Tuesday, May 23, 2017

"Birding in Peace" - Spring winding down

The official start of summer this year isn't until Wednesday, June 21st. During this weekend's Spring dawn tours in Green-Wood Cemetery it seemed like the Spring migration was already waning. I'm not complaining, though, as we still got to see and hear lots of cool birds, plus one extraordinary event.

One sign that the warbler migration is tapering off was the arrival of a couple of species associated with the tail end of the northbound push. First was the apparent ever-present, high, lisping "tsit tsit TSIT TSIT" song of the Blackpoll Warbler.  Male blackpolls typically pass through NYC late in the migration, with the females coming up behind them, at migration's end. On both Saturday and Sunday we were seeing an abundance of this tiny, black and white warbler, along with many of the more plainly plumed females. Some local birders begin to cry when the female blackpolls arrive. Cue the melancholy music. Canada Warblers also start to show up late in the songbird migration, so I shouldn't have been surprised to see several in the cemetery over the past weekend. The weather for Saturday's tour wasn't ideal for scanning treetops for diminutive, colorful warblers, but we persevered and managed to add a couple of new birds to the overall species total for Green-Wood's first dawn bird walk series. Sunday was crisp and clear making the hunt much easier. We ended the weekend with 16 species of warbler.

At this point in the migration we're also starting to see a greater diversity of flycatchers. We didn't see or hear any of the always challenging empidonax flycatchers this weekend, but did manage to tally four other species. Great Crested Flycatcher is the only colorful flycatcher that we regularly see around Brooklyn and NYC. With its yellow underside and loud "whee-eep" call, they tend to be fairly easy to find. There seems to be at least two pairs in Green-Wood Cemetery acting amorously. They nest high up in tree cavities, so locating an active nest this season will require a lot of luck. Eastern Kingbirds have settled into their annual breeding cycle, but I've also been hearing two other species of flycatcher around the cemetery lately: Eastern Wood-Pewee and Eastern Phoebe. The pewee is a new arrival, but phoebes generally pass through early in the spring migration, then disperse. At least one is still hanging around and calling a lot in the area near William Poole's final resting place.

Another nice highlight this weekend was the sight (and sound) of the amusingly social Cedar Waxwing. Their diet consists primarily of fruit, which is probably why they don't start their breeding season until much later than other songbirds. In the spring and summer they frequently feed on insects. Watching large flocks of these colorful birds acrobatically snatching bugs out of the air and interacting with each other is the best reality show, in my humble opinion.

Finally, on Sunday we had a very interesting experience. At around 8:30am I was leading the group around the northeast corner of the Sylvan Water. Walking behind a row of mausoleums our view of the water and surrounding grass was partially blocked. I heard a very loud trumpeting-like sound. It seemed so strange and incongruous that I momentarily thought there was a person at the waters edge making silly noises. People in the group asked what was making the odd sound. I walked towards the water and scanned for a moment, saw nothing, then one of the participants, Heidi Clevins, spotted what she described as a massive, gray bird heading over the trees towards the northeast. Nobody was able to get their bins up in time, but she described the color as being gray, "almost the color of a Little Blue Heron”. When people asked whether it was a large heron or egret, I explained that, no, those species mostly make deep, guttural sounds. Unbelievably, I thought it sounded like a Sandhill Crane! We called up the vocalization on a smartphone and played it. It sounded exactly like what we had just heard. I was just winding up the tour, so after seeing everyone off at the main entrance, several of us spent a couple more hours scouring the cemetery hoping to find this prehistoric looking bird with a wingspan of over 6'. We never did find it, but the excitement and initial burst of adrenaline is part of what makes birding so much fun. Maybe next time we'll have more luck.

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Dates: Saturday, May 20, 2017 and Sunday, May 21, 2017
Location: Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn
Species: 72

Wood Duck (1.)
Great Blue Heron (1.)
Great Egret (2.)
Red-tailed Hawk (2.)
Spotted Sandpiper (3.)
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Chimney Swift
Northern Flicker
American Kestrel (1.)
Monk Parakeet
Eastern Wood-Pewee (1.)
Eastern Phoebe (1.)
Great Crested Flycatcher (4.)
Eastern Kingbird (3.)
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
American Crow
Common Raven (1.)
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
White-breasted Nuthatch (1.)
House Wren
Veery
Gray-cheeked Thrush (2.)
Swainson's Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher (2.)
Northern Mockingbird
Cedar Waxwing
Ovenbird
Northern Waterthrush
Black-and-white Warbler
Tennessee Warbler (1.)
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Northern Parula
Magnolia Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler (2.)
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Canada Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow (1.)
Song Sparrow
Summer Tanager (2.)
Scarlet Tanager (3.)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting (1.)
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole (1.)
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
American Goldfinch

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, House Sparrow
...Read more

Free Rescheduled Walking Tour

Treehugger Tuesday

From "New Atlas" online:

Earth's highest density of plastic waste found ... on a deserted island
Nick Lavars Nick Lavars May 16, 2017

The team calculated a plastic trash concentration of 671 pieces per square meter (10 sq ft)

Sitting in middle of southern Pacific Ocean around 5,000 km, (3,100 mi) from the nearest major population center, you might think that the uninhabited Henderson Island would appear relatively untouched. It is, after all, only visited by humans every five to ten years for research. The latest scientists to set foot on the remote coral atoll found a nasty surprise, however, discovering the highest density of plastic waste reported anywhere on the planet.

The amount of plastic waste washing around in the ocean is a huge problem, one that the Ocean Cleanup Project hopes to help solve when it tackles the Great Pacific Garbage Patch next year. The world produces more than 300 million tons of plastic each year, according to Jennifer Lavers, a research scientist at the University of Tasmania's Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, much of which is never recycled and ends up bobbing about in the ocean instead.

Lavers led a research team to Henderson Island to find its beaches awash with vast amounts of trash. Counting the rubbish, the team calculated a concentration of 671 items per square meter (10 sq ft), the highest density ever recorded, which equates to an estimated 37.7 million pieces spread over the whole island.

"Based on our sampling at five sites we estimated that more than 17 tons of plastic debris has been deposited on the island, with more than 3,570 new pieces of litter washing up each day on one beach alone," Lavers says. "It's likely that our data actually underestimates the true amount of debris on Henderson Island as we were only able to sample pieces bigger than two millimeters down to a depth of 10 centimeters (0.08 and 4 in), and we were unable to sample along cliffs and rocky coastline."

The scientists say that the island's location close to the center of ocean current known as the South Pacific Gyre is what places it in harm's way, catching debris that floats over from South America or pieces of plastic trash left behind by fishing boats.

