Central Park, Manhattan, N.Y. City -
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday - 10, 11, & 12 May, 2018 -

The obvious highlight of not just the 3-day period, but this month, & this year 
thus far is the first park and county (borough of Manhattan, New York County) 
record of Kirtland’s Warbler, found by Kevin Topping, & subsequently seen by 
appoximately 150+ birders & also by about 100 additional very interested 
passersby, including uniformed members of the N.Y.P.D. & a few employees of the 
Parks Dept. &/or C.P. Conservancy staff who happened by.  This warbler, a 
female by most on-site consensus (& a bird which did not appear to sing, and 
barely gave calls while being seen, actively feeding by gleaning, with 
fantastic views and photographic opportunities (some were present & observing 
&/or photographing from after about 5 p.m., & especially after 6 p.m., thru 
sunset & beyond, many obs. remaining to at least 8 p.m. & still seeing the 
Kirtland’s to past sunset, & at least one observer noting how it merely dropped 
from view into shrubs beneath its’ seemingly favored Turkey Oak (at about or 
nearly 8 p.m.), then no longer being observed, after it presumably went to 
either roost for the night, or into hiding prior to actually flying - all 
hoping to just a roost, rather than a nocturnal onward migration. As most 
readers will know, this warbler species is almost only found breeding in the 
state of Michigan (rare records in adjacent areas) and wintering on a couple of 
islands of the Bahamas, with typical known migration occuring in a ‘corridor’ 
that runs roughly from the winter grounds to Michigan & in reverse in fall 
movement; confirmed records of this exceedingly scarce species are very rare 
away from these corridor states & it’s known winter & summer ranges; this is 
certainly the N. American-breeding warbler species with the lowest “world” 
population (species such as Colima Warbler known from s.w. Texas as a breeder 
are also mainly Mexican, and many N. American warbler species, as Mexico can be 
included in geographical N. America, are found in numbers breeding in Mexico, 
even if rare or very rare in the U.S.A. (i.e., Rufous-capped, Crescent-chested, 
& other “rare” border-state breeding warbler species).

The Kirtland’s Warbler delighted all observers through the later afternoon, as 
it fed & remained modestly active but in mostly lightly foliaged trees, and 
often with from 6 - 15 feet above ground, as well as being easily viewed much 
of that time from either/both the bridle path, adjacent to the park’s West 
Drive (roadway) in the “pedestrian” lane, with room there easily for twice or 
much more the number who did gather to observe and photograph the Kirtland’s.  
It also might be noted that in this general vicinity, particularly to the 
immediate north along the bridle path and in a variety of large, older trees, 
Turkey Oaks amongst those trees, had been a minimum of 16 Warbler species seen 
the same afternoon (as documented from 2-3 p.m. in a very modest survey of a 
path of bridle path area at about the “latitude” of W. 92 St. by me and B. 
Inskeep - & also noted by at least a few other park regulars, perhaps to some 
extent by K. Topping & others present early on at the Kirtkand’s site - the 
point being that this general area, within 100 yards, was a locus of good 
migrant warbler activity well into the later day, the Kirtland’s itself also 
being joined at times in feeding by a decent variety of mostly-typical 
mid-season warbler species.

The Kirtland’s was almost only being seen by the gray-cindered bridle path, & 
immediately west, the park’s West Drive (a 3-lane paved roadway), barely to the 
north (“uptown” side) of a park entrance at West 90th Street & Central Park 
West.  A smaller, pedestrian-only park entrance is located at West 93rd Street 
& Central Park West.  

