Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Past Weekend's Trips

Over the Memorial Day weekend, in addition to my Sunday "Birding in Peace" at Green-Wood Cemetery, I also co-led a tour in historic Mt. Olivet Cemetery on Saturday. With tours at All Faiths Lutheran Cemetery, Green-Wood Cemetery and now Mt. Olivet Cemetery, it appears I've become the go-to person for leading birding trips in the city's quietest green spaces. I certainly can't complain as the residents are very, um, low-key. Anyway, the majority of the warblers seemed to have moved on to their breeding grounds, although there were still some late arrivers and lingerers seen over the two days.

Mt. Olivet Cemetery is less than a quarter the size of Green-Wood Cemetery, but it still held a surprisingly high number of bird species. I did a quick walk around before the people arrived and found several singing birds that weren't the usual residents - Eastern Wood-Pewee, Least Flycatcher, Great Crested Flycatcher, Swainson's Thrush, Brown Thrasher and American Redstart, to name a few. Without question, the highlight of the walk was a very cooperative Blackburnian Warbler. This vivid songbird usually forages near the tops of trees, but we were able to take advantage of one of the high ridges to get fairly close to this bird. There was also a Yellow Warbler gleaning insects from the oak's leaves, but clearly this guy here got all the attention.

We began the Sunday tour at Green-Wood Cemetery under white skies and hazy conditions. We could hear fog horns down in the harbor. This would likely explain an almost complete lack of birdsong for the first 45 minutes. As the haze slowly lifted, the birds gradually became more vocal. The makeup of warblers in the cemetery was what one might expect at this time of year; little diversity, with an increase only in Blackpoll Warblers. The number of female warbler has also gone up.

I never get bored seeing the antics of Cedar Waxwings and it is now their moment in the sun. Arriving at the tail-end of the Spring migration, there are now dozens of these social birds in roaming flocks throughout the cemetery. It's easy to locate them as their wheezy, thin whistles seem to pierce right through my brain. I'm always surprised that their vocalizations can be heard over NYC's larger flying creatures ... airplanes and helicopters.

After the tour ended I walked over to "The Flats" to check in on the Red-tailed Hawk nest at the top of a pine tree. The female was standing up on the edge of the nest, looking intently down inside of it. This is usually a sign that an egg (or eggs) have hatched. If this is the case, we should be able to see fuzzy, white heads within the next couple of weeks. The young should then be ready to make their maiden voyage by late-June or early-July.

Finally, the most interesting observation on Sunday came early in the walk. As we walked beneath the canopy of Copper Beeches at Forest Ridge, I heard the croaking call of a Common Raven from the direction of the Steinway mausoleum. I ran out into the open and spotted the raven circling near the top of a tulip tree. We watched for a few minutes then realized that there were two. Continuing our walk towards Crescent Water we discovered that there were, in fact, four ravens in the tree! Common Ravens are not known to be a flocking species, so I speculated that it was a family unit. That was confirmed when we saw one of them bringing some unidentified food to, then feeding the others. Beginning with a nest on a water tower in Queens in 2010, Common Ravens have been gradually repopulating New York City. It's unclear when or why they disappeared from the Big Apple, but I suspect they were unjustifiably persecuted, like many large birds, as pests. This large, extremely intelligent animal has been written about in myths and folklore from Greco-Roman antiquity to Viking culture to the indigenous tribes of the Pacific Northwest. In nearly all cases, they are depicted in a positive way. The various Pacific Northwest culture's legends of the raven share many characteristics, one is that it is a keeper of secrets. I wonder what they know about New York City that has led them back to their ancestral grounds.

A big thanks to Evan Rabeck for the use of his photos for this posting.

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Location: Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Maspeth, Queens
Date: May 27, 2017
Species: 41 species

Double-crested Cormorant (1.)
Laughing Gull
Chimney Swift
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee (1.)
Least Flycatcher (1. Heard vocalizing, then observed hawking from oak tree.)
Great Crested Flycatcher (1.)
Eastern Kingbird (2.)
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
House Wren
Gray-cheeked Thrush
Swainson's Thrush
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher (1.)
Northern Mockingbird
Cedar Waxwing
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Magnolia Warbler (1.)
Blackburnian Warbler (1.)
Yellow Warbler (1.)
Blackpoll Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow (1.)
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole

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

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Location: Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn
Date: Sunday, May 28, 2017
Species: 48 species (+1 other taxa)

American Black Duck x Mallard (hybrid) (1.)
Green Heron (1.)
Red-tailed Hawk (1.)
Laughing Gull
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (1.)
Northern Flicker (1.)
Monk Parakeet
Eastern Wood-Pewee (1.)
Eastern Phoebe (1.)
Great Crested Flycatcher (3.)
Eastern Kingbird (2.)
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Fish Crow (1.)
Common Raven (4. Calling frequently, all four perched in tulip tree. One, apparent adult, appeared to feed the other three.)
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (1.)
Barn Swallow (1.)
House Wren
Gray-cheeked Thrush (2.)
Swainson's Thrush
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Cedar Waxwing  15
Common Yellowthroat (2.)
American Redstart
Yellow Warbler (2.)
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler (1.)
Wilson's Warbler (1.)
Chipping Sparrow
Scarlet Tanager (2.)
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mallard (1.), Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, House Finch, House Sparrow
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Treehugger Tuesday

From Earth Times online:

Climate Change drives early laying/hatching, but not only Temperature!
By Dave Armstrong


The metallic glint on this beautiful photograph gives a clue about the species of this swallow, though getting close to any swallow is difficult, as many photographers know. Tree swallow image; Credit: © Snowmanradio on WIKI (CC)

Tree swallows are being used to investigate how climate change promotes early breeding, as they have been found to advance egg-laying by between 5-9 days over the last 32 years.

Alaska is warming up at twice the rate of its parent nation, so the swallows there were investigated alongside local temperature, wind measurements and precipitation. With the life-style of swallows, the distribution of their aerial insect prey should be expected to be heavily influenced any breeding success.

Tachycineta bicolor and the rest of its genus live in North America, alongside other swallow species. The tree swallow migrates from Central America to the north in Spring and nests in cavities, unlike the mud-builders such as the barn swallow. Fairbanks, Alaska was the focus of the study for 16 years, where there was a significant decrease in average times between lay and hatch dates. This, of course, would have influenced the expected advances of both lay and hatch dates!

In fact, the dates of egg-laying were found to be changing very rapidly. Temperature was not the only or primary driver of change, with windiness and precipitation more important. The wind force proved to be the only trending driver over time. Wind has declined during May in Fairbanks over 36 years, but of course this could be correlated with both temperature and precipitation, especially in microclimates. The weather conditions that immediately precede laying have a strong effect on the start of laying.

We must also take into account evidence from California that tree swallows feed their young less when "windiness"(average daily wind speed) is at high levels. Prey organisms will be even more affected by the 3 conditions measured here. Climate change affects all factors within a community and has special effects on each member of the food chains. An aerial predator and an aerial prey show here that wind displaces temperature as the main factor that we can discern. The effects of climate change are obviously complex and unique to a species, unlike some studies that have previously simply looked at a single aspect of change.

Rachel Irons and her co-authors from the University of Colorado, Boulder, the Alaska Songbird Institute and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Threatened, Endangered and Diversity Program produced their ground-breaking paper yesterday in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B .

Meanwhile barn swallows and others have been in difficulty recently as woodland and other wildlife decreases in both numbers and diversity. This was our story on the puzzle regarding this lack of numbers.
...Read more

Monday, May 29, 2017

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for Saturday, June 3, 2017 to Sunday, June 4, 2017:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, June 3, 2017, 12pm – 1pm
Introduction to Bird Watching
Join Prospect Park Alliance for a birdwatching walk and learn about Prospect Park’s magnificent array of birds and how to identify them!

