the hero of the hour
Well, the first thing Christmas weekend brought me was a head cold. After spending Christmas Day in bed, I struggled in to work on Friday morning--and then struggled right back out on Friday afternoon to chase the reported Couch's Kingbird in Greenwich Village. Luckily I have an understanding boss.
Couch's Kingbird is a Central and South American bird, with a range extending into southern Texas and no reported sightings in New York before now. But apparently one has been hanging around a vest-pocket park at Jane and Washington Streets for six weeks or so--and nobody reported it until Christmas Day, when Zack Winestine, who found the bird, told Gabriel Willow, who posted it that night on the NYSBIRDS-L mailing list, and the next morning it was off to the races.
I got down to Jane Street about 2 PM. A knot of birders was on the corner opposite the little park. Ken Gayle had just seen the bird, but it had flown. I walked around the block and then into the park, thinking about where I would be if I were a flycatcher.
The answer came when I rejoined the other birders, who had just gotten a call that the bird had been sighted at Bleeker and Hudson, and off we went.
that first glimpse!
There we found sixty-plus birders, and one bird.
the bird paparazzi
A lot of passers-by were curious about what was going on. Everyone was happy to explain about the bird, the first state record, and all that. "And this is what always happens when there's a first sighting of a bird in the state," I told them, "the bird paparazzi all come out."
or maybe "birderazzi?"
So, Couch's can only be distinguished from a Tropical Kingbird -- a more numerous species with more vagrant records -- by voice, and this one wasn't calling. It's possible I heard it call once--when a kestrel flew overhead calling, and wouldn't that have been a bad scene--a sharp kip! Maybe.
ready for action
Luckily it had been calling that morning and was heard and recorded by people who could positively ID it.
Eventually I headed back to work, checking on the Ovenbird still present in Bryant Park and making it back to the office inside the two hours I had told the boss I'd need. Urban birding, there's nothing like it.
you made it to the end, so you get one more pic of the pretty bird