"What's happened on Henderson Island shows there's no escaping plastic pollution even in the most distant parts of our oceans," Lavers says. "Far from being the pristine 'deserted island' that people might imagine of such a remote place, Henderson Island is a shocking but typical example of how plastic debris is affecting the environment on a global scale."

The team's research was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, while the video below provides a snapshot of the damage.

...Read more

Monday, May 22, 2017

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for Saturday, May 27, 2017 to Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2017:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, May 27, 2017, 12pm – 1pm
Introduction to Bird Watching
Join Prospect Park Alliance for a birdwatching walk and learn about Prospect Park’s magnificent array of birds and how to identify them!

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Brooklyn Bird Club
Friday, May 27, 2017 - Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Breeding birds of Delaware State
Leader: Peter Dorosh
Focus: Annual spring weekend adventure, this year to the state of Delaware
Car fee: $100.00
Registrar: Peter Dorosh Prosbird@aol.com (or Prosbird@gmail.com)
Registration Period: April 15th - May 15th
Note: Trip caps at 12; this is a three night hotel stay over. Trip leaves Saturday early morning, returns Tuesday afternoon

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Gateway National Recreation Area
Every Sunday Weekly from 03/12/2017 to 05/28/2017
Birding for Beginners
Join us for an introductory nature walk where you will learn the essentials of birdwatching.
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fee Information: Free

Saturday, May 27, 2017, 9:00am to 3:00pm
Horseshoe Crab Festival
See the annual mating ritual of the ancient horseshoe crabs. Other events during the day include children’s program and lectures on horseshoe crabs topics. For more info call (718) 474-0896; e-mail: don@littoralsociety.org. With American Littoral Society and NYC Audubon.
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fee Information: Free

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Green-Wood Cemetery
Sunday, May 28, 2017
"Birding in Peace" - Peak Spring Migration Birding

From Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to over 20 species of colorful wood-warblers, our peak migration tours will feature many of the 163 bird species that have been recorded at Green-Wood during the month of May. Beginning just after sunrise, we will experience spring’s dawn chorus at the most active time of day for birds.

$10 for members of Green‑Wood and BHS/$15 for non-members.

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Littoral Society
Saturday, May 27, 2017, 8:30am - 3:00pm
Horseshoe Crab Festival
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Cross Bay Blvd, Broad Channel, NY 11693

Join us for a day of celebrating the annual coming ashore of the ancient horseshoe crabs. During the full and new moons of May and June, these prehistoric animals come ashore to mate and lay billions of eggs at the high tide line as they’ve done for approximately 400 million years (take a millennia or two). At the same time, thousands of migrating shorebirds arrive in the northeast bays to feed on the eggs to help regain the body weight (fat) they lost during their long journey northward. During the festival you’ll get to see and hold a live horseshoe crab and learn about their important ecological and medicinal values.

The program is free but donations to NYC Audubon are most welcome to offset the program cost. This is a partnership program with the American Littoral Society and Gateway NRA. For more information and reservations call (718) 474-0896; e-mail: don@littoralsociety.org

Sunday, May 28, 2017, 5:00pm - 8:00pm
Jamaica Bay Sunset Ecology Cruise
Location: Pier 8, Bedford Ave and Emmons Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11235
Join us for one of the American Littoral Society Northeast Chapter's most popular events --- a three hour, narrated ecology cruise with noted local naturalists, Don Riepe and Mickey Cohen. Enjoy wine, cheese and fruit aboard the Golden Sunshine with our Jamaica Bay experts and learn about the history and ecology of the bay, a 25,000 acre expanse of salt marshes, intertidal flats and upland forests that is home to 330 species of birds, 107 species of finfish and over 70 species of butterflies. See nesting Peregrine Falcons, Osprey, egrets, heron, ibis and many other species and explore the backwaters of the bay while enjoying a beautiful sunset highlighting the New York City skyline. This ecology tour is in partnership with Gateway National Recreation Area, NYC Audubon, NYC Sierra Club.

Registration Information: Cost: $55.00 per person, $25 for children under 16. Advance payment is required. To purchase tickets by credit card, go to:

Buy Tickets

For payments by check, please write check out to: The American Littoral Society and mail to: American Littoral Society, 28 West 9th Road, Broad Channel, NY 11693.

For questions, email don@littoralsociety.org or call (718) 474-0896.
Directions: The boat departs from Pier 8 in Sheepshead Bay at the intersection of Emmons Avenue and Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn, NY. Please arrive a half hour early to find parking and board the ship.

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New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturdays -- 9/3/2016 - 6/24/2017: 11:00 a.m.
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11am to 12:30pm beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center

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New York City Audubon Society
Saturdays April 29, May 13, and June 3, and Sundays, May 7 and May 21, 9:30-10:30am
Queens Botanical Garden Bird Walks
Guide: NYC Audubon with Queens Botanical Garden
We are happy to announce a new series of spring migration bird walks in partnership with Queens Botanical Garden. Register for one date or the whole series of five free walks (walk-ins welcome!). Explore the Garden in search of migrant songbirds and learn about the valuable resources that the Garden offers birds and other wildlife. Binoculars available. Limited to 25. Appropriate for all ages. To register, email info@queensbotanical.org or visit www.queensbotanical.org/calendar. Free with Garden admission

Weekly on Saturdays, until Jul 29, 2017
Van Cortlandt Bird Walks, The Bronx
Guides: NYC Audubon, Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy with the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy
Meet at Van Cortlandt Nature Center. The history of birding and Van Cortlandt Park are inseparable. Influential birders such as Roger Tory Peterson and Allan D. Cruickshank got their starts on Van Cortlandt’s ecologically diverse grounds. These walks celebrate the tradition set forth by these great ornithologists. Participants will look for various species of residents and migrants and discuss a wide range of avian topics. For more information, please call 212-691-7483. No registration necessary. No limit. Free

Saturday, May 27, 2017, 9am – 3pm
Horseshoe Crab Festival
With the American Littoral Society and Gateway NRA
Meet at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and carpool to a nearby site to see the annual mating ritual of the ancient horseshoe crabs. Other events during the day include children’s program and lectures on horseshoe crabs topics. For more info call (718) 474-0896 or email: donriepe@gmail.com. Suggested donation: $20 adult, $10 children

Sunday, May 28, 2017, 7am – 1pm
Breeding Birds of Jamaica Bay
Guide: Tod Winston
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is home to nesting cedar waxwings, brown thrashers, white-eyed vireos, tree swallows, yellow warblers, American redstarts, osprey, willet, and seven species of wading birds. We'll walk the refuge trails and observe these species and many more on their breeding grounds. Bring lunch. Transport by passenger van included. Limited to 12. $90 (63)
Click here to register

