New York County (in N.Y. City), including Manhattan & 2 other/smaller isles.

On a very rainy Monday, in a very-nearly-deserted Central Park, I found & 
photographed 3 LESSER Scaup (a female & 2 brightly-plumaged males) on the 
reservoir, nearer to the N/NW side & occasionally swimming amongst N. 
Shovelers, as well as independent of other dockage, & mostly sticking with each 
other in their single-species trio. These scaup were still there as I passed by 
for a 2nd time just after 6 pm. The species has become far less-common than 
once was at that location (in the 1980’s & earlier, Lesser Scaup were very 
regular on Central Park’s reservoir & also elsewhere on Manhattan & N.Y. County 
waters - no longer). I scanned as well as possible in the rainy-windy 
conditions and did not see any grebe other than a single & long-lingering 
Pied-billed Grebe at the C.P. reservoir, on 2 passes there Monday.  (Additional 
note, I’m practicing safe-spatial distancing as I go out, birding & otherwise; 
this is strongly recommended by almost all healthcare & other experts in the 
subject on which we are all, worldwide, now aware of!)

Tree Swallows are back on-territory (nesting area) again, in one of their 
reliable N.Y. County locations, on Governors Island (off-limits to the general 
public for now as the island has been closed for the season in usual winter 
fashion; a few peope are authorized to survey birds there during that period & 
under the auspices of NYCAudubon & with permit of the City of New York.  On 
that island, a report of a ‘possible' "American Tree Sparrow" was interesting 
(& certainly, that species can, and has occured there at times in the past!) 
but the bird which was photographed and put into an eBird report for Friday, 
March 20, is almost-certainly in fact a (non-breeding & worn) SNOW BUNTING, a 
nice sighting for New York County, albeit one that no birders could’ve ‘chased’ 
to view, even in normal-times, as the entire island is (normally, & also for 
now) closed to public visitation thru March.  Also of interest at Governors 
Island as of Friday, 3/20 were 2 Hooded Mergansers; & good no’s. of such 
species as Killdeer, & Fish Crow, again a good breeding area for these species 
in the county, excepting those mergansers!  Incidentally, Tree Swallows had 
arrived in numbers at some select locations in (for ex.) Westchester Co., NY 
weeks earlier, & also were being seen in multiple places in New England earlier 
this month. (Thanks for tip-off on the Snow Bunting to L. Beausoleil who added 
the photos later in his report.)

A now brightly-plumaged RED-HEADED Woodpecker has continued its lengthy stay, 
overwintered & now in near-fully-adult plumage with full red ‘hood’, at its 
usual area just east of Central Park’s “West Drive” park road, and west of the 
s.w. portion of the N. Meadow ballfields, with the closest park entry at W. 
97th Street off Central Park West. A wait of at least a few minutes around 
there will typically produce a sighting of a mostly-active woodpecker, & it 
also vocalizes now & again.

TWO Horned Grebes were found on the reservoir in Central Park as of Sunday (one 
in brighter colors, the other less so); this is part of a fairly broad movement 
of that species with some locations seeing numbers ‘drop in’ and in a few 
inland locations, in numbers, during storms especially. Horned Grebe has been 
seen in Central Park multiple times in the past decade (for ex., in 2010, ''11, 
'12, '16, '17, ’18 - generally by hundreds or by 1000’s of observers sometimes 
over a period of weeks on end, and many dozens of times over the history of the 
park and people birding there; as a New York County sighting, it’s not possible 
to count up all the records for the species both contemporary & historical, but 
they would number in the many many 1,000’s. This species is neither a ‘mega’, 
nor even a true rarity for Central Park. This does not diminish the enjoyment 
of seeing one drop in there, both for those who have not seen one ever before & 
for those who may have seen thousands of this species over a lifetime of 
birding. And having 2 H.Grebes as well as a lingering Pied-billed Grebe for a 
sometimes nearby comparison, was an uncommon treat for all N.Y. County watchers.

N.B. - some further observers of the (wintered) Wood Thrush that was skulking 
in the southeast parts of Central Park at least to late February came forward 
with some more info.; it seems that that one individual had been seen & also 
photographed from around late Nov., & very intermittently to late in the real 
winter-period. Thanks to Debbie Becker amongst others for the further tips.  As 
noted before to this list, that species is a rare-winterer in N.Y. City, not 
without precedent in Central Park in mid to late winter, but quite unexpected 
then. Most of that species are in Central America and parts of Mexico for (at 
least) the winter months, and migrate north along with the big spring passages 
of so many other neotropical-wintering migrant birds.

Some of the rest of many species observed in the period from Friday-Monday; 
most sightings either from a very warm-balmy Friday or the 2 weekend days; 
Monday’s rains preventing thorough watching for a lot of potential birds, such 
as various raptors, insectivores and others.

