#326: Black-Throated Gray Warbler

It’s getting harder to find life birds in my home territory, but not yet impossible. Today I picked up #326, a Black-Throated Gray Warbler in Forest Park, Queens. The bird was first reported almost a week ago by Seth Ausubel while I was in California. Fortunately it stuck around a while, and I was able to locate it today with the help of several other birders. Sean Sime took this photo of it a couple of days ago:

Black-throated Gray Warbler in Forest Park

This bird was a rare accidental. It’s basically a western species that occasionally shows up on the East coast at this time of year. I don’t know if they’re any other records in New York City. Seeing it was a real treat. However, they’re still a few birds that breed here I’ve managed to miss, mostly the really secretive birds. These include Seaside Sparrow, Nelson’s Sharptailed Sparrow, Saltmarsh Sharptailed Sparrow, and Clapper Rail. If I spend some time at Marine Park, Four Sparrow Marsh, and Big Egg Marsh, I should be able to add these species in 2006.

The other bird I should be able to get locally is Purple Sandpiper, which overwinters here. I looked for it a few times last winter, but kept missing it. This winter I’ll start looking for it sooner. I should also be able to find the screech owls in Central Park, though there’s argument as to whether those are really “countable.”

Of course, there are also several birds that pass through once or twice a year on migration that I don’t have yet: several owls, the less common warblers (Connecticut, Mourning, Swainson’s, Kentucky, and Golden-winged), Golden Eagle, Blue Grosbeak, Common Nighthawk, and Yellow-billed Cuckoo. All these birds are reported somewhere in New York City every year, but there’s nowhere you can hang out with a reasonable chance of spotting one. You just have to spend a lot of time in the field during Spring and Fall migration until you get lucky. I chased Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Common Nighthawk a couple of times in Prospect and Central Parks this year, but without any luck.

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