17 April 2012: American Bittern, North Woods

American BIttern

American BIttern 

The American Bittern is an extremely rare visitor to Central Park. It was seen once in 2011, on May 18th; in some years it is not seen at all. As we were finishing our sparrow watch on the Great Hill, Malcolm Morris approached and told us that he had just seen an American Bittern in the North Woods, originally found by Tom Perlman. Malcolm gave us excellent directions and we headed over to see the bird without delay. Two other birders were already viewing it when we arrived, and we were treated to unobstructed, well-lit views of the bittern perched with its neck extended skywards in a bare tree about 35 feet off the ground.

Nothing else from today is going to compare with this rare sighting, but we are happy to have also added three new birds to our 2012 spring list: Fish Crow, Barn Swallow, and Black-throated Green Warbler.

Though we heard of isolated reports of some new common warbler species in the Park, overall this was a day of very modest migration (except for Yellow-rumped Warblers, which were seen everywhere and in their highest numbers of the year) and we expect far better days to come.