For those who may not have seen this, an article from eBird, by (Dr. of 
Ornithology) Kathi Borgmann PhD, who is coordinator of communications at the 
Macaulay Lab, Cornell University.

And from the same writer, a review, interviews and observations in a 
‘forgotten’ piece from last year are worth bringing to attention again, of 
likely interest to many birders and others (this also from the Cornell Lab of 
Ornithology) - originally placed on the website in June, 2019. (Dr. Borgmann 
earned her Masters at Ohio State, her PhD in Ornithology at University of 

Friday/14th (reporting) - February:
Manhattan island, and associated waters plus the adjacent islands within New 
York County in New York City.

A Black-crowned Night-Heron was part of a modest showing of typical 
late-winter, almost-spring type movement for Manhattan & vicinity, the latter 
seen at The Pond in Central Park’s southeastern extremity, this week. (A 
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, far more unusual for the region in midwinter, was 
still present on Randall’s Island in N.Y. County as of end of last week, & 
could still be in the area there or elsewhere)

An Iceland Gull has continued to visit the Central Park (Manhattan) reservoir, 
often seen amongst many other (common, typical) gull species, at the central 
dike or sometimes on the water near that, & most often seen from the southern 
side. The most recent sightings were from late in the day Thursday (13th), & 
there were prior sightings in the week as well. It’s worth keeping a look out 
for this & other uncommon gulls wherever gulls gather in numbers.

A first-year Red-headed Woodpecker has remained loyal to its favored winter 
territory amongst oaks & other trees, just west of the N. Meadow ball fields, 
near the W. Drive (the park roadway, & usually just to the immediate east of 
that road) closest to the West 97 St. park entrance, from Central Park West. 
Again this bird is slowly but surely gaining a bit of its’ red ‘hood’ & will 
continue to brighten to an adult plumage in the coming few months. It is often 
seen to best advnatage on brighter days.

Not too much-reported on, so far, have been the increase (modest) in Red-winged 
Blackbird and Common Grackle movements. In keeping with those typically 
early-starting migrants and (some) winterers we’ve also had the American 
Woodcocks, however at this time and with the mixed weather-bag of this region, 
these may include both locally wintering & probably some new arrivals; the 
majority of sightings in a very few locations, but also a few showing up in 
typical sites of migrants of the species. More than 200 observers (not all 
‘birders' w/bin’s) have seen Am.Woodcock at Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan in 
the past ten days or so.  However there have been a dozen or more additional 
woodcock-sightings in as many locations in the past week, in N.Y. County, and 
in some areas, multiples of the species.

A Northern Pintail (female-plumaged), not seen much in the past year or so in 
N.Y. County, has been showing at Sherman Creek / Swindler Cove park area, east 
of Dyckman St. in northern Manhattan’s waters.  At least one Red-breasted 
Merganser has been on the reservoir in Manhattan’s Central Park, in addition to 
the many of that species always findable, if sought, in Manhattan’s waters off 
the shores of the island in winter. A few Greater Scaup were still findable in 
the East River estuary off the lower end of Manhattan’s east side, thru this 
week - all the waters off Manhattan are worth checking regularly for 
less-expected waterfowl, gulls, & so forth. A couple of Snow Geese have 
lingered on for the winter at Randall’s Island, in N.Y. County east of 
Manhattan island.

Other duckage around Manhattan & specifically, in Central Park include Wood 
Duck & Green-winged Teal, each regular all this winter there, as well as Hooded 
Mergansers, many N. Shovelers, and the various scattered [Atlantic} Brant 
flocks of N.Y. County waters, some on Manhattan, some on the waters 
surrounding, and many on some of the smaller islands of the county, such as 
Randall’s.  Less common in recent years, a few Mute Swans have been noted here 
& there, lately near the foot of the B’klyn bridge - Manhattan-side of the 
bridge, that is, not the bunting-side!  And in other waterbirds, Pied-billed 
Grebe & American Coot each continue as regulars in Central Park, as do multiple 
Double-crested Cormorants in various county locations & as just-local flyovers 
at times.  Red-throated, and (less common at the moment) Common Loons are both 
in N.Y. County waters lately (& typically).  

