Manhattan (part of N.Y. County, in N.Y. City) - May 8th through May 13th:

-  as well as many species of migrants that heretofore had been rather 
sparingly or even just singly.  A few “gray-cheeked” type thrushes were 
apparent by Monday, 5/11.  The single Bobolink seen by many in Central Park and 
a ‘lifer’ for some newer birders, was one of a number passing thru recently, 
which typically are not quite as obliging (or tired of flighting high winds) as 
the single male seen Saturday in the Ramble. For a bit of diversion, there was 
also a Yellow-breasted Chat very nearby to that bobolink & also seen by 
multiple observers, eventually on Sat.

The amazing (6+ months staying) RED-HEADED WOODPECKER in Central Park stayed on 
into the 2nd week of May, seen to at least May 13th (many many observers). And 
there were two, with a 2nd passage-migrant Red-headed arriving for Central on 
Wed., 5/13.

- -
Friday, May 8 - A mix of drizzles, rain, clouds, but a start of the day with 
90+ minutes of sun.

Tremendous day overall for warbler-diversity, in particular. A singing male 
Kentucky Warbler present all day at Central Park’s Loch was among the 
highlights along with a (continuing) male Golden-winged Warbler in Riverside 
Park, a not-so-high Cerulean Warbler at the s. end of Central Park, & a minimum 
of a dozen Cape May Warblers in various locations around Manhattan (likely many 
more than that, in all), with a total of at least 29 American warbler species 
found on the day just in Manhattan alone.  More than 60 observers were out & 
about, finding migrants in many, many locations, all around town.  That 
Riverside Park warbler was almost certainly the most-visited bird of that park 
since the long-lingering male Evening Grosbeak that had been a fixture in a 
prior recent winter into spring, which brought hundreds & hundreds of visitors 
over its’ long, long stay. The Golden-winged at times received up to 30-40 
observers at one time, & far more in total for its full stay - thanks again to 
A.Drogin for his reporting and his birding a dedicated ‘patch’ around that very 
nice park.

A [Red] Fox Sparrow was photographed in Central Park (A.Simmons) & seen by 
multiple observers; there were a couple of reports of American “tree” sparrow 
which at such an extraordinary late date for Manhattan should be photo or video 
documented; note: some spring Chipping Sparrows can have a hint of a central 
breast-pin, &/or feathers out-of-place in windy conditions.

Sat., May 9 - Big west winds, with temperature dipping into the 30’s (F.) & not 
far north of N.Y. City, a bit of snow for this 2nd weekend of May.  Later in 
the day, temp’s. moderated very slightly into the 40’s.

An American Bittern, at least the 3rd appearance in New York County this 
spring, sat in a tree in Central Park for the first in-place showing of the 
species there for the year.   Yellow-breasted Chat made its appearance, also in 
Central Park - an annual, but often shy visitor to the city & to Manhattan’s 
parks & greenspaces. Also annual, usually both spring & late summer-fall, but 
rather rarely detected, Bobolink made a drop-in-&-stay a while appearance and 
in the Ramble, where a lot of folks could actually view (a male), in Central 
Park (as others made it thru and likely did not linger as the one did).  Both 
of these were photographed, the bittern in particular by dozens & seen by 
dozens & dozens more, including curious passersby.

Several Cliff, Bank & the 3 more-typical & commonly-seen swallow species were 
found over the Central Park reservoir, watching from west & NW edges, 
throughout the day, esp. afternoon.   The least common of these is actually 
Bank, in terms of well-described sightings for the location, overall. The few 
Tree Swallows seen may not have lingered, while Barn were by far most numerous, 
into the many dozens at all times.   Chimney Swifts were also present in fair 
numbers over the reservoir (& elsewhere) and on the water there were at least 2 
lingering Bufflehead (down from the minimum of 7 of that small diving-duck, 
from 5/5 at same location, as seen then also by many obs.) The 2 seen on 5/9 
were female & male, & together. (It is not at all rare to find various duck 
species mate or at least act-out mating ritual, well before reaching a 
breeding-area, even when they may be very far from such an area; this is indeed 
fairly common, in many duck spp. in our region as winter gives way to spring 
and duckage is closely-observed.)