Sunday, May 28, 2017, 5pm – 8pm
Jamaica Bay Sunset Cruise
With American Littoral Society and Gateway NRA
Meet at pier 4 in Sheepshead Bay to board the 100’ boat “Golden Sunshine”. Learn about the Bay and its history, management and ecology. See egrets, herons, ibis, terns, laughing gulls, osprey, peregrine falcons, and shorebirds. This narrated tour of the bay’s backwater marshes includes wine and cheese, fruit, drinks, and snacks. For information and reservations call Don Riepe at (718) 474-0896 or e-mail donriepe@gmail.com. $55

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Newtown Historical Society
Saturday, May 27, 2017
Mount Olivet Cemetery Nature and History Tours
​Join naturalist Rob Jett and Christina Wilkinson of the Newtown Historical Society on a walk through Mount Olivet Cemetery. We will observe the natural environment, including birds, butterflies, plants and trees and discuss the history of the cemetery, it's role in the development of Maspeth and visit the graves of noteworthy people who are buried there. Meet up in front of the cemetery office at 9am. Bring binoculars and wear comfortable shoes. Terrain is hilly.
These events are part of the 375th anniversary celebration of Maspeth and are free.

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North Shore Audubon Society
Saturday, May 27, 2017, 9:30am – 12:00pm
Nassau County Museum of Art
Leader: Joyce 516-621-6678
See "Walk locations" for directions.
Wear water-resistant footwear, bring binoculars and drinking water.

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South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, May 28, 2017
Jones Beach West End 2

All walks start at 9:00 A.M.
There is no walk if it rains or snows or temperature is below 25°F.
For more information or in case of questionable weather conditions, please phone Joe at 516 467-9498
For directions to our bird-watching locations, click here.

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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, May 27, 2017
Bird Walks at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
Head to the park to join bird walks led by experts from the NYC Audubon! Bird walks focus on wildlife happenings in the park.
Free!

Birds of Clove Lakes Park at Martlings Avenue Bridge (in Clove Lakes Park), Staten Island
9:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
Join Seth Wollney for a birding walk through Staten Island’s premier migrant trap! We will search for late-season migrants such as warblers, flycatchers, and thrushes.
Free!

Sunday, May 28, 2017
Wildlife Viewing: Birding at Pelham Bay Nature Center (in Pelham Bay Park), Bronx
11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
New York City is home to an amazing abundance of wildlife. Our Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots in the urban jungle.
Free!

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Wild Bird Fund
Saturday, May 27, 2017, 9:00am - 11:00am
A Walk On The Wild Side – Memorial Day Weekend
Please join WBF member and artist/naturalist Alan Messer for a Mid Spring Migration bird walk on May 27 (Rain Date, May 28).
Artist naturalist Alan Messer will guide us through the Ramble in Central Park searching for our resident and migrant nesters including: robins, grackles, red-tailed hawks, Baltimore orioles, and warbling vireos. This time of late Spring migration is peak season for certain warbler and thrush species as well as the flycatcher group.
We’ll be meeting at the Wild Bird Fund (565 Columbus Ave, New York, NY) at 9am SHARP.
The walk is $15; for members of WBF, it is $10.
(Interested in becoming a member? It’s only $10 a month! Click here for more info!)
RSVP required: events@wildbirdfund.org
...Read more

Saturday, May 20, 2017

New York City Rare BIrd Alert

Below is the New York City Rare BIrd Alert for the week ending Friday, May 19, 2017:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* May. 19, 2017
* NYNY1705.19

- Birds mentioned
BLACK-NECKED STILT+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Sooty Shearwater
Northern Gannet
Black Vulture
Parasitic Jaeger
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL
Red-headed Woodpecker
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Eastern Wood-Pewee
PROTHONOTARY WARBLER
Orange-crowned Warbler
MOURNING WARBLER
KENTUCKY WARBLER
CERULEAN WARBLER
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER
YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT
Nelson's Sparrow
SUMMER TANAGER
BLUE GROSBEAK
Boat-tailed Grackle

- Transcript

If followed by (+) please submit documentation of your report electronically and use the NYSARC online submission form found at http://www.nybirds.org/NYSARC/goodreport.htm

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to nysarc44(at)nybirds{dot}org.

If electronic submission is not possible, hardcopy reports and photos or sketches are welcome. Hardcopy documentation should be mailed to:

Gary Chapin - Secretary
NYS Avian Records Committee (NYSARC)
125 Pine Springs Drive
Ticonderoga, NY 12883

Hotline: New York City Area Rare Bird Alert
Number: (212) 979-3070

To report sightings call:
Tom Burke (212) 372-1483 (weekdays, during the day)
Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126 (Long Island)

Compiler: Tom Burke, Tony Lauro
Coverage: New York City, Long Island, Westchester County

Transcriber: Ben Cacace

BEGIN TAPE

Greetings. This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, May 19th 2017 at 9pm. The highlights of today's tape are BLACK-NECKED STILT, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL and Spring migrants including PROTHONOTARY WARBLER, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, KENTUCKY WARBLER, CERULEAN WARBLER, MOURNING WARBLER, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, SUMMER TANAGER, BLUE GROSBEAK and more.

With last week's generally unfavorable migratory conditions including constant strong northerly winds continuing through Monday it wasn't until Tuesday that birds took the opportunity to spread north with the abating conditions and provide our parks with a decent variety and volume of migrants. Tuesday and Wednesday were quite productive but the constant southerly flow also did hustle many of the migrants on their way farther north as the week progressed. These movements often do not produce much in the way of exceptional rarities. More usually instead a very enjoyable migration spectacle.

The only really unusual sighting for the week was the belatedly reported BLACK-NECKED STILT photographed last Sunday along the southeastern section of Napeague Bay a little west of Montauk. Also noteworthy was the continuing now annual staging of LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS along Long Island's south shore. Sixteen were counted Saturday from the swale at Jones Beach West End and some were regularly moving west past the seawatch at Robert Moses State Park last Saturday. Otherwise the seawatch only produced a couple of PARASITIC JAEGERS, some NORTHERN GANNETS and 2 SOOTY SHEARWATERS. Another SOOTY was spotted Saturday morning moving east past Fort Tilden. Sightings from that area much less common and from coastal vantage points farther east.

As for the city parks: Central, Prospect and Forest as well as the other less frequented venues all had very enjoyable days Tuesday and Wednesday with some carryover up to Friday. Approximately 35 species of warblers were reasonably encountered this week. The rarities including a PROTHONOTARY Thursday at Sunken Meadow State Park, single KENTUCKYS from Forest Park Monday and Central Park Tuesday and Wednesday and single CERULEANS spotted in Prospect Park Tuesday and Forest Park Wednesday, an ORANGE-CROWNED photographed in Prospect Park Wednesday and the arrival of some MOURNINGS including in Prospect Park as of Tuesday and in Central Park and Caumsett State Park from Thursday. Reports too of YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER and YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT in the region bring us again to our annual play that if you are lucky enough to encounter especially a rare or newly colonizing species on known or potential breeding grounds please do nothing to disturb or discourage these birds. Their future locally will depend on their nesting success currently.

