Blue-winged Teal on the Lake

After adding a new life bird for Manhattan yesterday, I was thrilled to add another one today, one that I was not at all expecting to see. There are some birds missing from my life Manhattan list for which I am always on watch, most notably, Common Raven, which can fly over any time and has been appearing more often in Manhattan this year; or Canvasback, or Boat-tailed Grackle.

Blue-winged Teal, however, has not been reported on eBird in Manhattan since 2009, even though it appears frequently in Brooklyn and nearby New Jersey (the Meadowlands). I have no idea why these birds avoid Manhattan! I suspect that they occur in flyovers, particularly in the fall, but few birders watch the skies for flyover ducks. There must be at least twenty birds I deemed more likely to join my life list than this one.

At 8:25 a.m. today I was scanning the Lake for swallows when I saw a pair of unusual ducks. The male clearly looked like a Blue-winged Teal, or at least like what I recalled a Blue-winged Teal to be from the guidebook — I had never seen one before in the field. I sent out an alert and led the birders to the shore of the Lake east of and opposite Hernshead. It took a couple minutes, but the pair of teal came into view, swimming together 60 yards offshore near a Gadwall.

For nearly everyone this was a life Central Park bird.

Year birds for me today included Yellow-rumped Warbler, Green Heron, and Blue-headed Vireo.