I was in New York on business and was able to get a few hours of free time to “bird” Central Park. I am sure that most of you are familiar with downtown Manhattan and have at least heard of Central Park before. It’s a sprawling park located in the middle of one of the busiest, most populated and congested cities in the world and it also sits smack dab along the migratory route of many eastern birds. Central Park is 843 acres or 1.32 mi²; a rectangle 2.5 miles long by 0.5 miles wide. With about twenty-five million visitors annually, Central Park is the most visited city park in the United States.
Thousands of “birders” visit Central Park each year and in particular around the spring and fall migrations when birds heading north for the summer or south for the winter stop to feed, water or rest themselves in this haven amidst the concrete jungle.
I started my trek along 5th Avenue, cut across the park to the west side, then down about half way checking out places like “Strawberry Fields”, “The Ramble”, “The Castle” and other locations. Seems just about every part of the park has a name, some making sense others none at all! There are literally miles and miles of trails that criss-cross the park and you can spend countless hours searching. Despite the number of people it is fairly easy to get a bit of isolation and quite which is why I am sure the park is so popular for the locals.
In any event, I was able to add a few (3) “lifers” to my list and had a good time doing so. The weather would have been perfect if it hadn’t been for the endless stream of clouds that made for poor lighting conditions during much of the day. Despite the poor light however, the day was very pleasant and I would like to share some of the highlights with you below.
First bird of the day (other than the almost innumerable Rock Pigeons, House Sparrows and European Starlings) was this Baltimore Oriole.
Speaking of Starlings, even though they are quite a nuisance, they are still attractive in certain conditions.
My first Warbler of the day was this Palm Warbler
My first “lifer” for the day and second Warbler, the Ovenbird
Female Northern Cardinal
Male Northern Cardinal
Female Downy Woodpecker
Male Downy Woodpecker
Another Black-capped Chickadee, one of the more common birds in the park
Carolina Wren – I was a little disappointed I couldn’t get a clear shot but he would not stop moving!
American Robins were EVERYWHERE!
I had never seen an American Goldfinch in alternate plumage, took me a minute to figure out what I was looking at when I found a small flock feeding on seeds in a garden.
Third Warbler of the day… Black-and-White Warbler
The infamous Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (some non-birding folks still believe that there is no such thing…:o)
Another Blue Jay – remarkable how much they sound like a Red-shouldered Hawk when they call! They were quite common as well.
A shy Hermit Thrush, feeding on some berries
American Robin showing off
Fourth Warbler of the day, a Female Black-throated Blue Warbler (I think…:o)
I believe this may be a Vireo, possibly a Philadelphia or Warbling, not sure, thought it was a Warbler at first! If anyone has any ID suggestions please let me know!
Squirrels were also everywhere!
Next Warbler – American Redstart – this one a female, also very common in the park
Another questionable Vireo/Warbler, poor lighting, was actually more yellow than it appears, I believe this is a Philadelphia Vireo but I am probably wrong...
One more questionable bird, the pink/orange legs would seem to indicate a Warbler, again any ideas?
This is yet another Warbler, a Northern Parula
Here’s another shot of a female American Redstart
There are 7 bodies of water within the park, this one had numerous Red-eared Sliders basking in the intermittent sunshine
This is the “Yellow-shafted” variety of Northern Flicker
My second “lifer” of the day, a Gray-cheeked Thrush
Here’s a male American Redstart for contrast. These guys are very difficult to photograph as they are in almost constant motion.
A small group of Canada Geese was observed, probably a resident population due to the remarkable girth of the individuals I saw
Final bird of the day for me was also “lifer” number 3. Funny how sometimes you have to go across country to see a bird that is relatively common in your own territory yet I had never seen a Brown Creeper until this afternoon in NY.
Another shot of the Brown Creeper
Unfortunately, I tweaked my back somehow and was in quite a bit of pain as the day wore on and I finally had to call it quits as I could barely walk due to the pain shooting down my leg (I have a bit of a chronic back problem). However I was quite pleased with the variety and good quality of birds. I would have liked to have gotten a few more Warblers that I do not have on my life list, several were reportedly seen in the days leading up to my visit (there is a great web site on daily reports from Central Park on the net), however it was not meant to be. Overall I saw 51 different species, photographed most and had a good time doing so but duty was calling and it was back to business and a wrap on my birding time in NY. Thanks again for looking, good luck until next time!