Spring Migration Walk

May 7, 2017  8:30 AM

It was a nice morning, although kind of chilly for May. The group grew to about twenty five birders and we set off for Hunter Island. For those unfamiliar to the area, Hunter Island is obviously no longer an island and was filled in by orders from Robert Moses a long time ago. Our first birds were about a dozen Greater Yellowlegs. They were feeding in a pond created by the rainwater of the last few days. Some of us were able to see the birds yellow legs and they flew. It was not evident from them wading in, up to their bellies. We heard the knocking of a woodpecker and June was able to spot it in a nearby tree. It was a female Downy. As we proceeded up the hill we first saw an Orchard Oriole and then a Baltimore Oriole nearby. The group stayed a while observing and discussing the differences. Our next bird was a singing Yellow Warbler. Yellow Warblers nest in Pelham Bay Park and are fairly common here during migration. A very cooperative Eastern Towhee called nearby and we were all able to enjoy his color for ten minutes. The highlight of the walk was the Red-headed Woodpecker. This bird has been hammering away adjacent to a tree cavity it wants. It is being occupied by Red-bellied Woodpeckers. The Red-headed has gone into the tree cavity and has removed the eggs destroying them. The photo below, taken a day or two ago by Bruno Attisani, shows the Red-headed with an egg in it’s mouth. We were able to see both the Red-headed and the Red-bellied Woodpecker near the tree cavity.The Red- headed being a fairly unusual bird for this area, was a treat to observe. He is particularly striking. Things were slow and the social aspect began to take over the walk, until two Great Horned Owls were spotted. It was a terrific spot and a few of us got to see them. Now we were getting back on track. Our next terrific bird was a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. This bird was very cooperative and we got lots of great looks. The sun went in and became a bit more windy and chilly as we proceeded along the coastline. There were a bunch of other birds along the way but everyone loved seeing the female Eastern Towhee that came in close. So we got to see the male early in the beginning of the walk and the female toward the end. At the turn of the trail was a Common Yellowthroat that was calling and we were all able to get good looks. It wasn’t particularly a birdy day but we had many good birds up close. It was about noon when the last of us decided it was time for lunch, or breakfast for some.

Photo: Gerry McGee

Here’s the Red-headed removing the Red-bellied eggs and destroying them. Photo Bruno Attisani

Here’s the Red-headed near the tree cavity he mortgaged. This must be the fifth avenue penthouse he always wanted. Photo Gerry MCGee

One of several Yellow Warblers we saw today. Photo: Joe Morales

A female Eastern Towhee like the one we saw today.

Another bird we saw was the Common Yellowthroat.

We had the American Goldfinch as our last bird.

“It’s over there, behind that tree at 2 o’clock. Find the crooked branch with the green leaf and it’s right there! Oh, sorry, it moved.”

“I don’t understand, it was here yesterday.”

“ Yes, it is a beautiful day.”

“Any moment a bird will fly in.”

“I’m not sure if it went east or west.”

Species Account

Greater Yellowlegs

Downy Woodpecker

Yellow Warbler

Parula Warbler (Heard)

Baltimore Oriole

Orchard Oriole

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Gray Catbird

American Robin

Great Horned Owl


White-throated Sparrow

Red-winged Blackbird

Double crested Cormorant

Snowy Egret

Great Egret


Common Yellowthroat

Mourning Dove

Common Grackle

American Goldfinch

Eastern Towhee

Rose breasted Grosbeak

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