Saturday, May 30, 2015

Brooklyn's Evolving Coastline

Having published 2550 posts on this blog it might be expected that I'd forget something along the way. I created the following video back in 2011 to illustrate how much of Brooklyn's coastal wetlands have been lost to development, but I guess it got buried under all the other files. Better late than never. The loss of habitat in the area around Plum "Island" and Barren Island (now Floyd Bennett Field) are particularly startling. It is only now, after some devastating storms, that civil engineers, environmental biologists and politicians realize that these soft buffers play an important role in mitigating storm surges. It is also critically important habitat for migrating and breeding birds. It will likely never return to what it was in Brooklyn back in 1891, but city officials are at least talking about creating nature buffers for future storms.


Brooklyn Coastline from RJ.

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, May 29, 2015:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* May. 29, 2015
* NYNY1505.29

- Birds mentioned

BICKNELL'S THRUSH+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Sooty Shearwater
Red-necked Phalarope (Orange County)
FRANKLIN'S GULL
CASPIAN TERN
ROSEATE TERN
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Acadian Flycatcher
Alder Flycatcher
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER
PROTHONOTARY WARBLER
KENTUCKY WARBLER
Mourning Warbler
SUMMER TANAGER
LARK SPARROW
BLUE GROSBEAK

- Transcript

If followed by (+) please submit documentation of your report electronically and use the NYSARC online submission form found at http://www.nybirds.org/NYSARC/goodreport.htm

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to nysarc44(at)nybirds{dot}org.

If electronic submission is not possible, hardcopy reports and photos or sketches are welcome. Hardcopy documentation should be mailed to:

Gary Chapin - Secretary
NYS Avian Records Committee (NYSARC)
125 Pine Springs Drive
Ticonderoga, NY 12883

Hotline: New York City Area Rare Bird Alert
Number: (212) 979-3070

To report sightings call:
Tom Burke (212) 372-1483 (weekdays, during the day)
Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126 (Long Island)

Compiler: Tom Burke, Tony Lauro
Coverage: New York City, Long Island, Westchester County

Transcriber: Ben Cacace

BEGIN TAPE

Greetings. This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, May 29th 2015 at 7pm. The highlights of today's tape are FRANKLIN'S GULL, LARK SPARROW, ROSEATE TERN, CASPIAN TERN, PROTHONOTARY WARBLER, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, KENTUCKY WARBLER, BICKNELL'S THRUSH, BLUE GROSBEAK and SUMMER TANAGER.

An adult FRANKLIN'S GULL was very fortuitously photographed at Plumb Beach in Brooklyn last Sunday afternoon among a gathering of Laughing Gulls and subsequently identified from the photos later that evening. Word of this great find spread quickly and the FRANKLIN'S fortunately has continued in that area through this morning providing birders with the opportunity to study this nicely plumaged adult in comparison with accompanying Laughing Gulls. Though patience has often been required the FRANKLIN'S has periodically appeared along the shoreline at Plumb Beach mostly at the eastern end around the mouth of Gerritsen Inlet but sometimes off the western end of the park closer to Sheepshead Bay. It appeared at one point on Thursday to attempt to mate with a Laughing Gull, interesting but also somewhat disconcerting, but perhaps this will keep it around. For those driving to Plumb Beach the parking lot is off the eastbound side of the Belt Parkway only and does fill up around midday on nice beach days. For those going westbound on the Belt get off at Knapp Street exit 9 to reverse direction. From the parking lot walk out to the beach and turn left to Gerritsen Inlet or right towards the western end of the beach watching for gatherings of Laughing Gulls to scan through.

Another interesting Brooklyn bird was a LARK SPARROW spotted in Green-wood Cemetery last Saturday morning this location also producing a LARK SPARROW last year on May 24th.

Out on eastern Long Island the CASPIAN TERN was still at Mecox Bay Monday that same day finding two ROSEATE TERNS at Cupsogue County Park in Westhampton Dunes.

With the landbird migration now very quickly winding down especially after last weekend among the more unusual passerines for the week was a PROTHONOTARY WARBLER spotted along the lake at Van Cortlandt Park in The Bronx Saturday morning. A KENTUCKY WARBLER found Monday at the East Farm Preserve in Head of the Harbor located southwest of Stonybrook may be searching for a territory there and should not be disturbed the same true for the YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER continuing at Connetquot River State Park.

A SUMMER TANAGER lingered in Central Park to Saturday and another was spotted at Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay on Tuesday while a BLUE GROSBEAK was reported from a closed section of the Brookhaven Lab property on Wednesday.

In the city parks at least 4 MOURNING WARBLERS were in Central Park last Sunday with others scattered elsewhere as well. A few BICKNELL'S THRUSHES had been noted early in the week including in Central and Prospect Parks most of them fortunately vocalizing but these and the other migrant thrushes have very abruptly moved on. So will the later moving flycatchers but OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER was noted in Central Park as well as Prospect Park last weekend and among the later empidonax singing ALDER, ACADIAN and YELLOW-BELLIED have been present locally.

Onshore pelagics have yet to pick up in numbers but a SOOTY SHEARWATER was off Robert Moses State Park last Saturday. Very attractive was a female RED-NECKED PHALAROPE in Orange County last weekend and this species should be watched for along the south shore of Long Island.

To phone in reports on Long Island, call Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126 or weekdays call Tom Burke at (212) 372-1483.

This service is sponsored by the Linnaean Society of New York and the National Audubon Society. Thank you for calling.

- End transcript
...Read more

Friday, May 29, 2015

New Blog Feature

I've just added a categories feature to the sidebar. This allows you to find all posts since 2004 based on various labels. For example, you can search for all postings by season. I decided that seasons based on meteorological criteria made more sense than astronomical dates:

Spring - March 1 to May 31
Summer - June 1 to August 31
Fall - September 1 to November 30
Winter - December 1 to February 28 (29 for leap years)

I may be adding other labels in the near future. Let me know if there is a category you'd like to see.

Friday's Foto

When I first started birding I remember the "old timers" saying that the spring migration was over when they saw the first female Blackpoll Warblers. Typically, males songbirds arrive on the breeding grounds first, followed by the females. With blackpolls passing through the NYC area relatively late in the migration, it makes sense. In the past week to ten days we've seen lots of this species. And now most of the warblers have moved on. Read about the Blackpoll Warbler's extraordinary fall migration including three days of non-stop flight here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Treehugger Tuesday

From the National Geographic Society website:

Can Sage-Grouse Be Saved Without Shutting Down the West?

It struts around, it puffs its chest, but its numbers are plummeting. Governments are struggling to preserve enough habitat to save the bird.

By Isabelle Groc, National Geographic
Published May 19, 2015

LINCOLN COUNTY, Washington—When scientist Michael Schroeder was looking for a place to live in eastern Washington State, he chose to be within an hour and a half drive of seven species of grouse, the birds he has been studying for the last 22 years.



But when it came to North America’s largest grouse species, the greater sage-grouse, Schroeder, a scientist at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, had to bring in the birds himself.

Since 2008, his team has captured 279 sage-grouse in southern Oregon, where the population is more healthy, and has released them here in Lincoln County, Washington.

“Washington historically was a major part of the sage-grouse range. We had a lot of habitat here,” Schroeder says. “Because so many areas were converted for wheat, we no longer have the birds.”

The greater sage-grouse is in trouble not just here but all over its range, which covers 165 million acres in 11 western states and two Canadian provinces. Once numbering in the millions, the bird has lost nearly half its sagebrush habitat to development—to farms and ranches, to oil and gas operations, to spreading cities, and lately to wind farms. Fire and invasive plants have also taken a toll.

Just between 2007 and 2013, the bird’s numbers plummeted by more than half, according to a study released in April by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The study found there are now fewer than 50,000 male sage-grouse engaged in the strutting, chest-puffing, tail-fanning courtship behavior that makes the two-foot-tall birds so charismatic.

As things stand, says Edward Garton, professor emeritus of wildlife ecology at the University of Idaho and lead author of the Pew report, most of the 42 distinct populations of sage-grouse will likely go extinct within a hundred years. “In the long-term, it doesn’t look good at all except for three core populations” in Wyoming, northern Montana, and Idaho, Garton says.

Five years ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded that the sage-grouse warranted protection under the federal Endangered Species Act—but it put off deciding whether actually to list the bird. Under a legal settlement with environmental groups, it’s required to decide by September 30. People all over the West are anxiously awaiting that decision. Since so many human activities affect sage-grouse, the economic impact of a listing could be large.

In Washington, where the sage-grouse population declined 80 percent between 1970 and 2014, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife listed the bird as threatened as long ago as 1998. Only 800 birds remain in four small isolated populations in eastern Washington. Those are the populations Schroeder is trying to boost with fresh recruits from Oregon.

