Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Listing Update

Just wanted to say that species that are known to be new but identity unknown will be marked with a dash (-) on my year list. If none of the possible species is seen during the year, then that counts as a species and it is added to my total. For example, on Sunday I saw a small falcon that could only be an American Kestrel or a Merlin, but it was too quick for identification. For now, it counts as species #60  but will not be added to the official total. If not, it will stay aside until all possible species are found.For example, on Sunday I saw a small falcon that could only be an American Kestrel or a Merlin, but it was too quick for identification. For now, it counts as species #60  but will not be added to the official total. I will probably find the kestrel and maybe the Merlin. This is how the list will look for now one

Year bird #59!

I just added species #59 for the year today. I was looking out my window when I saw a large white bird flying near the Roosevelt Island shore. It turned out to be a Great Egret. This was pretty surprising, but I'm sure I'll see this bird again. I hope it's not the last apartment addition I will make.

Monday, March 30, 2015

April Targets

March turned out to be not so good for migrants. The same thing happened last year. I only added 8 (+1) new species. The highlight was definitely the Bald Eagle seen yesterday. Guess I don't have to wait till September! If things play out like I think they will, April will be slower than normal, but many migrants will still come through. The weather forecast also called for lots of great migration winds early in the month, so hopefully that will put us back on schedule. Since I don't know how it will go, I'm setting the goal for 15-25 species.

Year List To Date: 2014:88   <   2015: 93

Added so far this month: 30

Double-Crested Cormorant ( migrants start to arrive)*
Barn Swallow (migrants at Turtle Pond)*
Gray Catbird (nesters arrive)
Brown-Headed Cowbird (migrants arrive, often at feeders)
Pine Warbler (migrants arrive)*
Palm Warbler (migrants arrive)*
Prairie Warbler (migrant arrive in second half)*
Black-and-White Warbler (migrants arrive)*
Yellow-Rumped Warbler (migrants arrive)*
Blue-Headed Vireo (migrants arrive)*
Winter Wren (migrants start to arrive)*
Golden-Crowned Kinglet (migrants start to arrive)*
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet (very common in second half)*
Swamp Sparrow (migrants start to arrive)*
Pied-Billed Grebe (sometimes on the Reservoir)
Great Blue Heron (wanders)*
Sharp-Shinned Hawk (some winter and migrate)*
Broad-Winged Hawk (uncommon migrant)*
Turkey Vulture (flyovers)*
American Kestrel (many resident)*
 Spotted Sandpiper (may show up in April)
Cedar Waxwing (migrants)*
Tree Swallow (migrants at Turtle Pond)*
Northern Rough-Winged Swallow (migrants at Turtle Pond)
House Wren (second half of month)*
Blue-Grey Gnatcactcher (migrants arrive)
Eastern Kingbird (second half of month)
White-Eyed Vireo (second half of month)*
Red-Eyed Vireo (second half of month)
Louisiana Waterthrush (migrants arrive)*
Northern Waterthrush (migrants arrive in second half)
Yellow-Throated Warbler (overshoots)
Prothonotary Warbler (overshoots)
Worm-Eating Warbler (end of month migrants)
Ovenbird (end of month migrants)
American Redstart (end of month migrants)
Common Yellowthroat (end of month migrants)
Yellow Warbler (end of month migrants)
Black-Throated Green Warbler (end of month migrants)
Blue-Winged Warbler (end of month migrants)
Northern Parula (end of month migrants)
Other Warblers
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak (end of month migrants)
Rusty Blackbird (migrants come through)*
Baltimore Oriole (end of month migrants)
Field Sparrow (migrants)*
White-Crowned Sparrow (migrants?)*
Savannah Sparrow (reports at Turtle Pond at a few other places)