Besides certain warblers this also pertains to such southern species as BLUE GROSBEAK and SUMMER TANAGER. This week BLUE GROSBEAK was reported from Central Park and also at an eastern Long Island breeding location while SUMMER TANAGER continues to have a good Spring locally with birds noted in Central Park Sunday and Wednesday and Forest Park almost daily to Wednesday and at Hempstead Lake State Park Wednesday.

Several species of flycatchers arrived this week. EASTERN WOOD-PEWEES seemed to appear everywhere on Wednesday and OLIVE-SIDEDS were seen in Central Park and Forest Park Wednesday. Various species of empidonax have been reported but in the city parks identification should generally be determined by confirming vocalizations where species are also now on territory to our north.

Other interesting sightings this week featured 6 BLACK VULTURES over Prospect Park Tuesday, RED-HEADED WOODPECKER at Hempstead Lake State Park Monday, NELSON'S SPARROW at Plumb Beach in Brooklyn as of Sunday and a BOAT-TAILED GRACKLE at Marshlands Conservancy in Rye Westchester County Monday.

To phone in reports call Tom Burke at (914) 967-4922.

This service is sponsored by the Linnaean Society of New York and the National Audubon Society. Thank you for calling.

- End transcript
...Read more

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday's Foto

To the uninitiated, the word "sparrow" usually evokes images of a dull, uninteresting, little brown job (LBJ). One look at a Lark Sparrow easily challenges that common misconception. With its boldly patterned chestnut, white, and black head pattern, this bird is impossible to mistake for any other sparrow.

A bird of grasslands, their preferred breeding habitat adjoins areas with scattered shrubs, including overgrazed pastures, sandy barrens, hedgerows near fallow fields and brushy dry grasslands. They have been extirpated from their historic eastern breeding grounds, but are fairly common west of the Mississippi. This pretty sparrow is periodically seen around NYC during migration. Foraging on the ground, their diet consists mostly of seeds, with some insects, especially during the breeding season.

Their conservation status according to the IUCN Red list is "Least Concern".

The Lark Sparrow's scientific name, Chondestes grammacus, means grain eater; lined (perhaps referring to its bold facial lines).

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Mother's Day Walk

This past Sunday's Mother's Day Walk wasn't as productive for migrant songbirds as I'd expect at this date. It was a pleasant walk, however, with a few nice highlights.

Saturday's all day torrential rains and Sunday's cooler temperatures with north winds certainly played a big role in the absence of birds, but we still managed to eek out 8 species of warbler. Most were single individuals, with the normally pervasive Yellow-rumped Warbler down to just a few sightings.

On the non-songbird front, the cemetery's Green Heron pair seem to have settled on a nest location. For the second year in a row they've built a nest on the lower sweeping branches of an Elm tree at the Dell Water. In my experience, this tiny wading bird tends to choose precarious spots overhanging bodies of water. This year is no difference and, I suppose, there is a certain amount of safety from egg robbing raccoons in that arrangement. I'm always amazed that the hatchlings don't tumble out of the nest and into the water. Hey, what do I know, I'm just a stupid human.

Our resident Red-tailed Hawks have also picked the same nest tree as the one they used last year. As of this past weekend the female appears to have laid eggs as she was sitting on the nest when we checked. The nest is near the top of a tall pine in the "Flats" along Cypress Avenue, near Vine Avenue.

Finally, the group was amused at two points during the walk by a couple of well fed Groundhogs. I assume that the groundskeepers aren't amused by these largest of our ground squirrels burrows, but folks on my walks always get a smile out of seeing them. The larger cemeteries around New York City are probably the last stronghold for these mammals in the Big Apple. I hope they never disappear from our ecosystem. Some other common and regional names include chuck, woodchuck, wood-shock, groundpig, whistler, whistle pig, thickwood badger, Canada marmot, monax, moonack, weenusk, and red monk.


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Location: Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn
Date: May 14, 2017
Species: 53 species (+1 other taxa)

American Black Duck x Mallard (hybrid) (1.)
Double-crested Cormorant (1.)
Great Blue Heron (1.)
Green Heron (2.)
Red-tailed Hawk (2.)
Spotted Sandpiper (1.)
Laughing Gull
Chimney Swift
American Kestrel (1.)
Eastern Kingbird
Blue-headed Vireo (1.)
Warbling Vireo
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (1.)
Tree Swallow (1.)
Barn Swallow
Red-breasted Nuthatch (1.)
House Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (1.)
Gray Catbird
Ovenbird (2.)
Black-and-white Warbler (2.)
Common Yellowthroat (3.)
American Redstart (2.)
Northern Parula (2.)
Yellow Warbler (3.)
Blackpoll Warbler (1.)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (1.)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (3.)
Chipping Sparrow
Summer Tanager (1 immature male; 1 full adult male; a 3rd (fem.) reported at Dell Water by J. Borker.)
Scarlet Tanager (4.)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (1.)
Indigo Bunting (3.)
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole (4.)
Baltimore Oriole
American Goldfinch

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, House Finch, House Sparrow
...Read more

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Treehugger Tuesday

From Mother Nature Network:

Rare western snowy plovers nesting in Los Angeles after 70-year absence
May 14, 2017
Jaymi Heimbuch

Photo: Kristian Bell/Shutterstock
On April 18, the nest of a western snowy plover was discovered on Santa Monica State Beach. More nests were discovered later in the month on Dockweiler State Beach and Malibu Lagoon State Beach. While finding the nests of shore birds on a beach doesn't seem like a big deal, it's an extraordinary moment when you consider the species. The last time a nest of this species was found on a Los Angeles County beach was in 1949! After 68 years, the tiny birds once again are trying to raise families on these busy southern California shores.

The western snowy plover is a tiny shorebird so perfectly camouflaged that it can disappear in plain sight on the sand. It lays its eggs in depressions in the sand, and these eggs can be next to impossible to see until you're right on top of them. Snowy plover chicks — as pictured here — learn to get up and go within hours of hatching.

Unfortunately, the nesting preferences of these little birds make them vulnerable to disturbance from humans and predation by everything from crows to cats.

According to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) news release, "The Pacific Coast population of western snowy plover was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1993, because of habitat loss, impacts from non-native predators and other factors. At the time of listing, the California population was estimated to be about 1,300 adults. In 2016, the population was estimated to have increased to a little more than 1,800 adults."

The news that the birds are making a comeback in Los Angeles County is heartening, and it shows the conservation efforts to restore habitat and protect nesting areas are paying off.