Birds of the Open Range

Sage-grouse require vast tracts of undisturbed sagebrush to survive. It provides their only food in winter and shelter for their nests in spring. It surrounds their ancestral breeding grounds—the great clearings, called leks, to which they return in late winter.

Migrating seasonally between different parts of their range, the birds have been known to cover distances of up to 100 miles—if roads or fences don’t block their path. They tend to avoid all signs of human presence.

Since 2010, the threat of an endangered species listing has galvanized efforts to conserve the sagebrush steppe, bringing together federal and state agencies, private landowners and industry leaders, and conservation groups. Western governors have argued that it is up to the states to determine how to protect the birds. Wyoming, which has nearly 39 percent of the entire sage-grouse population, was the first to adopt a conservation plan that protects “core areas” of habitat. Other states have followed.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the largest land manager in the West, is also devising regional plans, covering a total of 50 million acres, that will place some limits on human activities. Meanwhile the U.S. Department of Agriculture has invested nearly $425 million in a Sage-Grouse Initiative. The money has funded conservation easements covering 380,000 acres on some 1,100 ranches, along with other projects such as the removal of invasive conifers.

“The number of people that are thinking about sage-grouse today is just incredible compared to five years ago,” says Dave Naugle, a wildlife ecologist at the University of Montana in Missoula and the scientific advisor to the USDA initiative. The efforts on behalf of the sage-grouse, he adds, are helping preserve an ecosystem that supports 350 other species, including golden eagles, mule deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, and pygmy rabbits.

Will those efforts be enough? A few weeks ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that in one case they had been. The “Bi-State population,” a distinct segment of the sage-grouse population that straddles the California-Nevada border, doesn’t need protection under the Endangered Species Act, officials announced.

Environmentalists disagree—and worry that the decision may foreshadow the nation-wide one coming in September. “They did not address all the threats,” says Randi Spivak, public lands program director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Her group and others have also criticized the first conservation plan issued by the BLM, for the region of Lander, Wyoming; it allows new oil and gas leasing within core sage-grouse habitat, the critics say, and doesn’t protect winter habitat at all. “Extinction may be delayed but it won’t be avoided when you go with half measures,” Spivak says.

The ongoing population decline documented in the Pew study suggests the critics have a case. “A lot of money is being spent to try and do things that would improve habitat for sage-grouse—people are really trying to make an effort to reverse the continual decline,” says Edward Garton. “But unfortunately there is not much evidence that we are being successful.”

“In spite of all that great effort,” he says, the sage-grouse “is just as likely to go extinct as it was, if not more so.”



A Lek Is A Happy Place

In eastern Washington, Michael Schroeder is not giving up. At 5 a.m. on a March morning, he leads a reporter and a videographer by flashlight to a large clearing in the sagebrush in Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area. Just a few years ago, Schroeder says, this lek was a very quiet place. Sage-grouse had been absent from the whole area since the 1980s.

But in the early 1990s, the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the BLM consolidated and acquired a total of 50,000 acres of habitat for sage-grouse. Since 2008, Schroeder has been reintroducing birds to this place—capturing them at night in Oregon with a spotlight and a net, then releasing them here the next day.

That’s only a first step. If the species is to endure in eastern Washington, the small, isolated populations that now exist will have to be connected somehow across a landscape fragmented by transmission lines, highways, urban developments, and wheat fields. “It is an uphill battle, we don’t know if it can be done,” admits Schroeder.

But right now he’s recharging his optimism. Just before dawn, the white spots slowly start to appear on the lek. We count 17 of them—17 male sage-grouse, their drab brown bodies practically invisible in the twilight, but their white, puffed-up chests standing out like light beams. They’re fanning their tails like peacocks too. All is quiet except for the bizarre, regular whistling and popping sounds the males emit. They will keep this up for hours.

Seventeen of them dance, but only a few will be chosen. Somewhere in the dark, female sage-grouse are watching and listening. Hiding in a blind that blends in with the sagebrush, so are we.

“That was a big highlight when we finally got to the point where we had birds displaying on the lek,” Schroeder says. “Now people can go out and watch the birds. That makes people very happy.”
...Read more

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, May 30, 2015 to Sunday, May 31, 2015:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, May 30, 12–1 pm
Introduction to Bird Watching
Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird! But what kind of bird is it? Join the Prospect Park Alliance to learn about the magnificent array of birds that call Prospect Park home. Led by the Brooklyn Bird Club.

**********

Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, May 30, 2015
Doodletown, Harriman State Park
(NOTE: club members only, limit 16 participants)
Leader: Tom Stephenson
Focus: breeding birds at a premier location
Registrar: Marisa Wohl email marisaw@earthlink.net
Registration Period: May 19th - May 28th

**********

Littoral Society
Saturday, May 30, 2015, 03:00pm - 06:00pm
Jamaica Bay Ecology Cruise
Learn about the history, management, ecology, and wildlife of the bay aboard the 100' boat "Golden Sunshine" leaving from Pier 2, Sheepshead Bay. See nesting egrets, herons, ibis and many other species. Cost: $55 for adult admission and $20 for children, includes 3-hour narrated tour of backwater marshes, wine and cheese, fruit, snacks. To reserve a spot, call (718) 474-0896; e-mail: donriepe@gmail.com; or visit https://jamaicabayecologycruise.eventbrite.com/.
Location : Pier 2, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY

**********

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, May 30, 2015
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center

**********

New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, May 30, 2015, 8:00am – 9:30am
Outdoorfest - Birding and Yoga at Van Cortlandt Park
Guides: NYC Audubon, Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy
With the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy and Outdoorfest
Meet at Van Cortlandt Nature Center. The history of birding and Van Cortlandt Park are inseparable. Influential birders such as Roger Tory Peterson and Allan D. Cruickshank got their starts on Van Cortlandt’s ecologically diverse grounds. These walks celebrate the tradition set forth by these great ornithologists. Participants will look for various species of residents and migrants and discuss a wide range of avian topics. For more information, please call 212-691-7483. No registration necessary. No limit. Free.
After the bird walk, join the folks from Outdoorfest for a free yoga class, held just outside of the Nature Center.

Saturday, May 30, 2015, 3pm – 6pm
Jamaica Bay Sunset Ecology Cruise
Guides: Don Riepe, Mickey Cohen
With American Littoral Society
Meet at Pier 4 in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Enjoy a three-hour narrated cruise aboard the 100-foot boat “Golden Sunshine.” Visit backwater marshes near JFK Airport, and learn about the 13,000-acre Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. See nesting peregrine falcons, ospreys, egrets, shorebirds, and waterfowl. Includes refreshments. To register, contact Don Riepe at 718-474-0896 or donriepe@gmail.com. Limited to 140. $55

Sunday, May 31, 2015, 9am – 2pm
Spring Migration on Randall's Island
Guides: Gabriel Willow, Randall’s Island Park Alliance Staff
With Randall's Island Park Alliance, Inc.
Meet on the N.W. corner of 102nd Street and the FDR Drive. We'll walk across the foot bridge to Randall's Island, an under-explored location in the East River that hosts restored freshwater wetlands and salt marsh. We'll look for spring migrants (both waterbirds and land birds) as we explore the results of recent restoration efforts. Limited to 20. $40 (28)
Click here to register

Sunday, May 31, 2015, 10am – 11am
Birding Basics for Families
Guides: NYC Audubon
Offered by the Central Park Conservancy
Meet at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, inside the Park at 110th Street between Fifth and Lenox Avenues. Experience Central Park when it becomes a precious bird habitat and migration hot spot! Join Conservancy Discovery Guides and NYC Audubon Society on this walk to learn how to spot our feathered neighbors and their foreign cousins as they make their annual trip along the Atlantic Flyway. Witness firsthand how the Conservancy's work has made the Park a sanctuary for these birds. Binoculars can be borrowed from the Visitor Center.
For weather cancellation information, call 212.772.0288 . Limited to 20. Age 5 and up. Free.

**********

Queens County Bird Club
Saturday, May 30, 2015
Alley Pond Park
Leader: Eric Miller 917-279-7530
Meet: 76th Ave Lot at 7:30 am

MINI TRIPS: Break after lunch +/-
ALL DAY TRIPS: BYO lunch, dinner out. {optl}
WEEKEND TRIPS: Two + days / Overnight

Trip Etiquette
Please register for trips

- Register. Let leaders know you're coming!
- Car pooling or skipping requires planning
- Be advised if there are last minute changes or cancellations. These cannot be communicated to unknown persons.
- Be on time! Most trips begin birding by 8am!
- Please arrive before the starting time so we do not waste precious early morning bird activity.
- Plan your travel time.