Snow Goose (a few noted on the move as late as Fri., 3/20)
Canada Goose (widespread)
[Atlantic] Brant  (widespread; these are now not-rare around N.Y. County’s 
brackish shorelines)
Wood Duck (a few lingered, at least 1 drake still around into Mon. at Central 
Gadwall (multiple)
American Black Duck (still fair no’s. on county waters)
Mallard (common)
Northern Shoveler (hundreds continuing at Central Park, on multiple waterbodies)
Bufflehead (minimum of 42 on the Central Park reservoir at mid-day rainy Monday 
but some had moved on by 6pm; also regular all around the county lately)
Common Goldeneye (ongoing hen/female at Randall’s Island n. edge creek “kill”, 
the best site to view the species in this county in past week+)
Hooded Merganser (at least a pair remained in Central Park, Monday)
Red-breasted Merganser (still in modest no’s. out on the rivers, harbor, & etc. 
surrounding Manhattan)
Ruddy Duck (very few remained at Central Park, whilst more were showing at a 
few sites on the East Rver in Manhattan-N.Y. County waters recently)
Red-throated Loon (at least a few, ongoing off Manhattan’s shore)
Common Loon (relatively few, but ongoing off Manhattan’s shores)
Pied-billed Grebe (lingering thru at Central Park reservoir, this one 
Horned Grebe (2, at Central Park reservoir only for 1 day, as described above; 
also a few out in the harbor)
Great Cormorant (multiple lingering at select spots, including at some E. River 
sites where regular all winter)
Double-crested Cormorant (multiple, but still not that many)
Great Blue Heron (multiple, including a few regulars in parts of Central Park 
that overwintered mostly-there)
Great Egret (now starting to establish in local areas, including in particular, 
N.J. Meadowlands and this suggests new sightings over the known fly-way over 
Manhattan’s mid-north, of birds going east & west to-from the New Jersey 
Meadowlands will be increasing; a few have already made the trip as seen from 
N.Y. County; also multiple others are now appearing regionally)
Black-crowned Night-Heron (at least 1 in Central Park, well-hunkered in depsite 
such rains, or because of? on Monday, The Pond, where a Great Blue also was)
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (one that wintered was continuing on Randall’s 
Island at least thru last weekend)
Black Vulture (continuing -fly-by- sightings from / over the county, in 
particular from northern-most Manhattan)
Turkey Vulture (multiple sightings, thru the weekend)
Osprey (few, but ongoing / occasional sightings thru weekend - & certainly 
Bald Eagle (multiple sightings from all around the county, esp. no’s. of adults 
Sharp-shinned Hawk (few sightings or reports)
Cooper's Hawk (few ongoing; also possible as a migrant now)
Red-shouldered Hawk (1 Sat., northern Manhattan - migrant, but these are also 
on territories in many other areas)
Red-tailed Hawk (fairly common & widespread residents all over the county now)
American Coot (at least 5, Central Park, including 3 at The Pond, one of those 
3 well out of the water, on Monday, in the big rains)
Killdeer (ongoing on at least the 2 smaller islands of N.Y. County - Randalls 
and Governors, with nesting likely at latter if not at both sites)
Greater Yellowlegs (1 Friday, a calling bird moving thru at Randall’s Island, 
not lingering as far as known)
American Woodcock (very few reports - passage migrants are possible for some 
weeks yet)
Laughing Gull (one in full breeding plumage, on Central Park reservoir dike, 
mid-day only, Monday 3/23)
Ring-billed Gull (very common & widespread)
[American] Herring Gull  (very common & widespread)
Great Black-backed Gull (multiple and not uncommon)
['feral'] Rock Pigeon (nearly ubiquitous)
Mourning Dove (fairly common now, these have increased in the past week+)
American Kestrel (modest no’s. seen and reported; these breed in NYC on 
buildings including many in Manhattan)
Merlin (few reports this period)
Peregrine Falcon (regular city resident, with multiple sightings & reports)
Great Horned Owl (at least 1 continued thru the period of this report)
Eastern Screech-Owl (a scarce resident in Manhattan)
Belted Kingfisher (continuing, at least a few wintered on the smaller islands 
of the county, & were occasional in other areas also, also some arrivals)
Red-headed Woodpecker (1 continuing at Central Park as noted above, 
Red-bellied Woodpecker (widespread)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (fewer now, as a first small batch mainly moved on; 
there will be more!)
Downy Woodpecker (widespread)
Hairy Woodpecker (few, but still regular in a few parks in Manhattan)
Yellow-shafted Flicker (fewer now, as a first small batch mainly moved on; 
there will be more!)
Eastern Phoebe (still passing through, modest no’s. noted again even in the big 
rains Monday)
Blue Jay (many)
Common Raven (few, noted regularly but very uncommonly around the county, incl. 
American Crow (multiple)
Fish Crow (ongoing in select sites, & a few may be nesting by now)
Tree Swallow (now coming as breeders investigating or using boxes at 1 site; 
others in passage)
Black-capped Chickadee (exceedingly scarce now)
Tufted Titmouse (rather few but some pairs around)
White-breasted Nuthatch (modest no’s., widespread)
Brown Creeper (modest no’s. after a small wave-let passed, also some had 
overwintered here)
Carolina Wren (modest no’s., many wintered successfully as well)
Winter Wren (several; my 1st-of-season for The Ramble seen on Mon. but a few 
did overwinter in Manhattan, which is not at all unusual)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (sparse sightings for big-rain Monday, more were seen 
thru the past weekend in multiple locations)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (very few, most or all of these so far seen are likely 
ones that wintered here or nearby)
Hermit Thrush (very few but at least some wintered successfully, which is 
rather typical of the species for many parts of NYC)
American Robin (increasing almost daily now; many hundreds in total just in 
Central Park; likely at or near a 1,000+ total for all of New York County-NYC 
Gray Catbird (few; one appearing in Central Park at a location where seen 
semi-regularly for much of the past winter, others in various other smaller 
parks etc.)
Northern Mockingbird (seen here & there, many have been singing some of their 
‘anticipatory’ songs and calls - typical mimicing of other species 
Brown Thrasher ((multiple but not that many, found in several parks & 
greenspaces, incl. a few continuing in Central Park from the winter)
European Starling (common)
Eastern Towhee (multiple but not that many, found in several parks & 
greenspaces, incl. a few continuing in Central Park from the winter)
Chipping Sparrow (few, persisting in a few areas where seen overwintering in 
the county)
Field Sparrow (a few, one persisted at one area in Central Park into Mon.)
[Red] Fox Sparrow (very modest no’s., this species has also had passage on 
through at least northern N.Y. state & northern New England lately; more are 
Song Sparrow (many, many on territories locally as well)
Swamp Sparrow (very modest no’s. - one singing brightly, seen near Hallett 
Sanctuary in the s. end of Central Park on Monday/p.m.)
White-throated Sparrow (high numbers continue in the county, most are still 
overwintered birds, as is usual here)
Slate-colored Junco (50+ around Central Park, Monday; & also have been passing 
through in fair no’s.)
Northern Cardinal
Yellow-rumped [Myrtle] Warbler (from at least Friday; the first individuals of 
this species in N.Y. County for each year are often a bit early, & may be ones 
that wintered in the region; sometimes also seen in still-drab winter or 
transitional pre-spring plumages)
Pine Warbler (this species has passed thru with some reaching through to 
northern New England by now; at least several persisted in Central Park to 
Sunday, at least 1 found there still on Monday’s rain and wind. A few females & 
first-spring males have come along with the numbers of brighter males. Yet more 
should be coming along.
Red-winged Blackbird (regular now, a lot of males singing or calling; some 
females continuing; some flight also observed this past weekend)
Rusty Blackbird (at least several thru weekend; 2 were in very separate areas 
to Monday in Central Park, The Pond at the far s.-e. corner of that park, & in 
the Ramble along the lake shore.)
Common Grackle (200+ in a few groups just in Central Park, also at least modest 
no’s. & some in early-a.m. movement as well on the weekend)
Brown-headed Cowbird (mostly small no’s, but a few groups of 6+ here & there)
House Finch
American Goldfinch (fair numbers with the highest counts often continuing 
around the feeder array in Central Park, but also seen scattered about 
House Sparrow 

