When I saw Kevin Topping’s 5:05 p.m. tweet of a “possible” Kirtland’s Warbler on the northwest side of the Central Park Reservoir, I immediately relayed it to Manhattan Bird Alert (@BirdCentralPark). Of course I had some doubts — Kirtland’s Warbler had only one confirmed eBird record in all New York State (2014, Hamlin Beach State Park on the shore of Lake Ontario), and a female Canada Warbler would be at least 10,000 times more likely.
By 5:15 I had heard from a friend that Kevin was “fairly sure,” so I got ready to chase. Along the way I received a photo of the bird, which strongly supported the ID.
Because I did not know the exact location of the bird, I ended up taking the longer route around the east side of the Reservoir. I finally saw Kevin at 5:31 p.m. at 91st Street and West Park Drive, but he no longer was on the bird.
Then Ryan Zucker arrived, and soon he and his mother had re-found the bird slightly northwest of the previous location. From that point forward the bird stayed in view, sometimes moving from tree to tree but remaining in the same general area, where it had an abundance of insects on which to feed. It had been a hatchout day in the park, and many other warblers were enjoying the feast.
On the way I had privately posted Andrew Farnsworth of the find, and by 5:58 p.m. he had it, too — the only bird native to the continental United States that he had not yet recorded.
It likely is the rarest bird that has been found in Manhattan during the time I have been birding. By the time I left at 6:29 p.m. over 100 birders were on the scene.
Surely some birders will be traveling to Central Park tomorrow from all over the region, hoping to re-find this bird. Manhattan Bird Alert will try to keep everyone informed!