**********

Staten Island Museum
Saturday, May 30, 2015, 11:00am - 3:00pm
NatureFest 2015
Location: Willobrook Park, 1 Eaton Place, Staten Island
Free
Free family fun at the Museum's annual environmental fair. Activities for the whole family. Nature walks, arts and crafts, environmental information, and more.
We are always looking for nature partners! If you are interested in being a presenter at NatureFest 2015, contact Will Lenihan at 718.483.7110.
*Rain date: Sunday, May 31.

**********

Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, May 30, 2015
Bird Walks at Van Cortlandt Park at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
The history of birding and Van Cortlandt Park are inseparable. Influential birders such as Roger Tory Peterson got their starts on Van Cortlandt’s ecologically diverse grounds.
Free!

Birding: Hawk Watch at Unisphere (in Flushing Meadows Corona Park), Queens
10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
Our Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots in the urban jungle.
Free!

NatureFest 2015 at Carousel for All Children (in Willowbrook Park), Staten Island
11:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.
Naturefest is a family celebration of environmental awareness and local natural history.
Free!

Pop-Up Audubon: Wonderful Warblers at Eastwood (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Through fun games, experiments and citizen science projects, learn why warblers are so wonderful.
Free!

Introduction to Bird Watching at Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.
Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird! But what kind of bird is it? Join the Prospect Park Alliance to learn about the magnificent array of birds that call Prospect Park home.
Free!

Sunday, May 31, 2015
Birding Basics for Families at Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
Experience Central Park when it becomes a precious bird habitat and migration hot spot!
Free!

Natural Areas Exploration Day and Audubon Spring Migration Walk at Randalls Island Natural Areas (in Randall's Island Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
Come explore Randall’s Island’s wetlands and other natural areas. All ages are welcome. Learn from natural areas experts and explore the island’s diverse plant and animal communities.
Free!

Birding: Hawk Watch at Pelham Bay Park, Bronx
11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
The old Pelham Bay landfill remains closed to the public, making it a great place to watch migrating birds of prey.
Free!

Pop-Up Audubon: Wonderful Warblers at Eastwood (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Through fun games, experiments and citizen science projects, learn why warblers are so wonderful.
Free!
...Read more

Friday, May 22, 2015

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York CIty Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, May 22, 2015:

-RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* May 22, 2015
* NYNY1505.22

- Birds Mentioned

LITTLE EGRET+
MISSISSIPPI KITE+
BAR-TAILED GODWIT+
RUFF+
WESTERN TANAGER+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Sooty Shearwater
Whimbrel
Red Knot
BLACK-HEADED GULL
Black Skimmer
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Black-billed Cuckoo
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Acadian Flycatcher
Alder Flycatcher
Philadelphia Vireo
Gray-cheeked Thrush
BICKNELL’S THRUSH
Lawrence’s Warbler (hybrid)
Tennessee Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
Kentucky Warbler
Mourning Warbler
Hooded Warbler
Wilson’s Warbler
Nelson’s Sparrow
SUMMER TANAGER
BLUE GROSBEAK

If followed by (+) please submit documentation of your report electronically and use the NYSARC online submission form found at http://www.nybirds.org/NYSARC/goodreport.htm

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to nysarc44nybirdsorg

If electronic submission is not possible, hardcopy reports and photos or sketches are welcome. Hardcopy documentation should be mailed to:

Gary Chapin - Secretary
NYS Avian Records Committee (NYSARC)
125 Pine Springs Drive
Ticonderoga, NY 12883

Hotline: New York City Area Rare Bird Alert
Number: (212) 979-3070

Compiler: Tom Burke, Tony Lauro
Coverage: New York City, Long Island, Westchester County

Transcriber: Gail Benson

[~BEGIN RBA TAPE~]

Greetings! This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, May 22 at 7:00 pm.

The highlights of today’s tape are LITTLE EGRET, BAR-TAILED GODWIT, MISSISSIPPI KITE, RUFF, WESTERN TANAGER, BLACK-HEADED GULL, BICKNELL’S THRUSH, SUMMER TANAGER, BLUE GROSBEAK and spring warblers.

A great find Wednesday afternoon was a breeding-plumaged LITTLE EGRET in the marsh at Gardiner County Park in Bay Shore, Suffolk County—if accepted by NYSARC, this will be an overdue first record for New York State. Fortunately the egret continued at that location through Thursday, though flying out around 6 pm, but unfortunately there were no positive reports from today. As it would still be worth checking, Gardiner County Park is located on the south side of Route 27A about ¾ miles east of the Robert Moses Causeway.

Another exceptional bird was a winter-plumaged European subspecies of BAR-TAILED GODWIT spotted Saturday afternoon on the unusually expansive new-moon-induced mud flats located south of the former West Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. The bird soon relocated with accompanying shorebirds to an offshore island in the bay and then suddenly took flight with a small flock and headed east very purposefully. A later search of the bay by boat did not relocate the Godwit but did uncover a WHIMBREL and a good number of RED KNOTS plus the expected shorebird species.

A very brief sighting of an adult MISSISSIPPI KITE around mid-day Saturday up in Sterling Forest State Park in Orange County is one more reason to keep looking up.

A male RUFF in changing plumage visited a wetland in the northwestern corner of Staten Island last Saturday and Sunday, this near the Chelsea Road and Bloomfield Avenue intersection.

The female WESTERN TANAGER made a brief reappearance in Prospect Park last Saturday, seen previously on the 12th.

Somewhat unseasonal and always a good find was an immature BLACK-HEADED GULL spotted on the Plum Beach flats in Brooklyn at mid-day Tuesday.

Otherwise the local parks have been enjoying a nice variety of spring birds, but numbers have definitely not been overwhelming.

SUMMER TANAGERS were spotted in Central Park, this a continuing bird, as well as in Prospect Park and in Forest Park, Queens, last weekend and at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Sunday.

BLUE GROSBEAKS included one at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Sunday and one in Prospect Park through today.

Another highlight has been the few BICKNELL’S THRUSHES that have been vocalizing as they move through recently. This bird, which probably looks more like a Hermit Thrush than a Gray-cheeked but calls like a Gray-cheeked and sings similarly as well except for its rising terminal phrase, has been in Central, Prospect and Forest Parks as well as up in Rye during the week. A decent number of GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSHES have also been present.

Flycatchers too, especially the Empidonax, have been arriving in reasonable numbers, fortunately often singing or calling once they’ve gotten this far north in their migration. This week ALDER, ACADIAN, and YELLOW-BELLIED were all noted in and beyond the city parks, and a few OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHERS have also been moving through.

A couple of PHILADELPHIA VIREOS have been reported, and warbler variety continues but has been decreasing somewhat. Single CERULEAN WARBLERS were found in Central Park and Prospect Park last Sunday, and other notable species have included TENNESSEE, BAY-BREASTED, CAPE MAY, HOODED and WILSON’S, while MOURNING WARBLERS have appeared in most parks, with at least four in Forest Park Wednesday. A KENTUCKY WARBLER was at Sunken Meadow State Park Tuesday.

Both YELLOW-BILLED and BLACK-BILLED CUCKOOS are currently present, some BLACK SKIMMERS have arrived, and two NELSON’S SPARROWS were at Plum Beach in Brooklyn Thursday. Coastal sea watching, slow so far, did produce a SOOTY SHEARWATER last Saturday. A hybrid LAWRENCE’S WARBLER was at the Warhol Estate in Montauk Sunday.

To phone in reports, on Long Island call Tony Lauro at (631) 734 4126, or weekdays call Tom Burke at (212) 372-1483.

This service is sponsored by the Linnaean Society of New York and the National Audubon Society. Thank you for calling.

- End transcript
...Read more

Friday's Foto

The subtle and elegant coloration and markings of the Worm-eating Warbler helps this small songbird to blend into the leaf litter and understory of the forest habitats that it prefers. Usually seen probing clusters of dead leaves for insects and caterpillars, they don't actually eat earthworms. Their song is a high-pitched trill that sound much like an insect. This species wide range and apparent increasing populations make it one of the few migrant neotropic songbirds whose conservation status is listed as "Least Concern".

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Treehugger Tuesday

Radical Effort to Protect South Africa's Rhinos

From National Geographic:

Largest Rhino Airlift Ever to Move 100 At-Risk Animals

Rhinos Without Borders project is transferring animals from South Africa to safer parks in Botswana.

By Brian Clark Howard, National Geographic
PUBLISHED MARCH 30, 2015

Weighing up to two and a half tons each, rhinos aren't easy to herd, let alone pack into crates and ship across national borders in airplanes.

But that's what conservationists are doing with about a hundred rhinos in South Africa, in an admittedly desperate bid to save the endangered animals from poachers and establish new populations in the wild.

