Eastern Meadowlark, Randall’s Island

I mentioned the Eastern Meadowlark several times in my book. Though not a rare bird in general, it is extremely hard to find in Manhattan, and is not reported in Central Park every year. It is more regular in Queens and Brooklyn, though still an uncommon bird worth reporting anywhere in New York City.

I ran many miles over the North End of Central Park and over Randall’s Island in 2012, during my big year, trying to observe this bird. I even visited Inwood Hill Park in search of it.

Recent reports of it in Queens suggested that a visit to nearby Randall’s Island was in order. It has been reported before on Randall’s Island and along the East River in Manhattan. Randall’s Island ought to be tremendously appealing to Eastern Meadowlarks, as it is filled with acres of mostly-unused grassy baseball and soccer fields.

I ran across the 103rd Street pedestrian bridge and began birding the south end of the island at 10:50 a.m. I saw many kinglets of both species there, but nothing unusual.

After two hours I had made my way to the northern shore just east of the pedestrian bridge to the Bronx when I flushed a large yellow-breasted bird out of thick grass and into nearby trees. It was my life Manhattan Eastern Meadowlark. It did not want me anywhere near it, and for five minutes I observed it perching atop the shoreline trees and flying from tree to tree. Then I lost sight of it, and was not able to re-find it again.

My 100th bird of the year

I added four new birds for the year today to bring my total to 102 species in Manhattan in 2013. These were Savannah Sparrow and Barn Swallow, with multiple numbers of both seen on the NE shore of Randall’s Island; Fish Crow, of which two were calling as I returned over the 103rd Street pedestrian bridge over the East River; and a single Pine Siskin seen at the Evodia feeders in the Central Park Ramble at 3:25 p.m. 

It took roughly ten miles of running/walking to do all this, which included an early morning visit to the Ramble that turned up nothing new.

Even though I am not planning on doing another big year in 2013, I am slightly ahead of last year’s pace. As of April 13, 2012, I had 94 species, but on I added six birds on the following day. Last year my 102nd species came on April 16.  

This is an exciting time of year to be birding. You can expect to average nearly two new birds each day between now and the end of April, that is if we get decent weather and things go the way they did last year.