American Coot, Meer

American Coot (Fulica americana) may be found ...

American Coot

Starr Saphir and Lenore Swenson’s walk in the Central Park North End had 50 species including 8 sparrows. It was overcast with temperature of 62 and light winds.

The walk began with a tradition that Starr has continued for over two decades: on the last walk before Halloween, the walk leaders offer some candy treats to the participants. Two of the group’s young birders appeared in costume, as elves. It was great to see Starr out in the Park again and calling out birds as they flew overhead.

The group added a new species for both the season and year (#157), American Coot. Coot can reliably be found on the Reservoir from November through April and they sometimes show up on the Lake, too. They are much less common on the Meer.

Among the sparrows today were Field, Swamp, and White-crowned, and Eastern Towhee.

The group had good views of perching Red-tailed Hawk and Cooper’s Hawk. A flying American Kestrel was also seen.

Other good birds were Red-breased Nuthatch and Wood Duck, the latter on the Meer.

The only warbler was Yellow-rumped Warbler, which was much less visible than in recent days, when one might see over 15 in an hour of birding; today this number was 1 to 3.

It appears that the moderate migration noted on radar the last few nights has reduced numbers of many species such as Palm Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Hermit Thrush, Cedar Waxwing, and some of the sparrows such as FieldWhite-crowned, Song, and Lincoln’s. For the first time in over a month I did not see an Eastern Phoebe. Brown Thrasher, which was abundant two to three weeks ago, is no longer being seen, either.

Black-capped Chickadees are being heard and seen more often, along with Tufted Titmice. Large flocks of Common Grackles appear, too.

We are already seeing many ducks, and more of the less-common species are on the way, such as Green-winged Teal and American Wigeon. We are seeing some Canada Geese migrating overhead, and Snow Geese should be along, too.

Update (31 Oct 2012): The remaining three walks of the year were cancelled because Hurricane Sandy closed the Park.

Fox Sparrow, Ramble

Fox Sparrow

Fox Sparrow

Lenore Swenson’s walk in the Central Park Ramble had 40 species including two warblers (Yellow-rumped and Common Yellowthroat) and six sparrows. It was an overcast morning, around 58 degrees, with occasional very light rain. Wet conditions and the threat of rain tend to make birds less active.

Fox Sparrow, seen down the steps from Belvedere Castle toward Turtle Pond, is a new bird for the season. Our fall season total is 135 species, not far from the 140 we had this spring.

Lenore heard a small flock of Pine Siskins overhead, but views were difficult. It appears that there may be some resident Siskins now in the Park as more people are reporting them even on days when migration is minimal.

The group had good views of Winter Wren and of a female Purple Finch.

American Tree Sparrow, Great Hill

English: American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arbor...

American Tree Sparrow

Lenore Swenson’s walk in the Central Park North End had 48 species including three warblers (Palm, Yellow-rumped, and Mourning) and nine sparrows, the high so far for the season.

American Tree Sparrow, seen on sparrow slope of the Great Hill, is a new bird for both the season and the year (#156).

Field Sparrow, also seen on the Great Hill, is a new bird for the season.

The other sparrows seen were White-crowned, Chipping, White-throated, Swamp, Song, Eastern Towhee and Dark-eyed Junco.

Lenore briefly saw a Mourning Warbler at the Children’s Glade on the Great Hill, but it found cover before most of the group could see it.

Other notable birds were Purple Finch and a late Blue-eyed Vireo.

The group saw three Winter Wrens and an amazing ten Brown Creepers!

Hermit Thrush were also seen in abundance today. Within a minute of walking into the Park I had four and my total for the day was at least 30.

Pine Siskins, Ramble

Pine Siskin female, Ontario, Canada.

Pine Siskin, female

Lenore Swenson’s walk in the Central Park Ramble had 47 species including two warblers (Yellow-rumped and Palm) and 7 sparrows.

Lenore saw a flock of around six Pine Siskins, a new bird for both the season and the year (#155). Though Pine Siskins have been migrating in huge numbers this year (a report from Long Island over the weekend had 12,000 passing in a single day), it seems they pass through quickly, mostly not remaining resident, and their migration path does not necessarily take them through Central Park.

Seeing them is not easy. They tend to move from tree to tree in flocks without spending much time in any one place — so there is little point in waiting for an alert of a confirmed sighting. You will not get there in time! They do seem to like the Dawn Redwoods at the north end of Strawberry Fields, but they have appeared at many other places in the Ramble. The best thing you can do is learn their rising flight call, the Zhreee call, and listen for it. It is distinctive. Sooner or later you will hear or see some Siskins.

The group also added another new bird for the season, a female Red-winged Blackbird.

Other highlights today include: American Kestrel, Hairy WoodpeckerWhite-crowned Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Pied-billed Grebe, and Purple Finch.

