White-winged Dove

Joe DiCostanzo identified a White-winged Dove at the Evodia Feeders of Central Park this afternoon among a group of Mourning Doves.  The bird is usually seen in the far south.  While it is seen along the Northeast Coast up through Maine and into Canada on rare occasions, it may be the first recorded sighting for Manhattan.  Great birding Joe!

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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.

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Common Loon

A Common Loon was on the Reservoir this afternoon.  It was working a wide range of the Reservoir and was difficult to photograph as it kept far from the shoreline while I was watching it.

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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. 

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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!

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The Pond

The Pond had the Mandarin Duck, who had returned, but also had an unusual visitor for so late in the year, a Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron.  As a birder, the Heron won.  As a photographer, the Mandarin Duck won.  So, I guess it was a tie.

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Cedar Waxwings

South of Sparrow Rock and across the West Drive there was a flock of at least 45 Cedar Waxwings eating berries this afternoon.  The Cedar Waxwing is a beautiful bird and it was great to watch a flock this large.

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Mandarin Duck In The Snow

The Mandarin Duck took the snow in stride this afternoon on Central Park's Pond.  Although the weather had deteriorated when I arrived, it was nice not to have to deal with the duck's crazy fans.  They've trashed the landscaping on the east shore of The Pond.  They're also feeding the ducks (and rats) bread and pretzels which are unhealthy for the ducks and is prohibited by the Parks Department.

The area around where the Mandarin Duck is residing is filled with wonderful wildlife.  Mallards, Wood Ducks, Canada Geese, American Coots, Red-tailed Hawks, American Kestrels, and Raccoons are always there in the winter, with many more birds and animals in the summer.  Nearby are a set of trees in Grand Army Plaza where hundreds of birds come to roost each evening.  The Hallett Nature Sanctuary, which is now open year round, is a wonderful place to enjoy nature and is on the west shore of the Pond. The sanctuary has hosted at least two coyotes in years past.

There is so much more to see at The Pond than just one duck.  It's sad to see people come into the park, motivated by their FOMO (fear of missing out) who stay at a frenetic NYC pace, rather than slowing down and enjoy a park that was designed specifically to be a restorative place for city dwellers.

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American Woodcock

American Woodcocks are one of the parks strangest, but wonderful birds.  Adapted to eating insects living underground, the bird has a long beak and a wonderful "dance" to help find the insects.  The also are one of the hardest birds to find in the park.  They can sit still for hours and blend in with the leaf litter.

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Kirtland's Warbler

Found by Kevin Topping on Friday, hundreds of birders got great looks at a Kirtland's Warbler in Central Park today.  Its migration path is usually up and down the Mississippi River, so this was a very rare event.

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Wilson's Snipe

A Wilson's Snipe was on the west shore of The Pool, a body of water at the north end of Central Park.  It's a wonderful bird, and was out in the open, which was a real treat.

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Juvenile Cooper's Hawk

On Saturday afternoon, I walked for about five miles through Central Park. I was able to add three more birds to my 2018 Manhattan list, a Ring-Necked Duck (female at the North Gate House of the Reservoir), a Great Cormorant (on the dike in the middle of the Reservoir, a rare visitor to Central Park, but seen frequently off Randalls Island in the winter) and an immature Cooper's Hawk.

The Cooper's Hawk was exploring the Loch, a waterway with three waterfalls that flows under the Glen Span and Huddlestone arches from The Pool to the Harlem Meer.  It has recently been restored by the Central Park Conservancy. The restoration carefully reshaped the waterway, to provide a mix of currents and depths designed to maximize biodiversity, with the help of a environmental consulting company.  Improved landscaping was also added to minimize erosion and run offs from the North Meadow Ball Fields.  I'm looking forward to seeing the biodiversity results in a few years.

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Red-throated Loon

The surprise of the day was a Red-throated Loon on the reservoir this afternoon.  About two thirds of the reservoir is still covered with ice, so the Loon was closer to the shoreline than normal making for great looks.

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