#849 White-winged Crossbill on the first Park Day after Hurricane Sandy

Wow! What a day! Best day in Prospect Park in years! After being cooped up for so long from Sandy and with all parks annoyingly closed, it was great to finally get out and there were birds everywhere! and great birds in great light! Perhaps I should have taken my camera, but I was just enjoying the pleasant weather and a relaxing walk through the woods.

It was an excellent fall day, but things really kicked up when I got to the Binnen Bridge near the Pagoda Swamp. A small bird, a House Finch? associating with a couple of American Goldfinches hopped down onto the falls, and then the bird popped up into a nearby sapling.

It was very close to the same size as the goldfinches, not noticeably larger or smaller, and my first thought was House Finch but it didn’t look right. In particular the breast was a sort of gray-white without any obvious streaking in the center, either smudgy like a House Finch or sharp like a Purple Finch. Also, the pattern of red on the head was weird for a House Finch. As soon as Common Redpoll (a bird I’ve seen repeatedly in Iceland, and once before at Fort Tilden) occurred to me the ID was obvious. I just wasn’t expecting it in Prospect Park.

The bird had the squarish red patch on the forehead, the dark patch
below the bill, and the some red on the breast. The facial pattern
(again face on; I didn’t see it in profile) was classic Redpoll.
Otherwise the back was brownish like a House Finch; i.e. Common
Redpoll not the even less likely Hoary. There wasn’t nearly enough red
on the head (and none on the back) for this to be a Purple Finch.

I quickly texted the sighting to Peter Dorosh, and he retweeted it to the local community. Ten minutes later Keir Randall showed up to look for it. Sadly it never reappeared, but just a couple of minutes after Keir arrived; an unmistakable White-winged Crossbill flew and perched right in front of me! #849! Spectacular!

And that’s just the icing on the cake. I saw over 50 species in the park today, a huge number for this late in the fall:

  • Canada Goose
  • Mute Swan
  • Wood Duck
  • American Black Duck
  • Mallard
  • American Black Duck x Mallard (hybrid)
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Bufflehead
  • Ruddy Duck
  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • Black-crowned Night-Heron
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk
  • Cooper’s Hawk
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • American Coot
  • Ring-billed Gull
  • Herring Gull
  • Rock Pigeon
  • Mourning Dove
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Eastern Phoebe
  • Blue-headed Vireo
  • Blue Jay
  • American Crow
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Brown Creeper
  • Carolina Wren
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Hermit Thrush
  • American Robin
  • European Starling
  • Cedar Waxwing
  • Palm Warbler (Yellow)
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
  • Chipping Sparrow
  • Field Sparrow
  • Grasshopper Sparrow
  • Fox Sparrow (Red)
  • Song Sparrow
  • White-throated Sparrow
  • White-crowned Sparrow
  • Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Purple Finch
  • House Finch
  • White-winged Crossbill
  • Common Redpoll
  • Pine Siskin
  • American Goldfinch

Hermit Thrushes were especially numerous. There were dozens of them. Perhaps the hurricane blew them back north. But the real prizes were the finches and those are coming from further north, not south.

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