Birder's Guide

MAR 2018

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 29 of 73

creates the illusion of a mass of fallen leaves alive in the wind. In winter, the high concentration of conifers makes Green-Wood a solid spot for irrupt- ing boreal species, from Red-breasted Nuthatches to crossbills, and American Goldfinches roam the tops of the sweet - gum trees, often with a few Pine Siskins in tow. The vegetated slopes surround- ing several small ponds are worth a check in any season (a reliable spot for Louisiana Waterthrush in April), and Green-Wood's hills, among them the highest in Brooklyn, can be excellent promontories for a hawk watch in either migration season. While Green-Wood is splendid, Pros- pect Park is a true dynamo, especially during spring and fall mi- grations (though there are birds to be found at any time of the year). A spring morning's birding can deliver over a hundred bird species. Among the wide array of charismatic song- birds, the cryptic Bicknell's Thrush has been docu- mented here multi- ple times in the spring and is likely annu- al in small numbers. Prospect Park boasts Brooklyn's only lake, where even water- birds like Sora, Virginia Rail, and Solitary Sandpiper, desperate for something re- sembling appropriate habitat amid the concrete jungle, will drop in. As May comes to an end and the final spring migrants head north, attractive breed- ing birds take up residence, including Orchard Oriole, Wood Thrush, Warbling Vireo, Great-crested Flycatcher, and Wood Duck. Autumn flushes the park with waves of songbirds—a good mi- gration day from August into November finds the park bursting with birds. In October and November, the days are highlighted by a great diversity of spar- rows and sometimes tremendous num- bers of common short-distance migrants. Lookout Hill, the Peninsula, and the Midwood and Ravine are some of the for- ested areas to target, but just about anywhere can be fruitful. When winter comes, the gravitational cen- ter of birding in the park shifts to Prospect Lake. Thousands of gulls, Ring-billed Gulls pre- dominating, use the lake when it has an icy edge, and in this mass are some- times Iceland, Lesser Black-backed, or Black-headed gulls. Hundreds of waterfowl, predominantly Northern Shoveler and Ruddy Duck but often others as well, use whatever open water is available. A bird feeding station on Breeze Hill, maintained in the winter months by volunteers from the Brooklyn Bird Club, is a great place to view the regular winterers at one's leisure, includ- ing "Red" Fox Sparrow and sometimes Rusty Blackbird. Prospect and Green- Wood also host woodlands sufficiently extensive to support nesting Great Horned Owls, while Northern Saw-whet Owl and Long-eared Owl are occasional fall and winter visitors, though difficult to find. There's also the distinct possibil- ity of the unexpected: some of the rari- ties seen in Prospect Park over the years include Townsend's Warbler, Swainson's Warbler, Western Tanager, Swallow- tailed Kite, Mississippi Kite, White Ibis, Red-necked Phalarope, Barnacle Goose, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Scissor- 28 Birder's Guide to Travel | April 2018 Birding Brooklyn n Prothonotary Warbler. Photo © Douglas Gochfeld n Monk Parakeet. Photo © Douglas Gochfeld

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