Getting Ready or the Spring Migration!

March 20 is the Spring Equinox. Winter will finally be over! As I write this, the sun is shining and the weather is beginning to warm. The snow is is gone. I think it was a tough winter for most of us and I am really glad it's ending. This week I noticed a large flock of Red-winged Blackbirds in the park, a sign that the migration is beginning. Male Red-winged Blackbirds come first, with the females following soon after. I've also spotted some very early migrants, Rusty Blackbirds, Fox Sparrows, Field Sparrow and Killdeer. The park is still full of wintering species but they are usually gone before the bulk of the spring migrants arrive. That's why March is always a tough birding month.

Birding technology has certainly changed since I began and it keeps evolving. Here's some information that might be useful for locating birds dring this year's migration. It is not complete, as now they are both on the Twitter and WhatsApp formats.

This is a female Red-winged Blackbird. It's a bird that often confuses new birders. It doesn't look at all like the male and is sometimes confused with sparrows.

This is a Great Horned Owl I saw almost every day as I walked the path on Hunter Island, a couple of years ago. Not far was the female, sitting on eggs. This is the male. Apparently he thought he was camoflauged sitting in the tangles of some vines. I would stop to look at him briefly and move on, he never seemed to mind. I still look for him in that spot but now he favors another location.

A Cooper's Hawk, on Hunter Island in late February 2019

Another early migrant is the Pied-billed Grebe. They seem to favor the small pool of water on Hunter Island near the north end, where the path meets the boardwalk.

American Tree Sparrows are in the park now. They come out when seed is spread near the first gate on the trail up into Hunter Island.

Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

All photos and text by Jack Rothman. All rights reserved. No photo may be copied or duplicated without written permission.Copyright 2021

          Updated 3/5/21

City Island Birds was created in 2007 to bring birders, and would be birders, to the park. Everyone has always been welcomed. Our walks are always friendly, non-competitive and fun. We all love to see great birds, but without each other, it's never as enjoyable.

A Rusty Blackbird in the snow. I took this recently on Hunter island. Rusty Blackbirds are a declining species. Populations have plummeted since the 1960 by 88%. More information here.

Everyone Will Always Be Welcomed

An American Woodcock in Pelham Bay Park. March is the time to find them, especially as they do their fascinating mating routines.

Please Don't Feed the Deer!

The herd of deer on Hunter Island seem to be increasing. They are exciting to see but they destroy the forest by eating the buds off the new trees. That's why you see tubes around newly planted seedlings.  Apparently people are feeding the deer. Recently they've come very close, looking for food handouts from humans. I don't think it it is safe. Deer can become agressive, especially during rut. In addition, they are reservoirs for ticks and Lyme disease.

Our state bird is this one, the Eastern Bluebird. They are here in Pelham Bay Park. I've seen them on Hunter Island and on the trail behind the golf course at Split Rock. If you're really looking to see them, try Rockefeller State Park in Pleasantville.

Walks To Resume!

I'm hoping Covid will continue to wane. I am anticipating that walks will resume as soon as the migration picks up. The walks will be limited to 10 paricipants. Masks and social distancing will be required. I will notify everyone here and via email.

The Fox Sparrow is a great looking bird. It's here now on Hunter Island but I suspect it will be gone soon.

Bird Arrivals For March

Early March (March 1-10)- Pied-billed Grebe, Wood Duck, Killdeer, Woodcock, Robin, Eastern Bluebird, Rusty Blackbird, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow


Mid March (11-20)- Northern Gannet, Black-crowned Night Heron, Snow Goose, Turkey Vulture, Piping Plover, Wilson's Snipe, Mourning Dove, Belted Kingfisher, Flicker, Phoebe, Fish Crow, American Pipit, Eastern Meadowlark, Brown-headed Cowbird


Late March (21-31) Double-crested Cormorant, Osprey, Greater Yellowlegs, Laughing Gull, Tree Swallow, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Savannah Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Field Sparrow