Manhattan / N.Y. County (in N.Y. City), Tuesday, April 21 through Thursday, 
April 23 -

A very active weather period, as has been so for much of this month in the 
region (& southern U.S. also, where almost all of our northbound migrants pass 
through reaching us). A Grasshopper Sparrow in Central Park on Thursday 
afternoon to evening provided a top highlight, seen by a modest no. of 
observers, and a rare find especially for spring there. More in the way of 
location & etc., below for that date.

A RED-HEADED WOODPECKER has continued in Central Park’s north end thru 
Thursday, 4/23 (photographed). This makes 6 full months that this individual 
was in the same area, starting as a 1st year, quite drab-looking youngster, now 
& for some time in a bright fully-colored-up breeding-type plumage. Same 
location as ever, the west edge of the N. Meadow ballfields’ southwest sector 
fences, & in trees on the east side of the park’s W. Drive (roadway), with 
nearest park entry points at W. 97th, & also at W. 100th Streets, off Central 
Park West. It will be interesting to see how long this individual lingers at 
the favored site; it may be that with a big push of fresh migration, this 
woodpecker will then move on to some location for potential mate-seeking. 
Incidentally, no one knows the sex of this bird. All that’s known is its age, 
now just a bit less than 1 full year.

Tues., 4/21 - Quite the mix of weather, with some fog & low clouds pushing out 
thru the morning, then bright sun, & a big fierce t-storm, including tornadic 
winds to the north, and a bit of small hail for mid-afternoon, then yet more 
sun & strong NW wind as a serious cold front pushed thru the city and all of 
the wider region late in the day & into Tuesday night.   Some birds departed on 
Monday night, yet some others certainly arrived as well.  There were at least 
mini-fallouts of some species, perhaps more so the closer to the ocean.

A Pileated Woodpecker was re-found at Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan; 
this surely the same female which had been found originally at Inwood Hill Park 
& had likely been in that area all along. There are plenty of wooded sections, 
some of them far less-birded as well as some that are not easily-accessed, for 
even a fairly large bird of that sort to take refuge in. On Thursday, House 
Wren & of course other migrant species moved in to Ft. Tryon Park (T.Gray).

White-eyed Vireo was found in Central Park (in the Ramble); a Scarlet Tanager 
(male), also in Central Park (at Summit Rock).  An Ovenbird was photographed in 
Riverside Park near W. 108th St. by K.Fung, & seen by me later in the day.   A 
Vesper Sparrow continued by the Meer in Central Park, seen there again in early 
morning. although at least a few other birders trying there later on apparently 
could not re-locate it. More Chimney Swifts in modest no’s. were noted from 
multiple locations over Manhattan.
Wed., Earth Day, 4/22 - A strong cold front; about cold enough for some snow 
flurries in the early morning; winds gusting from the WNW at 20-30+ m.p.h. - 
larger birds were still able to handle this in diurnal flight, and 2 adult Bald 
Eagles made a stop IN Central Park, right in front of some asonished birders in 
the park’s Ramble.  

A Black-throated Green Warbler was found at the west edge of the Ramble in 
Central Park.  A Baltimore Oriole was seen at Fort Tryon Park. For perhaps the 
1st day this year, Chimney Swifts were seen flying quite low, even skimming the 
water’s surface in at least 2 locations in Central Park, at the reservoir, and 
at the Meer (each also seen with somewhat greater no’s. of swallows). Among 
other locations, I had a look around Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan and 1 
bird popped out as soon as I arrived (early, with almost no one else around 
besides some park workers) - a bright fresh-condition male Common Yellowthroat; 
other spp. of interest for that park were 2 Gray Catbirds which had survived 
all winter there (one was aggressively investigating the rubbish bins for 
potential breakfast items), 2 Slate-colored Juncos right in front of the NYPL 
by the library/literary lions & nearby, multiple Hermit Thrushes, 2 E. Towhees 
(male & female), & at least 5 spp. of sparrows: Swamp, [Red] Fox, Chipping, 
Song, & White-throated, the latter the only in modest no’s. there. I gave a bit 
more effort there after seeing the 1 warbler.
Thursday, 4/23 - Some very light snow flurries occurred in Manhattan in the 
morning, even though air temp’s. at the surface were in the low 40’s (F.); 
light winds overnight especially after midnight allowed some new migration, 
both of exodus and some influx.  A Grasshopper Sparrow was found in Central 
Park (not an annually-seen migrant there!) by D.Barrett, and at least some 
others got to see before day’s end as well - thanks for the eBird report, 
David! This was at the area locally called “sparrow rocks”, a low flat 
partly-rocky rise just west of the W. Drive of the park, near approx. W. 
83-84th Streets - it is directly across the park drive from Summit Rock (which 
is the highest natural point in elevation in Central Park, incidentally, 
although it may not feel that way). While it is entirely possible that that 
sparrow had been in that location from a day or more prior, it’s equally 
plausible it arrived overnight (after Wed. evening). This species has been 
found rather more often in N.Y. County in fall migration rather than in spring. 
Although a rare bird for the county, the species breeds in several locations 
not more than 20 miles away, & many more within 100 miles. They -like a good 
many species found in the region as breeders- have a fairly good knack for 
finding its way directly to the breeding sites. This sort of ‘local stray’ (in 
that sense) may be especially driven by weather-events, but it’s hard to be 
sure. This one could easily be a bird-of-the-week, for the county, perhaps 
‘tied’ with the Pileated Woodpecker of northernmost Manhattan.  Also, the 
Grasshopper allowed for ten members of the sparrow ‘tribe’ to be seen in one 
park for the day, including junco & towhee. (There were still a few [Red] Fox 
Sparrows lingering in Central Park.)

