Monday, June 13, 2016


Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Dickcissel, Central park
Fine young Dickcissel

Late in the Spring migration, Central Park got an unexpected visitor in a young male Dickcissel. Dickcissel are midwestern birds. We get one or two here in the Fall, usually young birds going off-course in their first migration. Getting one in the Spring was very unusual, but welcome--the autumn birds are rather dull, resembling big House Sparrows, while this was a fine male--probably in his first Spring, judging by the small size of the black V on his yellow breast, and the presence of some white in the black area.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Dickcissel and House Sparrow fledgling
Go away kid, ya bother me

When Dickcissels show up here, they usually associate with flocks of House Sparrows, which makes sense--they're brownish seed-eating birds, like female Dickcissels, and they forage in flocks like Dickcissels. This bird was no exception, though it didn't get along with the sparrows as well as the autumn visitors I've seen before. They quarreled a bit; perhaps that was due to the rush of testosterone in the young Dickcissel.

The Dickcissel seemed especially bothered by the House Sparrow fledglings, whose begging drove it off its perch a couple of times.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

A Magic Tree

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Blackburnian Warbler, Central Park
Blackburnian Warbler (male)

Another great phenomenon of migration is the "magic tree". Sometimes, a certain tree will just be full of migrants, especially warblers, for an hour or two, busily feeding and giving great looks to anyone who passes by. Central Park had a Magic Tree on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. It was just off the plaza of Belvedere Castle, and it was something to see.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Bay-Breasted Warbler, Central Park
Bay-Breasted Warbler

I had some of the finest close views of Blackburnian and Bay-Breasted warblers I've ever seen, all in a low honey locust tree in beautiful morning light. A crowd of birders stood only ten or twelve feet from the tree--the birds didn't care.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Blackburnian Warbler, Central Park
Blackburnian Warbler (female)

It's not clear to me why certain trees get so popular. There wasn't anything obvious about this one--just an ordinary-looking tree, not especially lush--a little scraggly if anything. But it was in flower and the flowers must have been full of bugs.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Bay-Breasted Warbler, Central Park

The low branches of the tree were basically at eye level, so we got some fairly unusual views of foraging warblers, like the Bay-Breasted above and the Blackburnian below.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Blackburnian Warbler, Central Park

In all, I saw ten warbler species in this one small tree: Blackburnian, Bay-Breasted, Blackpoll...

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Blackpoll Warbler, Central Park
Blackpoll (female) apparent first- spring female Chestnut-Sided:

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Chestnut-Sided Warbler, Central Park

Magnolia Warbler{

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Magnolia Warbler, Central Park

Yellow Warbler:

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Yellow Warbler, Central Park
fie on your "gravity" well as American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat, Black-Throated Blue Warbler and Black-Throated Green Warbler. There were also a couple of Red-Eyed Vireos.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Red-Eyed Vireo, Central Park
Red-Eyed Vireo

Amazing tree, amazing morning.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Blackburnian Warbler, Central Park
there may be a quiz

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Bay-Breasted Warbler, Central Park