – 1, Indian Cave
Chipping Sparrow – 1, feeders
Swamp Sparrow – 1, above Shakespeare Garden
Dark-eyed Junco – a few at the feeders

Joseph DiCostanzo
Great Gull Island Project - AMNH

Tuesday, April 08, 2014


Pat Pollack reports:

4/7/14, Monday
Reservoir:  2 Red-breasted Mergansers on south mid section 2:30pm, 10 or more DC Cormorants, Buffleheads, No. Shovelers
Louisiana Waterthrush @ Point (end, but skittish and only brief look  as it flew from west edge to east and couldn't pick it up thereafter)
Also @ Point, beautiful Winter Wren , 1 Black-crowned Night Heron, Swamp Sparrow.
@ Upper Lobe, Rusty Blackbird in and under Willow
Hermit Thrushes & Fox sparrows, Chipping Sp. @ Feeders.
2 Redtails on & around pinnacle of San Remo towers yesterday & today 
Downy Woodpecker building nest in Willow @ Upper Lobe
Goldfinches, Swamp Sp. @ Gill
Northern Flickers, Red-bellied W.P., Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, abundant Song Sps., another Winter Wren @ Hernshead,
Black-capped Chickadees
Anne Lazarus et al had 2 Palm Warblers at circle in Pinetum

4/6/14, Sunday

Louisiana Waterthrush seen @ Upper Lobe from Oak Bridge & @ Balcony Bridge
Palm Warbler @ grassy meadow west of Tripletts Bridge & Winter Wren
5 Black-crowned Night Herons @ end of Point festooned in trees at end of path
first-of-season Mourning Cloak butterfly for me
Cowbird @ Feeders

PS: Thanks for these great reports, Pat.  [Marie]


Loon Release Pix from the Wild Bird Fund

Hello Marie,

Here are pictures of the loon's release [April 2, 2014 at The Lake]. He nabbed a snail as he left the carrier, swam off and dove for a fish then did repeated wing-flap exercises.  Happily, at this time of year the water in the lake is clear for fish divers.

Rita [McMahon] The Wild Bird Fund

Monday, April 07, 2014

Explanation from the Wild Bird Fund

Common Loon -- courtesy of

In response to yesterday's post about the Common Loon and the Virginia Rail recently seen on a Central Park waterbody officially called The Lake, today I received a letter from Rita McMahon of Wild Bird Fund:

Hello Marie,

FYI:  A common loon was brought to the Wild Bird Fund  by Animal Care & Control on April 1st.  We believe it had landed in a parking lot in Brooklyn.  Sasha Nelson, DVM, examined the bird and found only superficial scrapes on the carpal section of the wings and the front of the hocks, mild injuries associated with dragging on pavement.  The animal was in good health, swam, dove and ate heartily at the center and when we released it in the lake on Wednesday, April 2nd.  I called to ask permission to release the loon in the reservoir but I hit a dead end with the parks department.  Such permissions take a very long time to arrange.  For the loon's sake I did not want to wait.

The loon that was photographed on the 3rd and later found dead was delivered to us by Central Park Conservancy on April 4th.  Dr. Ken Conley, pathologist from Wildlife Conservation Society, did a necropsy the next morning, April 5th.  The loon that died was emaciated.  It had not eaten for days and had bumble foot with exposed bone on both feet.  It had no abrasions on its wings or hocks and it weighed much less than the loon released on the 2nd.  It was a different and dying bird.

As to the Virginia rail:  Some mechanical accident left the bird scalped, missing the skin on the top of his head.  the skin was stretched and slowly brought together via three surgeries.  The bird overwintered with us because we could not get it transport south.  In the past we managed to fly two rails south via the airlines.  This year it just did not work out with the airlines.  

When I had a car, we would release the rails, cuckoos, gadwalls and red-necked grebes at the lake in Van Cortland Park.  We would welcome transport help for such releases.

Rita McMahon
Wild Bird Fund

Tom's Central Park report, including Loon update

Chimney Swift -- courtesy New Jersey Audubon --

Central Park, Manhattan, N.Y. City

Mon.-Sun.-Sat., April 7, 6, and 5, 2014

Monday, a modest movement, and some birds that almost certainly went thru (onward). A check of the reservoir mid-day turned up the "new" RED-NECKED GREBE that was initially found Sunday; this is not the same bird as had been present for a bit more than 3 weeks thru last Wed.- a close look at photos of this newer arrival & the one that had departed reveals, as did views but confirmed in photo-views, that the other had much more breeding color (advanced into near-breeding plumage) while this new grebe has a lot less, &, unless a grebe expert is prepared to inform that this species is capable of losing color (reversing its molt cycle in 5 days to go back into near-basic plumage) at this time of year, or at all, there have now been 3 of this species consecutively (rather than concurrently, as has been so in Prospect Park) on the CP reservoir, this year, to date. And I don't believe that's been documented previously (in Central)? but I was a much smaller person the last time these red-necked grebes were being seen in Central, & some occurred well before I was here. 

