Well, my delay yesterday did me no good whatsoever, as it was still raining when I got to Central Park this morning. It was a pretty light rain, though, and I entered the Ramble with hope in my heart. The usual White-throated Sparrows, a small but energetic flock of Tufted Titmice, and a very bedraggled Mourning Dove all reassured me that the birds were here, even if viewing conditions were less than ideal.
I headed down to the feeders, where things were hopping. Lots more Titmice, plus American Goldfinches, Black-Capped Chickadees, and a White-breasted Nuthatch. As a bonus, a fly-over by a hardy Great Blue Heron – my first of the year. I was prepared to just spend some time waiting and hope that a Common Redpoll showed up.
But what showed up was an immature Sharp-shinned Hawk, putting a damper on everyone else’s breakfast. Were it not so serious for them, it would be hilarious the way the Titmice froze, like a find-the-hidden-picture puzzle. The Chickadees likewise froze, the Goldfinches had vanished altogether, and obviously no Redpoll in its right mind was going to choose this moment to fly in for a snack.
I spent a while studying the hawk (he had a picture-perfect square tail,) but it became clear that he was prepared to outwait me and the Titmice alike and I realized that I had to move on if I was going to see any more. Ever since the Mourning Dove Incident I’ve been more mindful about carelessly flushing birds when there might be a predator lurking about, so I edged past the feeders very slowly. This not only had the intended effect (all the Titmice stayed frozen) but a little further on, still moving with care, I spotted two Carolina Wrens foraging in the shelter of a fallen log and a Brown Creeper trusting to luck and hir camouflage for protection.
I proceeded around the Ramble, carefully inspected the sweetgum and locust trees, but aside from a small gang of Blue Jays nothing turned up but more of the same. Will this entire massive irruption year pass me by? Tune in next week, when we both continue to find out.
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis
European Starling Sturnus vulgaris
Tufted Titmouse Baeolophus bicolor
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus
White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis
Canada Goose Branta canadensis
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
Sharp-shinned Hawk Accipiter striatus
American Goldfinch Carduelis tristic
Carolina Wren Thryothorus ludovicianus
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
Brown Creeper Certhia americana
Rock Pigeon Columba livia
Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata