Central Park had a Virginia Rail at Triplets Bridge (77th Street, west of the West Drive) on Thursday and reports are it continues there today. It's a fun bird often very hard to see, even when you know it's there! This one gave those who were patient some great views.
I'm amazed to see the Chimney Swifts still roosting in large numbers at 944 Fifth Avenue. I would have expected the number to have decreased by now. What's been fascinating to watch is the change in behavior. Instead of swarming at the model boat pond and then going to the roost, lately the swifts have been appearing almost out of nowhere five minutes before they roost.
It would be fascinating to know if they are swifts hunting higher or in a different place during the day or if these are migrating swifts that know this stop along their migration route?
Update: I went to see them on Thursday, October 22nd and only saw one Chimney Swift at the roost. It made one pass at the chimney and continued on.
Tonight almost seemed like a bust. There were a few bats at the Model Boat Pond, but no swifts in sight. However, after sunset the swifts slowly began to appear above the roost and for about 5 minutes swarmed above it. Then it was off to roost for the night.
It will be interesting to see when they leave the city.
While watching Eastern Red Bats and Big Brown Bats on Thursday, I ran into a bird watcher studying Chimney Swifts that roost at 944 Fifth Avenue at 75th. It turns out the best place to watch them is the "hawk bench" where "regulars" watch Pale Male's nest in the spring.
The swifts swarm around the roost and then around 6:30 into the video they start to enter the roost. In a few minutes, they are almost all inside. Thank goodness for pre-war buildings.
For the last few days, there has been a Dickcissel up by the compost heap in Central Park, which is near the East Drive and 105th Streets. I got lucky and was in view for a few minutes. It harder to find later in the afternoon.
Fall migration has been slowly starting over the last few weeks. Birds take some work to find at times, but there are interesting species moving through the area now. Today, I was lucky to have a number of birders direct me to a Tennessee Warbler in Central Park's Maintenance Meadow. It was a very cooperative bird and it gave great looks for over two hours.
Odds and ends from a quiet day in the park. Central Park lost a number of trees and there were a lot of broken branches blocking paths after Tuesday's storm. On Turtle Pond there was a Belted Kingfisher, a nice bird for early August. The Gill in the Ramble had two nice sized catfish and lots of minnows. It's amazing that such a small stream could have such good sized fish.
There is a family of Eastern Kingbirds on Turtle Pond this year in Central Park, just like last year. There are three fledglings, which were in a tree on the Turtle Pond island this afternoon. A parent was flying back and forth from the island to a set of bushes on the south shore of the lake, skimming the water as it went to and from. It was only when I saw the food being feed to a fledgling did I figure out what was going on. The parent was catching dragonflies.
I've gone a few times to look for the West End Avenue Red-tailed Hawk fledglings, but have been unable to find them on my last visits.
So, I spent time in Central Park today. At the north end of Strawberry Field in a Black Locust tree which is in the steep slope between the end of the chip path and the road, is a Cedar Waxwing nest. It appears to have two birds in the nest. I saw them and both the parents today. The feedings took place about 30 minutes apart, so the nest requires some patience if you're going to watch it. This is the first time I've seen a Cedar Waxwing nest in the park.
There are scores of American Robin nests in Central Park currently. Some nests have already produced fledglings. I caught up with one nest on the Point a small peninsula that juts out in the Central Park Lake. Both parents were actively feeding the three young robins.
Mary Beth Kopper found a Long-tailed Duck on the Central Park Reservoir on Saturday. A bird common in New York harbor, is very rarely seen in Central Park. The female slept most of the time it was on the reservoir before becoming active later in the day.
On Wednesday, thanks to a report from Deborra Mullins, I had my first warbler of the season, a Pine Warbler. Eastern Phoebes are also being reporting in Central Park. After a quiet winter, spring migration is very welcome.
An American Woodcock was out in the open south of the Maintenance Field parking lot this morning. However it got spooked and flew west. It decided to stay the whole afternoon perfectly still. I came back at dusk and once it was dark it finally moved.
I stayed and listened for bats, and had two Big Brown Bats in clear view flying at times a few feet from me. I got some nice recordings. On my way out, I was able to record two more Big Brown Bates on Cedar Hill, and possible got two recordings of a Silver-haired Bat. I don't usually listen for bats this early and thought I might be lucky with the warm weather and see an Eastern Red Bad, which I didn't end up seeing or hearing.