For the most part, it ‘felt’ and looked as though many sparrows (& some other 
kinds of migrants) had moved on in the night of 4/22-23. There were also a fair 
number of Hermit Thrush in some areas of N.Y. County where possibly they had 
not been until 4/23.  I made a tour of Randall’s Island, & found just modest 
sparrow variety, with Field, Chipping, Song, Swamp, White-throated, & at least 
18 Savannah Sparrows, many of those in the SE quadrant of the Randall’s large 
set of fields. The only warbler spp. noted by me at Randall’s were a modest no. 
of Palm, and a few Yellow-rumped [Myrtle], whereas in Central & Riverside Parks 
(& by reports, from Fort Tryon, Inwood Hill, & a few more Manhattan parks) 
there was still at least modest warbler diversity, with many of the same 
species as found all this week - Pine, Palm, Yellow-rumped [Myrtle], 
Black-and-white, N. Parula (Morningside Park, obs. S.Chang), Ovenbird (at least 
2, one still persisting in the area of Central Park’s n. woods north of the 
Blockhouse, & one found in Tompkins Square Park by L.Goggin), Common 
Yellowthroat (at least several continuing), & both of the Waterthrush species 
(mostly, in terms of sightings from around Manhattan, the first 3 of these 
species, and at least a few of the 4th listed sp.), plus Yellow Warbler in the 
late eve., at the w. edge of the Lake south of the Ladies pavillion area, & in 
Riverside Park’s south sector (A.Drogin). 10 Warbler species on the day - 
plenty more in May...

No longer so very-notable, there were 5 Black Vultures circling up from 
northwestern Queens as seen from Randall’s Island, slowly gaining some 
elevation & slowly moving north up past the center of the island & into the 
southern edges of Bronx County.  Also seen by a number of observers on 
Manhattan were Turkey Vultures, Bald Eagle, and at an early hour, with snow 
flurries still falling, I photographed a perched Broad-winged Hawk in the n. 
woods of Central Park, a likely straggler after Wednesday-Thursday’s rather 
good regional flight of that species (multi-hundreds were seen from hawk-watch 
sites just a bit west & northwest over the Hudson river & vicinity, migrating 
in earnest; for ex. more than 700 B.-w. Hawks were counted in 2 days, 4/22-23, 
at Montclair hawk-watch in the town of that name in northeastern New Jersey, 
which is very near to N.Y. City. And at Hook Mt. hawk watch in eastern Rockland 
County, NY there were just over 1,000 Broad-winged Hawks counted in the same 
2-day period). Ospreys also continue moving locally, as do some other raptor 

Virginia Rail[s] which had been rehabbed & released by the local Wild Bird Fund 
were still at the release-site, the Loch in Central Park, into Thursday, with 
some birders continuing to seek it / them out there. (If doing so, please use 
commonsense & try to practice safe social-spatial distancing for the good of 
all.) The Loch is in a fairly narrow corridor with not many areas of broad 
space to be spatially-distanced, especially on its’ most-used s.-e. pathway.  
If you have seen & perhaps photographed birds (& this can apply to many birds, 
many situations in many locations), please consider moving on to allow for 
others who may wish to utilise such an area for a while, and even if others are 
not apparent at all times. Hopefully, what considerations one gives will be 
returned as well. It’s all part of working together to get to a better place in 
the pandemic we all face. To my knowledge & awareness, this is how birders have 
been acting in their wanderings & walks.

The city parks are filled with bloom - flowering & other trees, shrubs, many 
ornamental flowers - as are many other city greenspaces. A number of native 
plants also are coming into bloom or already were, & so some now ‘fruiting’ or 
with seeds. Leaf-out had slowed a bit with some of the very cool weather (snow 
flurries seen on Thursday morning in Manhattan), however there are more 
leaf-buds showing every day now.  All of that also means that insects and other 
invertebrates have been coming out as well. And that is of course good for the 
many insectivorous & omnivorous birds which are arriving (& will be in greater 
numbers in coming weeks).  We’ve had ongoing spring mammal sightings in N.Y. 
County, with E. Red Bat, Groundhog, Raccoon, & even some indications of the 
rather rare coyote - as captured in photos, amongst various others.  Tulips are 
now in full flower in N.Y. City and many varieties of Lilacs as well...

Every evening all around this hard-hit city, cheers have erupted at the hour of 
7PM, the sound often lingering for many many minutes up & down the 'concrete 
canyons' of Manhattan and from all points well beyond - these are the people of 
our world giving thanks to all of those who care for us, and help out in times 
like these, not least the enormous sacrifices being made by so many healthcare 
providers in all fields right now - Please help all of them, too by maintaining 
all protocols recommended by experts in this time of viral pandemic - doing so 
could save many lives!   [Personal note: I’m mainting strict social/spatial 
distancing indoors & out, solo birding, & using my own power getting around. 
Let’s all be safe and considerate out there. Thank You!]

Tom Fiore


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