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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Songbirds in Prospect Park


(Photo credit - Rob J)

Today was the first time that I birded in Prospect Park since July 28th. On that day there was an abundance of juvenile birds from this season’s park breeders and the start of the fall songbird migration was still a couple of weeks away. My day list contained a single Yellow Warbler; either a local breeder or an early migrant. Between that date and today I was mostly focused on shorebirds or no birds.

Virginia Knotweed (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

My day list from Prospect Park contained 14 species of warbler. The highlights of the day were Tennessee Warbler, Connecticut Warbler, Mourning Warbler and Hooded Warbler. I’m sure that I’ve never before tallied connecticut, mourning and hooded on the same day. Seeing Connecticut Warbler and Mourning Warbler in a relatively short span of time was almost satisfying enough for me to go home. As Sean put it, “You got two out of the three chubby ones” (oporornis species, that is). The Hooded Warbler landed on the sidewalk a few yards ahead of us while we were walking to the Rose Garden. Sean took a photograph of it and, after looking at the image, the bird seems to have an injury to one leg. He appeared healthy, otherwise. I hope he makes it.

Mourning Warbler at Rose Garden

(Photo credit - Sean Sime)

Hooded Warbler

(Photo credit - Sean Sime)

Unlike a spring songbird migration day there weren’t any huge numbers of species. There was a very nice assortment spread out through the north half of the park such that I never made it south of the Midwood. I never observed any more than approximately a half dozen of any one migrant. At the Vale of Cashmere a fruiting Kousa Dogwood was a magnet for hungry birds. In addition to foraging for insects in the tree I noticed a Black-throated Blue Warbler picking bits of red pulp from the dogwood’s fruit. In that one, small tree we observed Tennessee Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Scarlet Tanager and Baltimore Oriole.

At the north end of the Vale of Cashmere is a flight of stairs that leads to the Rose Garden. Mary had called me on my cellphone early in the day to alert me to a “good” bird at the top of those stairs. When we arrived we walked across the open grass field of the Rose Garden towards the top of the stairway. A flash of yellow zipped passed Doug from the right side and disappeared into a mat of English Ivy to the left of the stairs. It was one of those “chubby” skulking-type warblers. A few seconds later she made a brief appearance by perching on a horizontal support bar beneath a park bench. The skittish bird then zipped back into the underbrush above a stone retaining wall to our right. We moved back a few yards and scanned the underbrush, waiting for him to return. It seemed like he was only gone for a minute or two when he popped up in a yew shrub. He was followed out of the brush by an adult Red-tailed Hawk flying about 7 feet off the ground. The hawk quickly ascended to a perch in a chestnut tree. She had a fresh kill in her talons. Doug commented, “The chipmunk is still alive”. My reply, “Not for long”. I grabbed my camera and ran over to snap a photo but she turned around on her perched and took off towards the Long Meadow. She didn’t have a pale face like Ralph, so it could have been his mate, Alice.

Paper Mulberry fruit (Broussonetia papyrifera) at Vale of Cashmere

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click here for more info on Paper Mulberry trees-

Today’s Connecticut Warbler was located by Raphael Campos at 9:30am. It was skulking in the underbrush next to the Prospect Park zoo. He was feeding within a narrow strip of trees parallel to the East Drive. It was a less than ideal location especially considering that there is a large forest on the opposite side of the road. The warbler was last seen by myself and Shane as it disappeared in the underbrush behind the zoo’s fencing and towards the Red Panda exhibit. I just hope he doesn’t veer to the right and into the Red-tailed Hawk enclosure.

- - - - -

Prospect Park, 9/9/2006
Red-tailed Hawk (Rose Garden, with chipmunk in talons.)
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee (Rose Garden.)
Least Flycatcher (Vale of Cashmere.)
Carolina Wren (Payne Hill.)
Veery (3 or 4 between Midwood and Vale.)
Hermit Thrush (1, Payne Hill.)
Gray Catbird (Several.)
Tennessee Warbler (Vale of Cashmere.)
Nashville Warbler (Vale of Cashmere.)
Yellow Warbler (Vale of Cashmere.)
Magnolia Warbler (Several between Midwood & Vale of Cashmere.)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (2, Vale of Cashmere.)
Black-and-white Warbler (4 or 5 between Midwood & Vale of Cashmere.)
American Redstart (Wooded area across East Drive from Nature Center.)
Ovenbird (1, Midwood. 1, Wooded area across East Drive from Nature Center.)
Northern Waterthrush (5 or 6, between Midwood & Vale of Cashmere.)
Connecticut Warbler (East side of East Drive adjacent to Prospect Park zoo.)
Mourning Warbler (Rose Garden.)
Common Yellowthroat (3 to 5 between Midwood & Vale of Cashmere.)
Hooded Warbler (Path between Nellie's Lawn & Aralia Grove.)
Wilson's Warbler (Next to Dongan Oak monument.)
Canada Warbler (East side of East Drive adjacent to Prospect Park zoo.)
Scarlet Tanager (Several at Vale of Cashmere.)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (2, Vale of Cashmere.)
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole (2 or 3, Vale of Cashmere.)

Other common species seen (or heard):
Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow

Foxtail Grass panicle (Alopecurus spp.)

(Photo credit - Rob J)


KViz said...


Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. The pics are just fabulous and I love to read your sighting lists.
I don't get a chance to bird nearly as much as I want to, so your blog always gives me a fix.


Anonymous said...

I have been noticing a lot of those monk parrots over by ther armory at 8th ave and 15th street. Has anyone else been seing them?

Tree Lover said...

Elizabeth's Tulip Tree must be old. Have you ever come across an estimation of its age? I was in the Audubon Center this weekend, and they didn't have any copies of the Prospect Park tree book that I believe was once in print. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden gift shop didn't have much on trees either. Have you ever pursued dendrology, in addition to birding? Your website is much more than birding. It's more like Tri-State Nature.

Rob J. said...

Monks at the Armory, isn't that a band from the 80's? Seriously, that might explain why I've been seeing them more frequently around the west side of Prospect Park. Also, my friend, Sean, has been seeing them a lot near his place on 15th St. We should scan the building for nests.

Rob J. said...

Tree Lover,

For me, the birds are just the tip of the iceberg of wonderous things. The more I look, the more I see; the more I see, the more I want to learn. My insects, trees, wildflowers and fungi guides are beginning to overtake my birding field guides in my bookcase. Regarding the "Trees of Prospect Park", the Greensward Foundation has the text from the 1967 book here:

I'll talk to the arborist for Prospect Park and see what his opinion is of Elizabeth's Tulip Tree.


Tree Lover said...

Thank you for the web address for It looks very interesting, especially the treetrails of Prospect Park.
The fact that some trees were around when older relatives, now gone, were small children, gives me a feeling of continutiy that gets lost in the fast pace of today's society. Trees are sort of living nostalgia.
Yours truly

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