"Rhino conservation is a desperate situation, so we are moving rhinos from the highest poaching areas to the lowest poaching areas," says Dereck Joubert, a wildlife filmmaker and conservationist based in Botswana's Okavango Delta.

There are an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 black rhinos and 20,000 white rhinos left in Africa, with another one killed by poachers every seven and a half hours, says Joubert, a National Geographic explorer-in-residence. That's more than a thousand rhinos slaughtered a year, mostly so their horns can be hacked off and sold in China and Vietnam on the black market.

The horn is marketed as a cure for a wide range of ailments and fetches about $65,000 (U.S.) per kilogram (2.2 pounds) on the street, even though Western scientists dismiss its purported medical uses. "It's smoke and mirrors; it does nothing," says Joubert. "It's like chewing your fingernails." (Read more about rhino wars.)

Joubert and his wife Beverly launched a nonprofit campaign last year to move 100 rhinos from the highest poaching zones in South Africa, to the lowest poaching zone in the whole of Africa, Botswana. The project is now called Rhinos Without Borders, a collaboration with tourism partners Great Plains Conservation and andBeyond.

The animals are being treated for illnesses and parasites. In a few months, they'll be flown by cargo plane to another undisclosed location in a park in northern Botswana.

These types of airlifts have been tried before, for rhinos, elephants, and other animals, but the Jouberts' plan makes it the largest airlift of rhinos in history. The team hopes to collect another 25 rhinos from South Africa by year's end and move 65 more next year.

At $45,000 per rhino, it's an expensive operation. And each move takes months to complete.

Big Moves

Game managers have been moving rhinos for decades in an effort to restock dwindling populations and thwart rampant poaching. Some of the moves are to and from private game reserves but many have been paid for by African governments, with some support from international nonprofits such as the World Wildlife Fund.

Rhinos and other animals are being moved overland to more secure zones in Kruger National Park in South Africa, away from the porous and poacher-infiltrated border with Mozambique. Twenty-five black rhinos were airlifted to Zambia from South Africa between 203 and 2010, in an effort to return the species to a country where it had disappeared by 1993. (Learn more about moving rhinos.)

In Botswana, the Jouberts hope to double the current wild rhino population, from an estimated 77 to 100 animals to 200 animals within a couple of years. Before the advent of modern hunting, the country was home to a thriving population. Today, about 80 percent of the world's wild rhinos live in South Africa. (Read a Q and A with the Jouberts on the project.)

Botswana is considered relatively safe for rhinos in part because it has a human population of just two million, compared to 53 million in South Africa, reducing human pressure. Botswana's government has also enlisted the military to defend against poachers and maintains a controversial "shoot to kill" policy against them. And Joubert says that corruption is relatively low, so that government collusion with poachers is less of a problem than in some other African countries.

How to Move a Rhino

Moving a rhino is even more involved than it sounds. The process begins with the Jouberts' team working with game managers in South Africa to identify animals in reserves that are crowded or are facing intense poaching threats.

Cathy Dean, director of Save the Rhino International, says game managers look for rhino populations that are nearing the capacity of their habitat to support them. The closer the population gets to that point, the more the birth rate goes down, which means fewer rhinos, says Dean, who is not involved with the Jouberts' project but has worked on other rhino moves through her London-based charity.

Once the animals are selected, a warden darts them with a sedative, typically from a helicopter. Then the rhinos are roped, blindfolded, given an antidote to the sedative, and walked into a cage. The animals are kept in quarantine for six weeks—to reduce the chance of them spreading disease—and are outfitted with microchips in their body and horn.

"That means we know instantly if the horn is separated from the body by a poacher," says Dereck Joubert.

When the rhinos are ready for new homes, they're loaded onto commercial freight planes, up to five per flight. Beverly Joubert says that flying provides higher security from poachers and reduces the time the animals have to be sedated, although it costs more than overland transport.

The process carries a mortality rate of 2 to 5 percent, mostly due to the risk of the rhinos overdosing on tranquilizers or overheating, say the Jouberts, although veterinarians have succeeded in driving the death rates down over time.

The animals are released only on land where other rhinos had not previously established territories, to avoid conflicts, Beverly Joubert says. It doesn't take long for the new arrivals to mark out their own space with their droppings.

So far, Rhinos Without Borders has moved only white rhinos, but it plans to eventually relocate a few of the more endangered black rhinos. Young rhinos that are just a few years old are preferred because they have several years of reproduction ahead.

The campaign is a partnership between the Jouberts' Great Plains Foundation and their Great Plains Conservation travel business and the safari company and Beyond. Rhinos Without Borders has raised more than $260,000 for the project through the crowdfunding site Trevolta.

Beverly Joubert says the key to the program's long-term success will be making sure the local communities in Botswana benefit from the rhinos through ecotourism. In South Africa, some communities support poachers for a cut of horn sales. (Learn about the controversy around legal rhino hunting.)

The program has attracted some criticism. South African game warden Bruce Leslie has told the news media that it remains to be seen whether moving rhinos around will afford them enough protection against relentless poaching.

Asked if conservation dollars are well spent on moving rhinos, Dean of Save the Rhino says there is no "one size fits all answer ... You have to consider the objectives of the particular project and ask if there are cheaper ways of achieving the same thing."

Dereck Joubert argues that desperate times call for desperate measures. "Time is running out and we need to trigger something positive," he says. "It's no good to talk about how Africa is losing its wildlife without working on any solutions." (Learn more about the Jouberts' efforts.)


Note: On April 7 at 3:30 pm this article was updated to better clarify the origin of the term "Rhinos Without Borders." That name had previously been used by andBeyond, but after the Jouberts joined forces with them they agreed to change the name of their rhino airlift program to that.
...Read more

Monday, May 18, 2015

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, May 23, 2015 to Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, 2015:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, May 23, 12–1 pm
Introduction to Bird Watching
Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird! But what kind of bird is it? Join the Prospect Park Alliance to learn about the magnificent array of birds that call Prospect Park home. Led by the Brooklyn Bird Club.

**********

Brooklyn Bird Club
Monday (Memorial Day), May 25, 2015
Plumb Beach and coastal Brooklyn
Leader: Bobbi Manian
Focus: Shorebirds and sandpipers, waterbirds,
Car fee: $10.00
Registrar: Dennis Hrehowsik, email deepseagangster@gmail.com
Registration Period: May 12th - May 21st

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Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, May 23, 2015 (rain date May 24)
Doodletown
Leader: Paul Keim
Registrar: Anne Lazarus – amlazarus@outlook.com or 212-673-9059
Registration opens: Monday May 11
Ride: $30

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Littoral Society
Saturday, May 23, 2015, 12:00pm - 02:00pm
Horseshoe Crab and Shorebird Walk
Meet at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center at noon and car pool to the American Ball Field Beach Site to view the annual mating ritual of the primordial horseshoe crab. Wear boots and bring binoculars. Kids Welcome. For information and reservations call (718) 474-0896 or e-mail donriepe@gmail.com.

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New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, May 23, 2015
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center

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New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, May 23, 2015, 8:00am – 9:30am
Van Cortlandt Bird Walks, The Bronx
Guides: NYC Audubon, Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy With the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy Meet at Van Cortlandt Nature Center. The history of birding and Van Cortlandt Park are inseparable. Influential birders such as Roger Tory Peterson and Allan D. Cruickshank got their starts on Van Cortlandt’s ecologically diverse grounds. These walks celebrate the tradition set forth by these great ornithologists. Participants will look for various species of residents and migrants and discuss a wide range of avian topics.
For more information, please call 212-691-7483. No registration necessary. No limit. Free.

Saturday, May 23, 11am – 2pm
Horseshoe Crabs and Shorebirds at Jamaica Bay
Guide: Don Riepe
With Gateway National Recreation Area Meet at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center at noon and car pool to the American Ball Field Beach Site to view annual mating ritual of the primordial horseshoe crab. Wear boots and bring binoculars. Kids Welcome. For more information and to RSVP call (718) 474-0896 or e-mail: donriepe@gmail.com.