Northern Pintail (annual)
Common Merganser (a few each year)
Common Loon (annual)
Red-Shouldered Hawk (a few winter around the city, early migrants)*
Merlin (sometimes wanders into the park)*
Any kind of owl (annual)*
Red-Headed Woodpecker (Can appear in winter and spring)*
Common Raven (flyovers have been reported)
Eastern Bluebird (one could turn up)*
Cerulean Warbler (rare but regular migrants)

Surprises! (all seen this month)
Chuck-Will's-Widow (Bryant Park)
Fish Crow (Cal Schurz Park)
Marsh Wren (The Pond, Central Park)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring is Arriving...Slowly

Today on the birdwalk I went on, we started at the feeders and got the Chipping Sparrow, along with Fox and Song Sparrows. We saw many of both species, with Song Sparrow being everywhere. As we were trying to find things like woodcocks and Eastern Phoebes,It seemed so hard that I said to the guide "Let's find a Bald Eagle or something". Just 5 minutes later, I somehow managed to get a brief look at a juvenile Bald Eagle flying west! I expected to get this species in the fall when many migrate through here, but I guess anything can happen here. I think by now, I'm just jinxing all the birds this month! Speaking of phoebes, we did manage to find one not long after that near the Humming Tombstone. After that phoebe, we went to Tupelo Meadow, where we found our first migrant Hermit Thrush. Then, we went to Shakespeare Garden (nothing was there), and then headed to Strawberry Fields. When we stopped along the way to look for waterfowl on the now-unfrozen Lake, we spotted an early Black-Crowned Night Heron in a tree on the north side. There was also a pair of Buffleheads there too. When we got to Strawberry Fields, we saw a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker and I FINALLY added Northern Mockingbird to my year list. We then went to Sheep Meadow to see if Red-Tailed Hawks were using a nest there from last year. Apparently they weren't (yet), but we did get another phoebe there. We then headed to the feeders and then lunch. After lunch, I saw a woodcock with others very camoflouged near Azalea Pond and then set off to find a reported Belted Kingfisher at Turtle Pond. I couldn't find it, but I did get my third Eastern Phoebe of the day as a consolation prize. Four new year birds made this a very fun day!

#55. Bald Eagle
#56. Eastern Phoebe
#57. Black-Crowned Night Heron
#58. Northern Mockingbird

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

End of Dominican Republic Trip

During the last few days of the trip I only added 2 new species, House Sparrows at another part of the resort, and Rock Pigeons on a building as I was going to the airport. I also kept a close eye on the Antillean Palm Swift nest. When I saw the swift's eyes, they looked so big compared to the rest of its head, As I was looking at it at one point, another swift flew out of its nest and brushed past me! Close encounters like this sometimes happen in birding, usually when a bird is unaware you are there. The surrounding weren't very visible from the nest, so I know why that happened. Anyway, I also saw several small bats one evening flying around just around sunset. The night before we left, I was walking by the pool when I saw a dove sized creature swoop in and drink from the pool. I explained to a few people what I saw before saying "There it is!", and it was clear that this was a very large bat, much bigger than the swift-sized ones I had seen earlier.I guess the weirdest things seen happen at the most unexpected times! A swift was my last bird in the Dominican Republic, seen from the plane as we were taxiing. A House Sparrow was my first bird back in New York Tuesday evening, seen while we were going through minor customs (they get in the building, no time to explain). Overall, the trip was really fascinating. Although I saw no migrants, it was still fun to see what the Caribbean species are like and comparing them to ours. Greater Antillean Grackles are a bit like starlings, hanging out around trash getting a bite to eat. Unlike starlings, they make loud calls to alert other birds about it before eating. This is just one example of the interesting behaviors and characteristics of the birds here. My best bird of the trip was probably Magnificent Frigatebird (forgot to say this was a female/immature). These birds usually stay out at sea, and they are usually seen as that one little black speck in the Caribbean sky. It was quite a surprise to see it. Hispaniolan Amazon was also nice to see. I can now say I can identify the flight style of parrots (not sure about parakeets, though). This trip was really fun. But year birds are calling, and I have to get birding!

