If you live in New York, you add warblers to your life list in April and May. If you live in New York and are totally hardcore, you also add warblers to your life list in September. Only if you are ridiculously lucky do you add warblers to your life list in New York in January.

I’ve always been ridiculously lucky. Except in Coney Island Creek, but what ya gonna do?

The Yellow-breasted Chat who lingered, for reasons best known to hirself (Chats are among the relatively few eastern warblers that are not sexually dimorphic,) in Prospect Park when the rest of hir kind* headed for Panama is also ridiculously lucky. It’s been a warmish winter, but the place is hopping with bird-eating hawks and the Chat’s favored food, bugs, aren’t exactly abundant right now. Still, staying here allowed the Chat to experience a pleasure this morning that probably few of its kind will ever know – namely ice-skating, as I watched it slip and slide across the frozen Binnen Waters to an open spot for a drink. If I had had a camera… well, if I had had a camera the bird probably would have stayed in the brush.

Even aside from the Chat, it was an excellent day of birding. Started slow, to be sure, but by the time I hit the lake even the sight of some idiot feeding bread to a Mute Swan that was taller than he was couldn’t dampen my enjoyment (It’s not that I don’t understand the impulse that makes people want to cram Wonder Bread into waterfowl, but its gotten to where if you go down to the water’s edge without carbs in hand, the Mute Swans start eying you like extras from The Sopranos. The Canada Geese do too, but the Canada Geese can just hurt you real bad, whereas Swans will kill you. And if I must be killed by a bird, it’s fucking well not going to be an invasive species.) Especially when the scavenging flock of pigeons and gulls got busted up by Prospect Park’s other overwintering superstar, the Northern Goshawk. Hot stuff.

*except that one is also attempting to overwinter in Central Park this year. Maybe they could form a support group.

American Robin Turdus migratorious
Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaciensis
Brown Creeper Certhia americana
Carolina Wren Thryothorus ludovicianus
Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens
American Goldfinch Carduelis tristic
Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis
Yellow-breasted Chat Icteria virens *LL
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
Rock Pigeon Columba livia
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Canada Goose Branta canadensis
Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
Mute Swan Cygnus olor
American Coot Fulica atra
Northern Pintail Anas acuta
Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis
Herring Gull Larus argentatus
Hooded Merganser Lophodytes cucullatus
Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus
Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis
Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris
White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinus
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus
Northern Junco Junco hyemalis
Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula
European Starling Sturnus vulgaris