We had agreed that our Queens Big Day, after lasting all day and encompassing many great birds, would finish where it started, within the friendly and familiar confines of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. We three intrepid big day birders, me, Doug Gochfeld and Heydi Lopes, joined again by Shane Blodgett, would try to fill in the gaps in our li…wait, flyover Boat-tailed Grackle in the parking lot! One gaping hole in the list filled and bird number 143! We got our scopes and marched, double time, down to the south edge of the West Pond, hoping for some ducks we had missed and a Tricolored Heron. The heron was not there, most of the ducks dodged us, except, wait, Northern Shoveler! Bird number 144!

We scanned south marsh and the pond some more and came up with nothing new so we started to double time back to parking lot so we could get across Cross Bay Boulevard to the East Pond to search for more ducks. Doug lingered behind a bit, eager for one more scan and then he shouted “Peregrine Falcon!”

We looked up, got it rocketing along, and rejoiced at bird number 145, a bird that we had long since given up on seeing. Once we crossed Cross Bay Boulevard and started single file down the path to Big John’s Pond I started to relax, thinking that we could see nothing new until we reached the pond. Then an odd thrush hopped up off the trail and into a low sapling. Wait, that bird isn’t a thrush! It’s a tanager! A female Summer Tanager! Bird number 146! Mind you, I hadn’t seen a Summer Tanager all year and they are not a bird one can expect to see in New York every year. The fact that one basically landed at our feet at the very end of a big day is simply absurd. Not that we were complaining…

Big John’s Pond held neither our hoped-for Green Heron nor our much-needed Wood Duck, but the East Pond had both Green-winged Teal and Blue-winged Teal, bringing our total to 148. We really wanted 150 species, so we stayed and waited and stayed and waited and then a Tricolored Heron flew overhead on its way in to roost and we were up to 149! As much as we waited we could not add another species…until now, when I was writing this post and realized that somehow Virgina Rail had been left off our checklist and we actually did get 150 species of bird in Queens in one day! Whoo-freaking-hoo!

As amazing a big day as it was we still missed some really, really, easy birds. An incomplete list of some of the relatively easy species we dipped on includes Wood Duck, Cedar Waxwing, Lesser Scaup, Green Heron, Seaside Sparrow, Northern Harrier, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Blue-winged Warbler, Swamp Sparrow, Canada Warbler, White-crowned Sparrow, Belted Kingfisher, and Common Nighthawk.

Here is our list, for those who are interested in such things…

  1. Brant
  2. Canada Goose
  3. Mute Swan
  4. Gadwall
  5. American Black Duck
  6. Mallard
  7. Blue-winged Teal
  8. Northern Shoveler
  9. Green-winged Teal
  10. Greater Scaup
  11. White-winged Scoter
  12. Bufflehead
  13. Red-breasted Merganser
  14. Ruddy Duck
  15. Ring-necked Pheasant
  16. Common Loon
  17. Northern Gannet
  18. Double-crested Cormorant
  19. Great Blue Heron
  20. Great Egret
  21. Snowy Egret
  22. Little Blue Heron
  23. Tricolored Heron
  24. Black-crowned Night-Heron
  25. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
  26. Glossy Ibis
  27. White-faced Ibis
  28. Osprey
  29. Red-tailed Hawk
  30. Merlin
  31. Peregrine Falcon
  32. Clapper Rail
  33. Virginia Rail
  34. Black-bellied Plover
  35. Semipalmated Plover
  36. Piping Plover
  37. Killdeer
  38. American Oystercatcher
  39. Spotted Sandpiper
  40. Solitary Sandpiper
  41. Greater Yellowlegs
  42. Willet
  43. Lesser Yellowlegs
  44. Ruddy Turnstone
  45. Red Knot
  46. Sanderling
  47. Semipalmated Sandpiper
  48. Least Sandpiper
  49. Dunlin
  50. Short-billed Dowitcher
  51. American Woodcock
  52. Bonaparte’s Gull
  53. Little Gull
  54. Laughing Gull
  55. Ring-billed Gull
  56. Herring Gull
  57. Glaucous Gull
  58. Great Black-backed Gull
  59. Least Tern
  60. Gull-billed Tern
  61. Black Tern
  62. Roseate Tern
  63. Common Tern
  64. Forster’s Tern
  65. Black Skimmer
  66. Rock Pigeon
  67. Mourning Dove
  68. Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  69. Barn Owl
  70. Great Horned Owl
  71. Chimney Swift
  72. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  73. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  74. Downy Woodpecker
  75. Hairy Woodpecker
  76. Northern Flicker
  77. Willow Flycatcher
  78. Great Crested Flycatcher
  79. Eastern Kingbird
  80. White-eyed Vireo
  81. Yellow-throated Vireo
  82. Blue-headed Vireo
  83. Warbling Vireo
  84. Red-eyed Vireo
  85. Blue Jay
  86. American Crow
  87. Fish Crow
  88. Common Raven
  89. Tree Swallow
  90. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  91. Bank Swallow
  92. Cliff Swallow
  93. Barn Swallow
  94. Black-capped Chickadee
  95. Tufted Titmouse
  96. White-breasted Nuthatch
  97. Carolina Wren
  98. House Wren
  99. Marsh Wren
  100. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  101. Veery
  102. Bicknell’s Thrush
  103. Swainson’s Thrush
  104. Wood Thrush
  105. American Robin
  106. Gray Catbird
  107. Northern Mockingbird
  108. Brown Thrasher
  109. European Starling
  110. Tennessee Warbler
  111. Orange-crowned Warbler
  112. Nashville Warbler
  113. Northern Parula
  114. Yellow Warbler
  115. Chestnut-sided Warbler
  116. Magnolia Warbler
  117. Black-throated Blue Warbler
  118. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  119. Black-throated Green Warbler
  120. Blackburnian Warbler
  121. Prairie Warbler
  122. Blackpoll Warbler
  123. Black-and-white Warbler
  124. American Redstart
  125. Worm-eating Warbler
  126. Ovenbird
  127. Northern Waterthrush
  128. Common Yellowthroat
  129. Wilson’s Warbler
  130. Summer Tanager
  131. Scarlet Tanager
  132. Eastern Towhee
  133. Chipping Sparrow
  134. Savannah Sparrow
  135. Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow
  136. Song Sparrow
  137. White-throated Sparrow
  138. Northern Cardinal
  139. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  140. Indigo Bunting
  141. Bobolink
  142. Red-winged Blackbird
  143. Common Grackle
  144. Boat-tailed Grackle
  145. Brown-headed Cowbird
  146. Orchard Oriole
  147. Baltimore Oriole
  148. House Finch
  149. American Goldfinch
  150. House Sparrow
Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.