P.S. I also saw many Northern Mockingbirds and Mourning Doves. I was surprised that they didn't have the Eurasian Collared Doves there too, as they were the only dove besides Rock and White-Crowned Pigeons, that I saw in the Bahamas.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Dominican Republic Day 5

This morning it rained. It seems like if you go to the Carribean for a week, you will almost always have a day with a few hours of torrential rains. When the rain let up, I was face to face with a singing Bananaquit. It's so cool to see them up close. They sound a bit like a mix between a House Wren and a Chestnut-Sided Warbler. I also spotted the swift nest again. No new birds.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Dominican Republic Day 4

No new birds for today, but a few cool things happened. I finally found a swift best that I could observe. The Antillean Palm Swifts nest in the thatched roofs of the snack bar and umbrellas. They nest really deep in them, so it was really hard to find a viewable best, even with many known locations. The nest had a swift on it preening and it seemed to be made of silk. Also, I saw a few nest-building Pearly-Eyed Thrashers (I found out I have seen quite a few since I got here). Strangely, I have seen zero migrants so far, with the only warbler size bird being Bananaquit. Another shock was seeing many Mourning Doves here, being the only non-exotic besides Northern Mockingbird that I have seen.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Dominican Republic Day 3

I added a few new birds today. First up was the Mangrove Cuckoo mentioned in the earlier post. Next up, I was at the beach and saw a lone bird high in the sky. It turned out to be a Magnificent Frigatebird, a large seabird that is usually only seen in the circumstances I saw it in. I also saw lots of Bananaquit. I had seen these before in the Bahamas, but these were of the "blue throated" race. Bahamian birds are of the "white throated" race. I also saw a few birds that looked like they might be Pearly-Eyed Thrashers

Dominican Republic Days 1 & 2!

Greetings from the Dominican Republic! My first bird was a vulture seen as the plane was landing. This was followed at the airport by a pair of swifts, a Northern Mockingbird, and a Mourning Dove. On the way to the hotel, I saw more vultures and swifts, as well as a few Great and Cattle Egrets. When we got there, I saw a trio of Gray Kingbirds, which were very common around there. At the pool, I also saw 2 Hispaniolan Woodpeckers. Antillean Palm Swifts were very common around there too, as well as some Chimney Swifts mixed in. There were also many Greater Antillean Grackles around. The next day, I saw my first Brown Pelican(s) of the trip, as well as my first identifiable look at a Hispaniolan Amazon, an uncommon endemic parrot. I also found out the the swifts nest in some of the thatched huts around here. On a side note, I also saw a bat fly past me yesterday evening. This morning, I saw a Mangrove Cuckoo in a tree. As I write this, I'm listening to the chatter of Gray Kingbirds outside. I can't wait to see what else is around here in the coming days.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Dominican Republic Trip Announcement!

I am excited to announce that I will be going to the Dominican Republic tomorrow morning! I will probably make semi-daily posts from there about the many birds that live there that I see.Many birds call this place home that can never be found in the U.S. I can't wait to see what birds I will find! I will be there with my family until the 24th. I know its a break from year listing, but I will likely not miss out on anything that can be added later. I honestly have little clue to what I will find ( I'm basing this on experience from the Bahamas), so hope I find something intresting!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

One Finch Gone, Another Arrives

On today's birdwalk that I went on, we started at the feeders, with only a Fox Sparrow there. We then saw a fly by woodcock, which we searched for unsuccessfully. Not long after, we saw another fly by woodcock and the search was still unsuccessful. We then went to the Reservoir and saw that it was starting to melt. There were more ducks and even a pair of Red-Breasted Mergansers. We then went back to searching for woodcocks and we finally found one near Warbler Rock. We watched it for a few minutes before it flew away. We then went to the feeders, where we didn't find the redpoll, but we did find the Chipping Sparrow as well as a recently reported Purple Finch. I didn't expect to get every irruptive migrant within the first 3 months of the year. I thought I had to wait until October. Nevertheless, with woodcocks, Red-Winged Blackbirds, and a Purple Finch showing, spring is truly on its way.