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Bedford Audubon Society
Sunday, June 4, 2017, 7:30am - 11:00am
Mianus River Gorge Preserve
Join Naturalist Tait Johansson and Preserve Manager Budd Veverka for an early-morning bird walk at this beautiful old-growth forest, which holds a suite of interesting breeding birds, including Acadian Flycatcher, Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush, and Worm-eating Warbler.
Cost: Free
Level of difficulty: Moderate-Strenuous
Depart Bylane at 7am, or meet us just south of 5 Mianus River Road, Bedford at 7:30. Park on the east side of the road. Register with Susan at info@bedfordaudubon.org or 914.302.9713

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Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, June 3, 2017
Fountain Ave Landfill Park Breeding Bird survey
Leader: Joshua Malbin
Focus: Counting breeding birds in a future park
Registrar: Kathy Toomey, kathleentoomey@gmail.com
Registration Period: May 27th – June 1st
Note: This trip is capped at 12 participants. Bring proper identification (i.e. driver’s license, in case it’s needed.) This is a restricted area under the jurisdiction of the NYCDEP agency. The group will be escorted; participants are required to sign liability waivers the day of the trip.

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Eastern Long Island Audubon Society
Saturday, June 3, 2017, 8:00am
South Fork Natural History Museum
Leader: Eric Salzman, South Fork Natural History Museum (SoFo), Board of Directors
Cosponsored by the Eastern Long Island Audubon Society (ELIAS) and the South Fork Natural History Museum (SoFo) On this joint walk, expert birder, composer, and author Eric Salzman will explore the avian life of the meadow behind the South Fork Natural History Museum and the adjacent Greenbelt woodlands and wetlands. This walk will provide an opportunity to see and—especially—hear some of our locally breeding birds. The two-hour walk will be followed by a short introduction to the Eastern Long Island Audubon Society. Light refreshments will be served.
There is no charge for this event, but advance reservations are required. Please call SoFo at (631) 537-9735 for reservations and directions to the Museum.

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Green-Wood Cemetery
Sunday, June 4, 2017
"Birding in Peace" - Summer Birding Sundays
Before our gates open to the general public, birding expert Rob Jett leads these peaceful Sunday morning walking tours to discover the many birds that call Green-Wood home. Locally nesting birds will be incubating eggs or actively raising their first broods.
Grab a copy of our Bird Checklist before you begin. Comfortable footwear is recommended.
$10 for members of Green‑Wood and BHS/$15 for non-members.
Click Here to Sign Up
Click here for our inclement weather policy.

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Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society
Sunday, June 4, 2017, 8:00am
Ward Pound Ridge Reservation
Beautiful Ward Pound Ridge Preserve is a mix of open fields, woodland and streams, making it a marvelous spot for breeding birds. Bluebirds are frequently observed and breeders include yellow billed cuckoo, belted kingfisher, 14 species of warblers, Cooper's hawks and northern goshawks. We should see plenty of these birds and possibly some late migrants while walking along the numerous hiking trails. Ward Pound Ridge is also known for its abundance of butterflies,and 83 species have been recorded there!
Registration: 631-885-1881 or aveblue@gmail.com.
Directions: Whitestone Bridge to the Hutchison River Parkway, then get on I-684 around exit 26. Exit I-684 at exit 6 onto NY-35 heading east. Entrance to park is near junction of NY-35 and 121 South, Cross River.

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Linnaean Society of New York
Sunday, June 4, 2017
Eastern Long Island Spring Specialties
Leader: Eric Salzman
Registrar: Anne Lazarus — amlazarus47@gmail.com or 646-306-9731
Registration opens: Monday, May 22
Ride: $40

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New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturdays -- 9/3/2016 - 6/24/2017: 11:00 a.m.
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11am to 12:30pm beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center

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New York City Audubon Society
Friday, June 2 – Sunday, June 4, 2017
Montauk Spring Weekend
Guides: Mike Bottini, Mickey Cohen, Don Riepe with American Littoral Society
Join us for our 20th year at the luxurious Montauk Manor and enjoy indoor/outdoor heated pools, jacuzzi, and spacious suites. Registration price includes five meals, five guided field trips, two evening slide programs, an evening star watch and free pickup at the LIRR station in Montauk. For information and reservations, call Don Riepe at (718) 474-0896 or e-mail donriepe@gmail.com. $395 ($140 single supplement)

Saturdays April 29, May 13, and June 3, and Sundays, May 7 and May 21, 9:30-10:30am
Queens Botanical Garden Bird Walks
Guide: NYC Audubon with Queens Botanical Garden
We are happy to announce a new series of spring migration bird walks in partnership with Queens Botanical Garden. Register for one date or the whole series of five free walks (walk-ins welcome!). Explore the Garden in search of migrant songbirds and learn about the valuable resources that the Garden offers birds and other wildlife. Binoculars available. Limited to 25. Appropriate for all ages. To register, email info@queensbotanical.org or visit www.queensbotanical.org/calendar. Free with Garden admission

Weekly on Saturdays, until Jul 29, 2017
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

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NYC H2O
Saturday, June 3, 2017 at 6:30pm
Horseshoe Crab Discovery Walks
Location: Plumb Beach
Click here to sign up

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Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
Sunday, June 4, 2017, 11:00am – 1:00pm
Page Avenue Beach
Participants will begin with an investigation of thee area’s unique, local ecology before moving on to exam the flotsam and jetsam accumulated at the high tide lines. This is a sure way to discover what Nature’s debris has tell us. As the water recedes with the tide the group will move into the intertidal zone to find our what sorts of living things survive in this challenging environment. A variety of crabs, snails, clams, worms and small fish are likely to be discovered.
It’s going to be muddy so dress appropriately.
Meet at the parking to a the bottom of Page Avenue, below Hylan Boulevard.
For more information contact Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327

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Queens County Bird Club
Saturday, Jun 3, 2017
Ward Pound Ridge - Annual Club BBQ
BBQ: Nancy Tognan - 917-753-3146
Trip Leader: Eric Miller
Please contact Nancy Tognan before Wednesday, June 30 so that she may purchase an appropriate amount of food. Email (preferred) nancy.tognan@gmail.com, cell 917-753-3146. Menu is hamburgers and hot dogs, will provide veggie burgers on request.
Please contact leaders before the trip to let them know you are attending

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South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, June 4, 2017
Hempstead Lake State Park

All walks start at 9:00 A.M.
There is no walk if it rains or snows or temperature is below 25°F.
For more information or in case of questionable weather conditions, please phone Joe at 516 467-9498
For directions to our bird-watching locations, click here.

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Sullivan County Audubon Society
Saturday, June 4, 2017, 10:00am
Field Trip: Happy for Herps
Join herpetologist Bill Cutler on a search for amphibians and reptiles. Kids as well as adults love learning about them. Registration required. Call Bill at 798-8050.
This is a joint field trip with the Bashakill Area Association

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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, June 3, 2017
Bird-Watching at the Reservoir at Main entrance across from the Vermont Place Parking Lot
7:30 a.m.–8:30 a.m.
Start your day with an early morning bird-watching walk led by the Brooklyn Bird Club
Free!

Bird Walks at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
Head to the park to join bird walks led by experts from the NYC Audubon! Bird walks focus on wildlife happenings in the park.
Free!

Bird Walks with New York City Audubon at Queens Botanical Garden, Queens
9:30 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
Spot and identify creatures of flight and learn how Queens Botanical Garden provides important resources for birds—like water, shelter, and insects to eat.

