New York County (in N.Y. City), including Manhattan, Randall’s Island, and 
Governors Island -

*At least* 140 species of wild, free, and unrestrained birds were seen in the 
county for Wed., a reduction of some 10-15% from fairly recent days, but still 
showing excellent ongoing diversity.

The late-day in particular (and on thru dusk) brought the heavest 
movements-north of Brant (presumed all or almost-all to be expected Atlantic 
Brant) of this season so far, with at least 7,000+ moving past the county (some 
seen actually over adjacent county’s air-spaces, but observed from N.Y. County 
and by various obs. in a number of locations). Numbers were already on the wing 
by later in afternoon but the pace quickened in the after 6 pm hours thru after 
8 pm as seen from at least several sites. Virtually all of the Brant 

Common Nighthawks were again moving (mainly north-ish) in the late-day & 
early-eve. & this past dusk, I also found a few from the Hudson River path & 
the lookout at Riverbank S.P. (above W. 137th St. entered off Riverside Drive, 
where a lot of the Brant flight also was very visible). There were more 
Nighthawks as well seen by others out on Randall’s Island and in a few other 
locations in late-day or around dusk in the county. A modest flight of those 
(maybe) but not too bad - and there are likely a good many more still to pass.

A wholelotta Black-crowned Night-Heron activity - not too unexpected by now, 
but in addition to usual-sorts of no’s. in the usual areas at and after-dusk, 
were some moving along the Hudson River (north of W. 125th St.) and a very good 
no. of them at and passing Randall’s Island all going someplace[s] to feed, 
presumably - as well as many-multiples in places like Central Park quite late 
in the day Wed.; there are as is usual some Great Blue Herons about; some may 
show up having come to feed in locations from fairly far-off roost sites & this 
can be so of many other ardeids in this county, such as the Snowy & Great 
Egrets that pass over (& some stopping) Central, Riverside, and multiple other 
parks, neighborhoods, etc. thru the summer.  Good no’s. of D.-cr. Cormorants 
have been noted as flyover-flocks as well as the many that hang out & may be 
seen feeding locally. 

Waders a.k.a. shorebirds, included some newly-arrived and/or passing Spotted, 
Solitary, and Least Sandipers as well as some unid. ‘peep’ species from various 
sites, including Governors Island late in the day Wed. as well as some thru 
Central & other Manhattan parks - and at least no’s. of Spotted also from / on 
Randall’s Island too.  The most-usual of all are Killdeer, for the ‘other’ 
islands and these do attempt to nest, some with success. In general, the 
wader-flow seemed a lot less & of more-usual species for Wed., compared to such 
excellent rarer species and higher no’s. of some regulars over other recent 

We also have an ongoing-hopeful Common Tern colony of some no’s. at Governors 
Island, with occ. sightings of that species elsewhere, mainly from NY Harbor & 
the lower rivers. ANY other tern species in (for) N.Y. County is “rare”-there, 
and ought if possible to be photo / video documented.   Laughing Gull is lately 
very regular and near-common as seen from some parts of N.Y. County, & there 
can be fly-bys seen at times from almost any point in the county, even if 
most-frequent from NY Harbor and adjacent lower Hudson & East River locations 
as well as up to and near Randall’s Island - also some sightings all around the 
county, as fly-overs. At times, the Laughers will also show on the Central Park 
reservoir, albeit not always lingering long there (many gulls come and go as 
they will ‘rinse off’ in the fresh water of the reservoir and may not stay all 
that long, per individual gull). Indeed, on Wed. a small no. of Laughing Gulls 
were at C.P. reservoir for a while and joining them, the 3 other most-typical 
gull species, although Ring-billed are by now tougher to come up with at times 
there (other 2 now-regular being [American] Herring, and Great Black-backed 
Gulls.  And also ongoing at Central Park (and Wed. on the reservoir at times) 
are at least 3 Wood Ducks, as well as a smatter of other duckage & gooslings 
etc. (Gadwall are persisting as they also are in other county locations, not at 
all uncommonly for the season).

An apparent Louisiana Waterthrush was a late-now sighting on 5/18, at Central 
Park in the area by “the Pond” in the s.e. corner of that park (thanks to C. 
Weiner & others for that latest sighting). It’s possible that this may be a 
long-lingering individual, so could bear further watching if still present for 
more of this month.  The “default” migrant waterthrushes now for this county 
are Northern, but the presence of late-Louisiana have been seen into late May 
in other years.  What is sort-of amazing is that in some years, the first 
returnees among Louisianas might show in later June! (and almost certainly in 
early thru mid-July in this area.)

Marsh Wren was found (again) by Inwood Hill Park, at the Muscota Marsh area off 
W. 218th St., & there have been a good many migrants on many recent days seen 
in and around that park as well as the just-south (of Dyckman St.) Fort Tryon 
Park (which includes the Cloisters ‘annex' to the Metropolitan Museum of Art as 
well as the lovely Heather Garden area, & more areas that can make for great 
birding, including some big-sky views. These parks in particular have good 
coverage by loyal-local osbervers all thru migrations as well as many other 
times of year.