Year Birds:

53. Red-Winged Blackbird (a lot)
54. PURPLE FINCH (at the feeders)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Bird of the Week #19

This week's Bird of the Week is American Woodcock!

American Woodcocks are large shorebirds about the size of a Mourning Dove. Most of their bodies are brown, tan, and grey. They have a tan chest, two dark lines on the top of the head, and pink legs. The bill is pink with a black tip. They eat earthworms and insects. They live mostly in open woodland and overgrown fields. They do elaborate courtship displays in which the male flies high in the air at dawn and dusk in a field. Otherwise, it is very hard to find these birds.

American Woodcocks can be found breeding in the eastern half of the United States and southern Canada, being year-round in the southern and eastern United States. In New York City, they are year round, with Floyd Bennet Field being a good place to find them, especially when they do courtship displays. Elsewhere in the city, they are usually found from late February or early March through November. You are also more likely to flush one accidentally than actually find one, as they are one of the best camouflaged birds in the city, easily blending in with the leaf litter. Central Park is no exception to the rest of the city.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The First Migrant Species

On today's birdwalk that I went on, we started out at the feeders and each of us wanted to see the first REAL spring migrant of the season (the long-staying CHIPPING SPARROW which we were looking at didn't count). Good winds came through the last few days and we had high hopes for the day. Just a few minutes after we stopped talking about that, an American Woodcock flew right over our heads! Year bird #52! It landed once and then flew off. We searched for it, but couldn't find it again. Then, a birder at the feeders called us over saying he had the COMMON REDPOLL. We all got good views of the bird, which seems to be becoming more cooperative. We then went to the Oven, where another birder on the walk spotted another (same?) woodcock in a stream. Unlike the first one, this one remained completely still and didn't react to anything. The rest of the day pretty much went like this: enter a new area, find a Red-Tailed Hawk. We also went searching for owls at Shakepeare Garden and the Pinetum, but failed, despite Blue Jays being active. When we got back to the feeders, the redpoll was there as well as the Chipping Sparrow. We then went back to the Oven and were suprised that the woodcock hadn't moved and inch from where we last saw it nearly 2 hours before. After that, I left the park to go to a party, but I'd have to say it was really fun seeing a woodcock up close, considering its a new species for the year!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Bird of the Week #18

This week's Bird of the Week is Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker!

Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers are named for their yellowish spotted bellies. They have a black, white, and yellowish back and a red cap. They have a streaked face, which juveniles don't have, and the males have a red throat. They live in the woods and live off of sap, but do take nuts and insects as well. Some warblers, hummingbirds, orioles, and other songbirds will take advantage of sap wells left unattended by the sapsucker. It's wells look like little holes stacked onto of each other, numbering sometimes in the hundreds if the tree is good. Their call sounds like a nasal "aehhh"

Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers live east of the Rockies, breeding in southern Canada and the northern U.S, and wintering in the Mid-Atlantic and southern United States, as well as Mexico and the Caribbean. In New York City, they can be found around trees where there is a lot of sap, mostly from October through April. In Central Park, the Pinetum is a good place for them, as the trees have a lot of sap in them.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

First March Birds

On today's birdwalk that I went on, we started at the feeders with the only interesting birds being 2 Fox Sparrows. Then we went to the Oven, where we saw 2 Brown Thrashers together, along with a Carolina Wren. Next, we went to Shakespeare Garden, where we saw another Carolina Wren. After that we went to the birdless Pinetum, and then we went back to the feeders. There, we spotted the elusive Common Redpoll, along with the Chipping and American Tree Sparrow. I also found that one male cardinal there would eat out of my hand! Interestingly, it would flap its wings while grabbing a nut and even while perched. I also hand fed my first chickadee today. I also got frostbite on my right hand from holding it out too long in the snow and cold. No new species for the year, but today was really fun.