Also still lingering at the reservoir are a pair (female &male, almost always in concert in recent weeks) of Red-breasted Mergansers, an unusually long stay by that species, & into April, at Central. (both appear healthy & certainly both are feeding frequently, incidentally.) N. Shovelers in good numbers, & more modest no's. of Buffleheads, some Gadwall, American Black Duck, Wood Duck, Ruddy Duck, Hooded Merganser, and a few American Coot are also lingering at the reservoir &/or elsewhere in Central. Some of the recent herons & egrets may have moved on, but more will be in soon &/or some may come & go from other areas in the city or nearby. There have been up to 30+ Double-crested Cormorants in the park, esp. at the reservoir but a few in many other of the waters, & plenty more flying over.

A fairly extensive walk-thru of most of the park provided looks at a lot of the more expected recent migrants and visitors as well (today) with Am. Woodcock, Yellow-shafted Flicker (40+, some still moving on through in mid-late a.m.), Eastern Phoebe (10+), Winter Wren (3), Brown Creeper (6+), G.-cr. Kinglets (8+), Hermit Thrush (25+, in most sections of the park but rather thin in any one smaller area), Pine Warbler (1 or 2 that I came up with; perhaps most that had been in have moved on, & of course more will be arriving any day), Palm Warbler (1, "yellow" race, obv. more to come), Louisiana Waterthrush (2, Ramble and Loch, as have been a few days now),
Sparrows: Field (2), Chipping (8+), Swamp (4+), Song (very numerous), "red" Fox (fewer than a week ago, still 5+ present, a number of them singing through the day), & White-throated (hundreds all around, as is typical all winter long; the huge spring arrival-passage has yet to be seen here); Rusty Blackbird (1, Loch, & 1, Ramble, each in near-full breeding plumage, & calling &/or singing a bit), Slate-colored Junco (200+, many flocks of 20+ in multiple areas & seemingly hanging around a long time in some places where they'd not wintered); also present, & had overwintered, 2 Baltimore Orioles continuing in the Ramble, and what (I believe may be) seem to be overwintered E. Towhees (4, all I'd recently noted basically within yards of where they seemed to have wintered, i.e. not a big push of new spring arrivals?). and a few Brown Thrashers, also overwintered, as well as at least 1 Gray Catbird, similarly survived a long winter in C.P.
On Sunday, "new" (& fairly early) in Central this spring was: Chimney Swift. And that "new" (different) Red-necked Grebe at the reservoir - in any other year but this one, very remarkable to have had 3 in the park so far. (Prospect Park lake in Brooklyn continued to host 3 of them; and they've been seen in numbers nearly all around the east, and beyond - big numbers, in some places that typically have few, or none...
On Saturday, a fair number of Turkey Vultures came over Manhattan & the park, with at least 45 in total between about 11 a.m. & 4 p.m., & especially before 2 p.m. Also seen were at least 12 Great, & 1 Snowy Egret[s]. Thanks too to Tom Perlman who had noted a previous few flyover egrets, these on the typical east-west flyway that sets up across mainly the n. end of Central Park &vicinity and connects the meadowlands areas in New Jersey with the w. portion of Long Island Sound or beyond. 
Sadly, a common loon did not survive, that was released into 'The ("rowboat lake" - and btw the rowboating-rental season is now open, at the) Lake' on 4/3 in Central (very BAD idea, in Central Park 'the lake' is not the water-body to bring a loon into; the reservoir would be the only 'tolerable' place in Central to 'bring' any loon, which need a whole lot of room for a potential take-off, and ideally, far less chance of stress from human, & domestic-animal = dog activities, as found at all hours, "24/7", in most of Central)  to move on & out as would have been hoped: that released loon died. This release was done by the same org. that released a Virginia Rail the same day in the n. end of Central (that too was less-than-ideal, a better place being at least in some other boro, and much more appropriate habitat, & setting); hopefully the rail got out to live its life in normalcy. (we don't know where the loon & rail had been found originally, or in what conditions; and yes, I am well aware that the job of a wildlife rehab. person is not always an easy one, in many respects. Still, if in doubt of what's best for an individual or a species of bird, get advice - our local and other Audubon chapters, and many many other resources in that vein, are very available. [As for anyone who knowingly-intentionally plays (and plays and plays) amplified recordings stressing out a just-released, just-rehabilitated bird... the law may have something to say on this, as birds do have some legal protections... and then there are the most basic & ought-to-be-obvious ethical prohibitions... just give birds a break, please - most have plenty to deal with as it is, particularly those negotiating a life and/or a migratory experience, through a large urban center - this is just common-sense for anyone caring about wildlife they're observing or studying.]

good responsible birding to all, and thanks to some park regulars who've provided sightings and info. on recent sightings, including but not limited to Karen Fung, Tom Perlman, Nadir Souirgi, & a few more of you.

Tom Fiore

New Arrival

Sally Svenson reported via email her sighting of a "very vocal" first-of-the-year BELTED KINGFISHER at the Loch [North Woods] on Saturday, April 5.
Belted Kingfisher - photo by DAVID SPEISER - 1/13/2010

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Sad Ending of the Loon Story

Bow Bridge, facing south-west.

Beth Bergman writes this morning:

Dear Marie,

        The loon did not survive, found dead on the little Island near Bow Bridge.  That rehab service should lose their license.  Wrong location for release!