Saturday, May 23, 2015, 2pm – 5pm
The Birds of Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan
Guide: Nadir Souirgi
Meet at the Muscota Marsh viewing area, immediately inside the park entrance at West 218 Street and Indian Road. Nestled on the northern tip of Manhattan, the largely undeveloped oak and tulip forest of Inwood Hill Park transports you to another time and place. Glacial "pot holes", towering trees, and stunning river views create an unrivaled backdrop by which to observe the many migratory and breeding birds that are drawn to this hotspot, which also features one of Manhattan's last remaining tidal salt marshes. Join us as we look for residents and migrants, as well as the rose-breasted grosbeaks, wood thrushes, and yellow warblers known to breed here. $35 (24)
Click here to register

Sunday, May 24, 2015, 9am – 3pm
Birding Gems of Staten Island: Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve
Guide: Cliff Hagen
Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve is an ecologically and historically rich 260-acre natural area near the southwest shore of Staten Island. The ponds, wetlands, and woods of this preserve attract a wide variety of migrating and breeding birds and also support populations of fence lizards, eastern box turtles, Fowler's toads, black racer snakes, and prickly pear cactus. Join Cliff Hagen of the Protectors of Pine Oak Woods as we look for spring migrants and other surprises! Transport by passenger van included. Limited to 12. $103 (72)
Click here to register

Sunday, May 24, 2015, 10am – 11am
Birding Basics for Families
Guides: NYC Audubon
Offered by the Central Park Conservancy
Meet at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, inside the Park at 110th Street between Fifth and Lenox Avenues. Experience Central Park when it becomes a precious bird habitat and migration hot spot! Join Conservancy Discovery Guides and NYC Audubon Society on this walk to learn how to spot our feathered neighbors and their foreign cousins as they make their annual trip along the Atlantic Flyway. Witness firsthand how the Conservancy's work has made the Park a sanctuary for these birds. Binoculars can be borrowed from the Visitor Center.
For weather cancellation information, call 212.772.0288 . Limited to 20. Age 5 and up. Free.

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Queens County Bird Club
Saturday, May 23, 2015, 8am – 10am
Strack Pond Parks Dept mini walk
Guide: Jean Loscalzo 917-575-6824 dm5078@aol.com
Meet at the visitor center near the stone chess tables (Forest Park Drive and Woodhaven Blvd).

Sunday, May 24, 2015
Sterling Forest
Guide: Arie Gilbert 917-693-7178
Meet: 7:45am at Indian Lake

**Cancelled**

MINI TRIPS: Break after lunch +/-
ALL DAY TRIPS: BYO lunch, dinner out. {optl}
WEEKEND TRIPS: Two + days / Overnight

Trip Etiquette
Please register for trips

- Register. Let leaders know you're coming!
- Car pooling or skipping requires planning
- Be advised if there are last minute changes or cancellations. These cannot be communicated to unknown persons.
- Be on time! Most trips begin birding by 8am!
- Please arrive before the starting time so we do not waste precious early morning bird activity.
- Plan your travel time.

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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, May 23, 2015
Bird Walks at Van Cortlandt Park at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
The history of birding and Van Cortlandt Park are inseparable. Influential birders such as Roger Tory Peterson got their starts on Van Cortlandt’s ecologically diverse grounds.
Free!

Bird Watching Around Strack Pond at Forest Park Visitor Center (in Forest Park), Queens
8:00 a.m.–10:00 a.m.
Start your day with an early morning bird watching walk led by Jean Loscalzo of the Queens County Bird Club.
Free!

Pop-Up Audubon: Wonderful Warblers at Eastwood (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Through fun games, experiments and citizen science projects, learn why warblers are so wonderful.
Free!

Introduction to Bird Watching at Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.
Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird! But what kind of bird is it? Join the Prospect Park Alliance to learn about the magnificent array of birds that call Prospect Park home.
Free!

Ranger's Choice: Hidden New York: Calvert Vaux Discovery Hike at Calvert Vaux Park, Brooklyn
1:00 p.m.–2:00 p.m.
This beautifully restored parkland holds remnants of sunken barges that have been taken over by nature and a wide variety of birds on water and land.
Free!

Sunday, May 24, 2015
Birding: Hawk Watch at High Rock Ranger Station (in High Rock Park), Staten Island
9:00 a.m.–10:00 a.m.
Our Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots in the urban jungle.
Free!

Birding Basics for Families at Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
Experience Central Park when it becomes a precious bird habitat and migration hot spot!
Free!

Pop-Up Audubon: Wonderful Warblers at Eastwood (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Through fun games, experiments and citizen science projects, learn why warblers are so wonderful.
Free!
...Read more

Saturday, May 16, 2015

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending May 15, 2015:

-RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* May 15, 2015
* NYNY1505.15

- Birds Mentioned

SWALLOW-TAILED KITE+
WESTERN TANAGER+
PAINTED BUNTING+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

CATTLE EGRET
White-rumped Sandpiper
WILSON’S PHALAROPE
Gull-billed Tern
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Black-billed Cuckoo
RED-HEADED WOODPECKER
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Alder Flycatcher
PHILADELPHIA VIREO
Gray-cheeked Thrush
Swainson’s Thrush
Tennessee Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler
Mourning Warbler
SUMMER TANAGER
Lincoln’s Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
BLUE GROSBEAK
DICKCISSEL

If followed by (+) please submit documentation of your report electronically and use the NYSARC online submission form found at http://www.nybirds.org/NYSARC/goodreport.htm

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to nysarc44nybirdsorg

If electronic submission is not possible, hardcopy reports and photos or sketches are welcome. Hardcopy documentation should be mailed to:

Gary Chapin - Secretary
NYS Avian Records Committee (NYSARC)
125 Pine Springs Drive
Ticonderoga, NY 12883

Hotline: New York City Area Rare Bird Alert
Number: (212) 979-3070

Compiler: Tom Burke, Tony Lauro
Coverage: New York City, Long Island, Westchester County

Transcriber: Gail Benson

[~BEGIN RBA TAPE~]

Greetings! This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, May 15 at 7:00 pm.

The highlights of today’s tape are SWALLOW-TAILED KITE, WESTERN TANAGER, PAINTED BUNTING, DICKCISSEL, CATTLE EGRET, WILSON’S PHALAROPE, SUMMER TANAGER, PHILADELPHIA VIREO, RED-HEADED WOODPECKER and spring warblers.

This week produced some interesting birds, though migration itself has not been overwhelming.

As seems to be the case almost every year in New York, a SWALLOW-TAILED KITE appeared in the region but was seen by only one observer before quickly disappearing. This time the bird flew over Untermyer Park in Yonkers before crossing the Hudson last Monday. Then on Wednesday two other Swallow-tailed Kites moving west along the Connecticut coast were tracked as far as Stamford but not picked up in New York; someday one will remain somewhat sedentary in New York and remove our stigma as a Swallow-tailed Kite black hole.

Another interesting report was of a male PAINTED BUNTING late last week in an area off limits to the birding public on western Fire Island.

One bird that did thrill several birders was a female WESTERN TANAGER found and photographed nicely in Prospect Park’s Vale of Cashmere last Tuesday, but it also soon disappeared.

A good spring find was a DICKCISSEL spotted Saturday along the baseball fields at Fort Tilden.

Inadvertently left off last week’s tape was a CATTLE EGRET, now for some reason a fairly unusual visitor to our area, that stayed on the town green just off Route 27 in Watermill from Friday the 8th at least through Monday.

Two interesting Staten Island birds this week were a RED-HEADED WOODPECKER at Conference House Park on Monday and a WILSON’S PHALAROPE on a private pond Tuesday.

Among the rarer passerines, female-type BLUE GROSBEAKS were reported from Forest Park last Sunday and Prospect Park Thursday, while among the SUMMER TANAGERS were a male at Hempstead Lake State Park last Sunday, different birds in Forest Park Thursday and today, and one or possibly two in Central Park in mid-week. Another fairly rare spring bird, PHILADELPHIA VIREO, was noted at Riverside Park last Saturday and in Central Park Tuesday and Wednesday.

We should note that the water drip in Riverside Park, located just south of the tennis house at 120th Street, has just started to bring in birds, including a PROTHONOTARY WARBLER Friday the 8th and 22 species of warblers this week including TENNESSEE and MOURNING today. Central Park recorded two MOURNING WARBLERS this week, both in the Ramble and at the north end, and a few others of this later migrant have already been noted in the region. Otherwise, most of the sought-after warblers have been noted in the city parks this week, including a female CERULEAN visiting the Forest Park waterhole Thursday.

Both BLACK-BILLED and YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOOS are occurring locally and north of the city, while FLYCATCHER species have increased this week with the addition of OLIVE-SIDED from Tuesday and a few ALDER and YELLOW-BELLIED. GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSHES have also been noted, along with a good increase in the number of SWAINSON’S, and SPARROW variety now includes more LINCOLN’S and WHITE-CROWNED.

Three GULL-BILLED TERNS were around the south end of the former West Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge today, and WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS were spotted Saturday at Floyd Bennett Field, Timber Point in Great River and Sagg Pond in Bridgehampton.

To phone in reports, on Long Island call Tony Lauro at (631) 734 4126, or weekdays call Tom Burke at (212) 372-1483.

This service is sponsored by the Linnaean Society of New York and the National Audubon Society. Thank you for calling.

