Central Park Stopovers
Now that we can emerge from layers of down, boldly exposing forearms and foreheads to the sun, the excuses to stay inside dwindle daily. What better way to get a dose of spring sunshine than birding in Central Park? Dust off your binoculars and bird book and see how many of these early migrants you can find!
1. The American Woodcock is literally an early bird on the migration scene. These rotund shorebirds can be spotted between patches of snow in late February and early March.
2. The Common Grackle is a long, lanky, blackbird with blue-green or blue-violet iridescent coloring on its head and upper back. Flocks begin arriving in February and March. Look for them on the ground where they do most of their feeding, and keep your ears peeled for their harsh, wheezy cackle.
3. Be on the lookout for the Golden-crowned Kinglet, a small but sturdy songbird, often found near conifers. Only slightly larger than a hummingbird, they are able to endure extremely cold winters and temperatures as low as minus 40°C.
4. Listen for the Eastern Phoebe’s raspy call. It seems to be saying its own name, “phoe- be.” This plump flycatcher prefers low branches and fence posts and tends to pump its tail up and down when perching.
5. Don’t miss the long, clear notes of the White-throated sparrow, one of the first birdsongs to be heard in the early spring. They can usually be heard and spotted in the scrubby habitat of the Ramble.
-By Audrey Larkin