About David Barrett

Birder and writer

Starr Saphir Memorial Bird Walk, 2 May 2014

Lenore Swenson will once again lead a walk through the Central Park Ramble in memory of Starr Saphir. This walk is scheduled for Friday, May 2, 2014 at 7:30 a.m. at the usual meeting place, the SE corner of Central Park West and 81st Street by the benches. The walk is free and no pre-registration is required — just show up and be ready to see some great birds.


Results of Birdathon for Starr

Lenore Swenson at Marine Park. Photo credit: Sandra Paci

Lenore Swenson at Marine Park. Photo credit: Sandra Paci

Lenore Swenson, Sandra Paci, and Donna Evans teamed up on the International Migratory Bird Day Birdathon and observed 115 species in Brooklyn on Saturday, May 11, raising $13,637 for the Cerulean Warbler Fund in remembrance of Starr Saphir. They put on a remarkable display of birding skill and endurance!

Donations are still being accepted. Contact Sandra Paci if you are interested: sandypaci@earthlink.net.

The team birded for over 14 hours. They began at 6:30 a.m. in Prospect Park, where rain and dark skies made it difficult to see birds. Still they had 69 species there, including 17 warblers, with Cape May and Blackburnian on the list.

Then they went to Greenwood Cemetery to see Monk Parakeet. Then to Owl’s Head Park, where they had Purple Finch and Indigo Bunting.

Next it was Gravesend Bay for Purple Sandpiper. Then Dreier Offerman Park where they saw a Killdeer on its nest with eggs.

At Gerritsen Creek they had Least Tern and Willet. At Marine Park they added seven more species, including Clapper Rail, Common Loon, and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron.

Finally they added seventeen more species at Jamaica Bay, including Tricolored Heron and American Woodcock.

Lenore’s Memorial Walk for Starr — Results

Lenore at Summit Rock. Photo credit: Sandra Paci

Lenore Swenson at Summit Rock. Photo credit: Sandra Paci

Postponing the walk turned out to be a very good thing. Today, May 10, was by far the best birding day of the year. It rivaled the best May days of 2012. Winds turned to the southwest overnight for the first time in weeks, and the day began warm and sunny.

A large gathering of birders, at least eighty, honored Starr at Summit Rock. Lenore Swenson and others spoke about what Starr meant to them. Observers were treated to surrounding oak trees filled with migrant birds.

Lenore’s group tallied well over 50 species in the Ramble and adjacent areas. Some birds worth noting:

  • Great Blue Heron
  • Great Egret
  • Black-crowned Night-Heron
  • Eastern Kingbird
  • Blue-headed Vireo
  • Warbling Vireo
  • Red-eyed Vireo
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • Veery
  • Swainson’s Thrush
  • Wood Thrush
  • Northern Waterthrush
  • Blue-winged Warbler
  • Black-and-white Warbler
  • Common Yellowthroat
  • American Redstart
  • Northern Parula
  • Magnolia Warbler
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Blackpoll Warbler
  • Black-throated Blue Warbler
  • Palm Warbler
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Black-throated Green Warbler
  • Canada Warbler
  • Scarlet Tanager
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  • Brown-headed Cowbird
  • Baltimore Oriole

Starr’s memorial walk POSTPONED to Friday, May 10

There is a high chance of rain on Wednesday, so Lenore is moving the walk date to Friday.

The event is free and open to all, and it will begin at 7:30 a.m. on Friday, May 10, at Summit Rock in Central Park, which is just off Central Park West and 83rd Street. You can reach Summit Rock by entering the park off of either West 81st or West 85th Street. This map shows you where it is.

Brooklyn Bird Club walk results

Some of Starr’s longtime bird walk members showed up on a sunny morning in and around the Ramble for a walk sponsored by Peter Dorosh and the Brooklyn Bird Club. Starr was honored with a memorial plaque from the BBC. Starr’s co-leader Lenore Swenson also joined the group and helped us find some good birds.

