I really should have titled this post “I Love New York!” Why? Because where else can one be at their desk in their office near the end of the work day, get an email about a vagrant western bird in a city park, and be looking at it fifteen minutes after leaving said office? Nowhere but New York City! And that is precisely what happened today. At about 5 pm an email went out on one of the New York City listservs reporting a Western Tanager in Central Park. At 6 pm I left my office, walked a block to the subway, jumped on the C train, took it to 81st Street, and was looking at the tanager almost immediately.

The best part is, I didn’t even have my binoculars! I just jumped the first birder I saw, beat her into submission, and took her Leicas so I could see the bird. No, wait, that is what I was intending to do if I couldn’t get someone to let me borrow a pair upon my arrival, but, fortunately for both the potential victim and myself, there was a nice birder who let me borrow his pair for a couple looks at the young male (or perhaps female) tanager.

Western “Louisiana” Tanager

Audubon’s Western Tanager (which he obviously knew by a different name)

The bird, like the Scott’s Oriole that delighted birders in Union Square Park earlier this year, was coming to sapsucker wells to feed. It would alternate between the viburnum bush with the sapsucker wells and the bare tree above it, at least while I was there. I couldn’t stay long, mostly because I wanted to get home to dinner, but it sure was worth the short detour on my commute. Many thanks to the original finder of the bird, Matt Pelikan, and to the folks who posted about it on the listserv.

To see a photo of the bird go see David Speiser’s shot here.

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.