- End transcript
...Read more

Friday, May 15, 2015

Not Such a Big Birding Day

Last Saturday was "Global Big Day". In the northeast of the US mid-May is generally considered the climax of spring migration. Every spring for over 15 years I've participated in some form of bird-a-thon or spring big day, including a solo effort on bicycle. I think I speak for everyone involved around New York City that the Big Day was a Big Bust.

I was part of a team scouring Kings County that included Heydi Lopes, Keir Randall and Shane Blodgett. After a multitude of emails, texts and phone conversations we chose our locations and schedule based on what we thought would maximize species. Some of us even scouted areas ahead of the date in search of nesting birds, any lingering winter bird and possible rarities. Unfortunately all the planning in the world can't anticipate a paucity of land birds due to the combined effect of fog, cloud cover, east winds and cooler temperatures. It made for the worst final total that I've ever experienced for a big spring day. My best guess for all the MIA species is that many birds left on the south winds between that Thursday evening and Friday evening. Consider that during a scouting run in Prospect Park on Thursday for 3 hours beginning in the late morning I tallied 76 species, which included 21 species of warbler. On the Big Day our team spent over 4 hours in the park beginning at around 7am and counted a mere 57 species with a paltry 9 species of warbler. Missing from the expected songbirds list were flycatchers, grosbeaks, tanagers and a few sparrows. Note also that, as a team of 4 decent ear birders, the almost silent canopy made for a very frustrating morning. In addition, in a borough with at least 3 resident pairs of Red-tailed Hawks (and a few of their lingering offspring) we didn't encounter one of these raptors until late in the afternoon at Floyd Bennett Field.

It wasn't all bad news, however. An early morning low-tide allowed us to visit coastal habitats before heading into Prospect Park. We normally don't do very well with shorebirds, but at Plum Beach the sandspit and mudflat held a nice mix of birds. Our final shorebird total was 15 species. Probably the best being a breeding plumage White-rumped Sandpiper at a little visited watering hole in Floyd Bennett Field that I've named "Raptor Point Pond". It is interesting to note that Heydi's favorite American Oystercatcher, "C6", had just returned to Plum Beach. I believe that this is at least his fifth breeding season in Brooklyn.

Another highlight was spotting a pair of ravens that have been hanging around Brooklyn for the last few years. Last month Heydi and I watch the pair collect nesting material from the shoreline at Bush Terminal Park then flying off to the northwest. I subsequently biked around Red Hook unsuccessfully searching for their nest. When we found them at Bush Terminal Saturday they were just noisily flying around the south end of the park. Eventually one scored a meal and we watched it eat a pigeon from on top of a street light. This was the first time we've added this species to our big day list.

We finished the day with 108 species. This is nearly 20 species lower than our previous worse day, although I did manage to add 15 new species to my Brooklyn year list.

I'm not sure why the birding gods we in such bad humor on Saturday, but clearly something was up. I went back to the park the following Tuesday and, in 2 hours less time spent on the Bird Day, had 18 species of warbler for a total of 71 species! I suppose the moral of the story is that no matter how thorough the planning and skilled the team members, the birds need to show up. Next year...

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Date: 05/09/15
Locations: Brooklyn Army Terminal--Pier 4; Bush Terminal Piers Park; Dreier-Offerman Park; Floyd Bennett Field; Gravesend Bay--Middle Parking Lot; Green-Wood Cemetery; Plumb Beach; Prospect Park; Salt Marsh Nature Center at Marine Park; Veterans Memorial Pier
Species: 108
Checklists: 12

1) Brant
2) Canada Goose
3) Mute Swan
4) Wood Duck
5) American Black Duck
6) Mallard
7) Greater Scaup (1.)
8) Red-breasted Merganser (2.)
9) Ruddy Duck (1.)

10) Ring-necked Pheasant (2.)

11) Red-throated Loon (1.)
12) Common Loon (2.)
13) Horned Grebe (1.)
14) Red-necked Grebe (1.)

15) Double-crested Cormorant (5.)
16) Great Cormorant (1.)

17) Great Egret (2.)
18) Snowy Egret (2.)
19) Green Heron (4.)
20) Black-crowned Night-Heron (18.)
21) Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (1.)

22) Osprey (2.)
23) Red-tailed Hawk (1.)

24) Clapper Rail (4.)

25) American Oystercatcher (5.)
26) Black-bellied Plover (7.)
27) Semipalmated Plover (7.)
28) Killdeer (3.)
29) Spotted Sandpiper (1.)
30) Greater Yellowlegs (1.)
31) Willet (2.)
32) Ruddy Turnstone (3.)
33) Sanderling (12.)
34) Purple Sandpiper (5.)
35) Least Sandpiper (6.)
36) White-rumped Sandpiper (1.)
37) Semipalmated Sandpiper (2.)
38) Short-billed Dowitcher (11.)
39) American Woodcock (7.)

40) Laughing Gull
41) Ring-billed Gull
42) Herring Gull
43) Great Black-backed Gull
44) Least Tern (3.)
45) Common Tern (4.)
46) Forster's Tern (3.)
47) Black Skimmer (50.)

48) Rock Pigeon
49) Mourning Dove (6.)

50) Great Horned Owl
51) Chimney Swift

52) Ruby-throated Hummingbird (1.)

53) Red-bellied Woodpecker (1.)
54) Downy Woodpecker (4.)
55) Hairy Woodpecker (4.)
56) Northern Flicker (2.)

57) American Kestrel (1.)
58) Monk Parakeet (2.)

59) Eastern Kingbird (4.)

60) White-eyed Vireo (1.)
61) Warbling Vireo (10.)
62) Red-eyed Vireo (1.)

63) Blue Jay (4.)
64) American Crow (1.)
00) crow sp. (4.)
65) Common Raven (2.)

66) Northern Rough-winged Swallow (2.)
67) Tree Swallow (2.)
68) Barn Swallow

69) Black-capped Chickadee (1.)
70) Tufted Titmouse (1.)
71) White-breasted Nuthatch (2.)

72) House Wren (3.)
73) Marsh Wren (1.)
74) Carolina Wren (2.)

75) Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (5.)
76) Wood Thrush (3.)
77) American Robin

78) Gray Catbird
79) Brown Thrasher (1.)
80) Northern Mockingbird (1.)

81) European Starling

82) Cedar Waxwing (9.)

83) Northern Waterthrush (1.)
84) Blue-winged Warbler (1.)
85) Black-and-white Warbler (1.)
86) Common Yellowthroat (4.)
87) Cape May Warbler (1.)
88) Northern Parula (5.)
89) Yellow Warbler (7.)
90) Blackpoll Warbler (10.)
91) Yellow-rumped Warbler (6.)
92) Canada Warbler (2.)

93) Eastern Towhee (2.)
94) Chipping Sparrow (2.)
95) Field Sparrow (1.)
96) Savannah Sparrow (4.)
97) Song Sparrow (1.)
98) White-throated Sparrow (7.)

99) Northern Cardinal (1.)

100) Red-winged Blackbird (1.)
101) Common Grackle
102) Brown-headed Cowbird (9.)
103) Orchard Oriole (2.)
104) Baltimore Oriole (6.)

105) House Finch (1.)
106) American Goldfinch (8.)

107) House Sparrow
...Read more

Friday's Foto

This immature female Western Tanager is the first verified sighting of the species in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. With a breeding range west of the Mississippi, Cornell's eBird website lists only 10 records of this species in New York State since 1955. Like many species of tanager, the western spends much of its time foraging near the tops of trees in deciduous forests. I was fortunate to see a beautiful male of this species on Long Island back in 2007. You can read a brief note about it and see a photo at the end of this posting here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Monday, May 11, 2015

Upcoming Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for the weekend of Saturday, May 16, 2015 to Sunday, May 17, 2015:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, May 16, 12–1 pm
Introduction to Bird Watching
Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird! But what kind of bird is it? Join the Prospect Park Alliance to learn about the magnificent array of birds that call Prospect Park home. Led by the Brooklyn Bird Club.

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Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, May 16, 2015
The Golden Era: 50th anniversary of the Palisades Park Landmark designation
Leader: Peter Dorosh
Focus: peak spring migration in several park sections.
Registrar: Peter Dorosh Prosbird@aol.com (preferred) or 347-622-3559 text only.
Note: This trip entails extensive walking on hiking type trails, though moderate climbing isn't likely. Some locations might be Palisades Park south and north sections, Alpine section, Tenafly Nature Center. Itinerary to be determined.
Event profile: On January 12, 1965, the Palisades was declared a National Natural and Historic Landmark by the National Park Service. For more than 50 years, the Palisades have been recognized as one of the nation's most significant historic and natural formations. Excerpt from www.palisadesparkconservancy.org

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Freshkills Park Alliance (Staten Island)
May 16, 2015, 1:00pm
Naturalist-Led Hike

Experience spring bird migration around the wetlands of Freshkills Park with ecological researcher Seth Wollney. We expect to find neotropical migrants along with nesting birds! The biodiversity of the freshwater ecosystems will also be highlighted during this special tour.

