Probably the rarest sighting of any bird in New York County of the last ten 
days or so, in terms of modern-day regularity of occurrence there was the 
female-plumaged REDHEAD photographed by a lucky few birders, that back on Jan. 
22, 2020.  As far as I know this duck was not re-found after its one-day 
discovery at the Central Park reservoir. This is not a first (or 2nd, or even 
20th) record for Central but has been quite rare there in recent decades - like 
both scaup species of N. America & also Canvasback, Redhead ducks were once 
regular on the Central Park reservoir, that having been noted well into the 
1980’s & seen by many keen observers in that period & earlier.  

The more ‘recent’ Redhead records include sightings documented for Nov. 2011, 
as well as Feb. 2018, the latter in particular seen by many observers.  Thanks 
to Jane Krenach and other women birders, & to Peter Post of Manhattan, for 
notes on their observations, replete with photos of this latest occurrence for 
Central Park.


More than 60 species of birds (outside of those in the zoo enclosures) have 
been seen in Central Park (in Manhattan, N.Y.City) alone on Feb. 1st, a rather 
remarkable array of species for the mid-winter date.  These include highlights 
of ICELAND Gull, RED-HEADED Woodpecker, & Boat-tailed Grackle, along with many 
other spp. - this listing does NOT include a Wood Thrush which had been seen & 
photographed in the past week in the S.E. sector of Central Park, & which just 
may still be lingering... this latter species not, by far, as rare as the Veery 
of January 2020 in mid-Manhattan, N.Y.C. but very uncommon as a winter period, 
documented sighting. That Wood Thrush had been in the vicinity of The Pond, 
located in the park’s extreme southeast corner. One of any number of potential 
winter oddities to keep an eye out for.

Iceland Gull is actually near-regular, if scarce, in Central Park - these 
latest sightings are of a kind with the bird or birds being seen at the C.P. 
reservoir, almost always in company with multiple gulls of the remaining three 
very typical winter species.  (There are also other recent reports for areas 
elsewhere in N.Y. County, which likely pertain to additional / other 
individuals of the species.)

A first-year RED-HEADED Woodpecker with very limited red ‘hood’ just starting 
to show a bit, in ideal lighting, is continuing its months-long stay at the 
trees west of the N. Meadow ball fields, & roughly due east of the W. 97 Street 
(at Central Park West) entry to the park; this woodpecker almost always just 
east of the park Drive (road) and is best sought on brighter days, when it can 
be seen in good light. A little patience will also help spotting it.

A female BOAT-TAILED Grackle has continued to roam Central Park, oftentimes but 
not always with a large roaming flock of Common Grackles, and these all being 
seen in various areas, from the n. end of the park thru much more southern 
sections at times, the most regular areas though in the vicinity’s of the 
park’s tennis courts which are to the n./n-w. of the reservoir.  Again some 
patience & effort may be helpful locating the Boat-tailed.

Other birds just in Central Park on Sat., Feb. 1st, 2020 included:

Double-crested Cormorant,  Pied-billed Grebe,  Great Blue Heron,  Turkey 
Vulture (flyover, p.m.),  Canada Goose,  Wood Duck,  Gadwall,  American Black 
Duck,  Mallard,  Northern Shoveler,  Green-winged Teal (continuing fem.type),  
Bufflehead,  Hooded Merganser,  Ruddy Duck,  Bald Eagle (latest of multiple 
sightings for Manhattan Island & one of at least several over Central Park in 
just the last one week),  Cooper's Hawk,  Red-tailed Hawk,  American Coot,  
Ring-billed Gull,  [American] Herring Gull,  Great Black-backed Gull,  
['feral'] Rock Pigeon,  Mourning Dove,  American Kestrel,  Peregrine Falcon,  
Belted Kingfisher,  Red-bellied Woodpecker,  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 
(several),  Downy Woodpecker,  Hairy Woodpecker,  Yellow-shafted Flicker 
(several),  Blue Jay,  American Crow,  Black-capped Chickadee (just one found, 
north woods area), Tufted Titmouse (scarce),  White-breasted Nuthatch,  Brown 
Creeper,  Carolina Wren,  Winter Wren (Loch, lingering),  Golden-crowned 
Kinglet (multiple, 3 locations, uncommon in Central Park for midwinter),  
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (one near Boathouse, not as uncommon in midwinter as is 
preceding sp.),  Hermit Thrush (several; a typical uncommon wintering species 
in N.Y.City & the overall region),  American Robin,  Gray Catbird (uncommon but 
regular Manhattan wintered),  Northern Mockingbird,  Brown Thrasher (one noted, 
but others may be ongoing in both Central & other parks in Manhattan where 
recently seen),  European Starling,  Cedar Waxwing (just 3, near Fifth Ave. 
68-71st Streets),  Eastern Towhee (multiple, both sexes),  Chipping Sparrow 
(single, lingering; there may be several still just in Central Park however - 
out of the dozens found & documented wintering in other counties of both N.Y. 
City and N.Y. State, as well as in other nearby states, an unprecedented 
midwinter number for the greater region),  [Red] Fox Sparrow,  Song Sparrow,  
Swamp Sparrow,  White-throated Sparrow (large numbers thru all of Central Park, 
as is typical for winter), Slate-colored Junco (few found, which also is 
typical for Central by mid-winter),  Northern Cardinal,  Red-winged Blackbird 
(few),  Common Grackle (many),  House Finch,  American Goldfinch,  & House 

Also, aditionally seen in or from Manhattan island (N.Y.City) on Saturday, Feb. 
1st were these birds:

Red-throated Loon,  Common Loon,  Great Cormorant,  ‘Atlantic’ Brant (the most 
expected form that is typical for this region),  Greater Scaup (ongoing, mostly 
lower Manhattan waters of late, but also to be watched for elsewhere around 
N.Y. County),  Red-breasted Merganser (regular off Manhattan in various waters 
each winter),  Monk Parakeet (n. Harlem),  Great Horned Owl,  E. Screech-owl 
(resident),  Yellow-rumped [Myrtle] Warbler (Inwood area),  Field Sparrow,  
Savannah Sparrow, & Brown-headed Cowbird, & likely a few more lingering or 
less-expected wintering birds.  (For example, this might include Common 
Yellowthroat, a species that had been found in midtown Manhattan at Bryant Park 
in recent days, & there would be other such examples of such lingerers or 
previously unreported odd winterers or visitors.)....

Finally, there are also some species seen within the past week, of January 
2020, in New York County, on various islands off Manhattan, such as Randall’s 
Island, and Governors Island, both in the same county, not otherwise reported 
from Manhattan. These birds include:  Yellow-crowned Night-Heron,  Snow Goose,  
Mute Swan,  Common Goldeneye,  Killdeer,  Vesper Sparrow,   as well as a fair 
number of the species noted above for Manhattan itself & its adjacent waters, 
and surely some additional spp. besides any noted here. A majority if not all 
of these last were known and reported over recent weeks.

Congratulations to keen birders in Bronx County, P. Horan & R. Aracil amongst 
them who’ve documented some great & also interesting sightings in recent weeks, 
up to the present. An under-reported sector of N.Y. & yet home to some great 
ornithologists over time. And a place where as in all fields of nature studies, 
the real work done of close observation, patient and discerning, pays off.

“Oh! had I the ability, and could reach the nation's ear, I would, to-day, pour 
out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, 
and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the 
gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the 
earthquake." - Frederick Douglass (statesman, orator, publisher, American), 
July 5th, 1852.

Good and ethical birding, with thanks to those who keep the best interests of 
birds at heart and in practice!

Tom Fiore


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