Once again, at least 29 American warbler species were found in Manhattan, plus 
a Y.-br. Chat which is an unusual species not quite placed in a category with 
warbler, icterid, nor tanager. (birds with the common English epithet of ‘chat’ 
are many in the world, and this one, the Yellow-breasted, is unrelated to 
pretty much most of the rest of the ‘chats’ in other areas; see a list of birds 
of the world for a bit more, & some of the taxonomic thinking is spread thru 
many scientific papers, articles, and some relatively recent books in print.)

-   -   -    -    -   There were again quite decent numbers of some of the 
more-numerous & more-readily-spotted migrant birds in Manhattan this day, with 
some species likely reaching either their peak or near-peak passage in this 
county for the spring. A possible example was Scarlet Tanager, with some 
individual observers finding 10 or more in a birding-session even in just one 
park, & multiples of the species being seen in small greenspaces, street trees 
in many locations, and in general in very good numbers through all of the 
island of Manhattan - one can readily expect that many hundreds or more were in 
N.Y. County just on the day. There were a few instances of 5 or more 
individuals of the species visible at once simultaneously, which is hardly so 
unusual at peak migration, but also not so commonly-obsevered here. As is often 
so, some of the best sites to find many of this species were near the Hudson 
river (parks) and in particular, in northern Manhattan, which still has some 
very mature old-growth woods.

Sunday (Mom’s day), May 10 - Winds beginning to quiet (and esp. so for parts of 
late Sat. night into pre-dawn of Sunday), & temp’s still very much below-normal 
for the date, although much better-milder than the day prior with a recovery to 
above 60 (F.) by late-day.

As previously reported, a male BLUE Grosbeak was found by B.Inskeep at the 
north end of Central Park, & photographed by she & I in the morning. A bit 
later, B.I. also spotted the lingering RED-HEADED Woodpecker at its usual area, 
& we also saw it fly across the park road, then back to its most-regular grove 
of trees. 

Monday, May 11 - A west-southwesterly flow of slightly milder air arrived from 
Sunday night. A further extensive migration occurred - one which propelled some 
migrants far far north, on into Canadian breeding areas, as well as throughout 
the northeastern U.S. in many places.

There were many Great Blue Herons on the move, as well as both Great & Snowy 
Egrets; the Great Blues seemed far more to be working on getting north, while 
the egret fly-bys were more so in the east-west / west-east fly-way that exists 
over Manhattan (which are birds going to & from the N.J. Meadowlands areas to & 
from the Long Island Sound region, on a daily basis from now into late summer 
or early-bird ‘autumn’).

Olive-sided Flycatcher was a new arrival for spring in Manhattan; one seen in 
Central Park. Least Sandpiper was perhaps new for the county, with at least 5 
found on the Inwood Hill Park lagoon mudflats by N.Souirgi.  Multiple 
Gray-cheeked Thrush were recorded, some by Nocturnal Flight Call operations in 
the night by A.Farnsworth, & others also seen in a few locations; the 
species-group (with Bicknell’s also possible now) had been reported by at least 
a few observers for a few days by now.

Very late were a couple of reports of [Red] Fox Sparrow in Manhattan; these 
however somewhat in keeping with the overall ‘lateness’ of much of local (& 
beyond) migration and in particular with some species lingering here & there, 
which gets an extra measure of attention in heavily-birded areas.

Male Summer Tanagers were reported from at least a few very widely separated 
locations in Manhattan, including East River Park (Corlears Hook area) & from 
Central Park’s north woods, & possibly elsewhere as well.