Sunday, June 4, 2017
Discovery Day at Freshkills Park at Freshkills Park Event Entrance, Staten Island
11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Discovery Day is a one-day opportunity to visit normally closed sections of Freshkills Park before they open to the public.
Free!

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Young Birders Club
Sunday, June 4, 2017 (Rain date 6/11/17)
Doodletown (Rockland County)
Sponsoring NYSYBC Partner: Edgar A. Mearns Bird Club
Trip Leader: Gerhard Patsch

Doodletown is part of the Palisades Interstate Park. It is the site of a former hamlet just south of Bear Mountain and north of Dunderberg Mountain. The site was settled by at least 1762 and, at its peak (about 1945), was home to about 300.

Today this site is a fantastic birding hotspot with a great variety of warblers (including Cerulean and Hooded). Many other species are found here as well. To get an idea of what our trip might be like, check out Josh Cantor's report about our trip there in June 2016 and Eamon Freiburger's report about our trip there in June 2013.

The beginning of the outing will involve a steep walk along an old roadway. At the top of the hill is a reservoir. Everyone should carry water and a snack if they desire. Sneakers or light boots are suggested.

Watch your Inbox for directions and details on meeting time and location.

Trip Registration Form due by 5/26/17. If you have not yet submitted a 2017 medical form (page 2 of the permission form) please submit it with your permission form.
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Saturday, May 27, 2017

New York City Rare Bird Alert

Below is the New York City Rare Bird Alert for the week ending Friday, May 26, 2017:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* May. 26, 2017
* NYNY1705.26

- Birds mentioned
MISSISSIPPI KITE+
BICKNELL'S THRUSH+
SWAINSON'S WARBLER+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Sooty Shearwater
Northern Gannet
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE
BLACK-HEADED GULL
Iceland Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Red-headed Woodpecker
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Acadian Flycatcher
Alder Flycatcher
PHILADELPHIA VIREO
Gray-cheeked Thrush
Golden-winged Warbler
Mourning Warbler
KENTUCKY WARBLER
Hooded Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER
Wilson's Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat
Henslow's Sparrow
Nelson's Sparrow
SUMMER TANAGER
Dickcissel

- 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

Compiler: Tom Burke
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 26th 2017 at 8pm. The highlights of today's tape are SWAINSON'S WARBLER, MISSISSIPPI KITE, RED-NECKED PHALAROPE, BLACK-HEADED GULL, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, KENTUCKY WARBLER, SUMMER TANAGER and PHILADELPHIA VIREO and more.

With migration winding down now is when we hope for some nice seasonal rarities and right on queue a SWAINSON'S WARBLER has appeared in Prospect Park. Found Wednesday in the Midwood section of the park the SWAINSON'S was today still singing and offering brief views in the same general area.

Last Saturday at Clove Lakes Park on Staten Island there was a report of a MISSISSIPPI KITE flyover and this is a species to watch for as dragonfly numbers increase especially inland. Also on Staten Island a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE visited the pond at the Cemetery of the Resurrection near Mount Loretto Unique Area yesterday.

An immature BLACK-HEADED GULL was seen at Sagg Pond in Bridgehampton last Tuesday and an ICELAND GULL along with 3 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS were at Shinnecock Inlet Wednesday where a seawatch in the late afternoon only produced 2 SOOTY SHEARWATERS and a handful of NORTHERN GANNETS.

A reasonable but diminishing variety of warblers continues to move through our area. Of the rarer species the YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER was still present at the Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Great River last weekend. A KENTUCKY WARBLER was in Prospect Park Saturday and a few MOURNING WARBLERS have been showing up right on schedule. Most species are already on territory to our north including GOLDEN-WINGED, CERULEAN and HOODED plus YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT and please remember when visiting nesting areas especially a regionally unusual species to keep disturbance to an absolute minimum. This is a very critical time for these birds.

In the city parks such warblers as CAPE MAY, BAY-BREASTED, HOODED and WILSON'S were still being encountered this week. One or more SUMMER TANAGERS remained in Central Park to mid-week and a few reports of PHILADELPHIA VIREO, rather unusual in our area in Spring, included one in Central Park last Saturday. Singing BICKNELL'S THRUSHES, perhaps the best way to separate them from GRAY-CHEEKED as well as Hermit Thrushes, were reported this week from Prospect Park last Sunday and Inwood Hill Park and Forest Park during the week. A GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH on Governors Island Wednesday was very unusual there.

Among the late moving flycatchers this week have been a few OLIVE-SIDED as well as the balance of the empidonax group including ALDER, ACADIAN and YELLOW-BELLIED.

One to three NELSON'S SPARROWS were reported from Plumb Beach in Brooklyn early in the week.

Lingering RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS were noted this week at Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx Sunday and on Staten Island at both Clove Lakes Park and at the Cemetery of the Resurrection.

To our north HENSLOW'S SPARROW and DICKCISSEL both singing on territory at the Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge in Ulster County are further examples of birds to enjoy without creating any disturbance especially the sparrow as one of the goals of the grassland restoration project has been to reestablish the former HENSLOW'S colony there. Let's help make that happen.

To phone in reports call Tom Burke at (914) 967-4922.

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 26, 2017

Friday's Foto

The least known of North America's wood-warblers, the Swainson's Warbler is more often heard than seen. Breeding in the south-eastern United States, this drab bird is a shy inhabitant of the dense understory of bottomlands and upland ravines of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley and across the Coastal Plains regions, as well as, rhododendron-laurel-hemlock growths of the Appalachians. Spending most of their time either on or near the forest floor, their diet is primarily ants, beetles, caterpillars, crickets, flies, grasshoppers, millipedes, spiders and stink bugs. Due to their preference for dense thickets, this species is not well studied. The Swainson's Warbler overwinters in eastern Mexico, the Yucatán Peninsula and the Caribbean islands. They have also been reported as a vagrant species in Venezuela, Colombia and Panama.

Unlike most of the New World Warblers, the plumage of males and females are the same.

The Swainson's Warbler's conservation status via IUCN is "Least Concern" as populations appear stable, with a possible increase between 1966 and 2014, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. It is not on The State of North America’s Birds 2016 Watch List.

The Swainson’s Warbler’s scientific name, Limnothlypis swainsonii, means marsh warbler; Swainson’s, after William Swainson (1789–1855) English naturalist, artist and collector.

Listen to the Swainson's Warbler song ("deeta deeta-whip'-poor-will"):

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

"Birding in Peace" - Spring winding down

The official start of summer this year isn't until Wednesday, June 21st. During this weekend's Spring dawn tours in Green-Wood Cemetery it seemed like the Spring migration was already waning. I'm not complaining, though, as we still got to see and hear lots of cool birds, plus one extraordinary event.

One sign that the warbler migration is tapering off was the arrival of a couple of species associated with the tail end of the northbound push. First was the apparent ever-present, high, lisping "tsit tsit TSIT TSIT" song of the Blackpoll Warbler.  Male blackpolls typically pass through NYC late in the migration, with the females coming up behind them, at migration's end. On both Saturday and Sunday we were seeing an abundance of this tiny, black and white warbler, along with many of the more plainly plumed females. Some local birders begin to cry when the female blackpolls arrive. Cue the melancholy music. Canada Warblers also start to show up late in the songbird migration, so I shouldn't have been surprised to see several in the cemetery over the past weekend. The weather for Saturday's tour wasn't ideal for scanning treetops for diminutive, colorful warblers, but we persevered and managed to add a couple of new birds to the overall species total for Green-Wood's first dawn bird walk series. Sunday was crisp and clear making the hunt much easier. We ended the weekend with 16 species of warbler.

