30 April 2012: Yellow-throated Warbler at Azalea — and More!

Yellow-throated Warbler (photo by John Van de Graaff, Port Aransas, TX)

White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus)

White-eyed Vireo

Somewhat warmer conditions, sunny skies, and calmer winds helped deliver our best day in the Central Park Ramble this season. We had 54 total bird species including 12 warblers and 5 new birds for the year.

Soon after the walk began Starr heard a Tennessee Warbler singing near 78th and Central Park West. All heard it sing more, though we were unable to see it. It is a first-of-season for the group.

Along the walk toward Maintenance Meadow we had many of the birds that have been appearing commonly of late, such as Chipping Sparrow, Blue-headed Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Brown-headed Cowbird,  Hermit Thrush, and House Wren.

Once in Maintenance Meadow, we heard the song of a White-eyed Vireo coming from afar, but initially we could not locate it. As some headed for the restrooms, your webmaster found it in the trees just east of the men’s room and many got good views. Then the bird went flew and went silent. About five minutes later it reappeared in the large tree at the NW corner of the Meadow, and Starr quickly got everyone on the colorful bird.

Turtle Pond provided many good birds: a Great Egret, a Chimney Swift flying low, a Barn Swallow and the group’s first visual of the season of two Tree Swallows.

On the path ascending toward Belvedere Castle, Starr noted the song of a Nashville Warbler (another first-of-season for us), but we could not get a glimpse.

Then I received a text message alert: Anthony Collerton had a Yellow-throated Warbler (extremely rare for Central Park) at Azalea Pond! After posting the group, I was at Azalea within a few minutes, but was met with a disappointed Mr. Collerton saying that the bird appeared to have flown. At least a dozen birders were already on the scene looking for it.

After about ten minutes Starr noted that the song coming from high in the trees could be from a Yellow-throated, and Doug Kurz soon re-found the bird and got us on it. Starr helped to describe its location, and many others got clear but fleeting views. Then the warbler moved. We continued to hear the song, but leaf cover made seeing it difficult. Nevertheless it was another first-of-season bird for us and easily the bird of the day!

As we wound our way through the Ramble, Roz and Starr pointed out a female Black-throated Blue Warbler.

Throughout the morning we often heard Warbling Vireo song, but near Swampy Pin Oak we finally were treated to an excellent view of one, soon joined by a Blue-headed Vireo. We also got a good view of a Northern Parula, another frequently-heard bird.

Upon entering the Point we saw heard and saw our first-of-season male Baltimore Oriole singing over the Oven.

A few steps further along I looked toward the Oven and saw a dark, thick bill extending away from a tree limb and then an orange-red eye: it was a Green Heron,

Green Heron (John Van de Graaff, Central Park Oven)

another first-of-season bird for the group. The heron almost immediately dropped into the Oven where none could see it. We went back out of the Point and from the west bank of the Oven all saw this handsome bird strutting in the mud.

Near Bow Bridge we heard and saw a Yellow Warbler.

At the north end of Strawberry Fields we first saw a singing Black-throated Green Warbler and then got excellent views of a bird that had previously been reported there throughout the morning: a male Blackburnian Warbler.

Blackburnian Warbler (photo by John Van de Graaff, taken near Point Pelee, Ontario)

We’re proud to exhibit the work of top bird and nature photographer John Van de Graaff who joined us for the walk today. Visit his website


for more of his excellent photographs.

Migration clearly is stepping up and we look forward to more great mornings like this one!