This morning I was out at Fort Tilden on the barrier beaches of Queens at first light, hoping to take advantage of the northwest winds to see some good birds going past. I got up on the Battery Harris platform and enjoyed large numbers of American Goldfinch going past, as well as flocks of Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, and Pine Siskin. But the winds were strong, the air was cold, and my hands were starting to get numb. (Note to self, get better gloves.) I decided to head back to my car to warm up before birding the vast expanses of Fort Tilden some more. After all, you never know what might show up in November.

Once I got to my car and got the heat running I noticed in my rearview mirror that there was quite a mixed flock of European Starlings, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Brown-headed Cowbirds foraging behind the backstop of a baseball field. Rather then get back out and into the cold I decided to drive the fifty feet over to the birds and continue to warm up while scanning the flock for something interesting.

I took my time, trying to actually look at each individual bird to make sure nothing slipped by. Then a dove caught my eye as it walked behind the flock and the white on the wing immediately drew my attention. Binoculars to my eyes and yes! White-winged Dove! Now that’s a bird worth seeing in Queens, the first in the borough since 8 December 1973 and only the second ever! I quickly started firing away with my camera, took a couple of moments to drink the bird in, and then I grabbed my iPhone to get the word out. While I was hitting send on the email the bird flushed and flew west and I was unable to refind it.

Oh well. At least I have the pictures to remember it by.

White-winged Dove as a trash bird

It might have been near a trash can but White-winged Dove is not a trash bird anywhere in New York State.

White-winged Dove in Queens

This bird gave me much better looks than the only previous White-winged Dove I had seen in New York, one in Staten Island  in 2012.

White-winged Dove at Fort Tilden

It would have been nice if the bird stuck around for other folks to see.

White-winged Dove

When will another White-winged Dove show up in Queens? If it takes as long as this one then we can expect another in 2045!

White-winged Dove is bird number 308 on my Queens life list and one that is going to be tough to find again.


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.