Overall species and individual bird counts were extremely low for this time of year, as has been the case for the last week. Weather patterns appear to be discouraging migration through our area.

Highlights of the walk were:

  • Great Egret (flyover)
  • Osprey (flyover, Strawberry Fields)
  • Chimney Swift
  • Blue-headed Vireo
  • Red-eyed Vireo
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • Ovenbird
  • Northern Waterthrush (the Oven)
  • Black-and-white Warbler (at least 5)
  • HOODED WARBLER (male, Strawberry Fields)
  • Northern Parula (at least 5, mostly heard)
  • Yellow Warbler (Maintenance Meadow)
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak (heard in Tupelo Meadow)

We also saw a text alert that Alex Hale, who was a close friend of Starr and had birded with her often, found — fittingly — a Cerulean Warbler along the Loch in the North End.

— David Barrett


Linnaean Society tribute to Starr

Helen Hays and Joe DiCostanzo of the Linnaean Society of New York compiled and published, in the March/April 2013 News-Letter, memories of Starr submitted by many of those who knew her. These essays paint a vivid portrait of Starr and express the love and respect that so many of us felt for her. The issue also has many photos both of Starr and of her favorite bird, the Cerulean Warbler.

Some of these submissions came from viewers of this website. So that all, not just Linnaean members, can see this tribute issue, it is downloadable here as a PDF file:

Linnaean Tribute to Starr

May 8 is Lenore’s Memorial Event for Starr Saphir

The event is free and open to all, and it will begin at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 8, at Summit Rock in Central Park, which is just off Central Park West and 83rd Street. You can reach Summit Rock by entering the park off of either West 81st or West 85th Street. This map shows you where it is.

Lenore Swenson wants to set aside some time at the beginning for people who want to share their thoughts about Starr. There are benches ringing the area so those who want to sit can do so. The trees here have often provided spectacular displays of warblers, as Starr’s walks observed, so we hope that we will be treated to some pretty sights and sounds.

After discussion, Lenore will lead a birding walk through the Ramble, just as she and Starr did for over twenty years.

In case of rain, the alternate date for this event is Friday, May 10.

Birdathon in Honor of Starr, to Support her Favorite Charity

I received this notice from Sandra Paci today and wanted to pass it along to our viewers:

On February 5th of this year, the New York City birding community lost Starr Saphir, who was a friend, teacher, mentor, and inspiration to many.  In honor and remembrance of Starr, her life, her indefatigable spirit, and her unsurpassed love of birds and birding Lenore Swenson, Donna Evans and Sandra Paci will participate in this year’s International Migratory Bird Day Birdathon on Saturday, May 11th as the team “Friends of Starr Saphir.

Pledges raised will go, as per Starr’s wishes, to the American Bird Conservancy’s Cerulean Warbler Fund.   The Cerulean was Starr’s favorite bird of all and was the reason why she was almost never seen without her signature blue headscarf and blue rain jacket.  ABC’s current efforts focus on establishing a conservation corridor between three private reserves on the Cerulean’s wintering grounds in Colombia and on reforesting land in the heart of the bird’s breeding territory in Kentucky, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.  Since the theme of this year’s IMBD is “Life Cycles of Migratory Birds” supporting this cause is a perfect fit.

You can find out more details about the past results and future efforts of ABC’s Cerulean Warbler programs here:


And here:


On May 11th, Lenore, Donna and Sandy will be out from dawn to dusk trying to see as many species of birds as possible.  It is their desire to make a meaningful contribution to the Cerulean Warbler Fund in Starr’s honor and they hope that you can help.  Pledges can be based on the number of species seen or a fixed amount.  Contributions are fully tax deductible and will be made out directly to the American Bird Conservancy with “Cerulean Warbler Fund” and “May 11 Birdathon — Friends of Starr Saphir” in the memo section.

To make a pledge, please contact Sandra Paci, email: sandypaci@earthlink.net or cell: 1-347-834-5881.

Thanks very much for your support!