This pandemic has forced me into birding the same mile of Riverside Park south 
of 96th Street, just down the block from where I live, almost every day for 
over two months now. Unable to chase birds throughout the hot spots of New York 
State this season, the fortunate timing during peak Spring migration at least 
has provided me with plenty of FOY pleasures.  Nevertheless, this routine has 
shown me that not all nature just passes through affording thrilling chance 
encounters, but that there is a natural “neighborhood" just outside my door 
which changes slowly with the seasons.  Fortunately, Springtime is when the 
male birds must stake out a territory and proclaim their constant presence 
through glorious song in order to attract mates.

It has been my newfound pleasure to recognize the singing 7+ days of individual 
Towhees, Cardinals, House Finches, and finally the Catbirds in their respective 
“blocks” (there are just too many House Sparrows, Pigeons, Robins, and 
Starlings to keep track of).  This has been a chance to watch the gradual 
cessation of White-throated Sparrows, the aggressive courtship of House 
Sparrows, Robins giving chase, Starlings gathering nest material, and now the 
constant high-pitched pleas for food from the gaping yellow mouths of awkward 

I now identify exactly three male Northern Flickers who alert each other with 
their steady staccato calls of their “turf” across from 82nd, 84th, and 91st 
streets.  A pair of Downy Woodpeckers whinny in the middle at 86th.  I’ve found 
two of the Flickers clearing out respective tree holes in Hippo Playground and 
just south of River Run Playground.  Last week I saw a female sticking her head.

Since my first walk I have expected every day the loud “teakettle, teakettle  
teakettle” of the Carolina Wren just north of Hippo Playground.  Last Wednesday 
I saw the wren on a tree stump by the high stone wall, but heard the song from 
a few yards away - this must be the female mate. But then came a plaintive peep 
a few yards in the other direction.  Then all three swooped to a scrawny 
sapling across my path - it was the baby getting fed.  Dare I say a tinge of 
grandparental pride?

Stay safe birding,

Alan Drogin


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