Prompted by a note to this list on 9/23, from Shaibal Mitra, who was responding 
to my report for Central Park of 9/22. (see below for all of his, & the 
relevant portion of my, NYS Birds posts.) Dr. Mitra made note of 2 photographed 
late-September records of Hermit Thrush in NYC parks (Prospect, & Central) - & 
then there are also a small spate of eBird records for Prospect Park (Brooklyn 
/ Kings Co., NY)  from at least 20 years ago & rather more recently, in late 
Sept., of which all are sightings by very careful and experienced observers. 
Those sightings span at least from the years 1998-2010, and dates range from 
Sept. 10th (by a very sharp observer) to mostly in the Sept. 24th-29th date 
range. They are however, not photo-documented, as Dr. Mitra was noting. (I had 
replied with a personal response but without the accompanying info. or 
references herein.)  This is just a “sample” of various reports and it may not 
represent all of this sort. I also made notes on some sightings (see below) 
herein which are much farther from our state. These other-region sightings may 
not necessarlly imply some phenological situation related to this region, but 
it is possible there is some relationship.

I’ve found a few of my own records of Hermit Thrush (but w/o photos) for (some 
of my) first-of-fall sightings at Central Park, they include singles on Sept. 
30, 2000, and on Sept. 26, 2001. (I’ve not progressed thru my own records for 
all years since, & nor some prior, for possible Sept. dates).   There are eBird 
sightings listed for Central Park in the month of Sept., some reported by a 
number of very experienced observers, with dates esp. concentrated in the last 
week & particularly last few days of the month, over a span of some recent 
years, in the past decade. Among these, surprisingly few have much notation, 
but some do, including the attempt to rule out other species by plumage, and 
for a few, by behavior (ex: tail seen being cocked up, then dropping).

Of scattered, cross-continental eBird-ed reports - with good photos - for 
Hermit Thrush at early or at least early-ish dates, this month (and in this 
year), there are at least a few, including 1 at Times Beach Nature Reserve, 
Erie Co. NY on Sept. 4th (seems quite early, although perhaps not so much for 
the location?);  1 in downtown Cleveland, Ohio on Sept. 18th; & 1 or poss. 2 at 
Lincoln Park in downtown Chicago on Sept. 22nd;  there may be at least a few 
more, again: these few are those from just this current year & month that 
include diagnostic photos. These may or may not represent unusually-early 
records for the regions they’ll be representing - and as there are seemingly 
very few, it’s not clear they’re records representative of any wide-scale 

Then there are far more Sept. reports without photos, also many with no comment 
to this species, such as 1 for Kingston Point park on 9/23/18 (where Hermit 
Thrush is not nesting in the park, although certainly in the county, this park 
on the Hudson river next to downtown) in Kingston, Ulster Co., NY;  1 for 
Sherwood Island S.P. in Fairfield Co., CT on 9/13 & 9/15/18 (a coastal-strip 
park next to Long Island Sound, very good for migrants, and which does not have 
breeding Hermit Thrush; n.b.- I know the observer, a careful & experienced 

Additional others in northern states (and not immediately adjacent or in the 
species breeding area, as of course Manhattan is not), as well as a few reports 
recently in the southern U.S. that may not have included photos, are outside 
the species breeding range. Comments to some of these were added, such as 
“somewhat early”. Much farther west, not that relevant perhaps, but easily a 
month earlier than expected for the specific, regularly-birded location were 2 
reports (one w/photo) from the Desert Botanical Garden, outside Tucson, AZ (an 
oasis habitat that can attract various migrants), on Sept. 9 & 11 (2 obs. & 
reports) and still farther west, 1 at Agua Dulce creek in the Laguna Mts., San 
Diego, CA, on Sept. 19 [1 report but w/ 7 obs. & good photos, “very early”]. 
This is a small sample, and covers regions that may have somewhat different 
phenologies; however these do represent earlier-than-expected arrivals.

