Red-headed Woodpecker

For about a week a Red-headed Woodpecker has been reported in Central Park.  I finally got a chance to see it on Saturday.  Like most of the Red-headed Woodpeckers we get in Manhattan, it is an immature bird, without a red head.  It has selected a stand of oak trees west of ball field number 2 in the North Meadow and east of light W9802.  (If you don't know the "secret code" of the park street lights, this decodes as W=West Drive, 98=98th Street, 02=the second street light in the block.)

Red-headed Woodpeckers excavate cavities and then store nuts in them.  If this one behaves like ones we've had in previous years, it should be fun to watch this activity through the winter.

20191207RHWO01

20191207RHWO02

20191207RHWO03

20191207RHWO04

20191207RHWO05

20191207RHWO06


Purple Gallinule

A Purple Gallinule was found on the north shore of Turtle Pond in Central Park this morning and created quite a sensation among Manhattan's birding community.  The juvenile bird worked the shoreline and gave birders great views from a short distance. The species is normally found in Florida and South Carolina, but is known to wonder, showing up on occasion in all the eastern states and many Canadian provinces.  The word gallinule comes from the Latin "gallina," meaning small hen.

20191102PUGA01

20191102PUGA03

20191102PUGA04

20191102PUGA05

20191102PUGA06

20191102PUGA07

20191102PUGA08

20191102PUGA09

20191102PUGA10

20191102PUGA11

20191102PUGA13

20191102PUGA14

20191102PUGA15

20191102PUGA16

20191102PUGA17


Lark Sparrow

My 201st bird for Central Park was a Lark Sparrow today.  It had been found yesterday afternoon, and was seen again this morning.  It was then refound by Kellie Quinones in the afternoon.  Rare on the east coast, and especially rare for Central Park, it was a fantastic bird to see as it ate grass seeds by a soccer goal.  It was hanging out with two Dark-eyed Juncos.  The fun was interrupted by an American Kestrel on the hunt.  Luckily, none of the birds we were watching became a meal.

20191023LASP01

20191023LASP02

20191023LASP03

20191023LASP04

20191023LASP05

20191023LASP06

20191023LASP07

20191023LASP08

20191023LASP09


Tennessee Warbler

On Saturday, a very cooperative Tennessee Warbler was easily photographed in the Wildflower Meadow in the North End of Central Park.  What a stunning warbler!  (The video is at half speed to make it easier to watch the warbler.)

20191019TEWA01

20191019TEWA02

20191019TEWA03

20191019TEWA04

20191019TEWA05

20191019TEWA06

20191019TEWA07

20191019TEWA08

20191019TEWA09

20191019TEWA10

20191019TEWA11

20191019TEWA12

20191019TEWA13

20191019TEWA14

20191019TEWA15

20191019TEWA16


Clay-colored Sparrow

I'm finally catching up with processing images I took last weekend.  Here is a Clay-colored Sparrow south of the Great Hill in Central Park.

20191005CLSP01


American Bittern

A very cooperative American Bittern was in the fenced in area of the Tupelo Meadow in Central Park's Ramble today.  For the most part it perched on a rock and stayed still.  But for about ten minutes, after a Cooper's Hawk flew into the Tupelo Tree the American Bittern took a defensive posture, and for a brief time looked radically different almost doubling in size.  The Cooper's Hawk soon forgot about the Bittern and after about twenty minutes caught a Northern Flicker.

2019091801

2019091802

2019091803

2019091804

2019091805

2019091806

2019091807

2019091808

2019091809

2019091810

2019091811

2019091812

2019091813

2019091814

2019091815

2019091816

2019091817

2019091818

2019091819

2019091820

2019091821

2019091822

2019091823


Jewelweed

The Jewelweed is in full bloom and is attracting two birds, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.  The huge patch in Strawberry Fields is gone, but large patches are in The Oven (an area of the Ramble off The Lake) and in the Loch of the North Woods.  With some patience you will find both species of birds this time of year, if you find the Jewelweed patches.

2019091301

2019091302

2019091303

2019091304

2019091305

2019091306

2019091307


Ramble Red-tailed Hawk

A young Adult Red-tailed Hawk was hanging around the Evodia Field in Central Park's Ramble on Tuesday afternoon.  As fall migration heats up, we should see more and more visitors in Central Park.  A Northern Flicker, American Robins and a Gray Squirrel can be heard on the video's soundtrack.

20190813RTHA01

20190813RTHA02

20190813RTHA03

20190813RTHA04

20190813RTHA05


Young Red-tailed Hawk

On Thursday afternoon a young Red-tailed Hawk was eating a squirrel on a rock south of the Azalea Pond in Central Park's Ramble.  It is an interesting bird with one red tail feather.  We usually see the brown tail feathers of a juvenile change one by one over the summer to adult red feathers, so this one red feather is unusual.

20190228RTHA01

20190228RTHA02

20190228RTHA03

20190228RTHA04

20190228RTHA05

20190228RTHA06


Odds and Ends

My visit to Central Park on Wednesday yielded some interesting birds. 

  • I photographed the leucistic (a condition in which there is partial loss of pigmentation in an animal resulting in white, pale, or patchy coloration of the skin, hair, feathers, scales or cuticle, but not the eyes) Common Grackle that has been well documented and visits the bird feeders in the Ramble daily.
  • Watched the Rusty Blackbird in The Loch in the northern end of the park.
  • Photographed a neck banded Canada Goose at The Pond, numbered Y3T4, with white letters on orange.  Looking at my photographs, I discovered it was with another banded goose, X3A9.  I've reported the band numbers, so I should hear back in a few weeks as to where these birds were banded, and possibly why.

