Drawing by Alan Messer
New Yorkers are fortunate in so many ways. This city is graced with cultural institutions, museums, and world food. Our immediate access to the natural world surprises many busy citizens. This time of year, the spectacle of Neotropical (New World) bird migration may be witnessed by simply looking upward. As you’re out and about, check the water tank crowns for perched American kestrels and other raptors. Up high, a dark plank-shaped bird tracking slowly and steadily overhead may be a bald eagle or an osprey. Peregrine falcons disperse from their city nest sites. Every neighborhood takes pride in its local breeding pair of red-tails. In winter, several sharpies and Cooper’s (accipiters—what’s an accipiter? Come on the walks.) linger in parks to prey on birdfeeder birds. Yes, it’s a jungle.
In addition to the dramatic, we host the sublime—warblers. They’re often called feathered jewels for good reason; they are truly precious. Over 30 species transit through the boroughs. Their names hint at their dazzling raiment: cerulean, yellow-throat, red-start, black-throated blue, black-throated green, chestnut-sided. One species appointed in simple black and subtle browns, the blackpoll, makes an astonishing return trip to South America from New England in a multi-thousand-mile flight over the Atlantic Ocean. Don’t forget the sparrows—towhee, chipping, field, swamp, tree, song, fox, Lincoln’s, white-crowned, and white-throated—that animate the undergrowth. Tanagers, nuthatches, wrens, thrushes, vireos, buntings, finches, kinglets, woodpeckers, egrets, and more are represented on Central Park’s species list. A saved relic of historic infrastructure and a happy accident for birders, the Reservoir, acts as a bird blind. There I’ve had my closest looks at ruddy ducks, buffleheads, pied-billed grebes, coots, and the sartorial champion of the water birds, the hooded merganser.
Central Park is a migrant oasis, year-round home, and breeding ground for many species. I’m delighted to be joining with the Wild Bird Fund in offering bird walks to the public. Please come with us to revel in and learn about these feathered treasures. I hope that in my small way I can help promote the Wild Bird Fund’s mission and add to an enriched context of our place in the natural world. Artist Illustrator, Alan Messer
During the Wild Bird Fund Center Fall Open House, Alan Messer, avid birder and artist illustrator, took seven of our visitors on a bird walk in Central Park. They stopped first at Tanner’s Spring to release three of our rehabilitated warblers (a common yellow-throat, northern parula, and magnolia). Alan then led them through the Ramble. Bird sightings that day: Double-crested Cormorant*, Canada Goose, Gadwall (duck), Mallard, Ruddy Duck*, Bald Eagle*, Cooper’s Hawk*, American Kestrel*, Ring-billed Gull*, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull*, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Chimney Swift, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Phoebe, Blue Jay, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Swainson’s Thrush, Wood Thrush, American Robin, Gray Catbird, European Starling, Cedar Waxwing, White-throated Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Common Grackle, House Sparrow. * Denotes birds seen by the leader before the formal walk.
Take a Walk on the Wild Side with Alan Messer
Saturday, October 27, 10 am – noon. Rain date October 28th.
$10 per person. Free for Members.
Reservations required. Email membership for a reservation.
Read more about other upcoming events at the Wild Bird Fund here.