What's in Flight 

June, 2019 

Spring is a beauty pageant in the park with all the rainbow colored migrants arriving from southerly climes like Mexico, the Tropics and South America. To celebrate the profusion of birds recently spotted in the park, What’s in Flight is dedicating this month’s post to images of some of the most stunning and unusual-looking ones seen this May.

Summer Tanager

Deborah E. Bifulco

The Summer Tanager is one of the most coveted bird sightings in New York City.  Birding expert Gabriel Willow thinks the one sighted near the 89th Street park entrance was blown off course and arrived further North than its usual destination.

Indigo Bunting

Deborah E. Bifulco

Male birds are in their most vibrant plumage in the Spring to attract a mate.  This Indigo Bunting turns a dull brownish-color with patches of blue by fall.

Baltimore Oriole

Deborah E. Bifulco

The Baltimore Oriole is one of the first migrants to arrive in the city.  ‘Orioles have one of the most complex woven nests. They weave a pouch that resembles a hanging sock,’ says Robyn Bailey, project leader of NestWatch at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Cedar Waxwing

Deborah E. Bifulco

Cedar Waxwing detail

Deborah E. Bifulco

Male and female Cedar Waxwings have the same beautiful plumage; a pale yellow belly, black mask, yellow tips and sometimes also red tips on their tail and a prominent crest. The female’s crest  and body tend to be slightly smaller.

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Greg Schechter

To date, birders have counted over 124 species of birds in our park. Carl Schurz Park is on the ebird.org list of global birding hotspots.

Prairie Warbler

Deborah E. Bifulco

Warblers are the favorite bird of Kaitlyn Parkins, the conservation biologist at New York City Audubon.  ‘The males look like little jewels dripping from trees,’ she says. ‘Female warblers ‘wear’ the bird equivalent of camouflage, so they won’t be spotted on their nest or feeding their chicks.’

American Kestrel

Nathan Rupert

American Kestrel

Jan Davis Ruthig

The American Kestrel is North America’s smallest falcon and one of the most colorful birds of prey.

Scarlet Tanager

Deborah E. Bifulco

The male Scarlet Tanager is an unmistakable flash of color with his scarlet body and black wings, but the female Scarlet Tanager blends into the foliage with her olive-yellow body.

Blackburnian Warbler

Richard Phillip Nelson

Another coveted sighting for New York birders is the petite Blackburnian Warbler with its flame orange face and intricate black and white patterning on its body.

Wilson's Warbler

Deborah E. Bifulco

At ground level in the park you might notice only sparrows, robins, pigeons and grackles, but flitting high up in the trees (notably the oaks, linden, ginko and tulip trees) are a host of colorful birds.

American Redstart

Hal Trachtenberg

American Redstarts have been gathering nesting materials to breed in our park.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Deborah E. Bifulco

Most warblers weigh just 0.2-0.5 ounces and are just a couple of inches long.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Deborah Bifulco

The song of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak sounds like an American Robin. ‘But listen for an extra sweetness, as if the bird had operatic training,’ says the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Purple Finch

Deborah E. Bifulco

The Purple Finch looks as if someone dipped a Song Sparrow in raspberry jam.  This pretty finch is a year round resident in our park and often seen near the 89th Street entrance.

Magnolia Warbler

Deborah E. Bifulco

Black-and-white Warbler

Terry Collins

Warblers have a strong and complex song. Due to their Lilliputian size they are constantly foraging for seeds and insects.

Barn Swallow

Dr Barry Pinchefsky

Barn Swallow collecting mud

Dr Barry Pinchefsky

Barn Swallow in flight

Dr Barry Pinchefsky

A flock of Barn Swallows is nesting in the park near the Ferry Terminal. They are frequently seen flying near Gracie Mansion and taking mud from puddles to build their nests.

Double-crested Cormorant

Dr Barry Pinchefsky

Double-crested Cormorant

Gregory Smith

Seen close-up, this fishing bird is quite beautiful with its striking aquamarine eyes, a mouth that’s bright blue on the inside, orange-yellow skin and a shimmering black body.

Words: Lucie Young


Images: Deborah E Bifulco, Dr Barry Pinchefsky, Richard Phillip Nelson, Terry Collins, Hal Trachtenberg, Gregory Smith, Greg Schechter, Nathan Rupert, Jan Davis Ruthig,



Find the complete list of birds sighted in Carl Schurz on ebird.org

Learn about birds, their songs and how to identify them on Allaboutbirds.org

For more on the nesting habits of birds Nestwatch.org

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