"This is a sign that, against all odds, western snowy plovers are making a comeback, and we really need the cooperation of beachgoers to help give them the space they need to nest and raise their young," said senior FWS biologist Chris Dellith. "I’m hopeful that we can find a balance between beach recreation and habitat restoration, which will allow humans and shorebirds like the western snowy plover to peacefully exist along our coastline."

Monday, May 15, 2017

Upcoming BIrding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for Saturday, May 20, 2017 to Sunday, May 21, 2017:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, May 20, 2017, 12pm – 1pm
Introduction to Bird Watching
Join Prospect Park Alliance for a birdwatching walk and learn about Prospect Park’s magnificent array of birds and how to identify them!

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Bedford Audubon Society
Saturday, May 20, 2017, 7am – 11am
Doodletown Road in Bear Mountain State Park
Leader: Naturalist Tait Johansson
Doodletown Road is known as one of the best places in our area to find Hooded and Cerulean Warblers as well as being a fine spot for many other songbirds. Join Tait in a search for these feathered gems! Enjoy the walk up the rugged trail past the ruins of a “lost civilization.” Depart Bylane Farm at 6:15am. Cost: Free. Level of Difficulty: Moderate-Strenuous. Register with Susan at info@bedfordaudubon.org or 914.302.9713.
Map

Sunday, May 21, 2017, 7:30am – 9:30am
Explore Muscoot Farm
Leader: Naturalist Tait Johansson and the Friends of Muscoot Farm
Join Tait for a spring bird walk on the beautiful grounds of this county-owned property. Cost: Free. Level of Difficulty: Easy-moderate. Register with Susan at info@bedfordaudubon.org or 914.302.9713.
Map

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Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, May 20, 2017
“The Birdathon”, International Migratory Bird Day (raindate)
A global event celebrating the beauty of birds and habitats; this event encourages fundraising for conservation causes. For this year, the Brooklyn Bird Club’s Birdathon fundraising will support NYC’s Wild Bird Fund https://www.wildbirdfund.org/. For more information about the Birdathon and the history behind it, go to http://www.birdday.org/. If you are interested in forming a team with club members or friends, or if you need more information, please contact the BBC Birdathon teams’ coordinator Bobbi Manian at roberta.manian@gmail.com.

Saturday, May 20, 2017
Doodletown 1776 trail, Harriman State Park
Leader: Tom Stephenson
Focus: Peak of spring migrants and beginning breeding season
Car Fee: $25.00
Registrar: Marisa Wohl, marisaw@earthlink.net
Registration Period: May 13th - May 18th
Comments: This trip is capped at 16 people including the leader

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Eastern Long Island Audubon Society
Saturday, May 20, 2017 - Meet at 9am
Hallockville and Hallock State Park
Leader: MaryLaura Lamont
The Hallockville Farm Museum and State Park is located at 163 Sound Ave, in Riverhead. During peak migration, there is a good chance to see thrushes, vireos, warblers and more. We will walk past farm fields into the woods leading up to views of Long Island Sound. There is a $6 per person charge for this walk, which benefits the Hallockville Farm Museum Educational Program. Please call the Museum for information and a for a reservation at 631-298-5292

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Gateway National Recreation Area
Every Sunday Weekly from 03/12/2017 to 05/28/2017
Birding for Beginners
Join us for an introductory nature walk where you will learn the essentials of birdwatching.
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fee Information: Free

Saturday, May 20, 2017, 10:00am to 11:30am
Warblers for Beginners
For many birders spring means warblers. Identifying these fast and tiny birds can be quite a challenge and even intimidating. Join a Ranger for an intro to the warblers that can be found at the Wildlife Refuge. A brief slideshow will precede a walk on the West Pond Trail.
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fee Information: Free

Sunday, May 21, 2017, 11am
International Migratory Bird and Horseshoe Crab Celebration
Join experts for a bird walk to learn about migration. Along the way you'll also learn about horseshoe crabs. Dress appropriately. Reservations are required. Please call 718-354-4655 for reservations and information.
Location: Great Kills Park

Sunday, May 21, 2017, 10:00am to 11:30am
Osprey Watch Guided Walk
Learn all about the amazing Osprey on this guided walk of the West Pond Trail. We’ll talk about their incredible migration and the inspiring story of how conservation efforts were able to bring this species back from the brink of extinction.
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fee Information: Free

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Great South Bay Audubon Society
Saturday, May 20, 2017 to Sunday, May 21, 2017 - 7:00am
Sterling Forest and Bashakill
Leader(s): John Gluth (631-827-0120)
From Tappan Zee Bridge, take I-87 to Sloatsburg exit 15A, take the exit for Rte 72 (Sterling Mine Rd.), 1- mile up Rte 17. Continue west on Rte 72 for 3 Miles until you reach Rte 84, Long Meadow Rd. Continue up long Meadow Rd to Sterling Lake Rd (4 Mi). Turn left there and continue to Park Visitors Center parking lot on Old Forge Rd. Overnight at Wurtsboro Days Inn (845-888-8727)

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Green-Wood Cemetery
Saturday, May 20, 2017
"Birding in Peace" - Peak Spring Migration Birding

Sunday, May 21, 2017
"Birding in Peace" - Peak Spring Migration Birding

From Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to over 20 species of colorful wood-warblers, our peak migration tours will feature many of the 163 bird species that have been recorded at Green-Wood during the month of May. Beginning just after sunrise, we will experience spring’s dawn chorus at the most active time of day for birds.

$10 for members of Green‑Wood and BHS/$15 for non-members.

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Hudson River Audubon Society
Saturday, May 20 - Sunday May 21, 2017
Bashakill Marsh
Drive up Saturday afternoon and stay overnight for Whip-poor-wills, American Bittern, Virginia Rail, and Alder Flycatchers.
http://hras.org/wtobird/bashakill.html

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Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society
Saturday, May 20, 2017 - 7:30am
The Birds of Doodletown Road
Doodletown is a haven for breeding warblers including hooded and the coveted cerulean. Kentucky warblers are very possible.
Registration: 516-695-0763 or hobaudubon@gmail.com.
Directions: Travel west over the Tappan Zee Bridge to exit 13. Take the Palisades Interstate Parkway north. Go north to Route 6 to the Bear Mountain traffic circle. Leave the circle at the first exit, the Bear Mountain State Park exit. At the light, follow the left fork south along 9W. Within less than 1 mile there will be several small parking areas near two, white concrete abutments indicating the bridge over Doodletown Brook. Park along the road.
Stay overnight and join us on our Sterling Forest trip the next day for a Sterdoodle of a weekend! Field trip participants are responsible for locating their own overnight accommodations

Sunday, May 21, 2017 - 8:00am
Sterling Forest Exploration
Golden winged warblers are the attraction here, along with many species of breeding birds.
Registration: 585-880-0915.
Directions: Take Exit 15 off of NY 87 and head north. Make a left onto 17A. In about 2 miles make a left onto State Route 84 (Long Meadow Road). Follow this about 4 miles to HQ Building/Visitor Center where we will meet.

