Eastern Whip-poor-will in the Ramble


Eastern Whip-poor-will (Photo credit: jerryoldenettel)

Starr Saphir led the walk in the Central Park North End for the first 90 minutes after which Lenore Swenson took over. The two combined for an excellent total of 47 species, of which 10 were warblers. Temperature was in the mid 60s and winds changed from SW to NW overnight.

Highlights included Osprey, Cooper’s Hawk, Least Flycatcher, Olive-sided FlycatcherBaltimore Oriole and Scarlet Tanager.

Two birds were new for the season: White-breasted Nuthatch and then a very rarely-seen bird that is also a new species for the year not only for our group but for all of Central Park: the Eastern Whip-poor-will!

I was at home when the NYNYBIRD text alert came in at 9:48am that Andrew Rubenfeld had found a roosting Eastern Whip-poor-will on a branch just above and north of the source of the Gill. I quickly laced up my running shoes and went out the door.

I arrived in less than 10 minutes, but already over a dozen birders and photographers were admiring it. The nocturnal bird was staying still, almost certainly asleep and unaware of the excitement its presence was causing.

I continued my run up to the North End by the Meer where I found Lenore’s group and I told them about the Whip-poor-will. Lenore offered to take any interested participants along with her to see the bird. After a quick trip through Conservatory Gardens and Wildflower Meadow, Lenore and others got on the west side subway at 103rd Street and sped off to the Ramble.

How rare is the Eastern Whip-poor-will? The last prior eBird record is from April 2008. They are very hard to observe because they are so well-camouflaged during the day (in addition to not moving). Their distinctive call, for which they are named, is loud and easily heard but it begins at dusk when birders are generally not around to hear it.