Red Cardinal 2 NYC


This post is the converse of my LAST POST, as we prepare to visit the City of the Trump Tower for a few days. There are some birds found in NYC that have never been recorded for Abaco – some not even for the Bahamas at all. A few of these are surprising absences.

Northern Cardinal, Central Park NYCNorthern Cardinal NYC

The Northern Cardinal, to take one example, is a common and widespread bird in many States. It is the emblem of many sporting teams and *FUN FACT ALERT* it is the state bird of more states than any other species – 7 in all! Sorry, what did you say? Oh, OK, they are Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia. [It is said, rather bathetically  that “it was also a candidate to become the state bird of Delaware, but lost to the Delaware Blue Hen.“]

Downy Woodpecker, Prospect Park BrooklynDowny Woodpecker 2 NYC

On eBird the east coast of Florida is positively flaming with Cardinal hotspots. The birds smother the state that is just across the water from the Bahamas. Yet the only recorded sighting for the entire Bahamas is a single bird on South Cat Cay, Bimini. Anyway, here are some nice birds to look at, mostly from Central Park NYC and Prospect Park Brooklyn. If anyone sees the last bird in the series on Abaco or indeed anywhere else, can you kindly let me know?

Cygnet, Prospect Park BrooklynCygnet NYC

Brown Creeper, The Ramble, Central Park NYCBrown Creeper NYC

Blue Jays, Central Park NYCBlue Jays NYC

Black-capped Chickadee, The Ramble, Central ParkBlack-capped Chickadee NYCApologetic note: I find these little flickery birds very hard to photograph. They are specially trained to move at all times and to get behind twigs & branches the minute they see a camera

Tufted Titmouse Central Park NYCTufted Titmouse 3 NYC

White-throated Sparrow, Prospect Park BrooklynWhite-throated Sparrow NYC

Mute Swan, Prospect Park BrooklynSwan 2 NYC

Raphus cucullatus (Dodo), American Museum of Natural HistoryDodo NYC

There’s one of these in the Natural History Museum in London; also in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History (parts of one, anyway). Where else in the world, I wonder?

 Normal Abaco Service will be restored in a few days… RH


Brooklyn Gulls


Many moons ago, I wrote about the bird species that a New Yorker might recognise during a trip to South Abaco. It would depend, of course, on the time of year and migration patterns. And whether a resident of  the Big  was remotely interested in going to Abaco to look at birds. As if! As it happens, Mrs RH is about to go to NYC, and tolerantly offered to take me as ‘trailing spouse’. Naturally, I said no at once [only joking]. So I am resurrecting the earlier material and polishing it up a bit for 2013. There is much good birding to be done in and around the City (Central Park ~ Riverside and Inwood Parks ~ Prospect Park Brooklyn ~ Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge ~ Staten Island ~ shorelines generally) though I shan’t be spending all my time doing that. Or even much of it. But I will see what species I can casually bag in a week.  

This photo is of a ring-billed gull, taken a while back in a freezing february (-15°) on the northern end of Roosevelt Island* in the East River. The whole front of the vessel in the background was thickly coated in frozen sea-ice, which covered the entire foredeck. However, you might just as easily catch one of these gulls on a perfect sunny day on the shores of Abaco…  [*Optional tourist note: it’s a great ride there on the aerial tramway. Visit the quaint clapboard Blackwell Farmhouse, built in 1796 and recently restored – it’s the oldest surviving building in the City, nestling shyly amidst a forest of new apartment blocks]Ring-billed Gull NYC

 If you happen to live in New York, you may quite possibly spend some spare time birding in Central Park, or checking out the red-tailed hawks of Washington Square. And if you are planning a trip to Abaco, you might suddenly wonder just how different the bird life will be there. Will there be any familiar species at all?

 New York City has nearly 200 regularly recorded bird species, most of which will be found in Central Park at some time of the year, if not all through it. South Abaco has around 126 species, excluding extreme rarities and accidentals. Is there much overlap, I wondered? And the answer is that there is plenty, rather more than I expected. 61 species in common, by my reckoning, including the Great Egret below. The the most notable feature is the almost complete coincidence of warblers.

Great Egret Abaco BC 1Photo credit © Brigitte Carey, Abaco

 I used the excellent (but not exhaustive) AVIBASE checklist for South Abaco, now featured on the Delphi Club site in the new BIRDING  section, and worked through a comparative list of the NYC species (see the birding website links for NYC / Central Park above). The result is below: a New Yorker using the South Abaco checklist may see any of the birds ringed in red. And it would work vice versa, of course. Why New York? It’s the only other place outside Europe that I have ever ‘birded’ (only extremely casually – no book, no notes, no pishing, a few photos – just for enjoyment). Peaceful bird time in the Ramble in Central Park is time well used… Before we get to the list, here’s a bit of local NYC colour that you won’t find on Abaco – a male Northern Cardinal in the snow in FebruaryCardinal NYC CP


 I photographed this red-tailed hawk in Central Park. We’ve seen one on Abaco in the National Park, close enough to get a really good photo of. Typically, it flew off before I could get my camera out of the truck. There’s a lesson there somewhere…

Editorial note (not necessarily a shared opinion): Abaco is so good, they only needed to name it once…