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Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, May 20, 2017 (Rain date, May 21)
Doodletown
Leader: Paul Keim
Registrar: Anne Lazarus — amlazarus47@gmail.com or 212-673-9059
Registration opens: Monday, May 8
Ride: $30

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New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturdays -- 9/3/2016 - 6/24/2017: 11:00 a.m.
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11am to 12:30pm beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center

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New York City Audubon Society
Saturdays April 29, May 13, and June 3, and Sundays, May 7 and May 21, 9:30-10:30am
Queens Botanical Garden Bird Walks
Guide: NYC Audubon with Queens Botanical Garden
We are happy to announce a new series of spring migration bird walks in partnership with Queens Botanical Garden. Register for one date or the whole series of five free walks (walk-ins welcome!). Explore the Garden in search of migrant songbirds and learn about the valuable resources that the Garden offers birds and other wildlife. Binoculars available. Limited to 25. Appropriate for all ages. To register, email info@queensbotanical.org or visit www.queensbotanical.org/calendar. Free with Garden admission

Weekly on Saturdays, until Jul 29, 2017
Van Cortlandt Bird Walks, The Bronx
Guides: NYC Audubon, Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy with the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy
Meet at Van Cortlandt Nature Center. The history of birding and Van Cortlandt Park are inseparable. Influential birders such as Roger Tory Peterson and Allan D. Cruickshank got their starts on Van Cortlandt’s ecologically diverse grounds. These walks celebrate the tradition set forth by these great ornithologists. Participants will look for various species of residents and migrants and discuss a wide range of avian topics. For more information, please call 212-691-7483. No registration necessary. No limit. Free

Saturday, May 20, 2017, 8:30am – 11:00am
Spring Migrants at Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan
Guide: Annie Barry
Meet at the entrance to Inwood Hill Park at the corner of Isham Street and Seaman Avenue. Join Annie Barry for a hike through a mature forest in search of kinglets, warblers, flycatchers, sparrows, Baltimore orioles, and other migrants and residents. We will then move to the shores of the Inwood Hill Park saltmarsh, the last natural saltmarsh in Manhattan, to search for herons and ducks, and will explore Muscota Marsh, a recently restored habitat within the park. Some hilly walking required. Limited to 15. $36 (25)
Click here to register

Saturday, May 20, 2017, 10am – 1pm
Birding Bonanza - Randalls Island
Randall’s Island is home to over 180 species of birds. Join us for a day of free, family-friendly bird watching! Learn about the amazing adaptations of birds as they thrive in the Island's restored habitats.

- Guided walks
- Crafts and games
- Refreshments
- Suitable for ages 7+ (with an adult)

Saturday, May 20, 2017, 10am – 1pm
Birds and Plants: New York Botanical Garden in Springtime
Guides: Gabriel Willow
Meet by the ticket booth just inside the Garden’s Mosholu Gate on Southern Boulevard. The New York Botanical Garden is home to a large tract of East Coast old-growth forest. During the peak of spring migration, the beautiful gardens come alive with migrating songbirds. Limited to 15. Entrance fee to NYBG not included. $39 (27)
Click here to register

Sunday, May 21, 2017, 9:30am – 10:30am
Queens Botanical Garden Bird Walks
Saturdays April 29, May 13, and June 3, and Sundays, May 7 and May 21, 9:30-10:30am
Guide: NYC Audubon with Queens Botanical Garden
We are happy to announce a new series of spring migration bird walks in partnership with Queens Botanical Garden. Register for one date or the whole series of five free walks (walk-ins welcome!). Explore the Garden in search of migrant songbirds and learn about the valuable resources that the Garden offers birds and other wildlife. Binoculars available. Limited to 25. Appropriate for all ages. To register, email info@queensbotanical.org or visit www.queensbotanical.org/calendar. Free with Garden admission

Sunday, May 21, 2017, 1pm – 4pm
Nesting Peregrines and Red-Tails of the Upper West Side, Manhattan
Guide: Gabriel Willow
Meet in front of Riverside Church. Many New Yorkers are astonished to discover that their city of steel and glass is home to a diverse population of large birds of prey: The City boasts the world’s highest densities of the peregrine falcon, the world’s fastest flyer, and a growing population of red-tailed hawks (several pairs of which have reached celebrity status). We’ll visit the nesting site of a pair of each of these fascinating species, and may glimpse parents feeding their chicks. Limited to 15. $36 (25)
Click here to register

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North Shore Audubon Society
Saturday, May 20, 2017, 8am – 12pm
NYIT de Seversky Center
Where: NYIT de Seversky Mansion, 1 Northern Blvd, Glen Head, NY 11545
Leader: Liz 516-404-1984
Enter from Northern Blvd and West Rd - head south on West Rd. Proceed up the hill, and follow sign to the NYIT de Seversky Mansion on right. Park in big lot across from mansion.
Wear water-resistant footwear, bring binoculars and drinking water.

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NYC H2O
Saturday, May 20, 2017 at 6:30pm
Horseshoe Crab Discovery Walks
Location: Plumb Beach

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Queens County Bird Club
Saturday, May 20 – Sunday, May 21, 2017
Doodle-ing Bash!
Leader: Arie Gilbert (917) 693-7178
Trips of this nature require reservations **well in advance.**
Please contact leaders at least 2 days before trip to let them know you are attending

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South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, May 21, 2017
Hempstead Plains

All walks start at 9:00 A.M.
There is no walk if it rains or snows or temperature is below 25°F.
For more information or in case of questionable weather conditions, please phone Joe at 516 467-9498
For directions to our bird-watching locations, click here.

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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Bird Walks at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
Head to the park to join bird walks led by experts from the NYC Audubon! Bird walks focus on wildlife happenings in the park.
Free!

Rangers Choice: Calvert Vaux Park Discovery Hike at Calvert Vaux Park, Brooklyn
10:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
This beautifully-restored parkland holds remnants of sunken barges that have been taken over by nature.
Free!

Discovery Walks for Families: Beginning Birders at Belvedere Castle (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
Bring your family for a guided walk and discover why Central Park is a sanctuary for plants, animals, and humans alike. Learn about the architecture, landscapes, and ecosystems of the…
Free!

Birding Bonanza at Little Hell Gate Salt Marsh (in Randall's Island Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
At our Birding Bonanza event, expert guides from both the Randall's Island Park Alliance and NYC Audubon help you explore the park while you seek and discover our feathered island residents.
Free!