This program includes moderate to steep elevations. Water, bug spray, and comfortable shoes recommended. Space is limited, ages 10+. Free.

Meet shuttle into the park at Schmul Park (Wild Ave and Melvin Ave)

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New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturday, May 16, 2015
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center

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New York City Audubon Society
Saturday, May 16, 2015, 8:00am – 9:30am
Van Cortlandt Bird Walks, The Bronx
Guides: NYC Audubon, Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy With the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy Meet at Van Cortlandt Nature Center. The history of birding and Van Cortlandt Park are inseparable. Influential birders such as Roger Tory Peterson and Allan D. Cruickshank got their starts on Van Cortlandt’s ecologically diverse grounds. These walks celebrate the tradition set forth by these great ornithologists. Participants will look for various species of residents and migrants and discuss a wide range of avian topics.
For more information, please call 212-691-7483. No registration necessary. No limit. Free.

Sunday, May 17, 2015, 10am – 1pm
Nesting Peregrines and Red-Tails of the Upper West Side
Guide: Gabriel Willow
Meet in front of Riverside Church. Many New Yorkers are astonished to discover that their city of steel and glass is home to a large population of large birds of prey: The City boasts the world’s highest densities of the peregrine falcon, the world's fastest flyer, and a growing population of red-tailed hawks (several pairs of which have reached celebrity status). We’ll visit the nesting site of a pair of each of these fascinating species, and may glimpse parents feeding their chicks. Limited to 15. $39 (27)
Click here to register

Sunday, May 17, 2015, 10am – 11am
Birding Basics for Families
Guides: NYC Audubon
Offered by the Central Park Conservancy
Meet at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, inside the Park at 110th Street between Fifth and Lenox Avenues. Experience Central Park when it becomes a precious bird habitat and migration hot spot! Join Conservancy Discovery Guides and NYC Audubon Society on this walk to learn how to spot our feathered neighbors and their foreign cousins as they make their annual trip along the Atlantic Flyway. Witness firsthand how the Conservancy's work has made the Park a sanctuary for these birds. Binoculars can be borrowed from the Visitor Center.
For weather cancellation information, call 212.772.0288 . Limited to 20. Age 5 and up. Free.

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NYC Wildflower Week
Saturday, May 16, 2015
Nature Walks, BX:
Wildflower Walk of Van Cortlandt Park

Fun for Kids, MN:
Interactive Nature Fair

Get Hands Dirty, BX:
Native Plant Share and Workshop

Get Hands Dirty, BK:
Clean and Green: Wildflower Corridor Installation, and Plant and Compost Sale

Fun for Kids, MN:
Experience Life as a Plant

Sunday, May 17, 2015
Fun for Kids, BK:
Family Flora Walk

Nature Walks, QU:
Bird and Nature Walk at QBG

Nature Walks, MN:
Spring Fungi Talk and Walk

Garden Tours, MN:
Native Woodland Garden at NYU

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Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (Staten Island)
Saturday, May 16, 2015, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Forest Restoration Workshop on the Blue and Red Trails
Meet in the Nature Center parking lot at Rockland Avenue and Brielle (700 Rockland Avenue, additional parking at the Recreation Center nearby). We will remove invasive shrubs and vines from the triangle between the Blue and Red Trails close to the Department of Parks restoration project at Rockland Avenue. Protectors will supply tools, gloves and refreshments. After a two-hour work session (our 225th monthly workshop) we will take a short walk over nearby trails.
For more information call Don Recklies at 718-768-9036 or Chuck Perry at 718-667-1393.

Saturday, May 16, 2015, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Conference House Park
Past and present blend in the Conference House park where history stretches back thousands of years with the seasonal occupation of the Lenape and hundreds of years with the habitation of the Dutch and English. In addition to the local history, we will observe the geology of the area and look for what the debris at the high tide line has to reveal. As the tide goes out, we’ll move into the intertidal zone to find out what sorts of living things survive in this challenging environment. It’s going to be muddy so dress appropriately. Meet at the parking lot to the left at the end of Hylan Boulevard.
For more information call Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.

Sunday, May 17, 2015, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Crooke’s Point
Maritime sand spits such as Crooke’s Point are dynamic topographical features formed and sculpted by water and wind action. Join naturalist Paul T. Lederer in a talk and walk where the geological and human history of the site will be discussed. He will also give an update on the maritime shrub-forest restoration and the Army Corps of Engineer dredging and sand removal operations. Participants will enter the park and gather in the Great Kills Park Beach Center Parking Lot near the beginning of the dirt permit road leading out to Crooke’s Point.
For more information call Paul T. Lederer at 718-987-1576.

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Queens County Bird Club
Saturday, May 16, 2015 to Sunday, May 17, 2015
Doodlebash!
A perennially excellent trip to two wonderful IBA's.

MINI TRIPS: Break after lunch +/-
ALL DAY TRIPS: BYO lunch, dinner out. {optl}
WEEKEND TRIPS: Two + days / Overnight

Trip Etiquette
Please register for trips

- Register. Let leaders know you're coming!
- Car pooling or skipping requires planning
- Be advised if there are last minute changes or cancellations. These cannot be communicated to unknown persons.
- Be on time! Most trips begin birding by 8am!
- Please arrive before the starting time so we do not waste precious early morning bird activity.
- Plan your travel time.

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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, May 16, 2015
Early Morning Bird Walk at Wave Hill, Bronx
8:00 a.m.–9:00 a.m.
Join naturalist Gabriel Willow on a special early morning walk to spot birds in the gardens and woodlands as well as the skies above Wave Hill. You’ll be amazed by the diversity…

Birding: Spring Migration at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
9:00 a.m.–10:00 a.m.
Our Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots in the urban jungle.
Free!

Pop-Up Audubon: Wonderful Warblers at Eastwood (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Through fun games, experiments and citizen science projects, learn why warblers are so wonderful.
Free!

For The Birds Festival: A Celebration of All Things Avian at Visitor Center (in Conference House Park), Staten Island
11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Enjoy a day of guided bird walks, lectures, art, photography, literature, film screenings, children's activities, and more.
Free!

Introduction to Bird Watching at Audubon Center at the Boathouse (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.
Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird! But what kind of bird is it? Join the Prospect Park Alliance to learn about the magnificent array of birds that call Prospect Park home.
Free!

Sunday, May 17, 2015
Birding Basics for Families at Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
Experience Central Park when it becomes a precious bird habitat and migration hot spot!
Free!

Bird and Nature Walk at QBG at Queens Botanical Garden, Queens
11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
Join us for a stroll through the Garden as we look for springtime birds, flowers, and other treats courtesy of Mother Nature!

Pop-Up Audubon: Wonderful Warblers at Eastwood (in Prospect Park), Brooklyn
11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Through fun games, experiments and citizen science projects, learn why warblers are so wonderful.
Free!
...Read more

Saturday, May 09, 2015

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, May 8, 2015:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* May. 8, 2015
* NYNY1505.08

- Birds mentioned

Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
Semipalmated Plover
Upland Sandpiper
Red Knot
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Gull-billed Tern
CASPIAN TERN
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Black-billed Cuckoo
Common Nighthawk
RED-HEADED WOODPECKER
Acadian Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
Swainson's Thrush
Golden-winged Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER
Bay-breasted Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
PROTHONOTARY WARBLER
Worm-eating Warbler
Kentucky Warbler
Mourning Warbler
Hooded Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Canada Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat
SUMMER TANAGER
Grasshopper Sparrow
Saltmarsh Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
BLUE GROSBEAK
Bobolink

- Transcript

If followed by (+) please submit documentation of your report electronically and use the NYSARC online submission form found at http://www.nybirds.org/NYSARC/goodreport.htm

You can also send reports and digital image files via email to nysarc44(at)nybirds{dot}org.

If electronic submission is not possible, hardcopy reports and photos or sketches are welcome. Hardcopy documentation should be mailed to:

Gary Chapin - Secretary
NYS Avian Records Committee (NYSARC)
125 Pine Springs Drive
Ticonderoga, NY 12883

Hotline: New York City Area Rare Bird Alert
Number: (212) 979-3070

To report sightings call:
Tom Burke (212) 372-1483 (weekdays, during the day)
Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126 (Long Island)

Compiler: Tom Burke, Tony Lauro
Coverage: New York City, Long Island, Westchester County

Transcriber: Ben Cacace

BEGIN TAPE

Greetings. This is the New York Rare Bird Alert for Friday, May 8th 2015 at 9pm. The highlights of today's tape are Spring migrants with 35 species of warblers including PROTHONOTARY WARBLER and YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, BLUE GROSBEAK, SUMMER TANAGER, CASPIAN TERN and RED-HEADED WOODPECKER.

