This post is about a 3-hour private birding tour in Central Park on May 10th, from 9am -Noon, with “Birding Bob” – also known as Dr. Robert DeCandido. Dr. Candido is a former Urban Park Ranger who for over the last 20 years has been hosting birding walks in the park. Our date has been chosen with an eye towards hitting the peak of the Spring migration season. When you sign up, you will be asked if you need binoculars – which you’re really going to want to have with you – but which you may be able to rent for the day. Members, please go to the SIGN-UP! tab on the menu ribbon to secure your spot and to get meet-up instructions. Can’t think of a better, more beautiful or more interesting way to spend several early Spring hours in Central Park. We will come up with a raindate if the weather turns inclement. This is a walking tour and you can leave at any point during it.
CELEBRATING SPRING: One of the most interesting, active, artifacts in the middle of our City is the Birding Book kept at the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park where generations of birders have recorded their sitings of various species of birds in Central Park. It seems likely that this has been supplanted by more techno-, immediate, ways of conveying information – but it’s a reminder that Central Park is one of the best birding spots in the United States with the flyway right over it. Birders from all over the world make pilgrimages here because Central Park is a favorite stopping spot for birds migrating along the East Coast. According to Birding Bob, “On a good day in early May, it is possible to see about 125 different kinds of birds in the park.”
Spring is regarded as the best time of year to “go birding” because it’s when male birds sport their most vibrant and attractive plumage with which to attract females. Another advantage is that the migration happens as a mass movement and takes place over a briefer, more concentrated, period than it does in the Fall since the mating season is relatively short and it’s imperative the birds get to their breeding grounds.
One of the most popular birding spots in the Park is THE RAMBLE, a 36-acre heavily wooded spot right in the middle of the Park where, over the years, over 230 species have been spotted – including 40 which live there all year. “The diversity of birds there rivals, and in some cases is better than, some forests,” according to Tom Guida of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center.
Virtually no one thinks of Manhattan as much of a nature center – but at this particular time of year, in this very specific spot – it certainly is. Please join us for a great day, and if you want to prepare yourself CLICK HERE for the NYC Audobon Society’s Central Park Bird Checklist … and take a look below at Birding Bob’s Central Park Birding tips:
- Get warmed up, and once you are, keep going. (Although it may well be a warm day.)
- Don’t get frustrated if you can’t identify the birds right away. “Don’t worry about putting names on the birds, just enjoy the experience of the energy, flashing colors and spring in Central Park.”
- Practice makes perfect. “As one gets better at this game of spotting, one develops skills for remembering exactly where on the bird’s body was that patch of gold or green … was it a double or single wing bar? Did that one have ear tufts or not?” the guide says. “In other words, with practice and enough interest, we start to see nuances between the species … or just between males and females and young birds of the same species.”
- A good birdwatching experience often comes down to one thing: location. Birding Bob recommends heading to The Ramble (which is where we will spend all or part of the day) which is Central Park’s largest wooded area. Its meadows and lake draw tons of migrating birds throughout the spring.
- Try looking for common species when starting out – many types of Warblers are common.
- Start birding in your own backyard.
- Chat with your fellow birders.
- Develop an appreciation for shared habitats. Birding Bob says: “New York City has a long history (125 years) of people looking at birds in the parks. It is nice to know something about the habitat we—the birds, wildlife, plants and people—share together. Urban areas and the parks therein are important stopover habitats for migrants … you don’t have to go to the rainforest or the coral reef or Costa Rica or Africa to see wildlife—something wild is happening every minute of every day here in NYC.” (No kidding!)