It was a tremendous day for Cape May Warbler, with sightings from many 
locations on Manhatttan, & at least 15 seen by 2 of us birding Central Park for 
12 straight hours (+ 1/2 hr. lunch break), 5:25 - 5:55 p.m., & one area having 
up to 7 individuals including 5 males seen at once with 2 1st-spring drab 
females.  At Inwood Hill Park in the northern-most end of Manhattan, a minimum 
of 4 of this species were found, & several more also at Fort Tryon Park. One 
was noted at Union Square Park much farther south in Manhattan, and at least 2 
from E. River Park, farther downtown or south in Manhattan, as well as one 
noted at Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan; there have been many 
others of this species recorded in various smaller parks & greenspaces in 
recent days.  A total tally of more than thirty for Manhattan on the day seems 
not at all high, & is more likely low.

A singing male Yellow-throated Warbler was found by J.Spindel in the Strawberry 
Fields area of Central Park, later having moved a bit north of there; a tough 
bird to see later due to its’ being mostly high to very high in fairly 
leafed-out trees, although still vocal at times; multiple obs. & photos - of 
the yellow-lored subsp./ ‘dominica’ type. 

A single European Goldinch was seen in Central Park’s Ramble; this species has 
formed small flocks at times in N.Y. County at Governors Island, & has been 
semi-regular in few counties of N.Y. City & southeastern N.Y. at times over a 
long long period, although how extensive these birds have wandered is an open 
question, & there may still be escapees from private ‘keepers’.

Tuesday, May 12 - Wind turned from the W/NW by Mon. eve. & night, with colder 
overnight temp’s. returning - & a cooler day.  Migration may have been light, 
but it included some exodus locally, particularly for many sparrows.

A Prothonotary Warbler was seen in the Central Park Ramble / Lake shore area, 
early a.m., which became harder to find later in the day. Other warbler 
highlights for many were several Bay-breasted Warblers including 2 that showed 
very well at times in Central Park on the Great Hill. There were also multiple 
Hooded Warblers, continuing in several areas. Running late by now, at least one 
Palm Warbler was seen, again not far from the reservoir in Central, where a 
late-lingering Bufflehead continued. Cape May Warbler continued to show well 
for Manhattan with sightings from one end of Manhattan to the other, esp. 
continuing through in Central in numbers.

Seen mid-morning or later, a first-year male Blue Grosbeak, in the lawn areas a 
little north of the W. 77th St. Central Park West entrance to Central & this 
bird was found by a young woman with camera or taking a phone photo and then 
B.Inskeep & I both photo’d this bird as well, until an American Robin 
vigorously chased it to near the park’s perimeter wall a bit to the north of 
where it had been at first.  An uncommonly-seen ‘orange-variant’ male Scarlet 
Tanager was seen near the Pinetum of Central Park; this was my own 4th-ever 
sighting of this color form of the species, this being a first-spring bird; a 
bit of a shocker whenever I’ve first encountered this. My first-ever was well 
over 30 years prior, at the wonderful little Greenbrook sanctuary of northeast 
New Jersey.   There was a very strong diurnal movement of Scarlet Tanager 
locally, with observers from one end of Manhattan reporting the species, in 
dozens of locations, and with some reports by individual observers of well past 
a dozen on the day. At Central Park, some were seen flying above treetop-level 
going both n. & south thru the morning.

A visit to the Hallett Sanctuary at the s.-e. corner of Central Park provided 
views of 11 warbler spp. including male Canada; all seen within the sanctuary 
itself, in mid-late morning. A Mourning Warbler was reported in Central Park by 
an experienced observer, without particular comment on the sighting but from 
the n. end of that park.

A now quite late [Red] Fox Sparrow was again seen in the Central Park Ramble & 
photographed (P.Reisfeld).  A Yellow-breasted Chat was reported again, 
continuing in the Central Park Ramble (B.Yolton) where it had recently been 
semi-regular, but skulking in the area known as “Tupelo Meadow”.

Wednesday, May 13 - Winds which had been gusting from the WNW much of the 
previous day went far lighter at night, along with (again) low temp’s for 
mid-May in the 40’s (F.). Some further migration occurred at least locally.

Some of the migrant species present on prior days were still about in multiple 
parks. A Yellow-breasted Chat continued in Central Park’s Ramble. In some 
parks, there was still decent variety of migrant songbirds, but generally not 
truly great numbers of most species, and some species are still far from a peak 
flight or passage this spring.  Very slowly, some species were increasing, such 
as Empidonax [gemus] flycatchers, E. Wood-Pewees, and both regular cuckoo 
species for the northeast.