At this point in the migration we're also starting to see a greater diversity of flycatchers. We didn't see or hear any of the always challenging empidonax flycatchers this weekend, but did manage to tally four other species. Great Crested Flycatcher is the only colorful flycatcher that we regularly see around Brooklyn and NYC. With its yellow underside and loud "whee-eep" call, they tend to be fairly easy to find. There seems to be at least two pairs in Green-Wood Cemetery acting amorously. They nest high up in tree cavities, so locating an active nest this season will require a lot of luck. Eastern Kingbirds have settled into their annual breeding cycle, but I've also been hearing two other species of flycatcher around the cemetery lately: Eastern Wood-Pewee and Eastern Phoebe. The pewee is a new arrival, but phoebes generally pass through early in the spring migration, then disperse. At least one is still hanging around and calling a lot in the area near William Poole's final resting place.

Another nice highlight this weekend was the sight (and sound) of the amusingly social Cedar Waxwing. Their diet consists primarily of fruit, which is probably why they don't start their breeding season until much later than other songbirds. In the spring and summer they frequently feed on insects. Watching large flocks of these colorful birds acrobatically snatching bugs out of the air and interacting with each other is the best reality show, in my humble opinion.

Finally, on Sunday we had a very interesting experience. At around 8:30am I was leading the group around the northeast corner of the Sylvan Water. Walking behind a row of mausoleums our view of the water and surrounding grass was partially blocked. I heard a very loud trumpeting-like sound. It seemed so strange and incongruous that I momentarily thought there was a person at the waters edge making silly noises. People in the group asked what was making the odd sound. I walked towards the water and scanned for a moment, saw nothing, then one of the participants, Heidi Clevins, spotted what she described as a massive, gray bird heading over the trees towards the northeast. Nobody was able to get their bins up in time, but she described the color as being gray, "almost the color of a Little Blue Heron”. When people asked whether it was a large heron or egret, I explained that, no, those species mostly make deep, guttural sounds. Unbelievably, I thought it sounded like a Sandhill Crane! We called up the vocalization on a smartphone and played it. It sounded exactly like what we had just heard. I was just winding up the tour, so after seeing everyone off at the main entrance, several of us spent a couple more hours scouring the cemetery hoping to find this prehistoric looking bird with a wingspan of over 6'. We never did find it, but the excitement and initial burst of adrenaline is part of what makes birding so much fun. Maybe next time we'll have more luck.

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Dates: Saturday, May 20, 2017 and Sunday, May 21, 2017
Location: Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn
Species: 72

Wood Duck (1.)
Great Blue Heron (1.)
Great Egret (2.)
Red-tailed Hawk (2.)
Spotted Sandpiper (3.)
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Chimney Swift
Northern Flicker
American Kestrel (1.)
Monk Parakeet
Eastern Wood-Pewee (1.)
Eastern Phoebe (1.)
Great Crested Flycatcher (4.)
Eastern Kingbird (3.)
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
American Crow
Common Raven (1.)
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
White-breasted Nuthatch (1.)
House Wren
Veery
Gray-cheeked Thrush (2.)
Swainson's Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher (2.)
Northern Mockingbird
Cedar Waxwing
Ovenbird
Northern Waterthrush
Black-and-white Warbler
Tennessee Warbler (1.)
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Northern Parula
Magnolia Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler (2.)
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Canada Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow (1.)
Song Sparrow
Summer Tanager (2.)
Scarlet Tanager (3.)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting (1.)
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole (1.)
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
American Goldfinch

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, House Sparrow
...Read more

Free Rescheduled Walking Tour

Treehugger Tuesday

From "New Atlas" online:

Earth's highest density of plastic waste found ... on a deserted island
Nick Lavars Nick Lavars May 16, 2017

The team calculated a plastic trash concentration of 671 pieces per square meter (10 sq ft)

Sitting in middle of southern Pacific Ocean around 5,000 km, (3,100 mi) from the nearest major population center, you might think that the uninhabited Henderson Island would appear relatively untouched. It is, after all, only visited by humans every five to ten years for research. The latest scientists to set foot on the remote coral atoll found a nasty surprise, however, discovering the highest density of plastic waste reported anywhere on the planet.

The amount of plastic waste washing around in the ocean is a huge problem, one that the Ocean Cleanup Project hopes to help solve when it tackles the Great Pacific Garbage Patch next year. The world produces more than 300 million tons of plastic each year, according to Jennifer Lavers, a research scientist at the University of Tasmania's Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, much of which is never recycled and ends up bobbing about in the ocean instead.

Lavers led a research team to Henderson Island to find its beaches awash with vast amounts of trash. Counting the rubbish, the team calculated a concentration of 671 items per square meter (10 sq ft), the highest density ever recorded, which equates to an estimated 37.7 million pieces spread over the whole island.

"Based on our sampling at five sites we estimated that more than 17 tons of plastic debris has been deposited on the island, with more than 3,570 new pieces of litter washing up each day on one beach alone," Lavers says. "It's likely that our data actually underestimates the true amount of debris on Henderson Island as we were only able to sample pieces bigger than two millimeters down to a depth of 10 centimeters (0.08 and 4 in), and we were unable to sample along cliffs and rocky coastline."

The scientists say that the island's location close to the center of ocean current known as the South Pacific Gyre is what places it in harm's way, catching debris that floats over from South America or pieces of plastic trash left behind by fishing boats.

"What's happened on Henderson Island shows there's no escaping plastic pollution even in the most distant parts of our oceans," Lavers says. "Far from being the pristine 'deserted island' that people might imagine of such a remote place, Henderson Island is a shocking but typical example of how plastic debris is affecting the environment on a global scale."

The team's research was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, while the video below provides a snapshot of the damage.

...Read more

Monday, May 22, 2017

Upcoming Birding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for Saturday, May 27, 2017 to Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2017:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, May 27, 2017, 12pm – 1pm
Introduction to Bird Watching
Join Prospect Park Alliance for a birdwatching walk and learn about Prospect Park’s magnificent array of birds and how to identify them!

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Brooklyn Bird Club
Friday, May 27, 2017 - Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Breeding birds of Delaware State
Leader: Peter Dorosh
Focus: Annual spring weekend adventure, this year to the state of Delaware
Car fee: $100.00
Registrar: Peter Dorosh Prosbird@aol.com (or Prosbird@gmail.com)
Registration Period: April 15th - May 15th
Note: Trip caps at 12; this is a three night hotel stay over. Trip leaves Saturday early morning, returns Tuesday afternoon

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Gateway National Recreation Area
Every Sunday Weekly from 03/12/2017 to 05/28/2017
Birding for Beginners
Join us for an introductory nature walk where you will learn the essentials of birdwatching.
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fee Information: Free

Saturday, May 27, 2017, 9:00am to 3:00pm
Horseshoe Crab Festival
See the annual mating ritual of the ancient horseshoe crabs. Other events during the day include children’s program and lectures on horseshoe crabs topics. For more info call (718) 474-0896; e-mail: don@littoralsociety.org. With American Littoral Society and NYC Audubon.
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fee Information: Free

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Green-Wood Cemetery
Sunday, May 28, 2017
"Birding in Peace" - Peak Spring Migration Birding

From Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to over 20 species of colorful wood-warblers, our peak migration tours will feature many of the 163 bird species that have been recorded at Green-Wood during the month of May. Beginning just after sunrise, we will experience spring’s dawn chorus at the most active time of day for birds.

$10 for members of Green‑Wood and BHS/$15 for non-members.

