Queens, New York, May 2009

May is the month of migration in North America.  Sure, some species move earlier and, of course, in the fall everything turns around and goes the other way, but May stands out as the month when birds that haven’t been seen since the previous fall come back in natty new breeding plumage and blow birders’ minds again the same way they did the previous spring (and the spring before that and the spring before that and so on and so forth).  My spring has been pretty amazing so far with 146 species spotted since April 1 and Cerulean, Worm-eating, and Yellow-throated Warblers and a host of other species spotted before May even arrived, but the first couple of days in May have been even better.  Just take a look at some of the pictures I digiscoped in the first two days of May to get an idea of how great a month May is in the Borough of Queens, New York City.

Brown Thrashers like the one at Jamaica Bay above, are back to breed in Queens

White-crowned Sparrows refuel in Queens on their way north

Yellow Warblers are back and singing on breeding territories

Ovenbirds forage in the leaf litter before making their way north

resident Canada Geese don’t go anywhere and get a head start on breeding

Summer Tanagers now breed in New York State, though most are likely overshoots

Scarlet Tanagers definitely breed in New York State and it is great to see them back

Great Crested Flycatchers’ “weep weep” call make them easy to find on migration

though some winter, Gray Catbirds are now around in numbers

it won’t be long before the pendulous nests of Baltimore Orioles are hanging from trees

I love May!  And here’s hoping that your May is as fine as mine…97 species in the first three days of the month and 28 days of May still to come!

This post was first published on 04 May 2009 but a post like this shouldn’t be left to languish in the archives!


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.