I observed 206 bird species in Manhattan in 2016, of which these were the best:
- Swainson’s Warbler – April 28 – This one-day wonder at Strawberry Fields drew a massive crowd and led to a New York Post feature.
- Lapland Longspur – January 31 – Lingered for three days on the northeast shore of Randall’s Island. It was the first modern-day eBird record of the species in Manhattan.
- Western Tanager – November 24 – This vagrant found at City Hall Park continued despite increasing cold for three weeks.
- Seaside Sparrow – May 5 – Initially four, then three, these sparrows lingered at Clinton Cove by the Hudson in Midtown West for nearly a week.
- Glaucous Gull – March 6 – Responders to the late-morning alert of this gull on the Reservoir had barely forty minutes before it ceased being seen, the first recorded appearance there of this species in twelve years.
- Cackling Goose – October 23 – Perhaps the only fully-documented occurrence of this species on land (or water) in Manhattan on eBird, the very small size of this goose left no doubters. It stayed at the Dyckman ball fields of Inwood Hill Park for at least a week.
- Chuck-will’s widow – May 8 – Manhattan birders have been spoiled by occurrences of this bird every year since 2013. Still, it is in general mega-rare. This year it showed up in Mugger’s Woods in the Ramble for a day.
- Purple Sandpiper – 25 April – There are barely a handful of eBird records of this species on Manhattan land or waters. I had it on the rocks at the extreme south end of Roosevelt Island, as in 2015.
- Eastern Screech-Owl – October 3 – Since the last of the Central Park Eastern Screech-Owls moved on in March 2011, this species has been a rarity in Manhattan. A family of them showed up at Inwood Hill Park in June 2014. In 2016 a single one was seen and heard there for at least a couple days in October and again in late December.
- American Bittern – May 8 – Not quite annually reported in Central Park, this bittern was seen by many in and around the Oven in the Ramble, just for a day.
- Lesser Black-backed Gull – December 10 – This third-cycle bird off Randall’s Island in the small bay by Little Hell Gate Saltmarsh is only the second I have ever had in Manhattan.
- Virginia Rail – September 9 – This well-reported bird in the Ramble gave dozens of birders their life Manhattan Virginia Rail. I had it in 2013 in the Loch and should have had it in 2015 in a planter in midtown.
- Bobolink – May 11 and September 24 – Though a regular, very high-flying migrant over Manhattan, these birds are only rarely seen near ground level. Many had the single male Bobolink that stayed near the Oven for a day in May. I also had a Bobolink in the fall feeding at the Randall’s Island northeast-shore saltmarsh.
Honorable mention goes to two owls — Great Horned and Long-eared; Canvasback, Common Merganser, Cerulean Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Dickcissel, Wilson’s Snipe, and Blue Grosbeak.