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Littoral Society
Saturday, May 27, 2017, 8:30am - 3:00pm
Horseshoe Crab Festival
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Cross Bay Blvd, Broad Channel, NY 11693

Join us for a day of celebrating the annual coming ashore of the ancient horseshoe crabs. During the full and new moons of May and June, these prehistoric animals come ashore to mate and lay billions of eggs at the high tide line as they’ve done for approximately 400 million years (take a millennia or two). At the same time, thousands of migrating shorebirds arrive in the northeast bays to feed on the eggs to help regain the body weight (fat) they lost during their long journey northward. During the festival you’ll get to see and hold a live horseshoe crab and learn about their important ecological and medicinal values.

The program is free but donations to NYC Audubon are most welcome to offset the program cost. This is a partnership program with the American Littoral Society and Gateway NRA. For more information and reservations call (718) 474-0896; e-mail: don@littoralsociety.org

Sunday, May 28, 2017, 5:00pm - 8:00pm
Jamaica Bay Sunset Ecology Cruise
Location: Pier 8, Bedford Ave and Emmons Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11235
Join us for one of the American Littoral Society Northeast Chapter's most popular events --- a three hour, narrated ecology cruise with noted local naturalists, Don Riepe and Mickey Cohen. Enjoy wine, cheese and fruit aboard the Golden Sunshine with our Jamaica Bay experts and learn about the history and ecology of the bay, a 25,000 acre expanse of salt marshes, intertidal flats and upland forests that is home to 330 species of birds, 107 species of finfish and over 70 species of butterflies. See nesting Peregrine Falcons, Osprey, egrets, heron, ibis and many other species and explore the backwaters of the bay while enjoying a beautiful sunset highlighting the New York City skyline. This ecology tour is in partnership with Gateway National Recreation Area, NYC Audubon, NYC Sierra Club.

Registration Information: Cost: $55.00 per person, $25 for children under 16. Advance payment is required. To purchase tickets by credit card, go to:

Buy Tickets

For payments by check, please write check out to: The American Littoral Society and mail to: American Littoral Society, 28 West 9th Road, Broad Channel, NY 11693.

For questions, email don@littoralsociety.org or call (718) 474-0896.
Directions: The boat departs from Pier 8 in Sheepshead Bay at the intersection of Emmons Avenue and Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn, NY. Please arrive a half hour early to find parking and board the ship.

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New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturdays -- 9/3/2016 - 6/24/2017: 11:00 a.m.
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11am to 12:30pm beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center

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New York City Audubon Society
Saturdays April 29, May 13, and June 3, and Sundays, May 7 and May 21, 9:30-10:30am
Queens Botanical Garden Bird Walks
Guide: NYC Audubon with Queens Botanical Garden
We are happy to announce a new series of spring migration bird walks in partnership with Queens Botanical Garden. Register for one date or the whole series of five free walks (walk-ins welcome!). Explore the Garden in search of migrant songbirds and learn about the valuable resources that the Garden offers birds and other wildlife. Binoculars available. Limited to 25. Appropriate for all ages. To register, email info@queensbotanical.org or visit www.queensbotanical.org/calendar. Free with Garden admission

Weekly on Saturdays, until Jul 29, 2017
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 27, 2017, 9am – 3pm
Horseshoe Crab Festival
With the American Littoral Society and Gateway NRA
Meet at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and carpool to a nearby site to see the annual mating ritual of the ancient horseshoe crabs. Other events during the day include children’s program and lectures on horseshoe crabs topics. For more info call (718) 474-0896 or email: donriepe@gmail.com. Suggested donation: $20 adult, $10 children

Sunday, May 28, 2017, 7am – 1pm
Breeding Birds of Jamaica Bay
Guide: Tod Winston
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is home to nesting cedar waxwings, brown thrashers, white-eyed vireos, tree swallows, yellow warblers, American redstarts, osprey, willet, and seven species of wading birds. We'll walk the refuge trails and observe these species and many more on their breeding grounds. Bring lunch. Transport by passenger van included. Limited to 12. $90 (63)
Click here to register

Sunday, May 28, 2017, 5pm – 8pm
Jamaica Bay Sunset Cruise
With American Littoral Society and Gateway NRA
Meet at pier 4 in Sheepshead Bay to board the 100’ boat “Golden Sunshine”. Learn about the Bay and its history, management and ecology. See egrets, herons, ibis, terns, laughing gulls, osprey, peregrine falcons, and shorebirds. This narrated tour of the bay’s backwater marshes includes wine and cheese, fruit, drinks, and snacks. For information and reservations call Don Riepe at (718) 474-0896 or e-mail donriepe@gmail.com. $55

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Newtown Historical Society
Saturday, May 27, 2017
Mount Olivet Cemetery Nature and History Tours
​Join naturalist Rob Jett and Christina Wilkinson of the Newtown Historical Society on a walk through Mount Olivet Cemetery. We will observe the natural environment, including birds, butterflies, plants and trees and discuss the history of the cemetery, it's role in the development of Maspeth and visit the graves of noteworthy people who are buried there. Meet up in front of the cemetery office at 9am. Bring binoculars and wear comfortable shoes. Terrain is hilly.
These events are part of the 375th anniversary celebration of Maspeth and are free.

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North Shore Audubon Society
Saturday, May 27, 2017, 9:30am – 12:00pm
Nassau County Museum of Art
Leader: Joyce 516-621-6678
See "Walk locations" for directions.
Wear water-resistant footwear, bring binoculars and drinking water.

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South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, May 28, 2017
Jones Beach West End 2

All walks start at 9:00 A.M.
There is no walk if it rains or snows or temperature is below 25°F.
For more information or in case of questionable weather conditions, please phone Joe at 516 467-9498
For directions to our bird-watching locations, click here.

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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, May 27, 2017
Bird Walks at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
Head to the park to join bird walks led by experts from the NYC Audubon! Bird walks focus on wildlife happenings in the park.
Free!

Birds of Clove Lakes Park at Martlings Avenue Bridge (in Clove Lakes Park), Staten Island
9:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
Join Seth Wollney for a birding walk through Staten Island’s premier migrant trap! We will search for late-season migrants such as warblers, flycatchers, and thrushes.
Free!

Sunday, May 28, 2017
Wildlife Viewing: Birding at Pelham Bay Nature Center (in Pelham Bay Park), Bronx
11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
New York City is home to an amazing abundance of wildlife. Our Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots in the urban jungle.
Free!

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Wild Bird Fund
Saturday, May 27, 2017, 9:00am - 11:00am
A Walk On The Wild Side – Memorial Day Weekend
Please join WBF member and artist/naturalist Alan Messer for a Mid Spring Migration bird walk on May 27 (Rain Date, May 28).
Artist naturalist Alan Messer will guide us through the Ramble in Central Park searching for our resident and migrant nesters including: robins, grackles, red-tailed hawks, Baltimore orioles, and warbling vireos. This time of late Spring migration is peak season for certain warbler and thrush species as well as the flycatcher group.
We’ll be meeting at the Wild Bird Fund (565 Columbus Ave, New York, NY) at 9am SHARP.
The walk is $15; for members of WBF, it is $10.
(Interested in becoming a member? It’s only $10 a month! Click here for more info!)
RSVP required: events@wildbirdfund.org
...Read more

Saturday, May 20, 2017

New York City Rare BIrd Alert

Below is the New York City Rare BIrd Alert for the week ending Friday, May 19, 2017:

- RBA
* New York
* New York City, Long Island, Westchester County
* May. 19, 2017
* NYNY1705.19

- Birds mentioned
BLACK-NECKED STILT+
(+ Details requested by NYSARC)

Sooty Shearwater
Northern Gannet
Black Vulture
Parasitic Jaeger
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL
Red-headed Woodpecker
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Eastern Wood-Pewee
PROTHONOTARY WARBLER
Orange-crowned Warbler
MOURNING WARBLER
KENTUCKY WARBLER
CERULEAN WARBLER
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER
YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT
Nelson's Sparrow
SUMMER TANAGER
BLUE GROSBEAK
Boat-tailed Grackle

- 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 19th 2017 at 9pm. The highlights of today's tape are BLACK-NECKED STILT, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL and Spring migrants including PROTHONOTARY WARBLER, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, KENTUCKY WARBLER, CERULEAN WARBLER, MOURNING WARBLER, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, SUMMER TANAGER, BLUE GROSBEAK and more.