An attempt to include most of the birds seen in the 4 days of this report is 
below, but likely excludes at least some species -

Canada Goose
[Atlantic] Brant (still present on the rivers around Manhattan, as well as the 
N.Y. Harbor)
Mute Swan (along East river)
Wood Duck (several sightings)
Gadwall (ongoing, modest no’s.)
American Black Duck
Bufflehead (multiple, with at least 3 lingering on the Central Park reservoir 
thru May 11th; 2 - male & female seen & photo’d on 5/13)
Common Merganser (1 drake, fly-over as of 5/13, an oddly late sighting for N.Y. 
County - seen flying west high over Manhattan)
Red-throated Loon (few fly-overs)
Common Loon (relatively scant fly-overs)
Double-crested Cormorant (many)
American Bittern (Central Park, May 9 - 80+ observers thru all of the day)
Great Blue Heron (strong northbound migrations on several mornings)
Great Egret (good numbers, reguilar fly-overs)
Snowy Egret (most often seen as fly-overs)
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (one was detected in the vicinity of the East River, 
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
Killdeer (scarce)
Greater Yellowlegs (few)
Solitary Sandpiper (relatively few so far)
Spotted Sandpiper (still fairly modest no’s.)
Least Sandpiper (small numbers so far)
Laughing Gull (modest no’s. esp. on the E. River & in the harbor)
Ring-billed Gull
[American] Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
['feral'] Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
American Kestrel (fairly common city residents)
Merlin (apparent in photo (E.Goodman) from 5/9, Central Park - low fly-over)
Peregrine Falcon (city residents)
Black-billed Cuckoo (multiple but modest no’s., esp. as of 5/11 & afterwards)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (multiple, in modest no’s.)
E. Screech-Owl (resident on Manhattan island)
Chimney Swift (still mostly modest numbers, some occasional flocks in the 
20-30+ range)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (modest no’s. ‘ongoing’ - & passing through)
Belted Kingfisher (one or two into report period)
Red-headed Woodpecker (ongoing, at Central Park - with TWO individuals in 2 
locations as of 5/13 there - one lingering & a 2nd adult-breeding-color bird 
simultaneously on the Great Hill)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (rather common)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (still in the multiple, & in many locations scattered 
around Manhattan)
Downy Woodpecker (fairly common)
Hairy Woodpecker (few)
Yellow-shafted Flicker (modest numbers)
Olive-sided Flycatcher (one report, Central Park)
Eastern Wood-Pewee (very few, all thru the report period)
Willow Flycatcher (few, some are calling)
Least Flycatcher (not uncommon by 5/11)
Great Crested Flycatcher (many, common on passage, & also a rare breeding 
species here)
Eastern Kingbird (common passage migrant, and not-rare breeding bird throughout 
N.Y. City in appropriate habitat)
White-eyed Vireo (multiple locations, a few just possibly lingering)
Blue-headed Vireo (ongoing thru the period, but rather fewer than for the week 
Yellow-throated Vireo (ongoing, nice numbers being found thru the report period)
Warbling Vireo (common passage migrant, and not-rare breeding species in N.Y. 
City in appropriate habitat)
Red-eyed Vireo (not that msny sd of 5/13, uncommon to not-rare breeding species 
in N.Y. City in appropriate habitat)
Blue Jay (common & widespread and still some evidence of v. light movements 
some days)
Common Raven (regular, from multiple locations and observers)
American Crow (regular breeder in N.Y. City)
Fish Crow (less-common than above crow species, but does nest in Manhattan)
Tree Swallow (rather uncommmon)
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (uncommon now)
Bank Swallow (at least one over Central Park reservoir, 5/11)
Barn Swallow (common)
Cliff Swallow (1 or two at Central Park)
Black-capped Chickadee (nearly nonexistent now in most of Manhattan)
Tufted Titmouse (scant)
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren (multiple)
House Wren (now nesting as well as some poss. still passing through)
Winter Wren (several photographed, late lingerers, this report period)
Marsh Wren (several, including one lingering a bit at Inwood Hill Park)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (far fewer than 1 week prior, many females now)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (ongoing; a rare breeding species in Manhattan)
Veery (increased greatly in this period)
Gray-cheeked Thrush (a few of this ‘type’ began to appear in this period)
Bicknell's Thrush (possible - none yet confirmed, this period)
Swainson's Thrush (increased in this period, some singing at times)
Hermit Thrush (late movers still around - a slightly late migration overall)
Wood Thrush (now very common, some attempt breeding in Manhattan)