A Lesser Black-backed Gull visited the Central Park reservoir recently, with 
some sightings including on Feb. 9th, 10th, 11th, & perhaps still coming in or 
present now… always worth a look there and really at any times of year, for 
gulls, waterfowl and generally, the chances of an unexpected species of some 

We are at the brink of more arrivals of the first part of migration, typical 
for end of February, with any milder flow of air, &/or change in weather 
patterns to our south. Raptors are already beginning to start, for some 
species, what will be the long journey to breeding areas as well.  And some of 
the 2 northeastern vulture species continue to be seen, with Black Vulture seen 
in the past week, over Manhattan’s northern parts yet again.  A number of owls 
are also showing movements lately, & at least 4 species have been in N.Y. 
County this month so far, including in areas that are off-limits to the general 
public. At least one species is a longtime county resident, E. Screech, and 
another, Great Horned, has been at times; others are 2 of the most-regular 
winter visitors amongst the owls, Long-eared & N. Saw-whet. A small influx of 
American Robin have been noted in some locations but these may well be very 

The recent Boat-tailed Grackle of Central Park seems to have become a no-show, 
as this wet week went along, but it could still be present, perhaps with, or 
not with, the Common Grackles it had been associating with; the latter in 
numbers, plus as mentioned above, some additionals that have (at least locally) 
been moving about - but likely including a small fresh influx, as was so with 
Red-winged Blackbirds & American Woodcock recently.  Some woodcocks may also 
have managed to be in the region all winter and survive, which is not a new 
phenomenon, although the periods of severe cold lasting more than a few days 
would have been rough on them & on many other semi-tough species that do 
attempt, and often succeed, in wintering through in our region, such as for 
example, Hermit Thrush, & multiple other spp.  - if one uses such locations as 
Cape May County, New Jersey, as part of the greater ‘region’, it expands the 
possible-wintering immensely, both for species-diversity & for survival rate!  
And some of that ‘Cape May effect” is likely on Long Island, NY - which as 
everyone should know, takes in both Queens and Kings Counties, of New York 
City, for those readers not in the s.e.-NYS area. (an overwintering E. Phoebe 
in Kings County/i.e., Brooklyn this winter is just one example of this, for 
this year.)  

We have a few kinglets (of both species) overwintering in Central & other 
Manhattan parks, but neither is all that unusual for the location, in terms of 
a regular phenomenon; it is rather unusual of those species, for the region 
overall.  The same of Gray Catbirds, not all that ‘rare’ in winter in Manhattan 
- in selected locations, yet not expected for the winter ‘generally' in New 
York… in Cape May County, N.J., though - a bit more so.  Brown Thrashers in 
local parks and greenspaces, both large & seemingly too small for such a 
species, have survived so far in both of these types of habitats this winter. 

Less certain for the fates of thrushes of the genus Catharus, other than the 
usual Hermit Thrush which is a hardy species and winters in small numbers 
around the northeast… (no recent reports of either a Veery nor a Wood Thrush 
both photographed into January 2020 in Manhattan, N.Y.C.), and of warblers, 
only a scant few sightings of 2 species in Manhattan this month - a few Common 
Yellowthroat, and same in Yellow-rumped [Myrtle] Warbler, each of the species 
somewhat rare & yet regular in winter in N.Y. County in recent times.  Many 
other ‘land’ & song birds have made it through the winter so far in modest 
numbers in New York County, some of these species include - Yellow-bellied 
Sapsucker, Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, Carolina Wren, E. Towhee, Chipping 
Sparrow (in the multiple), Swamp Sparrow, [Red] Fox Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, 
Vesper Sparrow (Randall’s Island, to previous week, at least), as well as 
various spp. noted above.

Happy Valentines Day - & good birding, with thanks to all who practice common 
sense & good science and keep birds’ best interests at heart & in practice in 
all of their observing.

Tom Fiore,


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