With last week's generally unfavorable migratory conditions including constant strong northerly winds continuing through Monday it wasn't until Tuesday that birds took the opportunity to spread north with the abating conditions and provide our parks with a decent variety and volume of migrants. Tuesday and Wednesday were quite productive but the constant southerly flow also did hustle many of the migrants on their way farther north as the week progressed. These movements often do not produce much in the way of exceptional rarities. More usually instead a very enjoyable migration spectacle.

The only really unusual sighting for the week was the belatedly reported BLACK-NECKED STILT photographed last Sunday along the southeastern section of Napeague Bay a little west of Montauk. Also noteworthy was the continuing now annual staging of LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS along Long Island's south shore. Sixteen were counted Saturday from the swale at Jones Beach West End and some were regularly moving west past the seawatch at Robert Moses State Park last Saturday. Otherwise the seawatch only produced a couple of PARASITIC JAEGERS, some NORTHERN GANNETS and 2 SOOTY SHEARWATERS. Another SOOTY was spotted Saturday morning moving east past Fort Tilden. Sightings from that area much less common and from coastal vantage points farther east.

As for the city parks: Central, Prospect and Forest as well as the other less frequented venues all had very enjoyable days Tuesday and Wednesday with some carryover up to Friday. Approximately 35 species of warblers were reasonably encountered this week. The rarities including a PROTHONOTARY Thursday at Sunken Meadow State Park, single KENTUCKYS from Forest Park Monday and Central Park Tuesday and Wednesday and single CERULEANS spotted in Prospect Park Tuesday and Forest Park Wednesday, an ORANGE-CROWNED photographed in Prospect Park Wednesday and the arrival of some MOURNINGS including in Prospect Park as of Tuesday and in Central Park and Caumsett State Park from Thursday. Reports too of YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER and YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT in the region bring us again to our annual play that if you are lucky enough to encounter especially a rare or newly colonizing species on known or potential breeding grounds please do nothing to disturb or discourage these birds. Their future locally will depend on their nesting success currently.

Besides certain warblers this also pertains to such southern species as BLUE GROSBEAK and SUMMER TANAGER. This week BLUE GROSBEAK was reported from Central Park and also at an eastern Long Island breeding location while SUMMER TANAGER continues to have a good Spring locally with birds noted in Central Park Sunday and Wednesday and Forest Park almost daily to Wednesday and at Hempstead Lake State Park Wednesday.

Several species of flycatchers arrived this week. EASTERN WOOD-PEWEES seemed to appear everywhere on Wednesday and OLIVE-SIDEDS were seen in Central Park and Forest Park Wednesday. Various species of empidonax have been reported but in the city parks identification should generally be determined by confirming vocalizations where species are also now on territory to our north.

Other interesting sightings this week featured 6 BLACK VULTURES over Prospect Park Tuesday, RED-HEADED WOODPECKER at Hempstead Lake State Park Monday, NELSON'S SPARROW at Plumb Beach in Brooklyn as of Sunday and a BOAT-TAILED GRACKLE at Marshlands Conservancy in Rye Westchester County Monday.

To phone in reports call Tom Burke at (914) 967-4922.

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 19, 2017

Friday's Foto

To the uninitiated, the word "sparrow" usually evokes images of a dull, uninteresting, little brown job (LBJ). One look at a Lark Sparrow easily challenges that common misconception. With its boldly patterned chestnut, white, and black head pattern, this bird is impossible to mistake for any other sparrow.

A bird of grasslands, their preferred breeding habitat adjoins areas with scattered shrubs, including overgrazed pastures, sandy barrens, hedgerows near fallow fields and brushy dry grasslands. They have been extirpated from their historic eastern breeding grounds, but are fairly common west of the Mississippi. This pretty sparrow is periodically seen around NYC during migration. Foraging on the ground, their diet consists mostly of seeds, with some insects, especially during the breeding season.

Their conservation status according to the IUCN Red list is "Least Concern".

The Lark Sparrow's scientific name, Chondestes grammacus, means grain eater; lined (perhaps referring to its bold facial lines).

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Mother's Day Walk

This past Sunday's Mother's Day Walk wasn't as productive for migrant songbirds as I'd expect at this date. It was a pleasant walk, however, with a few nice highlights.

Saturday's all day torrential rains and Sunday's cooler temperatures with north winds certainly played a big role in the absence of birds, but we still managed to eek out 8 species of warbler. Most were single individuals, with the normally pervasive Yellow-rumped Warbler down to just a few sightings.

On the non-songbird front, the cemetery's Green Heron pair seem to have settled on a nest location. For the second year in a row they've built a nest on the lower sweeping branches of an Elm tree at the Dell Water. In my experience, this tiny wading bird tends to choose precarious spots overhanging bodies of water. This year is no difference and, I suppose, there is a certain amount of safety from egg robbing raccoons in that arrangement. I'm always amazed that the hatchlings don't tumble out of the nest and into the water. Hey, what do I know, I'm just a stupid human.

Our resident Red-tailed Hawks have also picked the same nest tree as the one they used last year. As of this past weekend the female appears to have laid eggs as she was sitting on the nest when we checked. The nest is near the top of a tall pine in the "Flats" along Cypress Avenue, near Vine Avenue.

Finally, the group was amused at two points during the walk by a couple of well fed Groundhogs. I assume that the groundskeepers aren't amused by these largest of our ground squirrels burrows, but folks on my walks always get a smile out of seeing them. The larger cemeteries around New York City are probably the last stronghold for these mammals in the Big Apple. I hope they never disappear from our ecosystem. Some other common and regional names include chuck, woodchuck, wood-shock, groundpig, whistler, whistle pig, thickwood badger, Canada marmot, monax, moonack, weenusk, and red monk.


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Location: Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn
Date: May 14, 2017
Species: 53 species (+1 other taxa)

American Black Duck x Mallard (hybrid) (1.)
Double-crested Cormorant (1.)
Great Blue Heron (1.)
Green Heron (2.)
Red-tailed Hawk (2.)
Spotted Sandpiper (1.)
Laughing Gull
Chimney Swift
American Kestrel (1.)
Eastern Kingbird
Blue-headed Vireo (1.)
Warbling Vireo
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (1.)
Tree Swallow (1.)
Barn Swallow
Red-breasted Nuthatch (1.)
House Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (1.)
Gray Catbird
Ovenbird (2.)
Black-and-white Warbler (2.)
Common Yellowthroat (3.)
American Redstart (2.)
Northern Parula (2.)
Yellow Warbler (3.)
Blackpoll Warbler (1.)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (1.)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (3.)
Chipping Sparrow
Summer Tanager (1 immature male; 1 full adult male; a 3rd (fem.) reported at Dell Water by J. Borker.)
Scarlet Tanager (4.)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (1.)
Indigo Bunting (3.)
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole (4.)
Baltimore Oriole
American Goldfinch

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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Treehugger Tuesday

From Mother Nature Network:

Rare western snowy plovers nesting in Los Angeles after 70-year absence
May 14, 2017
Jaymi Heimbuch

Photo: Kristian Bell/Shutterstock
On April 18, the nest of a western snowy plover was discovered on Santa Monica State Beach. More nests were discovered later in the month on Dockweiler State Beach and Malibu Lagoon State Beach. While finding the nests of shore birds on a beach doesn't seem like a big deal, it's an extraordinary moment when you consider the species. The last time a nest of this species was found on a Los Angeles County beach was in 1949! After 68 years, the tiny birds once again are trying to raise families on these busy southern California shores.