American Robin
Gray Catbird (many)
Northern Mockingbird (fairly common)
Brown Thrasher (scattered locations)
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing (flocks of up to 80+ in total on 5/11, in particular)
Summer Tanager (several, some lingering a day or more, & most seemingly not)
Scarlet Tanager (common in this period, even almost very common, almost all are 
passage migrants, but can be watched-for as June comes along)
Eastern Towhee (still on passage in this period; this is also a rare nesting 
species in Manhattan, much-declined from long-ago)
"American Tree” Sparrow (these reports require full vetting, should have photos 
/ video, it is exceedingly late for the species in N.Y. City, where not usualin 
Chipping Sparrow (still in some numbers, some stay and attempt to breed in N.Y. 
County, & some succeed)
Clay-colored Sparrow
Field Sparrow (few remaining)
Savannah Sparrow (still present in Manhattan to 5/13)
[Red] Fox Sparrow (extremely late individuals, at least one photographed, to 
May - - - - - - -)
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow (many in this period, many locations in multiple parks & 
Swamp Sparrow (common, but fewer than in prior week)
White-throated Sparrow (still common, but now starting to move out; a very few 
may summer, a non-breeder in N.Y. City until proven otherwise)
White-crowned Sparrow (excellent passage of this species, with dozens of 
individuals in almost 20 different parks & greenspaces, some places with 
multiples in 1 site)
Slate-colored Junco (quite late, still a few seen in this period; often almost 
‘gone' by May 1st, in Manhattan)
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (very common; some may breed in the northern parks; 
watch for & listen in June there)
Blue Grosbeak (multiple, with a few female types added to the multiple males of 
previous week - a very good showing of this once-quite-rare species; breeds in 
N.Y. City & other parts of N.Y. state in probably-low numbers; one in Central 
Park as recently as 5/12, a first-spring male - photographed by 3 of us)
Indigo Bunting (common on passage, has nested in Manhattan in the modern-age 
Bobolink (several nice sightings for many observers - males in each case in 
Central Park)
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole (multiple)
Baltimore Oriole (many)
Yellow-breasted Chat (one, very brightly-plumaged, ongoing to 5/13, Central 
Park, in the Ramble - photos to 5/13)
Blue-winged Warbler (modest numbers)
Golden-winged Warbler (an un-banded male continued into the start of this 
report’s period at Riverside Park, with more than 100 observers in total, since 
A.Drogin’s initial find of it there)
Tennessee Warbler (very very scant to 5/13)
Orange-crowned Warbler (one or more reports that included photos)
Nashville Warbler (many)
Northern Parula (very common)
Yellow Warbler (fairly common, many more females thus of course less singing 
overall by this species)
Chestnut-sided Warbler (increasing)
Magnolia Warbler (increasing)
Cape May Warbler (excellent no’s. in many plumages, with ongoing adults still 
fairly regular in multiple locations)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (common, of both sexes)
Yellow-rumped [Myrtle] Warbler (fair numbers, but a truly awesome push of this 
species had not occurred as of 5/13 in Manhattan)
Black-throated Green Warbler (many, both sexes)
Cerulean Warbler (one on 5/8, s. end of Central Park)
Blackburnian Warbler (good numbers continued)
Yellow-throated Warbler (1 or 2 still being turned up, to at least 5/11)
Pine Warbler (still one or two thru the start of this report’s period)
Prairie Warbler (many)
Palm Warbler (several sightings, with photos, to at least 5/12 and poss. still 
on 5/13)
Bay-breasted Warbler (modest no’s., so far)
Blackpoll Warbler (modest no’s. so far, many locations)
Black-and-white Warbler (still rather common)
American Redstart (increasing thru this report’s period)
Prothonotary Warbler (one in Central Park on 5/12, multiple observers, 
Worm-eating Warbler (multiple, and thru the report-period)
Ovenbird (extremely common)
Northern Waterthrush (rather common, & as usual on passage, some seen far from 
obvious water of any kind)
Mourning Warbler (one, Central Park, 5/11)
Common Yellowthroat (very common indeed)
Hooded Warbler (multiple areas and parks, with some females)
Wilson's Warbler (good numbers, increased within report period)
Canada Warbler (modest numbers so far)
Purple Finch
House Finch
American Goldfinch
European Goldfinch (just a note that one of this species was wandering into 
Central Park recently; I don’t have more details; the species has been seen on 
Governors Island & elsewhere in N.Y. City over recent times, but may or may not 
be breeding? And there may be escaped pet birds even now?)
House Sparrow 

