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Pale Male, East and West

I saw Pale Male all over the park on Saturday.  He was on the nest, on the Beresford, was over 77th and Central Park with another hawk.  He hunted on both sides of the Great Lawn and finally caught a rat on the south shore of Turtle Pond.  He roosted near the Delacorte Theater.

















Red-Breasted Nuthatch

Up by Green's Bench in the North Woods on Saturday, there was a delightful Red-Breasted Nuthatch.  I usually see them lower down in the park and later in the year, so this little bird was a pleasent surprise.






Anders Peltomaa asked that I post a correction about the events surrounding the discovery of the Red Crossbills.  To quote Anders...

"Here are the 3 events as they occured:

1. Jacob had a two-three second look of large finches flying overhead early in the morning. Their calls lead him to think RECR and what he had time to see "fit the bill" for that ID. This was around 6:30-35am. I met him around 8am or so and that's when he told me of his sighting and hearing. He had looked for the Crossbills in the Pines of by Strawberry Field, but not seen them again.

2. Jacob's report and sighting encouraged me to start a search of conifer stands, Cypress Hill, South of Turtle Pond, Belvedere Castle, and when I stepped down to Shakespeare Garden I first heard the calls from the Crossbill flock. When I got visual contact they were in the air and flying south and disappearing out of sight across the 79-81st Street transverse. (Insert, "Darn, they are gone" which was my thought.) This was at 9:45am.

I called Jacob who had gone home after we met, because he needed to pack for his return to college. He re-posted to ebirdsnyc and I sent out a NYNYBIRD alert. After a few minutes the flock returned to Shakespeare Garden and I got my first photos to confirm the ID. Then I posted to ebirdsnyc and sent another text alert.

After this other birders started showing up, first was David Barett and Jeffrey Kimball.

3. I got an email from Andrew Farnsworth who asked to get audio recordings of the flock's calls so that the Crossbill Type could be decided. During a couple of their flights I got two recordings and sent the best one via email to Andrew Farnsworth. Later during the day I received an email from Matthew Young (AF had forwarded him the sound file for spectrogram analysis). The Red Crossbills that visited us matched Type 3. Jacob had mentioned he thought their calls were good for Type 3, but it was the flight-call-wizards of Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Andrew Farnsworth and Matthew Young who should be credited for the Type 3 ID.  They alone made the exact ID. I gave them the sound file, but the id down to species type I would not trust my ears. When I first heard them I knew they were Crossbills, because their call is so distinct and it's a species I got a lot of exposure to last summer in Sweden when there was a huge irruption over there."

While I'm sorry for not crediting all the right people in my earlier postings or getting the timeline correct, my sincere thanks goes out to everyone involved.  Central Park has some of the country's best birders who are extremely generous, both in sharing their observations and their expertise. 

There is something about studying any new bird species that just gets you to think "Wow".  With these Crossbills it is how incredibly well specialized their bills are for extracting seeds from cones.  It was amazing to watch them.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Fall Migration is in full swing and Central Park is full of warblers, thrushes, and fly-catchers.  One of the fun migrants is the Ruby-thoated Hummingbird, that loves the necter of the Jewelweed plants in the park.




NYC Audubon Needs Our Help

The Gateway National Recreation Area which includes Jamaca Bay, Sandy Hook, Floyd Bennett Field are part of the National Park Service.  They contain important wetlands and grasslands habitats important to local and migrating bird species in the New York City area.

New proposals would turn the focus of these areas more towards recreation than conservation. Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn is especially under seige, with proposed expansion of recreationial facilities and a proposed gas pipeline set to disturb a critical grasslands habit.

Please visit the New York City Audubon webite for more details.  They need our community to do one or more of the following:

  • Attend one of six public information sessions in August and give your feedback about what matters for wildlife in Jamaica Bay. NYC Audubon will provide free transportation and an accompanying bird walk on two of the dates. Learn more or register.
  • Volunteer to help NYC Audubon collect 10,000 signatures in support of protecting Gateway's critical wildlife habitat. Please contact John Rowden at volunteer@nycaudubon.org.


Red Crossbills, Day 2

On Saturday, I was able to study the Red Crossbills more closely.  The flock made a circuit about every half hour that included trees in the upper lawn area of Shakespeare Garden and a small mud flat in the Upper Lobe.

The Crossbills had a wonderful way of extracting the seeds from the cones.  It was pluck a cone and then, work the cone from the bottom, extract one seed, husk the seed, spin the cone, and repeat until you need to fetch another cone.  It reminded me of how humans eat artichokes!