On the extraordinarily mild Friday just past (3/20) there were many insects 
flying, crawling or moving about; these included over 30 Cabbage White 
butterflies seen on a wide-ranging bicycle around parts of N.Y. County, esp. 
out on Randall’s Island, where a Lady (Vannessa species) type butterfly was 
briefly seen, that a fairly typical early-spring migrant, more commonly the 
American Lady is the one that is seen (Vanessa virginiensis) but also very 
possible Painted (a.k.a. Cosmopolitan) Lady can show in the area (Vannessa 
card). Additional & ongoing butterfly species further included a few Red 
Admirals and Eastern Commas (with Mourning Cloak also having been observed in 
recent days). A great many other kinds of insects & invertebrate life have been 
seen as well. 

On the blooms (in bloom) front in Manhattan & N.Y. County, more & more of the 
numerous planted trees, shrubs & other plants have been showing off; many early 
cherries & magnolias of all types have had bloom for some time and a few 
already were starting to drop blossoms; later-blooming flowering-cherry 
varieties are yet to start up. Hawthorns (white) and Cornus mas (yellow) are in 
full bloom in many areas.  The first of a modest number of native wildflowers 
of spring have been showing as well, with at least Bloodroot, and a few kinds 
of Trilliums now out as well as (non-native but naturalized in the region) 
Coltsfoot, all these in Manhattan. There may be a few blooms of Dutchman’s 
Breeches in some of the parks where it grows as a native, as well as in some 
plantings. (Virtually all of Central Park’s locally-native species of flowers 
have been planted there over the years, but there may be some ‘escapees' here & 
there which took root & kept on in their own ways. Far more *wild* 
locally-native plants were typically in the northern-most parks of Manhattan 
island, & that is likely still so even now.)

good spatial-distancing & thus socially-acceptable birding,

Tom Fiore


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