8 May 2012: Cape May Warbler

Cape May warbler

Cape May Warbler

A Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) perched ...

Cedar Waxwing

Cloud cover and winds gusting over 20mph made for challenging birding conditions this morning in the Central Park North End. We saw both fewer total birds and fewer total species — 51 — than in recent walks, but quality was very high. We had 17 warbler species including Cape May Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, and Blackburnian Warbler. We had our first-of-season Cedar Waxwings, and enjoyed great looks at male Scarlet Tanager, Indigo Bunting, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak, the latter in alternative orange-breasted plumage.

The Cedar Waxwings are among the Park’s most colorful, distinctive birds. Their numbers will continue to grow through the end of May and a large contingent will remain in the Park through the summer and into late fall. They eat mainly fruit and are usually found in flocks on fruiting trees. Listening for their very high-pitched calls is a good way to find them.

Highlights: (* means first-of-season for the group)

  • Hermit Thrush (Ridge Trail, very late for species)
  • Cedar Waxwing* (Great Hill)
  • Worm-eating W. (Ridge Trail near High Meadow)
  • Cape May W. (Great Hill, trees south of running track)
  • Blackburnian W. (Ridge Trail near High Meadow)
  • Chestnut-sided W. (Loch)
  • Canada W. (Loch)
  • Scarlet Tanager (Great Hill)
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Great Hill)
  • Indigo Bunting (Ridge Trail)
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