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Monday, November 14, 2005

Another rare warbler in Forest Park

Black-throated Gray Warbler (Dendroica nigrescens) in Forest Park

(Photo credit - Sean Sime)

I hadn’t planned on doing any birding on Sunday. When I received an e-mail alert that a Black-throated Gray Warbler was just seen in Forest Park I couldn’t resist running out. It’s about a one hour subway ride from my neighborhood in Brooklyn to my old stomping grounds in Queens. The report came in at approximately 2:00pm. Sunset would be at 4:30pm so I literally dropped everything and ran out the door.

It’s a long walk from the subway station to the “waterhole” in Forest Park so I practically ran the whole distance. There was no doubt that I was in the correct location as there were 20 birders standing around in the woods. I asked if the bird was still present and was told that it had been seen within the last hour.

Next to the small, muddy puddle that is the waterhole is a downed oak tree and a jumble of viburnum and other small shrubs. A pair of chickadees, a Winter Wren, several goldfinches, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a pair of Nashville Warblers were feeding in and around the patch of tangled understory. I had only been looking for the warbler for a few minutes when he obligingly hopped into the viburnum directly in front of me. He foraged for insects by probing into dried, curled up leaves still attached to their stems. His black and white head pattern reminded me of the chickadees that he was associating with. The setting sun made it too dark in the woods for my little camera to work effectively but there were other folks present with high end camera equipment. I’d never seen a Black-throated Gray Warbler anywhere, let alone New York City.

I don’t know why birds stray hundreds to thousands of miles from their normal boundaries. It always surprises me that they would show up in an urban center like NYC. I’ve heard theories that range from “making a wrong turn” or “getting caught up in a storm” to “expanding their range”. In the short time that I’ve been a birder I’ve been fortunate to observe several unusual extralimital species, including one “first” for the lower 48 states. The Black-throated Gray Warbler, oddly enough, was the second rare warbler seen in NYC this year. The first was a Swainson’s Warbler. Both were observed at the Forest Park waterhole.

-Click here for more info on Black-throated Gray Warblers-

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Forest Park, Queens, 11/13/2005
Blue Jay
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Winter Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Nashville Warbler
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Northern Cardinal
American Goldfinch


Karen said...

Beautiful bird. Thanks for sharing.

JR said...

Where's the waterhole at Forest Park?

Rob J. said...

Walk into the park at the "main park road". This is the road on Metropolitan Avenue just before the intersection of Park Lane South. Walk the first woodchip footpath on the right side of the paved road. The waterhole is a slight depression off the right side of this path. When you go I'm sure you'll see other birders there.

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