I had a somewhat late night, and so I did not make it to the Ramble this morning until 9:55. My primary focus these days is bodybuilding, so I need to get plenty of sleep — otherwise, there is no progress. I wanted to chase the earlier report of a Mourning Warbler at Sparrow Rock. By the time I reached this location there were no birders near it, a bad sign. I gave it a cursory look and then went on my way. I did see some birders at Tanner’s Spring looking for the Kentucky Warbler that had appeared there, a bird that I had gotten two weeks ago and so would not need to chase.
I went to Strawberry Fields, where good warbler reports had come in earlier and where I figured a singing Mourning Warbler was still a possibility. As I ascended the dirt trail on the north end I heard a song that I had reviewed just a few days prior, that of Bicknell’s Thrush. I heard the song again, and then just fifteen feet away, perched at eye level on a bare limb, the bird doing the singing came into view. It looked exactly the way a Gray-cheeked/Bicknell’s type thrush should look — the two species cannot reliably be distinguished in the field, though there are some features said to suggest one over the other.
There had been only three eBird reports of Bicknell’s Thrush in Central Park prior to today, the last from 2008. Why so few? It looks just like another unexciting bird, the Gray-cheeked Thrush; it even sounds somewhat like this other bird, with the Bicknell’s song ending on an up-slur and the Gray-cheeked song ending on a down-slur; few birders know the distinction and listen for it; and these thrushes appear only during a relatively narrow window in mid- to late May and then move on. Of course, they return again in the fall, but then they do not sing.
The Bicknell’s Thrush is my 236th lifetime Manhattan species, and my 176th of 2014.