Update:  A Facebook reader commented that I might have best used the term Piebald rather than Leucistic for the Common Grackle.  Here's an interesting link about when to use each, from The Spruce: Bird Leucism.

Update 2:  Got the banding information back.
Band Number: 1078-14416 Y3T4
Banded: 07/02/2013
Species: CANADA GOOSE
Age of Bird: WAS TOO YOUNG TO FLY WHEN BANDED IN 2013
Sex: MALE
Location: VARENNES, QUÉBEC, CANADA
Bander: JEAN RODRIGUE QC-SCF-SAUVAGINE 801-1550 D'ESTIMAUVILLE QUEBEC QC G1J 0C3

Update 3:  I got an email from Michael Castellano that he saw the neck banded geese in Prospect Park on February 3rd.

2019012301

2019012302

2019012303

2019012304

2019012305

2019012306

2019012307

2019012308

2019012309

2019012310

2019012311

2019012312

2019012313

2019012314


Mandarin Duck

New York City's most famous, escaped pet continued to do well on The Pond in Central Park.  It's fame seems to have subsided and for the most part the shoreline of The Pond has thankfully, returned to normal. 

20190117MAND01

20190117MAND02

20190117MAND03

20190117MAND04

20190117MAND05


Great Blue Heron

This afternoon I watched a Great Blue Heron walk on the ice of both The Pool and the Harlem Meer at the northern end of Central Park.  Just like humans, the bird occasionally slipped on the ice.  A few Great Blue Herons spend the winter in New York City.  If I could fly, I would certainly fly to a warmer climate!

20190116GBHE01

20190116GBHE02

20190116GBHE03

20190116GBHE04

20190116GBHE05

20190116GBHE06

20190116GBHE07

20190116GBHE08


Peregrine Falcons Hunt

On Tuesday afternoon, I got to see the Peregrine Falcon pair perched in their regular spot near the No. 28/Gothic Bridge.  The female hunted and caught a pigeon mid-air in under a minute.  Peregrine Falcons are deadly hunters!  The pigeon took much longer to eat, around 25 minutes.

20190115PEFA01

20190115PEFA02

20190115PEFA03

20190115PEFA04

20190115PEFA05

20190115PEFA06

20190115PEFA07

20190115PEFA08

20190115PEFA09


Peregrine Falcons

The pair of Peregrine Falcons seem to be a regular fixture in a tree on the northwest shore of the Reservoir in Central Park on sunny afternoons.  This easy to watch perch is going to make a lot of birders and photographers very happy this winter.

20190111PEFA01

20190111PEFA02

20190111PEFA03

20190111PEFA04

20190111PEFA05

20190111PEFA06

20190111PEFA07

20190111PEFA08

20190111PEFA09

20190111PEFA10

20190111PEFA11


#nobirdcp

In most counties and states across America there is a bird alert system, generally based on an email listserv or yahoo group.  They're generally sponsored and monitored by a local birding group or the local Audubon Society. 

In New York City, there were and still are a variety of services which are a little difficult to use.  So, David Barrett, as an individual set up a wonderful Twitter based Manhattan Bird Alert as an alternative to some older systems.  David's Manhattan Bird Alert filled a void and was adopted by most Manhattan birders. I also enjoyed David re-posting some of my photos and videos.

But as David gained many followers on Twitter due to the notoriety of the vagrant escaped Mandarin Duck, something changed.  What had been great, over the last month has diverged from its original mission and

1) Started advertising T-Shirts.

2) Promoted commercial Owl Walks that point flashlights at owls and use excessive audio playback.  Owls are very easy to watch in New York City, so there is absolutely no need to resort to invasive methods of observation.

3) Reported owls with exact locations, which resulted in the over birding of some owls, especially a specific Northern Saw-whet Owl.  David's guidelines say post about any bird including all owls.  There needs to be some limits, just as there are on most alert systems.  At a minimum some rules on reporting exact locations of nesting birds, smaller owls and Snowy Owls.

4) Promoted the feeding of ducks on The Pond, which is against Park regulations, is unhealthy for the ducks and ends up supporting the rodent population.  If any duck on The Pond really needs to get fed, it is not a wild bird. It should be captured and put in an appropriate bird sanctuary.

So, for 2019 I think it is time to return to an alert systems that simply provides alerts, without any advertising or promotions, and which has a well thought out set of guidelines on what is appropriate to post. Ideally, the system should also require an opt-in to the posting guidelines before allowing users to post sightings.

Since it doesn't look like David is interested in going back to a simple alert system with some reasonable posting guidelines, I've stopped following the Manhattan Bird Alert and will no longer post using the #birdcp tag.

I'm sure the system will live on without me, but at least I won't feel like I'm participating in a site that uses my sightings or photography to promotes commercial products or unethical activity.  eBird already offers hourly email alerts, so I see no need to continue using David's system.

I know at least two folks who are talking about building alternative notification systems.   Please let me know when they're ready.  If possible, try to get your systems sponsored by NYC Audubon or any other birding group!  It would be really great if an organization with a long history of supporting conservation, could assist in setting posting standards.


Peregrine Falcons

On Wednesday, I got to see two Peregrine Falcons in a tree just south of the No. 28 Bridge (aka Gothic Bridge), SW of the Reservoir's North Gate House.  Last winter a single falcon would hang out in this tree during the afternoons, so it was wonderful to see a pair this year in the exact same spot.  In Manhattan, we usually see Peregrine Falcons perched high on a building, so seeing these two birds in a tree was a special treat.

20181226PEFA01

20181226PEFA02

20181226PEFA03

20181226PEFA04

20181226PEFA05

20181226PEFA06

20181226PEFA07

20181226PEFA08