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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Green-Wood Birds

The morning began with overcast skies and strong northwest winds, not ideal conditions for finding migrating songbirds. Within the first hour of wandering Green-Wood Cemetery, however, we spotted several hotspots of activity and one very special bird.

As we walked through the cemetery I tried to stick to areas where I knew there would be stands of oak trees. The oak's flowers attract insects and the insects attract warblers. While it wasn't as birdy and the past weekend, we did find some pockets of warblers. In addition, orioles were common and sang from treetops throughout the cemetery. We also heard then spotted a few Scarlet Tanagers. A cool, non-avian sighting was of a fat groundhog waddling along the hillside near the Dewitt Clinton monument.

The most exciting observation of the morning occurred after we descended a steep pathway down to the Dell Water. A bright yellow songbird was spotted foraging in the low branches of a Black Cherry tree at the edge of the pond. I put my bins on it expecting to see the relatively common Yellow Warbler. My heart jumped when I saw, instead, a Prothonotary Warbler. This golden yellow warbler is usually found south of NYC, although each Spring a few usually overshoot and end up in our local parks. The photo here is of an individual that was in Prospect Park a few years back. I'd been told that the word "prothonotary" had its roots in the Catholic church and referred to the yellow attire worn by a certain sect. The wikipedia entry for the word doesn't seem to follow that explanation. Most information I've found refer to the clerk position in the church, so maybe this warbler is good with numbers.


Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY
May 10, 2012 8:00 AM - 11:30 AM
55 species

Great Blue Heron (2.)
Osprey (1.)
Red-tailed Hawk (2.)
Monk Parakeet
Chimney Swift
Belted Kingfisher (1.)
Eastern Wood-Pewee (1, Heard.)
Eastern Kingbird
Warbling Vireo
Barn Swallow
House Wren
Swainson's Thrush
Wood Thrush
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird

Black-and-white Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
HOODED WARBLER (1, Near Weeping Beeches.)
American Redstart
Northern Parula
Magnolia Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Canada Warbler (1.)

Chipping Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow (1.)
White-throated Sparrow
Scarlet Tanager
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
American Goldfinch

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow, Tufted Titmouse, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, House Finch, House Sparrow

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