This past weekend Daisy and I were pleased to host my brother, Jonathan, his fiancee, Shannon, and their adorable three-year-old daughter, Natasha.  Though keeping up with a three-year-old is pretty darn exhausting it was great having her around, especially as everything in the city is interesting to a three-year-old from upstate New York.  Whether it was riding the subway, going to the park, or even just walking down the street Natasha was fascinated by everything…and I mean everything.  The train tracks?  She wanted an up-close look. The nasty gunk on the sidewalk?  She wanted an up-close look.  Anything that was moving, dangerous, or disgusting?  She wanted, well, you get the idea.  Those of you who are parents are probably used to such shenanigans but Daisy and I certainly are not.

At Central Park though, well, what she wanted was an up-close look at the Mallards in the pond.  And who was I to complain about that?  I’m not sure if it was really the ducks she cared about or if it was the joy of throwing bits of bread to them but she had a grand ol’ time at the edge of the pond.

Of course, once a three-year-old starts throwing bits of bread about other birds can’t help trying for a handout as well.  Let me tell you, the House Sparrows, European Starlings, and Rock Pigeons were more than happy to have Natasha visiting the Big Apple!

Natasha was especially excited by the pigeons, particularly when they waited until she was very close and then took off in furious wing-beats.  Pigeons are not common in the area where she lives so, for all I know, this weekend might have been the first time she has ever seen one!  And though they are familiar to her from when they rob her grandfather’s feeders she still liked the fact that the squirrels were unafraid and let her get nearly close enough to touch them (though we wouldn’t let her try).

I, for one, was glad to see the common creatures in Central Park with a three-year-old, as it reminded me, yet again, that I shouldn’t take the “trash birds” for granted.  Though I will add, however, that I was pleased as punch when, on a rest break from chasing after Natasha, an Ovenbird emerged from under a bush right next to me and let me watch it forage for a bit before scurrying off into the bushes.

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.