I’ve been to most of the above-noted places, although at various seasons, & 
birded with (at varying dates, not at the time of these Hermit Thrush reports 
specifically) many of the observers of the NYC sightings noted above. There are 
a number of additional Sept. reports, but again, those that include photos or 
detailed notes are far fewer - again, this is now solely referring to September 
sightings of Hermit Thrush, and my minor ‘research' of this was concerned -as 
far as I know of- birds that were not seen within a known breeding location - 
even if as potential migrant[s], within the latter sort of a location. (i.e., 
only sightings from non-breeding locations, for these Hermit Thrush records.)  
It might also be interesting to try & locate banding-records for the species, 
in the month of Sept., something I’ve not attempted to do.

For a widespread and cross-continental breeder, which also can overwinter in 
many rather northern areas (for ex., the species is f. common in winter in 
south-coastal NJ, & not rare in the NYC counties in winter, as well as hardy 
enough to overwinter in parts of New England, with perhaps mixed success), this 
is a tough bird to place into just one sort of category - the more so when the 
multiple forms are taken into account, although I am not aware if there are NY 
state records of more than 1 'subspecies-taxa' of Hermit Thrush. (Some among 
the western forms can be quite distinctive to our northeastern breeding form.)

The species had been a scarce breeder on Long Island - I don’t know from my own 
experience if that is still the case now (?) That however would not correlate 
to a migrant appearing in a city park. 

Finally, if hardly a final word on this it is obvious that one way [as Dr. 
Mitra gently hinted] to be more certain of records of (really any species of) 
Catharus thrushes, particularly in migration, is to attempt photos &/or video 
&/or audio recordings, as well as making a few notes, esp. if the sighting[s] 
seem on the odd-date, odd-location, or high number of individuals sort[s] of 

Tom Fiore,
____ ____ ____ ____
Subject: Central Park, NYC 9/22
Date: Sun Sep 23 2018 7:52 am
From: Shaibal.Mitra -AT-

Hi Tom and all,

Thanks for the information and your interpretive notes regarding the more 
unusual records.

The thing that stood out most to me was the Hermit Thrush, which seems very 
early in my experience. I've never recorded the species during September in 
Suffolk County, despite a lot of record-keeping over 23 years (my earliest date 
here is 5 October). Checking eBird, there are no photos of Hermit Thrush during 
September from Suffolk, Nassau, Queens, Richmond, or Bronx Counties, and just 
one photo each for Kings (29 Sep 17) and New York (24 Sep 17):

Maybe it's just an early arrival, or maybe it's part of a broader pattern of 
birds pulling out of the North Woods early and in numbers this year (e.g, Blue 
Jays, RB Nuts, Purple Finches, etc.).

Shai Mitra
Bay Shore
 .    .    .   .   .   .
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Saturday, September 22, 2018 8:36 PM
Subject: [nysbirds-l] Central Park, NYC 9/22
From: Thomas Fiore tomfi2 -AT-

Central Park, Manhattan, N.Y. City -
Saturday, 22 September, 2018 (last day of summer)

A (confirmed with photos) CHUCK-WILL’S-WIDOW in the Ramble was the top 
highlight, in a quite bird-filled day. At least 24 American Warbler species 
were found, a male Cerulean by far the least-expected (for fall, especially) 
here. There was a modest (but fairly good for Central Park) raptor flight, and 
a very strong Blue Jay migration all thru the day - these flights also seen 
from a variety of viewpoints around Manhattan.  The numbers of Yellow-billed 
Cuckoo were higher than a typical fall day, & Black-billed Cuckoo were also 
found in the multiple, if just somewhat fewer than the former species.  Typical 
of this part of the month of September, a few species not so expected by now 
were seen, as well as the start of later-fall migrants.

[snip - to species noted, showing just the thrushes in the far-longer list]
Veery (multiple, but far fewer now)

Gray-cheeked / Bicknells Thrush (a few of this type, calls not heard nor 
closely-studied for plumage detail)

Swainson's Thrush (many)

Hermit Thrush (1 definitive, still quite early; giving a diagnostic call as 
well as typical tail-raising behavior)

Wood Thrush (multiple, but not that many)

American Robin (not especially numerous)
<—— [snip/edit]

good autumnal birding with the equinox,

Tom Fiore


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