Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum Walk

November 19, 2016

Photo: Joseph Morales

   We had a good start to our walk when Randy found a Monk Parakeet on top of a fairly distant branch. I think everyone got a good look at this bird through their binoculars or the scope before it flew. Monk parakeets were fairly common in the park and in the Bronx until Con Edison began disassembling their nests. These birds make huge stick nests around electrical transformers and I assume the nests can cause electrical problems. Because Monk Parakeets are non-native birds, they are not protected by environmental laws. They don’t seem to be a problem for our native bird species, like House Sparrows or European Starlings, so I am always happy to see them. In Pelham Bay Park south there were several huge Monk Parakeet colonies. They are gone now.

   Normally, we are not overly excited about seeing a Red-bellied Woodpecker. They are common. However, this Red-bellied Woodpecker fascinated everyone because we could actually see its red belly and it was close.  We spent quite a while observing this bird. Beginning birders and non-birders alike, often mistakenly call a Red-bellied Woodpecker a Red-headed Woodpecker. It makes sense until you see a Red-headed Woodpecker. On the left is the photo

that Ursula Mitra took of the bird we saw and you can actually see its red belly.  Generally this bird has its belly facing the tree trunk as it forages, its belly is not usually very visible, so this was a good opportunity to see it. To the right is a photo of a Red-headed Woodpecker that was around Pelham Bay Park a few years ago. You can see why this bird is called a Red-headed Woodpecker.

  When we finally got away from the woodpecker we moved over to a fairly open field to see some of the usual winter species. There were lots of Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped Chickadees, a White-breasted Nuthatch or two and some Dark-eyed Juncos. Because the group, about 25 or so, is stretched out along a trail, the front of the group doesn’t always see what the back of the group is seeing. I later found out that a few people

had seen a Hermit Thrush. Later on there was another but I missed both of them. On the trail were couple of Gray Catbirds that probably should have migrated out a couple of weeks ago. Maybe they’ll overwinter in the park or move on when it gets colder. On the left is a photo of the group along the trail.

Photo: Ursula Mitra, Red-bellied Woodpecker

Photo: Jack Rothman, Red-headed Woodpecker

Photo: Joseph Morales

   That’s Ted on the right, apparently keeping notes of what he saw. Ted walked ahead and picked off at least a half dozen deer ticks from his clothing. Like most woods in the northeast, deer ticks are all around. Lyme disease is no joke, so it’s always important to check yourself when you get home.

   Our next stop was to watch a couple of Eastern Towhees, male and female on a nearby branch. Everyone had good looks at this bird. At this time we were walking along the shoreline, the woods were to our left and water to our right. It was probably 60 degrees and sunny. Not a bad way to spend a morning. We continued walking until we found a flock of Cedar Waxwings , fairly close. More really good looks and photos. There was also an American Goldfinch that couldn’t care less how close we approached. I think we watched it for ten minutes and were within eight feet of it before it flew off. On the water were four Great-blue Herons, about a dozen or so Bufflehead and perhaps 40 American Black Ducks. By mid morning it began to quiet down but we managed a brief glimpse of a Red-tailed Hawk and a very brief glimpse of what I thought was a Cooper’s Hawk, later confirmed by Brendan who had a better look from another location.

  By 11:30 we were done. There were other birds along the way back and on our last trail Joe got a nice shot of a Fox Sparrow, there was a Song Sparrow or two, about 100 Common Grackles, a House Finch, American Robin and surprisingly a Monarch Butterfly!

   The best part of our walk is the people. We always have great people and that’s why I love doing these walks.


Species Account

Monk Parakeet

Tufted Titmouse

Dark-eyed Junco

Red-bellied Woodpecker

White-breasted Nuthatch

Gray Catbird

Hermit Thrush

White-throated Sparrow

American Black Duck

Great-blue Heron

Downy Woodpecker


Cedar Waxwing

American Robin

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Coopers hawk

Fox Sparrow

red-tailed Hawk

Song Sparrow

House Finch

Common Grackle

Ring-billed Gull

American Goldfinch

House Sparrow

European Starling

Photo: Ted Kavanagh, Cedar Waxwing

Photo: Joseph Morales, American Goldfinch

Photo: Ursula Mitra, Eastern Towhee

Photo: Joseph Morales, Fox Sparrow

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