Breeding Bird Survey at Ridgewood Reservoir

Today I joined Heidi Steiner-Nanz, Steve Nanz, Rob Jett, Janet Schumacher, and Jerry Layton for the first of six planned breeding bird surveys at Ridgewood Reservoir. The reservoir served Brooklyn and Queens for about a century, and then relegated to backup status in the 1950s, and eventually decommissioned in the 1970s. Recently the Parks Dept. took the site over, and we’re trying to figure out what’s there before they turn it all into parking lots and ball fields.

The reservoir sits on what may be the highest point in Queens. It used to be a local birding hot spot, but birders pretty much stopped going after the Bushwick riots in the 70s, and nobody’s paid much attention to it in years. I’ve been maybe three times before. Everyone else in our group had been once or twice. A couple of locals who hang out there told us it was unusual to see this many people on any given day. They blamed the “crowds” (about 20 people over three hours) on the nice weather. There’s also considerable evidence of dirt biking and paintballing.

Steve Nanz carrying large camera on tripod through birch forest

We got to the reservoir about 7:30 and split into two groups. My group counted forty species:

  • Double-crested Cormorant 1 flyover
  • Canada Goose 13
  • Wood Duck 1
  • Mallard 4
  • Ring-necked Duck 1
  • Hooded Merganser 1
  • Ruddy Duck 2
  • Red-tailed Hawk 1
  • American Kestrel 1
  • Laughing Gull 2-3 flyover
  • Rock Pigeon 3
  • Mourning Dove 5 1S
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
  • Downy Woodpecker 1
  • Northern Flicker 10
  • Blue Jay 3
  • American Crow 3
  • Tree Swallow 3
  • Tufted Titmouse 1 S
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet 1
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet 5 S D
  • American Robin 25 UN
  • Northern Mockingbird 1
  • European Starling 4
  • Cedar Waxwing 6
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler 10 1 S
  • Pine Warbler 7
  • Palm Warbler 12
  • Eastern Towhee 2 S
  • Field Sparrow 1
  • Song Sparrow 8 S
  • White-throated Sparrow 4
  • Dark-eyed Junco 1
  • Northern Cardinal 9 1P
  • Red-winged Blackbird 20
  • Rusty Blackbird 50% certainty
  • Common Grackle 39 1 carrying nesting material
  • American Goldfinch 4 S
  • House Sparrow 1
  • Horned Grebe 1
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
  • Brown-headed Cowbird 11 S P D
  • Baltimore Oriole 0 UN

The other group added Gray Catbird and Great Blue Heron. The Horned Grebe was the biggest surprise. It’s quite late for them here, and this one was going into breeding plumage, which we almost never see.

Horned Grebe

The most numerous species were Common Grackle, Red-winged Blackbird, American Robin, and Brown-headed Cowbird (bad). We probably way undercounted all of these.

One Response to “Breeding Bird Survey at Ridgewood Reservoir”

  1. Mokka mit Schlag » Giant Italian Lizards Invade Queens! Says:

    […] we first visited Ridgewood Reservoir back in April, a local told us that there were hundreds of large lizards at the site in the summer. That was hard […]

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