We at NYC Audubon hope you have all had a happy holiday season. While many have been busy preparing for the holidays, there's been some exciting birding so far this winter: A number of unusual northern species have visited our area. See below for Gabriel Willow's exploration of this interesting phenomenon. Some of these northern visitors were recorded in the 2012 Christmas Bird Count; you'll also find a summary of the Central Park count results here. Also in this issue: spring get-aways, volunteeer possibilities, and upcoming member events and lectures. Finally, though 2012 is drawing to a close, it's not too late to do your part to help support New York City's birds and precious natural sites (and make your donation in time for your 2012 taxes), by making a year-end donation to NYC Audubon through our secure server. Help us start 2013 on the best footing possible, to allow us to continue our efforts to speak out for the millions of birds that migrate through our city and call it home year-round. This support is particularly crucial now as we work to have the greatest impact on planning decisions following the damage done by hurricane Sandy. We are very grateful for your help. And we hope you enjoy this issue of the eGret. Happy New Year!
Evening Grosbeak © Pacific/USFWS
By Gabriel Willow
"...there was greate plenty of strang birds, that shewed themselves at the time the apples were in full rype, who fedde upon the kernells onely of these apples, and haveinge a bill with one beake wrythinge over the other... The oldest man living had never heard or reade of any such like bird..." [Ian Newton, Finches, 1640]
Strange Visitors from the North: Irruptive Migrants
Close observers of the natural world have always followed patterns of bird movement and migration with interest. Mariners looked to birds as indicators of oceanic currents and the proximity of land. Farmers noted seasonal disappearance or reappearance of certain species as harbingers of seasons to come. Naturalists were once mystified by some birds’ seasonal absence (Aristotle believed that swallows hibernated in the mud of ponds like frogs, and ascribed the similar seasonal disappearances of doves and kites to hibernation as well). Even more mysteriously, amateur naturalists and scientists alike have been puzzled for centuries by the occasional sudden arrival of unfamiliar species from lands unknown. Click here to read more
Piping plovers are among the species that depend on imperiled coastline habitat in New York City. Photo © François Portmann
Make Your Year-End Donation to NYC Audubon
If you haven't done so yet this year, please take a moment to support NYC Äudubon's work to protect New York City's birds and safeguard its valuable and threatened natural places. Click here to contribute or become a member.
One barred owl was spotted during this year's Central Park count. Photo © Mark Musselman
Christmas Bird Count 2012 Wrap-Up
Since its beginning in 1900, the Christmas Bird Count has lured intrepid (and hearty) birders out to brave the late-December chill to count birds in their local area. The count period itself extends from December 14 through January 5. Data generated by the CBC have been invaluable to scientists, allowing researchers to investigate the changes in species’ range over time.
As in the past few years, NYC Audubon coordinated the 2012 Lower Hudson count circle, which includes all of Manhattan and parts of New Jersey. Held this year on December 16th, this count includes Central Park. This was the 113th year of data collected in this premier urban park. With respect to trends over the past few years, 2012 witnessed higher numbers than seen in 2011, but was within the range of birds and species seen since 2007. Volunteers have counted between 3,288 birds (in 2011) and 7,771 birds (in 2007) and anywhere between 50 species (in 2009) and 57 species (in both 2007 and 2008). This year’s tally was 5,721 birds (a 74% increase from last year’s count) and 56 species (two more species than last year’s count). The most common species seen was the herring gull (1,168 were seen in all areas of the Park) and there were a number of unusual species seen this year, possibly as a result of irruptions from the north (see Gabriel Willow’s write-up of this phenomenon). Notable species spotted in Central Park this year included 2 common redpolls and 4 white-winged crossbills. Thanks to all the volunteer citizen scientists who came out on a cool, showery morning to help us collect this important information once again. Join us in 2013 for the 114th year! Click here to see results from prior years.
Silver Sands, Jamaica © Caramel_Teeze
Plan Your Escape Southwards This March or April!