For The Birds Festival: A Celebration of All Things Avian at Conference House Park Visitor Center (in Conference House Park), Staten Island
11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Come discover and celebrate NYC's avian residents at Conference House Park's For The Birds Festival.
Free!

Art Exhibition: Flora/Fauna/Feathers of Richmond County at H.H. Biddle House (in Conference House Park), Staten Island
1:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.
Flora/Fauna/Feathers of Richmond County sponsored by Protectors of Pine Oak Woods, Staten Island’s land conservation organization. Come view original artwork celebrating nature…
Free!

Sunday, May 21, 2017
Bird Watching at Forest Park Visitor Center (in Forest Park), Queens
8:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
Start your day with an early morning bird-watching walk led by Jean Loscalzo of the Queens County Bird Club. Binoculars recommended.
Free!

Birding: Hawk Watch at Parking Area (in High Rock Park), Staten Island
9:00 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
The Urban Park Rangers will teach you how to use your eyes and ears to find these birds of prey in this enchanting woodland.
Free!

Bird Walks with New York City Audubon at Queens Botanical Garden, Queens
9:30 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
Spot and identify creatures of flight and learn how Queens Botanical Garden provides important resources for birds—like water, shelter, and insects to eat.
...Read more

Saturday, May 13, 2017

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, May 12, 2017:

-RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* May 12, 2017
* NYNY1705.12

- Birds Mentioned

PACIFIC LOON+
YELLOW-NOSED ALBATROSS+
RUFF+
ARCTIC TERN+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
Cory’s Shearwater
Sooty Shearwater
MANX SHEARWATER
Northern Gannet
Cattle Egret
Whimbrel
White-rumped Sandpiper
Parasitic Jaeger
Razorbill
Iceland Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Black Tern
Roseate Tern
Eastern Whip-poor-will
Red-headed Woodpecker
Willow Flycatcher
Worm-eating Warbler
PROTHONOTARY WARBLER
Tennessee Warbler
KENTUCKY WARBLER
Hooded Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Wilson’s Warbler
SUMMER TANAGER
BLUE GROSBEAK

If followed by (+) please submit documentation of your report electronically and use the NYSARC online submission form found at http://www.nybirds.org/NYSARC/goodreport.htm

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to nysarc44nybirdsorg

If electronic submission is not possible, hardcopy reports and photos or sketches are welcome. Hardcopy documentation should be mailed to:

Gary Chapin - Secretary
NYS Avian Records Committee (NYSARC)
125 Pine Springs Drive
Ticonderoga, NY 12883

Hotline: New York City Area Rare Bird Alert
Number: (212) 979-3070

Compiler: Tom Burke
Coverage: New York City, Long Island, Westchester County

Transcriber: Gail Benson

[~BEGIN RBA TAPE~]

Greetings! This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, May 12, 2017 at 8:00 pm.

The highlights of today’s tape are YELLOW-NOSED ALBATROSS, PACIFIC LOON, RUFF, ARCTIC TERN, MANX SHEARWATER, PROTHONOTARY and KENTUCKY WARBLERS, SUMMER TANAGER, BLUE GROSBEAK and much more.

Given the generally unfavorable conditions this past week for decent migration in our area, the best choice would have been to place yourself at Robert Moses State Park last Saturday morning in time to watch the ALBATROSS fly by heading east. The descriptions of the bird, seen nicely under the given conditions and supplemented by a few stills and a video clip as it cruised by not too far offshore with an accompanying NORTHERN GANNET, seem sufficient to determine it was a YELLOW-NOSED ALBATROSS, rather than the quite similar Black-browed. The ALBATROSS angled out to sea and was not therefore spotted by other birders stationing themselves further east along the coast.

Additional rewards for vigilant sea watching Saturday included a substantial movement of COMMON and RED-THROATED LOONS, the few hundred of each joined by a breeding-plumaged PACIFIC LOON also heading east and seen from two different locations within Moses Park. Other pelagic highlights included a MANX SHEARWATER and two PARASITIC JAEGERS off Moses, the JAEGERS likely the two spotted later off Smith Point County Park. Single CORY’S and SOOTY SHEARWATERS were seen off Dune Road in Westhampton Dunes, and an adult ARCTIC TERN was found on the Cupsogue County Park sand flats Saturday afternoon. Four BLACK TERNS appeared off Smith Point County Park Saturday, and a late RAZORBILL was also off Dune Road, with ROSEATE TERN and WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER among the many other birds along the shore that day.

LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS, now staging mostly along the south shore of Long Island, included a peak of 12 at Robert Moses State Park Sunday, while Saturday provided single ICELAND GULLS at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn and out near Mecox.

Two WHIMBRELS were reported from Jones Beach West End Sunday, and more intriguing was an apparent female RUFF, or REEVE, spotted Wednesday at the Cedar Beach in Southold on the North Fork, appropriate field marks noted before the bird suddenly got up and flew out of sight.

An EASTERN WHIP-POOR-WILL was in Central Park last Sunday, and birds are on territory north of us. The Manhattan CATTLE EGRET was last reported Tuesday, and a RED-HEADED WOODPECKER was at Hempstead Lake State Park Thursday.

SUMMER TANAGERS had a great week locally, with close to a dozen reports. A male in Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn all week was joined by a female late in the week, perhaps three different birds were in the vicinity of the waterhole in Forest Park this week, females were noted in Central Park on Wednesday and at the north end Friday, and on Wednesday two were at Jones Beach West End, one at Cunningham Park, and one at Battery Park in Manhattan. The latter TANAGER joined a BLUE GROSBEAK present in Battery Park from Monday on, and another BLUE GROSBEAK was spotted at Jones Beach West End Thursday.

Four PROTHONOTARY WARBLERS featured one at Strack Pond at the west end of Forest Park last weekend, one at the New York Botanical Garden Saturday, another at A KENTUCKY WARBLER in Prospect Park last Sunday was followed by one in Washington Square Park in lower Manhattan Thursday and today.

A decent variety of Warblers this week has also featured WORM-EATING, TENNESSEE, CAPE MAY, BAY-BREASTED, HOODED and WILSON’S, and WILLOW FLYCATCHER was noted as of Tuesday.

Please note this new number for phoning in reports. Call Tom Burke at (914) 967-4922 and leave a message.

This service is sponsored by the Linnaean Society of New York and the National Audubon Society. Thank you for calling.

- End transcript
...Read more

Friday, May 12, 2017

Friday's Foto

The Bay-breasted Warbler is a perfect example of how it isn't necessary to sport brilliantly colored plumage to be a stunning songbird. This species is relatively large by warbler standards weighing in, on average, at 12.5 grams. Wintering in Costa Rica, Panama, and northern South America, the Bay-breasted breeds almost entirely in the boreal forests of Canada. Preferring thick stands of spruce and fir, their summer diet consists primary of insects. Their populations vary considerably based on outbreaks of the spruce budworm, which becomes a large part of their diet. On their wintering grounds they switch to mostly a fruit diet.

