Fall Birding in Central Park

Fall birding is not about numbers; it’s about the special birds you see when you’re not really expecting them. On my first two October visits to Central Park – October 2 and 7 – I logged 34 fairly predictable species, although a male Black-throated Blue Warbler was a bit of a surprise. A week later, October 13, the Park was quieter and leaves were falling away, but one-by-one I had special sightings. First was a Carolina Wren, high in trees above. I had seen his cousin, the Winter Wren, on bpth previous visits, but I was delighted to get another good view, as he hopped onto the fence along the path. Then, a pair of Blue-headed Vireos passing through. A Golden-crowned Kinglet – always a favorite – darted onto a tree in front of me. Those, plus possible Blackburnian Warbler and Cooper’s Hawk sightings, gave me a good day, I thought, as I departed the Ramble. On my way out I diverted onto Cedar Hill without further expectations, only to come across a flock of Chipping Sparrows with the season’s first Slate-colored Junco mixed in. Descending the hill I saw two birds jumping out of the grass: Palm Warblers! The numbers that day were low, but it seemed that almost each bird I saw was a new and special treat. Today, October 19, I made my last Park visit, a calm, sunny fall day. There were more White-throated Sparrows than before – and it seems the males migrate after the females/immatures – and again a lot of Hermit Thrushes, but not much else. As I was heading out, however, a Red-Tailed Hawk swooped onto a low limb above me, and a Brown Creeper, sign of approaching winter, climbed up the same tree.

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