Additional highlights of the 3-day period from Wed. to Friday included these: 
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, two regular Cuckoo species, Olive-sided Flycatcher 
(photo-documented & seen by many in the Ramble to Thursday), Yellow-bellied 
Flycatcher (thru Friday, & some calls heard), Common Nighthawks (several), 
RED-HEADED WOODPECKER (in the Ramble at least to Thursday), Gray-cheeked (& 
possibly Bicknell’s) Thrush[es] - with only Gray-cheeked seen singing, & in 
modest numbers still), Warblers which included Tennessee (several seen singing 
to Friday), a PHENOMENAL showing of CAPE MAY Warbler with a minimum of twenty 
present on Thursday, & very likely 30-40+, many of these seen by multiple 
observers at Summit Rock in what briefly was a near-incredible scene of a 
dozen+ Cape May in view at one time, even in one tree, plus many more in the 
area & still more being contemporaneously found in the same time-frame while 
the “show” continued at Summit Rock on Thurs. morning - this number up from 
much more modest numbers of the species on Wed. & prior days of the month; 
KENTUCKY Warbler seen by multiple observers at the Point (Ramble’s s.e. sector) 
into Friday (although also missed by many dozens on the Point as well, with the 
Kentucky there now exhibiting far more typical skulking shy behavior, & 
apparently not heard singing at all during its time being observed (personal 
comm. A. Rubenfeld, Dr. C. Bloch, et al); Prothonotary Warbler (a sighting by 
Dr. R. Pasquier et al was relatively brief at the Point (Ramble) on Thurs. 
early a.m., but possibly seen by some others & more so on Wed.; Cerulean 
Warbler[s] seen by relatively few but reliable obs. mainly in the Ramble areas, 
Wed. to Friday, numbers of Bay-breasted Warblers continuing, a few well-seen by 
many, many obs., & such later-moving species as Wilson’s & Canada Warblers just 
starting to show in expected numbers as of Friday, in particular.  (It might be 
added that a reliable few reports of Mourning Warbler, typically among the last 
or later-arriving regular spring warbler arrivals, have turned up in locations 
NORTH-east of N.Y. City (as for example at E. Rock Park near New Haven, 
Connecticut on Friday); SUMMER & Scarlet Tanagers in very strong numbers, with 
dozens of the latter and at least several Summer being seen through the period, 
esp. in the Ramble & nearby areas; BLUE GROSBEAK[s] seen by many in (esp.) the 
“Lower Lobe” (a.k.a. Wagner Cove) area of The Lake’s edges, & near & east of 
Bow Bridge & to the so-called “Oven” area, which is along the Lake shore and 
just west of The Point in the Ramble; these seemed to pertain to 2 different 
individuals, and there were scattered reports by either single-obs. &/or fewer 
obs. from other areas in Central in the 3-day period now reported-on, with 
plumages described from female thru 1st-spring male to full adult / 
breeding-color male in various accounts &/or photos; & sparrows now including 
much-increased numbers of LINCOLN’S, plus many, many other migrants of interest 
and all really of note, some in excellent numbers starting either on Thursday 
&/or by Friday (massive overnight migrations regionally on Wed. & Thursday 

Obvious thanks to Kevin Topping for the discovery of the Kirtkand’s Warbler & 
to any & all who were quickly on-scene to help confirm & follow this 
genuinely-rare (in all senses) warbler, & also to D. Barrett for his making a 
“rapid-response” reporting system available for local bird-reporting for those 
who use smartphones or other mobile-internet devices; thanks also due to 
everyone who turned out for the Kirtland’s on Friday p.m., for very good & 
ethically-minded behavior, for quick-witted & inteligent observing, & of course 
for all the congeniality that comes with a rare bird of this magnitude - folks 
lending other folks $3,000. retail-cost top-brand binoculars, or even cameras, 
giving fast & good tips on spotting & many details of life-history, 
conservation practices, & plumage details in conversation, etc. - & with 
observers present who likely took in up to 65-70 years of experience in birding 
Central Park, N.Y. City, & the world, and some observers present who have 
contributed mightily to ornithological knowledge & conservation; a very high 
percentage of the observers present had not (yet) been to Michigan or the 
Bahamas in order to observe Kirtland’s Warbler, & very few if anyone had seen 
this warbler in any eastern state (with the poss. exception of a few regular 
visitors to famed Magee Marsh in Ohio in spring migration, & those who’d been 
to Michigan to see Kirtland’s Warblers).  Thanks as well (as expressed 
in-person by me & some others) to the N.Y.P.D. Central Park unit for helping to 
keep order & keep watch on the small & quiet crowd, & to the many hundreds of 
passersby on foot, by bike, scooter & skateboard, all wanting to know a little 
more of the rare bird causing such a crowd to gather quietly in the park.  

It truly was notable how well-mannered, quiet, and respectful of the bird, & 
other observers, all who arrived & were present remained thru all of the time, 
and we obviously would all want & hope for this impeccable birder-behavior to 
continue on with any hoped-for ongoing sightings of this & really of all birds 
and nature observations made in a public space as Central Park is.  As a 
personal p.s. it was great to see so many friends old & new & so many familiar 
faces among those fortunate enough to have had time to get to the site of this 
genuinely rare-in-region bird.  It will obviously be sought out by many thru 
Saturday, & we can hope successfully!

