Thursday, March 3, 2016

Central Park 3/3--Black-capped Chickadee

The Lake @ Central Park, looking west.
I had to go into the city today, so I did my first extra-Jersey birding of the year in Central Park. I looked at eBird last night and there had been nothing unusual reported there lately. I walked in The Ramble and made my way to the feeders. I had one bird in mind to find.

The feeders were very active, but there was nothing there that I couldn't see out the back window in Whiting. The most common bird was House Sparrow (actually, I rarely see them out our back window) and the runner up was White-throated Sparrow, some of which are molting into crisp breeding plumage:
Another birder came along and we chatted about what birds around. I told him, "I know this sounds silly, but the only bird I'm really interested in finding is Black-capped Chickadee." Although they're common in Central Park, I missed them last year on my few visits to the park (and to Prospect Park too) and I figured it would be the only bird I wouldn't regret using up for Bird A Day. He said that so long as there wasn't a hawk around, they usually show up in 10 minutes. Well, I'd been there for 20, but I guess he meant they show up in 10 minutes once he gets there, because one did fly in and sampled a few feeders, albeit too fast to get a photo.

I checked out the lake and only found a flock of Northern Shovelers doing their spinning feeding behavior, which I always find amusing. Geese and a few Mallards were the only other birds in the water.
Northern Shovelers shoveling
I checked out Turtle Pond from Belevedere Castle and it was devoid of birds. But I did hear and see two more chickadees on my way back to the feeders, where another birder pointed out a Fox Sparrow to me. I told him that earlier I'd had a couple of juncos there and he was very excited--he hadn't seen any juncos yet this year, which seems impossible to me. I also saw a Brown-headed Cowbird associating with a big flock of grackles; I remember last year seeing a birding group avidly chasing after a cowbird, which certainly seemed weird to me, but as is often pointed out, what's common in one place is a big deal in another (cf: Harris's Sparrow).

After a little over 2 hours I left the park with a decent list and went to my appointment:
25 species
Canada Goose  30     Lake, exact count
Mallard  3     Lake
Northern Shoveler  18     Lake, exact count
Ring-billed Gull  1
Rock Pigeon   4
Mourning Dove  2
Red-bellied Woodpecker  2
Downy Woodpecker  2     Feeders
Blue Jay  5
Black-capped Chickadee  3
Tufted Titmouse  2
White-breasted Nuthatch  4
American Robin  3
European Starling  5
Fox Sparrow  1     Feeders
Dark-eyed Junco  2     Feeders
White-throated Sparrow  50
Song Sparrow  1     Feeders
Northern Cardinal  4
Red-winged Blackbird  3     Feeders
Common Grackle  40
Brown-headed Cowbird  1     Feeders
House Finch  10
American Goldfinch  25
House Sparrow  150

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