Great Cormorant, North End

Great Cormorant

Great Cormorant (Photo credit: 0ystercatcher)

Alex Hale’s walk in the Central Park North End today added one new species for both the season and the year (#154), a Great Cormorant seen flying over. This bird is rare in Central Park though it is common all along the central and northern Atlantic coast of North America. It prefers a coastal habitat, where it breeds. The New York harbor area reliably hosts Great Cormorants during winter, and they can also be seen occasionally on the East River.

There was a male Wood Duck on the Meer.

Cape May Warbler, Pinetum

English: Cape May warbler

Lenore Swenson’s walk in the Central Park Ramble and Pinetum had 52 species including 7 warblers and 6 sparrows. It was a calm, sunny morning with a temperature in the high 50s.

Lenore proceeded directly to the Pinetum to search for Cape May Warblers, which had been reported there the prior three days. The first pass yielded plenty of the usual suspects and a brief glimpse at a possible Cape May, but nothing satisfying for the group. Activity was at least 50 feet high in the tree and prolonged scanning was difficult because it required looking almost directly up.

So we took a break from the search. We went to the Reservoir and saw some Ruddy Ducks and the usual gulls.

On the way back we gave the Cape May one more try and this time — success! The bird was seen by most of the group flying near the top of the tree displaying its yellow front with dark streaks. It is a new bird for the fall season.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and Hermit Thrush continued to be very abundant.

Other highlights:

  • Wood Duck (at least two at the Upper Lobe)
  • Cooper’s Hawk
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • American Kestrel
  • Blue-headed Vireo
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Brown Creeper
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • Brown Thrasher
  • Cedar Waxwing
  • MOURNING WARBLER (continuing in fenced-in area north of Tupelo Meadow)
  • Common Yellowthroat
  • Blackpoll Warbler
  • Black-throated Blue Warbler
  • Eastern Towhee
  • Chipping Sparrow
  • White-crowned Sparrow
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Purple Finch
  • American Goldfinch

[Birding away from the group, I had Pine Siskin and Field Sparrow in the Falconer’s Hill area.]

Bald Eagle, North End

A Bald Eagle flying in Alaska, USA.

Bald Eagle

Lenore Swenson’s walk in the Central Park North End had 54 species.


  • Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, and Ruddy Ducks on the Meer
  • TURKEY VULTURE (new for season, flyover)
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk (2)
  • BALD EAGLE (adult, flyover 9AM; new for season and year [#153])
  • Red-tailed Hawk (12)
  • Blue-headed Vireo (Wildflower Meadow)
  • WARBLING VIREO (east side of Great Hill, very late for species)
  • Black-capped Chickadee (Loch)
  • White-breasted Nuthatch (4)
  • Brown Creeper (Compost Heap area)
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet (8)
  • Gray-cheeked Thrush (Ravine)
  • Hermit Thrush (5)
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • Cedar Waxwing (all over Conservatory Garden)
  • Blackpoll Warbler
  • Black-throated Blue Warbler (4)
  • Palm Warbler (12)
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler (30)
  • Chipping Sparrow
  • Savannah Sparrow
  • Song Sparrow
  • Swamp Sparrow
  • White-crowned Sparrow (6, flower garden area, Great Hill)
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Brown-headed Cowbird (heard, Great Hill gardens)
  • Purple Finch (5, Great Hill gardens)
  • House Finch (Compost Heap area)
  • American Goldfinch (Wildflower Meadow)

Mourning and Tennessee Warblers, Ramble


Lenore Swenson’s walk in the Central Park Ramble had 48 species including 7 warblers and 4 sparrows.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Hermit Thrush, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Titmice, and both Kinglets continued to be abundant.


  • Wood Duck (3 at Upper Lobe)
  • Pied-billed Grebe (5 on reservoir)
  • Mourning Warbler (immature, north of Tupelo Meadow)
  • Tennessee Warbler (Triplets Bridge, on ground)
  • Black-capped Chickadee

Black-billed Cuckoo, Great Hill

Black-Billed Cuckoo / Coccyzus erythropthalmus

Black-billed Cuckoo

Lenore Swenson’s walk in the Central Park North End this morning had 57 total species including 9 warblers and 8 sparrows. Overnight migration was very strong after the passage of a cold front yesterday. It was also the coldest morning of the fall so far, with temperature around 41 at the start of the walk.

A Black-billed Cuckoo was briefly heard (but not seen) just off the path exiting the east side of the Great Hill at west Park Drive, latitude 106th Street. This was a new bird for both the season and the year (#152). This species is observed only once or twice per season in the Park.

An Orange-crowned Warbler was seen just south of the Meer. This is another excellent find.

Ruddy Duck, on the Meer, is a new bird for the season, as is Savannah Sparrow, on “Sparrow Slope” of the Great Hill. The group also saw White-crowned Sparrow on the Great Hill.

Other warblers seen were the usual ones: Black-throated Blue, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Black-and-white, and Magnolia.

Overnight migration appears to have brought more Hermit Thrush and Golden-crowned Kinglets, both of which were abundant. The former has just begun to be seen regularly this week.