The western snowy plover is a tiny shorebird so perfectly camouflaged that it can disappear in plain sight on the sand. It lays its eggs in depressions in the sand, and these eggs can be next to impossible to see until you're right on top of them. Snowy plover chicks — as pictured here — learn to get up and go within hours of hatching.

Unfortunately, the nesting preferences of these little birds make them vulnerable to disturbance from humans and predation by everything from crows to cats.

According to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) news release, "The Pacific Coast population of western snowy plover was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1993, because of habitat loss, impacts from non-native predators and other factors. At the time of listing, the California population was estimated to be about 1,300 adults. In 2016, the population was estimated to have increased to a little more than 1,800 adults."

The news that the birds are making a comeback in Los Angeles County is heartening, and it shows the conservation efforts to restore habitat and protect nesting areas are paying off.

"This is a sign that, against all odds, western snowy plovers are making a comeback, and we really need the cooperation of beachgoers to help give them the space they need to nest and raise their young," said senior FWS biologist Chris Dellith. "I’m hopeful that we can find a balance between beach recreation and habitat restoration, which will allow humans and shorebirds like the western snowy plover to peacefully exist along our coastline."

Monday, May 15, 2017

Upcoming BIrding and Nature Trips

Below is a list of upcoming nature trips by local birding/conservation groups for Saturday, May 20, 2017 to Sunday, May 21, 2017:

Audubon Center in Prospect Park
Saturday, May 20, 2017, 12pm – 1pm
Introduction to Bird Watching
Join Prospect Park Alliance for a birdwatching walk and learn about Prospect Park’s magnificent array of birds and how to identify them!

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Bedford Audubon Society
Saturday, May 20, 2017, 7am – 11am
Doodletown Road in Bear Mountain State Park
Leader: Naturalist Tait Johansson
Doodletown Road is known as one of the best places in our area to find Hooded and Cerulean Warblers as well as being a fine spot for many other songbirds. Join Tait in a search for these feathered gems! Enjoy the walk up the rugged trail past the ruins of a “lost civilization.” Depart Bylane Farm at 6:15am. Cost: Free. Level of Difficulty: Moderate-Strenuous. Register with Susan at info@bedfordaudubon.org or 914.302.9713.
Map

Sunday, May 21, 2017, 7:30am – 9:30am
Explore Muscoot Farm
Leader: Naturalist Tait Johansson and the Friends of Muscoot Farm
Join Tait for a spring bird walk on the beautiful grounds of this county-owned property. Cost: Free. Level of Difficulty: Easy-moderate. Register with Susan at info@bedfordaudubon.org or 914.302.9713.
Map

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Brooklyn Bird Club
Saturday, May 20, 2017
“The Birdathon”, International Migratory Bird Day (raindate)
A global event celebrating the beauty of birds and habitats; this event encourages fundraising for conservation causes. For this year, the Brooklyn Bird Club’s Birdathon fundraising will support NYC’s Wild Bird Fund https://www.wildbirdfund.org/. For more information about the Birdathon and the history behind it, go to http://www.birdday.org/. If you are interested in forming a team with club members or friends, or if you need more information, please contact the BBC Birdathon teams’ coordinator Bobbi Manian at roberta.manian@gmail.com.

Saturday, May 20, 2017
Doodletown 1776 trail, Harriman State Park
Leader: Tom Stephenson
Focus: Peak of spring migrants and beginning breeding season
Car Fee: $25.00
Registrar: Marisa Wohl, marisaw@earthlink.net
Registration Period: May 13th - May 18th
Comments: This trip is capped at 16 people including the leader

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Eastern Long Island Audubon Society
Saturday, May 20, 2017 - Meet at 9am
Hallockville and Hallock State Park
Leader: MaryLaura Lamont
The Hallockville Farm Museum and State Park is located at 163 Sound Ave, in Riverhead. During peak migration, there is a good chance to see thrushes, vireos, warblers and more. We will walk past farm fields into the woods leading up to views of Long Island Sound. There is a $6 per person charge for this walk, which benefits the Hallockville Farm Museum Educational Program. Please call the Museum for information and a for a reservation at 631-298-5292

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Gateway National Recreation Area
Every Sunday Weekly from 03/12/2017 to 05/28/2017
Birding for Beginners
Join us for an introductory nature walk where you will learn the essentials of birdwatching.
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fee Information: Free

Saturday, May 20, 2017, 10:00am to 11:30am
Warblers for Beginners
For many birders spring means warblers. Identifying these fast and tiny birds can be quite a challenge and even intimidating. Join a Ranger for an intro to the warblers that can be found at the Wildlife Refuge. A brief slideshow will precede a walk on the West Pond Trail.
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fee Information: Free

Sunday, May 21, 2017, 11am
International Migratory Bird and Horseshoe Crab Celebration
Join experts for a bird walk to learn about migration. Along the way you'll also learn about horseshoe crabs. Dress appropriately. Reservations are required. Please call 718-354-4655 for reservations and information.
Location: Great Kills Park

Sunday, May 21, 2017, 10:00am to 11:30am
Osprey Watch Guided Walk
Learn all about the amazing Osprey on this guided walk of the West Pond Trail. We’ll talk about their incredible migration and the inspiring story of how conservation efforts were able to bring this species back from the brink of extinction.
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Fee Information: Free

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Great South Bay Audubon Society
Saturday, May 20, 2017 to Sunday, May 21, 2017 - 7:00am
Sterling Forest and Bashakill
Leader(s): John Gluth (631-827-0120)
From Tappan Zee Bridge, take I-87 to Sloatsburg exit 15A, take the exit for Rte 72 (Sterling Mine Rd.), 1- mile up Rte 17. Continue west on Rte 72 for 3 Miles until you reach Rte 84, Long Meadow Rd. Continue up long Meadow Rd to Sterling Lake Rd (4 Mi). Turn left there and continue to Park Visitors Center parking lot on Old Forge Rd. Overnight at Wurtsboro Days Inn (845-888-8727)

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Green-Wood Cemetery
Saturday, May 20, 2017
"Birding in Peace" - Peak Spring Migration Birding

Sunday, May 21, 2017
"Birding in Peace" - Peak Spring Migration Birding

From Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to over 20 species of colorful wood-warblers, our peak migration tours will feature many of the 163 bird species that have been recorded at Green-Wood during the month of May. Beginning just after sunrise, we will experience spring’s dawn chorus at the most active time of day for birds.

$10 for members of Green‑Wood and BHS/$15 for non-members.

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Hudson River Audubon Society
Saturday, May 20 - Sunday May 21, 2017
Bashakill Marsh
Drive up Saturday afternoon and stay overnight for Whip-poor-wills, American Bittern, Virginia Rail, and Alder Flycatchers.
http://hras.org/wtobird/bashakill.html

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Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society
Saturday, May 20, 2017 - 7:30am
The Birds of Doodletown Road
Doodletown is a haven for breeding warblers including hooded and the coveted cerulean. Kentucky warblers are very possible.
Registration: 516-695-0763 or hobaudubon@gmail.com.
Directions: Travel west over the Tappan Zee Bridge to exit 13. Take the Palisades Interstate Parkway north. Go north to Route 6 to the Bear Mountain traffic circle. Leave the circle at the first exit, the Bear Mountain State Park exit. At the light, follow the left fork south along 9W. Within less than 1 mile there will be several small parking areas near two, white concrete abutments indicating the bridge over Doodletown Brook. Park along the road.
Stay overnight and join us on our Sterling Forest trip the next day for a Sterdoodle of a weekend! Field trip participants are responsible for locating their own overnight accommodations

Sunday, May 21, 2017 - 8:00am
Sterling Forest Exploration
Golden winged warblers are the attraction here, along with many species of breeding birds.
Registration: 585-880-0915.
Directions: Take Exit 15 off of NY 87 and head north. Make a left onto 17A. In about 2 miles make a left onto State Route 84 (Long Meadow Road). Follow this about 4 miles to HQ Building/Visitor Center where we will meet.