During the fall migration, when their plumage transitions to a mostly greenish color, the Bay-breasted Warblers becomes one of our “confusing fall warblers”. Learn how to distinguish them from another confusing fall warbler, the Blackpoll Warbler here.

Despite a slow decline in population the IUCN Red List lists their conservation status as “Least Concern”. It is not on the State of North America's Birds 2016 Watchlist.

It’s scientific name, Setophaga castanea, means moth eater; chestnut-colored.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Weekend Trips Recap

This past weekend I added a Saturday tour to the Green-Wood Cemetery "Birding in Peace" series. The back to back early morning walks yielded a nice selection of the expected Spring migrants, plus a couple of unexpected bonuses.

Saturday started off rather cool with white, overcast skies, so the birds weren't very active early on. One nice surprise was crossing paths with a male Blue Grosbeak near the intersection of Landscape and Oak Avenues, about 50 yards away from Horace Greeley. The stocky, deep blue bird is related to the cardinal and, I suppose appropriately, was foraging on the ground with one of his bright red cousins. Blue Grosbeaks are fairly scarce around Brooklyn as they nest primarily south of New York.

Warblers and other colorful songsters are the primary quarry for birders during the month of May, however, some interesting flycatchers are also arriving in the area. At the Sylvan Water early Saturday morning we watched a pair of Eastern Kingbirds chasing each other around. The screeching quality of their songs always seems to my ears like they're grousing about something. More than likely, it's really just their courtship vocalizations. I have a lot of respect for Eastern Kingbirds as they are one of the few species that have no problem taking on a Red-tailed Hawk...pretty impressive considering that, on average, they weigh about 4% of the red-tail's mass. I've seen kingbirds flying after our resident hawks and pecking on the back of their head.

Most of the flycatchers that we see around Brooklyn during migration or nesting over the summer, are fairly plain with plumages that are variations of olive or grey. The Great Crested Flycatcher, with its yellow underside, is one exception. We heard then spotted a few on both Saturday and Sunday's walks. Most are just passing through the area, but I have found a few pairs nesting in the cemetery over the years.

Also seen at the Sylvan Water was Spotted Sandpiper - one on Saturday, then a pair on Sunday. Ever since the cemetery has removed the coping wall at the edge of the pond and replaced it with a more natural, sloping shoreline we've seen an increase in shorebird species stopping off to rest and refuel here. In addition to the Spotted Sandpiper, other shorebirds seen here are Killdeer, Wilson's Snipe, Solitary Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs and Lesser Yellowlegs.

Warblers still continue to be the birds of the moment with 14 species seen at the cemetery this weekend. Yellow-rumped Warblers, to nobody's surprise, were the dominant species. A close second seemed to be the Black-and-white Warbler. Northern Parulas were heard singing from the trees throughout the cemetery, to the point that I imagined hearing them when trying to fall asleep at night. There was also still a good number of Ovenbirds in the area making their emphatic "tee-cher, tee-CHER, TEE-CHER" song as they strolled through the understory. We also heard, then spotted a couple of Black-throated Green Warblers. Its buzzy "zee-zee-zee-zoo-zee" reminds me of the theme to "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"...well, sort of. Always a crowd pleasers, and seen both days, was Hooded Warbler. On Saturday I found one singing at Forest Dell in a tree above Duncan Phyfe. For the group on Sunday he made an appearance at the Dell Water, although it is quite possible that it was a second individual. Hooded Warblers aren't actually rare, just really nice to see.

Two other colorful songbirds seen and heard in good numbers over the weekend were
Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Baltimore Oriole.

Without a doubt the best bird in the cemetery this weekend was a Summer Tanager. This species breeds south of New York City, but we do see the occasional stray during migration. Thankfully, the birding gods were good to us and this dazzling, strawberry-red bird gave great looks to participants on both tours. On Saturday's walk, I nearly bungled the identification, at first pointing out what I thought was the more common Scarlet Tanager. In my defense, it was terrible lighting and the bird was partially obscured. Anyway, when someone innocently asked why it wouldn't be a Summer Tanager I began describing the differences: "Summer doesn't have black wings; summer has a more peaked head; summer has a larger, horn-colored bill ... hey, wait a minute!" The bird flew down to a lower perch in a crabapple tree above the beehives at the edge of the pond giving us great looks. On Sunday he wasn't present right away, but after we circled the pond once, he returned to his favorite spot next to the hives. In fact, according to the Audubon field guide website, "This bird apparently has no fear of stinging insects, often raiding wasp nests and occasionally becoming a minor nuisance around beehives." Thankfully he doesn't eat much and will have moved on by the end of the month.

Finally, as I was wrapping up Sunday's tour I received a message that somebody had just located a Kentucky Warbler in Prospect Park. This skulky species of the understory is another bird with a breeding range that is primarily south of New York City. Of the thousands of songbirds that migrate through our area in the Spring, you'd be lucky to see one a year. I explained the sighting to the people in the tour as we headed towards the cemetery's main entrance and recommended that anyone who could, should try and make the short run up to Prospect Park's north end. Four people decided to drive their cars over and I hopped on my bicycle, high-tailing it up to the area in the park known as the Vale of Cashmere. The bird had moved from the Vale to a spot a short distance away, but we all eventually got to see this rarity. It was a nice way to end a really good weekend of birding.

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Dates: Saturday, May 6, 2017 and Sunday, May 7, 2017
Location: Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn
Species: 75

Brant (3.)
Canada Goose
Wood Duck (2.)
Mallard
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron (1.)
Great Egret (2.)
Green Heron (2.)
Black-crowned Night-Heron (1.)
Osprey (1.)
Red-tailed Hawk (1.)
Spotted Sandpiper (2.)
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
American Kestrel (1.)
Monk Parakeet
Great Crested Flycatcher (2.)
Eastern Kingbird (3.)
Blue-headed Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch (2.)
White-breasted Nuthatch (1.)
House Wren
Veery
Swainson's Thrush (1.)
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Ovenbird
Northern Waterthrush (2.)
Black-and-white Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
HOODED WARBLER (1.)
American Redstart
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Palm Warbler (1.)
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Prairie Warbler (3.)
Black-throated Green Warbler (1.)
Chipping Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow (1.)
Eastern Towhee
SUMMER TANAGER (1.)
Scarlet Tanager (2.)
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
BLUE GROSBEAK (1.)
Indigo Bunting (1.)
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow
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Exploring urban nature, birds, birdwatching, birding, hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, hawks, raptors, wildflowers, trees, mushrooms, environment, binoculars, spotting scope