A note-too-annotated list follows, of birds seen over the 3-day period in 
Central Park (& my own observations made with Ms. B. Inskeep on each of the 3 
days noted, along with hundreds of other obs. in many of the locations where 
birds were numerous to very numerous in the latter 2 days of the period, in 
particular) -

Double-crested Cormorant
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (ongoing at The Point / Oven, Ramble area)
Turkey Vulture
Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Red-breasted Merganser (to Wed., female on Reservoir)
Ruddy Duck (2 still present into Friday, reservoir)
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
American Coot (1 still present to Friday, reservoir)
Solitary Sandpiper
Spotted Sandpiper
Ring-billed Gull
[American] Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
['feral'] Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Black-billed Cuckoo (great sightings of this species by many obs., not least by 
Ken Chaya, who found one that was bathing at the Loch on Wed.)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (in multiple locations)
Common Nighthawk
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Red-headed Woodpecker (to at least Thursday in the Ramble)
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Yellow-shafted Flicker
Olive-sided Flycatcher (thanks esp. to Charlie Roberto with Swarovski scope & 
tripod for excellent confirming views & photos from various obs. for 
fully-confirming sightings, Ramble)
Eastern Wood-Pewee (many)
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (several including some giving vocalizations)
Least Flycatcher (multiple including some giving vocalizations)
Empidonax [genus] Flycatcher (variously seen & not-heard birds around)
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
White-eyed Vireo (several)
Blue-headed Vireo (ongoing)
Yellow-throated Vireo (fewer)
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (very few, females)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (found by Brenda Inskeep, n. end, add’l. obs. Nadir 
Sourgi & T.F.)
Veery (many ongoing)
Gray-cheeked Thrush (multiple, some singing quietly)
Bicknell's Thrush (potentially BUT NONE HEARD for full confirmation as this & 
not the preceding)
Swainson's Thrush (common now, some singing quietly)
Hermit Thrush (few)
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
KIRTLAND’S WARBLER (5-star bird of the spring & of the year here!)
Blue-winged Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler (near common by Friday)
Magnolia Warbler (common by Friday)
Cape May Warbler (MANY!! - see above notes for more on numbers)
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped [Myrtle] Warbler (increasingly females seen by Friday)
Black-throated Green Warbler (many as of Thurs.-Friday)
Blackburnian Warbler (many, including multiple males still seen Friday)
Prairie Warbler (few, but multiple observers & locations, esp. of female birds)
Palm Warbler (one very late for this park, Wed. - photo)
Bay-breasted Warbler (multiple, increased somewhat in the 3-day period)
Blackpoll Warbler (fairly common & females starting to appear in multiple)
Cerulean Warbler (a few sightings that were not that widely shared when first 
Black-and-white Warbler (still common, esp. females)
American Redstart (now increasing in common-ness)
Prothonotary Warbler (R. Pasquier et al, Thursday early a.m., The Point - 
Worm-eating Warbler (several sightings with many observers, to Friday)
Ovenbird (common)
Northern Waterthrush (fairly common & some still singing, females also surely 
Kentucky Warbler (2: well-seen silent bird at The Point, Ramble, fide various 
keen obs., & also noted from the north end on Friday)
Common Yellowthroat (yep, common now)
Hooded Warbler (few, including one male at “Oven” area of Ramble, many obs.- 
tip 'o’ hat to guide Gabriel Willow, always 'on-form')
Wilson's Warbler (increased now & seen by many)
Canada Warbler (increased now & seen by many)
Summer Tanager (multiple, as noted above in notes)
Scarlet Tanager (many)
Eastern Towhee (scarce now)
Chipping Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow (increased, & fairly good numbers now)
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (common now)
Blue Grosbeak (several, as noted above)
Indigo Bunting (many, both sexes)
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow 

Thanks to many, many observers for sharing sightings, photos, etc. including 
in-person, & special thanks of the 3-days birding with Brenda Inskeep, a C.P. 
regular as well as excellent source of info. for those thinking og visiting 
parts of the American west, & beyond, but mainly for sharing a great roast-beef 
sandwich during a lunch break at the park’s Tanner’s Spring bench 1 day.

And thanks to all of the many who practice ethical & quiet birding & nature 

Good luck to all with the weekend birding,

Tom Fiore


NYSbirds-L List Info:

1) http://www.mail-archive.com/nysbirds-l@cornell.edu/maillist.html
2) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/NYSBirds-L
3) http://birding.aba.org/maillist/NY01

Please submit your observations to eBird:


Reply via email to