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Linnaean Society of New York
Saturday, May 20, 2017 (Rain date, May 21)
Doodletown
Leader: Paul Keim
Registrar: Anne Lazarus — amlazarus47@gmail.com or 212-673-9059
Registration opens: Monday, May 8
Ride: $30

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New York Botanical Garden (Bronx)
Saturdays -- 9/3/2016 - 6/24/2017: 11:00 a.m.
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11am to 12:30pm beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center

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New York City Audubon Society
Saturdays April 29, May 13, and June 3, and Sundays, May 7 and May 21, 9:30-10:30am
Queens Botanical Garden Bird Walks
Guide: NYC Audubon with Queens Botanical Garden
We are happy to announce a new series of spring migration bird walks in partnership with Queens Botanical Garden. Register for one date or the whole series of five free walks (walk-ins welcome!). Explore the Garden in search of migrant songbirds and learn about the valuable resources that the Garden offers birds and other wildlife. Binoculars available. Limited to 25. Appropriate for all ages. To register, email info@queensbotanical.org or visit www.queensbotanical.org/calendar. Free with Garden admission

Weekly on Saturdays, until Jul 29, 2017
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 20, 2017, 8:30am – 11:00am
Spring Migrants at Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan
Guide: Annie Barry
Meet at the entrance to Inwood Hill Park at the corner of Isham Street and Seaman Avenue. Join Annie Barry for a hike through a mature forest in search of kinglets, warblers, flycatchers, sparrows, Baltimore orioles, and other migrants and residents. We will then move to the shores of the Inwood Hill Park saltmarsh, the last natural saltmarsh in Manhattan, to search for herons and ducks, and will explore Muscota Marsh, a recently restored habitat within the park. Some hilly walking required. Limited to 15. $36 (25)
Click here to register

Saturday, May 20, 2017, 10am – 1pm
Birding Bonanza - Randalls Island
Randall’s Island is home to over 180 species of birds. Join us for a day of free, family-friendly bird watching! Learn about the amazing adaptations of birds as they thrive in the Island's restored habitats.

- Guided walks
- Crafts and games
- Refreshments
- Suitable for ages 7+ (with an adult)

Saturday, May 20, 2017, 10am – 1pm
Birds and Plants: New York Botanical Garden in Springtime
Guides: Gabriel Willow
Meet by the ticket booth just inside the Garden’s Mosholu Gate on Southern Boulevard. The New York Botanical Garden is home to a large tract of East Coast old-growth forest. During the peak of spring migration, the beautiful gardens come alive with migrating songbirds. Limited to 15. Entrance fee to NYBG not included. $39 (27)
Click here to register

Sunday, May 21, 2017, 9:30am – 10:30am
Queens Botanical Garden Bird Walks
Saturdays April 29, May 13, and June 3, and Sundays, May 7 and May 21, 9:30-10:30am
Guide: NYC Audubon with Queens Botanical Garden
We are happy to announce a new series of spring migration bird walks in partnership with Queens Botanical Garden. Register for one date or the whole series of five free walks (walk-ins welcome!). Explore the Garden in search of migrant songbirds and learn about the valuable resources that the Garden offers birds and other wildlife. Binoculars available. Limited to 25. Appropriate for all ages. To register, email info@queensbotanical.org or visit www.queensbotanical.org/calendar. Free with Garden admission

Sunday, May 21, 2017, 1pm – 4pm
Nesting Peregrines and Red-Tails of the Upper West Side, Manhattan
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 diverse 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. $36 (25)
Click here to register

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North Shore Audubon Society
Saturday, May 20, 2017, 8am – 12pm
NYIT de Seversky Center
Where: NYIT de Seversky Mansion, 1 Northern Blvd, Glen Head, NY 11545
Leader: Liz 516-404-1984
Enter from Northern Blvd and West Rd - head south on West Rd. Proceed up the hill, and follow sign to the NYIT de Seversky Mansion on right. Park in big lot across from mansion.
Wear water-resistant footwear, bring binoculars and drinking water.

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NYC H2O
Saturday, May 20, 2017 at 6:30pm
Horseshoe Crab Discovery Walks
Location: Plumb Beach

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Queens County Bird Club
Saturday, May 20 – Sunday, May 21, 2017
Doodle-ing Bash!
Leader: Arie Gilbert (917) 693-7178
Trips of this nature require reservations **well in advance.**
Please contact leaders at least 2 days before trip to let them know you are attending

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South Shore Audubon Society
Sunday, May 21, 2017
Hempstead Plains

All walks start at 9:00 A.M.
There is no walk if it rains or snows or temperature is below 25°F.
For more information or in case of questionable weather conditions, please phone Joe at 516 467-9498
For directions to our bird-watching locations, click here.

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Urban Park Rangers
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Bird Walks at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (in Van Cortlandt Park), Bronx
8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
Head to the park to join bird walks led by experts from the NYC Audubon! Bird walks focus on wildlife happenings in the park.
Free!

Rangers Choice: Calvert Vaux Park Discovery Hike at Calvert Vaux Park, Brooklyn
10:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
This beautifully-restored parkland holds remnants of sunken barges that have been taken over by nature.
Free!

Discovery Walks for Families: Beginning Birders at Belvedere Castle (in Central Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
Bring your family for a guided walk and discover why Central Park is a sanctuary for plants, animals, and humans alike. Learn about the architecture, landscapes, and ecosystems of the…
Free!

Birding Bonanza at Little Hell Gate Salt Marsh (in Randall's Island Park), Manhattan
10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
At our Birding Bonanza event, expert guides from both the Randall's Island Park Alliance and NYC Audubon help you explore the park while you seek and discover our feathered island residents.
Free!

For The Birds Festival: A Celebration of All Things Avian at Conference House Park Visitor Center (in Conference House Park), Staten Island
11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Come discover and celebrate NYC's avian residents at Conference House Park's For The Birds Festival.
Free!

Art Exhibition: Flora/Fauna/Feathers of Richmond County at H.H. Biddle House (in Conference House Park), Staten Island
1:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.
Flora/Fauna/Feathers of Richmond County sponsored by Protectors of Pine Oak Woods, Staten Island’s land conservation organization. Come view original artwork celebrating nature…
Free!

Sunday, May 21, 2017
Bird Watching at Forest Park Visitor Center (in Forest Park), Queens
8:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
Start your day with an early morning bird-watching walk led by Jean Loscalzo of the Queens County Bird Club. Binoculars recommended.
Free!

Birding: Hawk Watch at Parking Area (in High Rock Park), Staten Island
9:00 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
The Urban Park Rangers will teach you how to use your eyes and ears to find these birds of prey in this enchanting woodland.
Free!

Bird Walks with New York City Audubon at Queens Botanical Garden, Queens
9:30 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
Spot and identify creatures of flight and learn how Queens Botanical Garden provides important resources for birds—like water, shelter, and insects to eat.
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Exploring urban nature, birds, birdwatching, birding, hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, hawks, raptors, wildflowers, trees, mushrooms, environment, binoculars, spotting scope