A decent week for migrants. Today's report of an early MOURNING WARBLER in Central Park's Ramble brings the warbler species total in the city parks this week to 34. Among the rarer species a PROTHONOTARY was present in Clove Lakes Park on Staten Island Monday and Tuesday and another appeared at the Lullwater in Prospect Park Wednesday. A YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER was spotted in Central Park Tuesday and also near Saint John's Pond in Cold Spring early in the week with nesting birds continuing at Connetquot River State Park. Several KENTUCKY WARBLERS showed up starting last Sunday with one at Clove Lakes Park. A KENTUCKY was found in Riverside Park in northern Manhattan Monday while one in Prospect Park Tuesday was still present Thursday but tough to see. Wednesday also brought reports of KENTUCKY at Hempstead Lake State Park and Drier-Offerman in Brooklyn. YELLOW-BREASTED CHATS were found Tuesday in Inwood Hill Park in northern Manhattan and at Jones Beach West End with Wednesday adding one in Prospect Park. A CERULEAN WARBLER visited Central Park Monday. An ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was reported from Prospect Park last Saturday and today.

Among the other more notable warblers have been a few newly arriving TENNESSEE, BAY-BREASTED, CHESTNUT-SIDED, BLACKPOLL, WILSON'S and CANADA and such favorites as WORM-EATING, CAPE MAY, BLACKBURNIAN and HOODED all in generally low numbers. And a 35th species of warbler, GOLDEN-WINGED, is already on territory north of the city.

A nice number of SUMMER TANAGERS and BLUE GROSBEAKS appeared during the week. The at least 5 SUMMER TANAGERS included a singing adult male at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge last Sunday, one at Inwood Hill Park Sunday and Tuesday and 2 in Central Park Tuesday with one still there Thursday when another also visited Hempstead Lake State Park. Six BLUE GROSBEAKS featured 3, sometimes together, along the roadway at Robert Moses State Park to the water tower up to Tuesday and singles at Heckscher State Park last Saturday, one reported from Roosevelt Island Sunday and one in Central Park's Ramble on Thursday.

Four CASPIAN TERNS were still on the Mecox flats last Saturday and a single GULL-BILLED TERN continued to visit the bar off the Coast Guard Station at Jones Beach West End with a second spotted at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge off the former West Pond on Wednesday. Other notables at the bay recently have included TRICOLORED and LITTLE BLUE HERONS and RED KNOT. Among the shorebirds, now increasing in numbers generally, were an UPLAND SANDPIPER seen at Croton Point Park in Westchester County last Sunday and arriving SEMIPALMATED PLOVER and SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER.

A RED-HEADED WOODPECKER visited the quickly drying waterhole in Forest Park Monday to Wednesday and another was spotted at Jones Beach West End on Tuesday.

The first YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO was noted Tuesday followed by a BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO by Thursday and a COMMON NIGHTHAWK appeared over Staten Island Wednesday. An ACADIAN FLYCATCHER was identified in Riverside Park Monday, a WILLOW FLYCATCHER was noted by Thursday with other arrivals this week including SWAINSON'S THRUSH, BOBOLINK and SALTMARSH and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS. GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS have returned to the former Grumman airport grasslands in Calverton, an area that every effort should be made to save.

To phone in reports on Long Island, call Tony Lauro at (631) 734-4126 or weekdays call Tom Burke at (212) 372-1483.

This service is sponsored by the Linnaean Society of New York and the National Audubon Society. Thank you for calling.

- End transcript
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Friday, May 08, 2015

Friday's Foto

Wintering from central Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula south, the Kentucky Warbler's breeding range ends just south of New York City in New Jersey. The few individuals that regularly appear around NYC during spring migration are considered overshoots. While their status is currently listed as "Least Concern" by the IUCN, this beautiful woodland species was listed in "The State of the Birds Report 2014" due to declining numbers likely related to loss of forest habitat. Alexander Wilson discovered the Kentucky Warbler in 1811 and named it for the state in which it was found.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

The Tale of a Rail

During bird migrations some individuals will occasionally turn up in unexpected places and for a variety of reasons. In my 22 years as a NYC birder I've learned that one species stands out as particularly unpredictable in its choice of places to seek refuge in our concrete jungle. It is for that reason that I shouldn't have been too surprised by the call I received from my friend Joe on April 25th.

My friend Heydi and I had been birding around Green-Wood Cemetery and decided to head up to "Reservoir Hill", the highest point in the cemetery, for some hawk watching. We had just settled down on top of the hill and began scanning the sky when a call came in from a number I didn't immediately recognize. I let it go to voicemail. Thankfully, I decided to listen to the message a moment later and heard Joe's voice saying, "If you're anywhere near Green-Wood Cemetery there is a Virginia Rail sleeping next to the main entrance." We were only about 500 yards from the entrance, so grabbed our gear and bolted over to meet Joe.

We spotted Joe leaning against the driver's side of his car, which was parked along the road on the east side of the main entrance's gothic revival gateway. He explained that he had just parked to use the restrooms and upon exiting his car noticed the small rail sleeping in the shade of a juniper shrub:



The Virginia Rail is a bird of freshwater and brackish marshes. The individual at the cemetery was resting in an area best described and a "manicured" landscape. The closest thing to a wetland in his vicinity was a tiny puddle formed at the base of a water spigot a few feet from his roost. This was not the only time I'd learned of this species showing up in an odd place. The first story goes back to Sept 24, 2000 when one wandered into a wedding reception being held in Prospect Park's Picnic House. It was captured and released near the park's ponds. My friend Jerry once spotted one at his sports club in Brooklyn. More recently, Gabriel Willow picked one up that was wandering the sidewalks of downtown Brooklyn. I posted a collection of stories several years ago here.

As we watched this individual, however, it became apparent that he was more than just confused. When he woke up and began to move about he had a very pronounced limp and favored one leg. We called a local wildlife rescuer. Unfortunately, the rescuer was overworked and understaffed, couldn't leave and wouldn't guarantee that he would be able to come by and pick up the rail that day. He suggested we capture it and transport it over to his facility. Easier said than done. This bird's small size and strategy of remaining close to the edge of the dense shrubs made it impossible to catch him. There were five of us working on helping this bird and we all agreed that stressing out an already unhealthy bird was a bad idea.

I ran the water from the faucet next to the shrubs to create a small watering hole. He quickly took to it, both drinking and probing for food in the mud:



Bobbi offered to run home and bring back some mealworms that she had been keeping in her refrigerator. It should be noted that mealworms aren't normally on her grocery shopping list, they were just left over from a previous "project", but that's a story for another time. Anyway, she returned with the food and generously spread them around the shrub and around our makeshift "marsh". When a few starlings flew in for a bath and drink of water were were concerned that they would eat all the mealworms. Fortunately, it turns out that mealworms are probably the only thing that they don't eat. After a few minutes the rail hobbled over to the mealworms and began to eat them:



For whatever reasons, the rescuer was never able to make it to the cemetery. Over the following few days, however, Bobbi, Joshua and others checked in on the rail, refreshing the water puddle and leaving more mealworms. My friend Sean reported that it appeared to have stopped limping and even stood, resting, on the bad leg. I joked about the magical, healing power of mealworms. We all thought this small rail, who I referred to as "Vera", was getting better and would take off on the next south winds. On Thursday, April 30th, Bobbi and I did what we thought was a thorough search for the rail. I layed down on my stomach, lifted the shrub's lower branches and ran my hands through the leaves beneath the junipers. He appeared to have taken off.

I believed that this was the happy ending to one rail's bad experience in New York City. Millions of birds migrate through urban landscapes twice a year, battling a gauntlet of dangers from colliding with glass windows and searching for suitable habitat to rest and refuel to attacks from feral and free-roaming house cats. I've rescued birds entangled in discarded fishing line or impaled by carelessly dumped fishing lures. It is a never ending battle for wildlife and a Sisyphean task for the rescuers attempting to help our animals. On Sunday I was in Green-Wood Cemetery and while near the main entrance noticed something that made my heart sink. In the middle of the road, near the juniper shrubs was the Virginia Rail. It was dead, apparently hit by a car. Heydi picked it up and tucked it into the leaf litter under the shrubs. I reluctantly gave Bobbi the bad news. She was devastated. We all were.

It has been taught to us all our lives and in dozens of ways that we have a responsibility to protect animals and nature, and not just because they are necessary to our long term survival. It is morally and ethically the right thing to do. Two small steps would be to tread lightly and support local conservation efforts. Here is a short list of a few national organizations:

American Birding Association
American Bird Conservancy
National Audubon Society
The Sierra Club
...Read more

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