Weekend Without Warblers
All good things, as they say, must come to an end. Predictably, spring migration, with its succession of stunning songbirds, is one of them. Too bad the waves of warblers had to wane so soon.
Although family commitments kept the Core Team occupied in Connecticut for most of the weekend, I had the opportunity to slip out for a spot of birding late Sunday afternoon. Sara and Mason stayed home but I had the distinct pleasure of observing the local avifauna with non-locals Jason Stuck and his girlfriend, Carol. A visitor from southern California, Jason is a fellow bird blogger; after talking with him, I fully anticipate that his site, Beakspeak will be exploring some very interesting ideas in the months to come. For now, you’ll have to be content with his fantastic photos and fascinating Fledglinks, regular round-ups of bird news.
Jason contacted me about his NYC vacation, so I thought I’d share the New York warbler wealth. Unfortunately, our beautiful birds of spring have sprung. The great heat, humidity, and late hour of the day may have encouraged most birds to stay out of sight. This could be the reason we saw so few species. The fact that I am a far better birder when guided than I am as a guide may have also had something to do with it.
My goal was to get these good West Coast birders on some good East Coast birds. Of course, they had already seen the usual Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, European Starling, American Robin, House Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Blue Jay, and American Crow. Nor could our mundane Mallard, Canada Goose, Ring-billed Gull, or Great Egret raise an eyebrow. The one common that did impress was the nefarious Common Grackle. Jason and Carol also enjoyed our ever-present Gray Catbird, of which we saw plenty.
Life birds were few and far for our travelers today. Inwood Hill is a lock for Baltimore Oriole, though we only saw the more subdued female of the species. Another sure thing amidst New York’s abundant apartment buildings this time of year is the ebullient Chimney Swift. We also added Eastern Towhee, Tufted Titmouse, and a few handsome Red-bellied Woodpecker. The best sighting of the day was Great Crested Flycatcher, which seems to be resident in the park. Ironically, I first spotted this bird’s close relatives, the Ash-throated and Brown-crested Flycatchers in the Sepulveda Basin Refuge, not far from where Jason lives. He picked up this East Coast Myiarchus flycatcher just as close to my homestead. Well, perhaps “ironic” isn’t quite the word to describe the scenario, but it is fairly coincidental, don’t you think?
I hope that Jason and Carol enjoyed this very superficial sampling of the birds of NYC and that the remainder of their trip is far more productive, both culturally and ornithologically. For the rest of you tourists, bear in mind the moral of this story. Spring migration shuts off like a spigot around here. Most of the fun birds summer in the north, so if you’re looking for serious songbirds, visit New York in May!