A few sightings of very-late (for this county) Red-shouldered Hawk have been 
made & confirmed this week, esp. noted in Central Park. This species has shown 
more & more proclivity to showing in urban-areas of this and other cities in 
recent times than was previously-seen (or realized).  Among other recent 
diurnal raptors have been Ospreys, Bald Eagles, Sharp-shinned (few) and 
Cooper’s Hawks as well as the near-common Red-tailed Hawks of the city (and 
many are nesting), as well as 

At least a few Purple Finches (incl. adult males) have still been around, esp. 
noted from Central Park but also other locations across Manhattan, and some of 
these seen by many (again).  A Monk Parakeet was reported from Tompkins Square 
in lower-east Manhattan and this species has been reported in that area a few 
other *recent* times; it’s also good to double-check any of parrot-ish birds in 
that (or any) areas on the chance they can be (and some over the years have 
been, there) other spp. of parrot or parrot-relatives, in free flight. On Wed., 
Tompkins also had - surprise, surprise, at least Am. Redstart & Blackpoll 
Warbler for migrant-warblers & some other now-expected migrants as well. That 
park’s got some devoted watchers getting quite a bit in their local-patch, and 
it’s had a good share of supersurprise species at times, with (for example) the 
excellently-photographed female Eve.Grosbeak of MAY 6, 2021 among the more 
recent of “YES” birds of that patch; of course that being an exceptional 
sighting in general for this county. Another standout species for that park, 
which is not-quite to the East River, were the 2 Glossy Ibis seen from there, 
roughly fifty+ months ago by several observers.

As already noted, the getting-his-spring-red male SUMMER Tanager was being seen 
by many on the Great Hill at Central Park’s n.w. sector all day Wed. 5/18. That 
general area (north end) of that park has also been pretty good in flycatcher 
diversity, including the (all) five species of Empidonax that we expect to pass 
thru in spring & fall (and still wishing-for some sounds that are further 
confirming for Alder Fly., anywhere and anytime in this county; that species 
could be passing thru over the next couple of weeks, but many are already 
on-territory in some parts of their breeding range.)  At least 3 flycatcher 
spp. are likely to nest in the county, even in Central Park, and with Empidonax 
added, perhaps at least 2 more spp. in the county. And there can be E. Phoebe 
nesting, although that species is not a common midsummer bird, in N.Y. County. 
(to eliminate any mystery, the 3 regular-nester spp. of flycatcher in the 
county are, in possible order of likelihood and numbers of pairs - E. Kingbird, 
E. Wood-Pewee, and Great Crested Flycatcher. Only the E. Kingbirds can make 
their nest-places 'somewhat obvious' to seekers and censusers. Emidonax can be 
tricky in this county as late spring comes in, since there seem to be isntances 
of lingering species (Acadian being an example) which may or may not be mated. 
But careful, patient, quiet watches may reveal things.

- - -
Noted by many lately, there are in addition to (now-far-fewer) Hermit Thrush or 
(some-nesting) Wood Thrushes, as well as lingering Veery and (many - THE common 
migrant thrush of this season & in general) Swainson’s Thrushes, a fair no. of 
the Gray-cheeked/ Bicknell’s type and many staying rather quiet much of the 
time (as well as often being among the shyest of all the types of migrant 
thrush - these can fade into the shadows more-so than the other species, even 
as any thrush may do just that. How many of these quiet gray-cheeked-looking 
migrants are in fact Bicknell’s - a question we can ‘guess’ at - and that may 
include educated guess-work - but may not have a full answer for. There is no 
doubt at all that Bicknell’s pass directly through and across N.Y. City each 
spring and fall, and that they are not so rare as seem in this area on passages 
- but rarely identified with absolute certainty to species. That’s why many, 
even highly experienced observers, including those who may have spent time with 
both spp. (or Bicknell’s in particular) on breeding areas, will often mark up a 
list or place into reports “Gray-cheeked or Bicknell’s” - as a sister-species 
group, rather than as an unsure ’tick’ of a poss. one or the other of these in 
migration/visitation. It is well worth any efforts to try and observe these, 
mainly just Bicknell’s, on breeding areas, and there are some locations in the 
northeast where this is possible by driving and not having huge (or even any) 
walks or hikes. To see Gray-cheeked on the breeding-grounds, one might try in 
Newfoundland, or parts of very-boreal n. Canada in other provinces, but also of 
course in parts of Alaska & certainly also in Yukon and the other parts of what 
is part-of or adjacent with n.-w. Canada, mainly n. of British Columbia. And in 
Siberia but that’s another place entirely - some Gray-cheeked do nest in 
far-east Siberia as well, after a voyage from wintering areas deep inside S. 
America. (My own experiences include a lot of Gray-cheeks in Newfoundland, a 
place I highly recommend to all eastern birders, even as the great state of 
Alaska will beckon with so many potential species of birds there. However, I’m 
also aware that expert observers living and working in NFLD. in recent times 
show some declines, and even ‘drastic’ declines there, for breeding 
Gray-cheekeds. This seems to have been going on esp. in this 21st century. (and 
there is a particular ’subspecies’ or sub-taxon that breeds in NFLD. which may 
be in some trouble now, unless more of that form are using Labrador too, where 
a lot less work has been done. Interestingly those ‘minimus’ form in NFLD. can 
also slightly more resemble Bicknell’s in some aspects for additional 
consideration for the gray-cheeked-types as noted on migrations. But all of 
those NFLD. forms are also known to winter solely within South America, as is 
so of all known populations of Gray-cheeked Thrush. It is only Bicknell’s, 
among the 2 sister-species, which winters almost-exclusively on the Greater 
Antilles, esp. Hispaniola).

Good May migrations to all,

Tom Fiore


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