A morning at Inwood Hill Park

I have never gone to Inwood Hill for spring migration before. As I mention in my book, it is one of the best places in Manhattan for fall raptor migration. The east bay can be good for shorebirds in the summer. It has held mating Great Horned Owls. Three weeks ago there were Pileated Woodpecker reports.

It is not, however, a place I generally would recommend for warblers and other spring migrants. It does not have Central Park’s geographical advantage, nor plentiful small ponds and marshes, and its canopy is very high, making for difficult views.

But Central Park right now lacks some species that are appearing at Inwood Hill Park: Orchard Oriole, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, and Wood Thrush. (All of these have appeared in previous days in Central Park, but in singles or very low numbers.) Generally, the last three of these species have been common in Central Park at this time of year, birds you could expect to find nearly every day, and even Orchard Oriole appeared frequently last year — it is just by nature somewhat hard to find.

I did not want to miss these birds, so off I went to Inwood Hill. I arrived just before 9 a.m. I could hear at least one Orchard Oriole singing in the trees at the north end of the soccer fields, and soon I saw one. Several Warbling Vireos also could be heard and even seen.

Shortly after taking a trail into the woods I began hearing Wood Thrush songs, which alone made the trip worthwhile.

It took some searching, but near the highest point of the Ridge I began hearing the scratchy vreeeep call of the Great Crested Flycatcher, and soon I had the bird in sight.

I never did observe the Eastern Kingbird, but this species peaks in the third week of May and lingers in Central Park through much of the summer, so there is still plenty of time.

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