This winter there has been a female Green-winged Teal on the northern water bodies of Central Park. She was first seen on the Harlem Meer, then the Reservoir and then on The Pool. Two days ago, I saw a Green-winged Teal on The Lake. Yesterday, I saw both a male and female Green-winged Teal together on the small island by Bow Bridge on the Lake.
The pair moved to the Reservoir along with about a hundred birds when the Urban Park Rangers launched a kayak onto the lake to search for the Common Merganser trapped in the plastic ring. (The merganser could not be found on Tuesday despite a diligent search.) Today, the pair was seen on The Pool.
Sadly, a Common Merganser is on The Lake in Central Park with a plastic band wrapped in its mouth and neck. It looks like the ring to a wide mouth beverage container. The Urban Park Rangers have tried to trap the bird over the last two days without success. Let's hope they are able to net the bird soon.
A Graylag Goose, which has been seem for at least a week on the Reservoir was on The Lake of Central Park today. The spotted black/yellow bill coloration and white feathers around the bill, suggest that it is most likely a Graylag Goose x Swan Goose Hybrid. The bird is most likely an escapee from a poultry farm.
We used to have a number of Domestic Duck/Mallard hybrids on The Pond and The Meer and we had the Mandarin Duck last winter. So, another hybrid is just par for the course I guess.
Two wonderful birds, seen in December have stayed for the New Year in the north of Central Park. An immature Red-Headed Woodpecker at 98th and the West Drive and a Green-Winged Teal, which was first seen on the Harlem Meer, rediscovered on the Reservoir on the Christmas Bird Count, and is now hanging out on the The Pool at 102nd Street. It is nice they have stayed.
They aren't rare birds for the New York area, but they are infrequent visitors to Central Park. So, it's nice to be able to have more than just a brief look at them both. The woodpecker continues to dig out cavities and cache acorns, while the teal, seems happy to hang out with the Mallards.
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.
An Eastern Bluebird was seen in the West 80s of Central Park of Central Park on Friday (and again on Saturday). It's the state bird of New York. This once-prolific bird had a sharp decline of population due to nesting cavity competition from European Starlings and House Sparrows. Nest box programs started in the 1960s and 1970s have helped the species population numbers to improve but it remains an infrequent visitor to Central Park.
Fall brings a variety of ducks to Central Park. Every year one or two Green-winged Teals are spotted. One was the Meer for a few days this week. It's about 2/3 the size of a Mallard, so they're easy to pick out in a raft of ducks.
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.
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.
The Pond in the southeastern corner of Central Park had a Green Heron on Sunday. It was fishing for minnows when I found it on the far shore of the southwest corner of the pond. Fall migration has begun slowly in the park. Number are still very low, but we're getting interesting birds. The highlights of the day for me were a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Canada Warbler, two Northern Waterthrushs, American Redstart, Belted Kingfisher, Great Egret and Baltimore Oriole.
This year has been disappointing for Red-tailed Hawks in southern Manhattan. Although it most likely fledged, I can't find the fledgling from the West End Avenue/72nd Street Nest. This leaves us only with a few fledglings to watch above 110th Street.
Since it's a hike to see the fledglings uptown, I've been spending time this last few weeks looking at other species that nest in the city. There are lots of youngsters around. These pictures are of and Eastern Kingbird family who were near the pier at Turtle Pond. The snack was a dragonfly.
Between rain showers, I visited the Warbling Vireo Nest and tired taking some slow motion video. It didn't quite work out in the low light but you can see some feedings. The nestlings are much more visible now.
The Warbling Vireo nest I've been watching in Central Park has now hatched. If you watch closely at the video, you'll see that when the parents feed the chicks, the chicks sometimes turn around and give back to the parents a fecal sack. I guess what goes in, must at some point come back out.
On my last Linnaean Society of New York Central Park walk of the spring 2019 season, one of the stops was Warbling Vireo nest. It is in a tree about 100 feet east of the Maintenance Building in the Ramble. It looks like it was getting finishing before being used this year.
An Indigo Bunting was at the Evodia Field Feeders in the Ramble of Central Park today and yesterday. Usually a tough bird to find in the park, this one was easy to watch as it ate bird seed from a feeder.
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!
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.
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.
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!
Located in Central Park's Ramble, the Evodia Field has the only sanctioned bird feeders in the park. They are supported by great volunteers. Indirectly, they end up feeding one or two Cooper's Hawks who enjoy the buffet of sparrows and similarly sized birds during the winter. One young Cooper's Hawk in particular is enjoying the easy pickings this Fall.
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.