In the era of 280-character rare bird alerts (and, yes, I do rely on
those), I really value this place's continued survival. Not only for the
heads-up on birds outside NYC (such as the Western Kingbird and Upland
Sandpiper in my new town), but for such things as the radar migration
discussions, Alan Drogin's former Bryant Park reports (which inspired me to
do urban-greenspace surveys of my own) and current forays in Hudson Yards,
and above all Tom Fiore's extraordinary macro views of migration and the
life of NYC's birds. To me, it's about more than specific sightings,
especially in this day and age.

In that spirit, I've been spending a lot of time watching the ebb and flow
in Croton on Hudson (we moved here in May), especially down in Croton
Landing, a pretty remarkable mix of created habitats (freshwater ponds,
riverside beaches, a mini cattail marsh, fields with tall trees, and of
course the river). This month (both on the Landing and in the town) has
seen so many signs of in-progress and impending migration, things I never
really noticed before but that seem representative of the process outside
the five boroughs.

After a midsummer silence, several species have seemed to return to
territory and are singing (if sometimes weakly and sporadically) at the
Landing, including Warbling Vireo, Yellow Warbler, and Baltimore Oriole.
Red-tailed Hawks have been endlessly vocal--complaining young on their own?
The Killdeer who nest around the Croton train tracks have been flighty and
vocal as well. Among mammals, the landing's woodchucks are getting
themselves fat.

In town, there's a large population of vultures that spends all winter
here. After a summer where I saw mostly Turkey, the flocks seem
larger--real kettles--and include many Black Vultures as well. Also, twice
in the past two weeks, my neighborhood has been inundated with Grackles
(February-size numbers), gleaning every bit of food they can find before
moving on. Plus a noticeable rise in warblers coming through, though only
the expected species.

It's still in the high 80s nearly every day...but change is in the air.
Hope you don't mind this non-rarity report from "up north."

--Joe Wallace


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