Winter Passerines, Waterfowl and Raptors

Winter is almost here. Colder temperatures will bring in more waterfowl. Winter ice up north closes in and waterfowl look for open water futher south. In colder years we have thousands of ducks in Eastchester Bay, visible from many locations but particularly good from Hunter and Twin Islands and Orchard Beach. There are Winter also brings us Long-eared, Barred and

Saw-whet owls.

As you may have already read, two Barred Owls have been seen by many birders and non-birders  in Central Park. We should be seeing them here too. It's good to check often, especially in the pines and hemlocks.

Common Goldeneye are here every year too. Best seen with a scope since they stay far our from the shore, usually off Twin Island. We need a cold snap and they'll be here.

A Long-eared Owl in the pines on Hunter Island in 2016. We used to get several every year but they seem to be here less frequently now. Perhaps it's because the pines have thinned and died and the owls have found better habitat.

A Barred owl stayed in the pines at Hunter Island for a few months a couple of years ago. It was a treat for everyone.

One of our most beautiful ducks is the Gadwall. The haven't arrived yet here but should be arriving soon near Hunter and Twin Islands. This one was sun bathing during low tide.  

THis looks like a Canada Goose but it's actually a Richardson's Goose, a variation. Note the shorter bill, round head, pale breast and smaller size. When looking at hundreds of Canada Geese, it takes a sharp eye and lots of patience to find this variant.

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 2020

          Updated 12/5/20

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.

You never know what may show up this time of the year. It's always a good idea to check the gulls in the Orchard Beach Parking lot for something unusual. This Black-headed Gull was loafing in the parking lot with the Ring-billed Gulls.

Everyone Will Always Be Welcomed

Two Holiday Birding Gifts

Holiday season is here. There are some great gifts for winter birding. Let me first suggest The Crossley Guide to Waterfowl. This is an amazing and beautiful guide with incredible photographs and terrific narrative. It's a book you leave at home, it's way too big to carry. It's about $40. Smartwool underlayer is a terrific item for winter birding.  When you put this layer under your clothes, you will stay warm, as the soft non-itchy merino wool wicks away moisture and keeps you warm. Just two recommendations because of limited space. Happy winter birding.


Two Snow Geese were among the Canada Geese last January. It's always good to check out the Canada Geese at the Orchard Beach Oval.

So Many Deer!

It's rare that I don't see a few deer when I walk through the park, especially on Hunter Island. They are beautiful but are not good for the forest. Having no predators, the eat much of the understory where certain birds nest. I don't know what will become of the forest as they continue to eat all of the budding trees. The Parks department has put white tubes around the seedlings to help alleviate the problem but I don't believe its enough to solve the overpopulation.


Red-breasted Merganser are common and can be seen now off Hunter and Twin Islands.

Walks are Suspended

Because of the fast rising Covid 19 cases in our area, I am suspending walks for now. Hopefully, we can return to a full schedule by spring migration.

The 2020 Bronx-Westchester Christmas Bird Count will go on as planned, with modifications. My area is Rodman's Neck. I am not sure if it will be off limits this year. I am waiting for clarification. There are other areas to search too.

For more information, Link Here  or contact me:

jack@cityislandbirds.com.

American Black Ducks are present now. Although they are fairly common here they are listed as a threatened species.

Where are the Owls?

This is the time of the year to find owls. They generally roost in pine and hemlock trees and stay close to the trunk for camouflage. It is not easy to find them. You can also search the ground around the tree and look for owl pellets or whitewsh. Owl pellets are the bones and fur of regurgitated small mammals.  Whitewash is the owl's excrement. If you find an owl, try not to disturb it. If the owl opens its eyes, you are probably too close. Link for photos