It's not too late to join our March expedition to the lovely and bird-rich island of Jamaica, or our April expedition to the beautiful hill country and coast of Texas. In Jamaica you will enjoy luxurious accommodations in the Blue Mountains and along the Caribbean Coast, as we search for the island's many endemic species as well as neotropical migrants on their way north. Or, come to the Texas hill country at the peak of spring migration, visit the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge, and look for the endangered golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo. Read more below:
Thursday, March 14–Monday, March 18, 2013
Workshop: Thursday, March 7
Guides: Glenn Phillips, Lyndon Johnson, Wendy Lee
Enjoy a luxurious tropical island get-away on the isle of Jamaica--and explore one of the best island destinations in the world for birding, at the perfect time to see both migrant and resident species. A total of 307 bird species have been recorded here, including 180 migrants. Jamaica also boasts 28 endemic species (native only to Jamaica), more than any other West Indian island. Most of these can be found in the two very different habitats we'll visit, the stunningly beautiful Blue Mountains and pristine and exotic Cockpit Country. We'll finish off our tour at the renowned Rocklands Bird Sanctuary, where the spectacular red-billed streamertail, or Jamaican hummingbird, feeds from the hand. Includes one pre-trip workshop, accommodations at the lovely Strawberry Hill and Silver Sands resorts, local transportation, meals, and all park fees. Limited to 12. $1,895 ($550 single supplement). Click here to see a full tour description and itinerary.
TEXAS COAST AND HILL COUNTRY
Saturday, April 6-Sunday, April 14, 2013
Guides: Don Riepe, Carol Borneman
Fly to Houston and start with a visit to the High Island and Galveston areas during peak spring bird migration. Other highlights: the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge, an Austin boat tour to watch thousands of bats emerge at dusk, and a visit to Texas Hill Country to look for the endangered golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo. Includes roundtrip flight, local transportation, lodging, some meals, and park fees. To learn more, contact Don Riepe at 917-371-8577 or email@example.com. Limited to 14. $1,950 (price is subject to change)
There are still may ways to help with the post-Sandy recovery effort. A good source for many different ways to contribute is www.nycservice.org
. If you scroll down the page a bit, you will find many ways to contribute to the relief effort, as well as opportunities to help in area parks.
Snowy Egret © David Speiser
All lectures are free and open to the public and are held at The Arsenal, Central Park, 5th Ave. at 64th St., 3rd Floor Gallery. This series has been made possible by the support of Claude and Lucienne Bloch and Patagonia.
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT: INVESTIGATING WATERBIRD FORAGING BEHAVIOR
By Elizabeth Craig
Wednesday, January 9, 2013, 6pm
New York Harbor is home to an impressive diversity of waterbirds, ranging from long-legged wading birds such as the great egret and glossy ibis to diving seabirds like the double-crested cormorant. How do these birds live in the urban waterways of New York City? Join Elizabeth Craig, Ph.D. candidate at Cornell University and Research Associate at New York City Audubon, as she explores the urban wild spaces where these birds make their homes, and describes how scientists can use a single feather to investigate waterbird foraging behavior.
The yellow-rumped warbler is the most common "winter warbler" in New York City. Photo © Laura Meyers
MEMBERS WALK: WINTER IN CENTRAL PARK
Tuesday, January 15, 8am-9:30pm
Meet at Central Park West and 72nd St, parkside. Join NYC Audubon President Harry Maas to search for possible visitors from the north such as pine siskins, redpolls, and crossbills, as well as regular winter residents. Please contact Adriana Palmer at 212-691-7483 or firstname.lastname@example.org
to register. Limited to 20. Free for contributing NYC Audubon Members at the Student/Senior level and up
Top and Sidebar Photos: great egret © Steve Nanz; bufflehead © Steve Nanz; cock-of-the-rock © Bill Bouton; Jamaican tody © David Speiser