This is a link to an article that appeared in the New York Times, as an opinion 
piece, regarding bird-watching as we also all live through a pandemic and its 
many repercussions - it’s by David Sibley.
  (I have no vested interest, personal or professional, in Mr. Sibley’s work 
nor that of the N.Y. Times.) I might add, in this short and straightforward 
list of ‘tips’ and ideas, there is one which has struck me, as a birder for a 
long time, a very long time. There is a tremendous amount of information 
available to us as observers of birds if we are watching, in seeing the bill of 
a bird or birds. And if & when we are also listening, then the information that 
is available is tremendous. To pay attention, real attention, long and studious 
attention, to just these two things about many birds, is to learn a great deal. 
(As an aside; some 22 years ago or more, I had the luck and honor of going into 
the well-known Ramble of Central Park in manhattan with 2 birders: Kenn 
Kaufmann and David Sibley. After a delightful time in a leisurely walk, we 
three came out to the edge of the wooded area, and I assumed the walk was about 
done for us. Maybe they also did. And then, a bird sang. It was a 
Black-throated Green Warbler, and was neither particularly near nor very far 
off, for a trio who each had binoculars, and some ability to listen. It was a 
quiet, cool day in the park. And then, to me rather magically - and very 
unexpectedly, these two birders whom I barely knew other than by reputation, 
through their art and works, started to discuss the warbler we were observing - 
aurally and visually observing. That discussion went on for one full hour and 
had some of the most nuanced and impassioned private conversation on a single 
bird, on observing (listening and watching, taking note, paying attention, 
close attention) and on thinking about the 'nature of nature’, that I have 
encountered in the ‘field’ - what otherwise had been a casual, friendly, and 
‘easy’ walk in the park. The quality of information conveyed between these 2 
birder-naturalists was, to put it mildly, stunning, fascinating, mind-opening, 
and revealing, as well as humbling. Yes, the thought came over me that I wasn’t 
‘meant’ to overhear all of this. So what was discussed? How to think about a 
bird, and what is the real nature of observation - and of understanding and 
trying to learn. And learning, and trying to understand. Part of that 
conversation revolved simply on what was happening with just the forward-most 
parts of that one bird - its bill, its eyes, & its vocal assembly. I’ve never 
quite watched or listened to any birds anywhere in the world the same way as 
prior to that day, that hour, since then.) I thought it was in part an 
illustration in action of what science is, of what art can be, and of what we 
as humans may be capable of when we simply pay attention.

“I am the originator. I am the emancipator. I am the architect.” - from an 
American original.
R.I.P. Richard W. Penniman - 'Little Richard’ from Macon GA, to the world - The 
Rill Thing.

good birding to all; please continue to practice safe protocols in times of 
world-wide pandemic.

Tom Fiore


NYSbirds-L List Info:


Please submit your observations to eBird:


Reply via email to