5 May 2012: Cerulean Warbler and Many Scarlet Tanagers

Cerulean Warbler from US Forest Service. Minne...

Cerulean Warbler

Piranga olivacea

Scarlet Tanager

We had 71 total species — our highest total of the year — and 19 warblers in a productive North End walk with at least ten great views of male Scarlet Tanagers, a real treat for everyone. The Loch provided excellent displays of warblers. Starr found a rare male Cerulean Warbler near the Meer. We added 7 new birds to our season list.

The morning appeared to get darker until about 9:15 as clouds thickened and a brief light rain began to fall, making viewing conditions far from optimal. Brightly-colored birds are best observed in sunlight, but failing that you want to  see them against a background of leaves or trees rather than clouds. Speaking of leaves, the trees are full of them — fully leafed-out — and this puts a premium on one’s listening skills as many birds, in particular orioles, were heard but not seen. Starr’s skill at birding by ear is astounding and well worth experiencing in person.

Among warblers that pass annually through Central Park in spring migration, eBird records rank the Cerulean Warbler as the rarest. It appears on only 4% of birder reports during its peak week, the first week of May, making it about 2/3 as common as the Prothonotary and only 1/2 as common as the Hooded. It’s a great find for Starr and life bird for most of those who saw it.

Highlights: (* means a new bird for the season)

  • Wood Duck (flyover)
  • Red-throated Loon* (flyover)
  • Broad-winged Hawk* (flyover)
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird (High Meadow)
  • Eastern Kingbird* (flyover)
  • Least Flycatcher (Loch)
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (3)
  • Blue-winged Warbler
  • Tennessee Warbler (Loch, heard)
  • Nashville Warbler (Loch)
  • American Redstart
  • Magnolia Warbler
  • Blackburnian Warbler (Loch)
  • Chestnut-sided Warbler (Loch)
  • Blackpoll Warbler (female, Loch)
  • Black-throated Blue Warbler
  • Bay-breasted Warbler* (Great Hill)
  • Cerulean Warbler* (SE side of Meer in Redwoods)
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow (Wildflower Meadow)
  • Scarlet Tanager (many)
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Great Hill)
  • Indigo Bunting* (male and female, Great Hill)
  • Baltimore Oriole
  • Orchard Oriole* (1st year male, Great Hill)