Thursday, May 01, 2014

April Birds

April showers delivered the first wave of expected north-bound migrants to Brooklyn and surrounding areas. With the exception of one early and two somewhat unusual Prospect Park sightings, it was a fairly predictable thirty days. During the course of the month I added one species over my anticipated 35-40 year birds.

The one early bird was a Worm-eating Warbler, which spent a little over two weeks around the wooded habitat behind Prospect Park's Upper and Lower Pools. One of the wood-warblers with the least showy plumage (but no less beautiful), they are generally seen on migration during the month of May. The weather during the month was mostly cold and damp, so finding this bird was a nice reminder of warmer days and the flocks of neotropic songbirds that will soon be seen in every park and backyard throughout the city.

As if right on cue, during the second week of the month a Yellow-throated Warbler arrived in Prospect Park. This early migrant, for the most part, breeds south of New York City, so while seen regularly their numbers are limited. Here's an animated map from Cornell's eBird website that shows their occurrence over time through the US.

The final week of the month had two unusual wading birds show up in Prospect Park. The Yellow-crowned Night-Heron is not so much a "rare bird" as rarely seen in Prospect Park. They are fairly common in the coastal marshes around the city and breed on some of the islands that dot New York City's coast. However, in the 22 years that I've been birding in Prospect Park, this was my first park yellow-crowned. Historically, there are probably less than ten sightings of this bird in the park. Build a marsh and throw in some Fiddler Crabs and I'm sure they'd move right in.

Finally, one of my favorite wading birds, the American Bittern, was spotted by my friend Bobbi as it attempted to hide in plain sight on one of Prospect Lake's islands. This is a bird with cryptic, streaked plumage that is perfected suited for vanishing into cattails or phragmites. In New York you could say that this bird falls under the category of "Not Rare, just Rarely Seen". At least a dozen birders responded to the tweets that went out after I confirmed its identity. It was funny to watch as some folks struggled to find the bird at the edge of a stand of phragmites when it was only about 60 feet away.

In the words of Robert Arbib, we are now in "The month the bird watcher dreams about all year". I expect that my "May Birds" posting will have between 42 and 46 new year birds.

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NYS Total: 165
Kings Total: 164
Added in April: 41

124) Pine Warbler (Green-Wood Cemetery, 04/02/14)
125) Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Prospect Park, 04/04/14)
126) Chipping Sparrow (Prospect Park, 04/04/14)
127) Great Egret (Green-Wood Cemetery, 04/05/14)
128) Black-crowned Night-Heron (Hendrix Creek, 04/06/14)
129) Laughing Gull (Hendrix Creek, 04/06/14)
130) Louisiana Waterthrush (Prospect Park, 04/07/14)
131) Palm Warbler (Prospect Park, 04/07/14)
132) Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Prospect Park, 04/08/14)
133) Winter Wren (Prospect Park, 04/09/14)
134) Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Prospect Park, 04/09/14)
135) Green Heron (Prospect Park, 04/12/14)
136) Blue-headed Vireo (Prospect Park, 04/12/14)
137) Eastern Towhee (Prospect Park, 04/12/14)
138) Brown Thrasher (Green-Wood Cemetery, 04/12/14)
139) Northern Parula (Green-Wood Cemetery, 04/12/14)
140) Snowy Egret (Salt Marsh Nature Center at Marine Park--Southwest, 04/12/14)
141) Forster's Tern (Salt Marsh Nature Center at Marine Park--Southwest, 04/12/14)
142) YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER (Prospect Park, 04/13/14)
143) Barn Swallow (Green-Wood Cemetery, 04/16/14)
144) House Wren (Prospect Park, 04/19/14)
145) Wood Thrush (Prospect Park, 04/19/14)
146) Prairie Warbler (Prospect Park, 04/19/14)
147) Chimney Swift (Green-Wood Cemetery, 04/19/14)
148) Ovenbird (Green-Wood Cemetery, 04/19/14)
149) Worm-eating Warbler (Prospect Park, 04/21/14)
150) White-eyed Vireo (Prospect Park, 04/22/14)
151) Black-and-white Warbler (Green-Wood Cemetery, 04/23/14)
152) Blue-winged Teal (Prospect Park, 04/23/14)
153) Hooded Warbler (Green-Wood Cemetery, 04/25/14)
154) Bank Swallow (Prospect Park, 04/26/14)
155) Prothonotary Warbler (Prospect Park, 04/26/14)
156) Willet (Dead Horse Bay, 04/26/14)
157) AMERICAN BITTERN (Prospect Park, 04/28/14)
158) Spotted Sandpiper (Prospect Park, 04/28/14)
159) Yellow-throated Vireo (Prospect Park, 04/28/14)
160) Northern Waterthrush (Prospect Park, 04/28/14)
161) American Redstart (Prospect Park, 04/28/14)
162) Yellow Warbler (Prospect Park, 04/28/14)
163) Black-throated Green Warbler (Prospect Park, 04/28/14)
164) YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Prospect Park, 04/29/14)

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