Oh the birds I saw Saturday on the cold and clear December morning. The sun was out along with the hordes of tourists that clogged the paths in the south of the park but the three American Crows and several Blue Jays standing sentinel seemed more concerned about an accipitor than the humans on paths below. American Robins and Cedar Waxwings similarly ignored the tourist hordes, as did House Sparrows that were going with the “trash bird” appellation.
Cedar Waxwings in Central Park
House Sparrow “trash birds”
I escaped into the relative peace and quiet of the Ramble which led me to the feeders where hordes of birds awaited. White-throated Sparrows, juncos, goldfinch, House Finch, White-breasted Nuthatches, Blue Jays, Downy Woodpeckers, titmouse, chickadees and more were there for the bounty. Also making an appearance at the feeders was Jacob Drucker, a young birder I had once met at Forest Park, who managed to pull two Pine Siskins from the sweet gum tree that towers over the back end of the feeder area. That was pretty much the best we expected and we were both interested in finding the reported juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker, so off we went to southwest edge of the Great Lawn.
Too easy. That was the only bad thing about the young acorn-eater. As soon as we hit the area north of the bathrooms by the Delacorte Theater our quarry flew in front of us to a tree with a chunk of acorn in its bill. Though the bird lacks the red head that the adults are named for it is still a striking bird, and a joy to add to my Anti-Global Warming Big Year list. We watched the bird fly back and forth from the ground under an oak tree for bits of acorn to another tree where it cached them several times. Oh, and I got pictures.
Seeing as it is still a juvenile and lacking a red head it didn’t feel right to call the bird a sexy redhead, but, nonetheless, it is a heck of a good bird for Central Park (and, according to the local listservs, there are now two juveniles in the park!).
After we had enough of the woodpecker Jacob and I moved on, searching the Pinetum for owls and not finding any, and then on to the reservoir and the pool to see what waterfowl we could find. We found plenty!
drake Hooded Mergansers
female Wood Duck
guess this bird’s identity in the comments
In addition to the birds pictured above we also tracked down Gadwall, Pied-billed Grebes, Mute Swans, American Black Ducks, Canada Geese, Northern Shovelers, Mallards, Ruddy Ducks, and Buffleheads. Sparrows were everywhere too, with White-throated Sparrows dominating, though we did see a single Swamp Sparrow, several Song Sparrows, and Dark-eyed Juncos. I was more than willing to take my time taking some shots of the White-throated Sparrows foraging within feet.
All in all it was a very enjoyable morning in the park. Seeing fifty species in three and a half hours in the middle of December in New York is a great way to spend a morning and I highly recommend it!
Your mystery bird has to be either a Black Guillemot or a Mallard. I know which one I’d lay odds on!
Congrats on another red-headed woodpecker. How much did this one cost you?
Loved the waxwings with berries and the beautiful sparrow photos. And what a fun find in the juvenile woodpecker. Nice post.
Male Common Goldeneye?
@Mike: No and no. And this one was free!
@Patrick: Nailed it.
Hi Guys and gals, Wow what A site. After birding casually for years I am taking the plunge this year and trying to spend time birding when I can. I took part in the Christmas Count yesterday and had a good time. You site will be an invaluable resource for me in the future. Love the pics of the Waxwings also !!!!!!!!
Keep up the GREAT WORK
@Tony: Thanks, glad you like it! Hope the CBC went well.
Very nice, as usual, Corey. That’s a really beautiful looking female wood duck. And you gotta love those drake hooded mergansers. Wow! And that juvie woodpecker looks like he’s busy caching all of his treasures for the winter. ;o)
@Mary: Thanks…it was really almost too easy getting good pictures that day!
My first visit to your site and I’m very impressed.
Great photos. One of my personal favorites is the White Throated Sparrows which grace my backyard every year in winter. The scratching is funny and I love their “drunken sailor whistling” calls.
I’ll be bookmarking you for sure.
Check your RSS feed, Bloglines hasn’t updated you guys in a week. Shoot, I wish I’d known you all would be in Central Park, I would have come down.
@Jeff: Thanks and many happy returns…
@Paul: We had problems with the RSS for awhile but if you unsubscribe and resubscribe in should work properly now.
” House Sparrow “trash birds” ”
those are not house sparrows
Peter, I hope you don’t dispense ID advice from a bird blog because those are most definitely House Sparrows. Yes, that was patronising, but so was your comment.