A garden oasis and cultural center overlooking the Hudson River

Wave Hill Birding: A Pair of Walks Draw Flocks

An expert birder and naturalist, Gabriel Willow leads walks and excursions all over the world, yet he has an easygoing and accessible way of encouraging new birders without overwhelming them with information. His walks are a regular feature of each season at Wave Hill.

We had about 13 participants on the regular bird walk Sunday morning, November 9, and twice that on the Fall Family Bird Walk right after the Family Art Project the same day—a  regular flock of visitors! We saw some nice critters on both walks.

On the early-morning walk, we spotted 33 species of birds—they are listed below—and a snake as well!  It was a beautiful autumn morning, relatively warm and sunny, with a cool breeze from the northwest, which is always a good sign for fall birding, by the way.  The colors looked beautiful across the Hudson on the Palisades.

We walked down the usual path towards the woodlands below Wave Hill House.

A black-throated green warbler, courtesy of Jim Wright

Highlights included a fairly large mixed sparrow flock—dark-eyed juncos, song sparrows, white-throated sparrows, and a swamp sparrow). A young bald eagle soared over, and, best of all, down by the compost area we had two exceptionally tardy migratory warblers: a black-throated green warbler and a black-throated blue warbler.  The last reported NYC sightings of these species on eBird were from October 26 and 29 respectively!  Hope they get out of here before a frost: the cold won’t bother them but the lack of insects to eat might.

A young, white-crowned sparrow, courtesy of Jim Wright

Another nice sighting near the compost area was a handsome young white-crowned sparrow preening in a patch of sunshine.  We finished the walk up on the Lower Lawn—which many realize is the roof of the Ecology Building—where one participant found a fairly large garter snake sunning itself on the stone balustrade, and we heard the distinctive croak of a common raven, and spotted it wheeling over the river.

A northern mockingbird, courtesy of Jim Wright

On the family walk, we saw many of the same species, with the addition of two turkey vultures and an uncommon male northern harrier (also called the “Gray Ghost”), headed southward.

See you Saturday for the Birding Bootcamp! My thanks to Jim Wright for the wonderful photos he took during the walk, and which he has given me permission to use to accompany this post.

Species seen:
1.            Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
2.            Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
3.            Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)
4.            Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
5.            Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
6.            Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)
7.            Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
8.            Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)
9.            Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)
10.          Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
11.          Fish Crow (Corvus ossifragus)
12.          crow sp. (Corvus sp.)
13.          Common Raven (Corvus corax)
14.          Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)
15.          Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)
16.          White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)
17.          Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa)
18.          Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)
19.          American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
20.          Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
21.          European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
22.          Black-throated Blue Warbler (Setophaga caerulescens)
23.          Black-throated Green Warbler (Setophaga virens)
24.          Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)
25.          Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana)
26.          White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)
27.          White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)
28.          Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)
29.          Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
30.          Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
31.          Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)
32.          Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus)
33.          American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)
34.          House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

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