Central Park, NYC
Monday 27 January 2020 43 °F
After my music theory class let out at about 3pm, I took the subway to Central Park again in search primarily for the Boat-tailed Grackle I missed there yesterday. Upon walking into the park, a pale RED-TAILED HAWK (maybe the famous “Pale Male?”) greeted me with a few soaring circles overhead:
And then I almost immediately knew I struck gold when I heard the raucous calls of almost a thousand COMMON GRACKLES, mixed in with a few RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS and EUROPEAN STARLINGS. The Grackles had great antics with the males blowing up their feathers, displaying for females, and all birds showing off their beautiful iridescence. Believe it or not, this is a species that has been in a rapid decline in population the last few decades.
This is just a fraction of what I had to pick through:
It took about twenty minutes or so of sorting through the other birds, but eventually I found my “needle in the haystack” target: the female BOAT-TAILED GRACKLE, a true rarity for Central Park! This species is usually found in coastal saltmarsh (for example, the habitat one may find in Jamaica Bay, Queens where I have seen this species before). In a tree, it resembles a female oriole!
Orioles seldom forage on the ground as this Boat-tailed Grackle did, though:
Then, I headed north about three hundred yards and almost immediately found the mega-reliable immature RED-HEADED WOODPECKER — so nice to spend more time photographing it today:
Next, I took the subway south to the Central Park Pond in hopes of seeing an out-of-season Wood Thrush which was sighted here recently. Wood Thrush should be in Central America this time of year! The resident MALLARDS were on the pond with two AMERICAN COOTS that I believe have been here throughout the winter.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t manage to find the Wood Thrush, but no matter, I found my target bird and my bird-of-the-day the Boat-tailed Grackle anyway! Runner-up to my friend the Red-headed Woodpecker. It seems that after all, my foul birding luck here in NYC so far this year might just be turning around! OR, maybe anything would be disappointing after coming from Antarctica...
World Life List: 1108 Species