• Visitors tour Castle Williams.

    Governors Island

    National Monument New York

Autumn Bird Census from National Public Lands Day 2010

September 25, 2010 - National Public Lands Day
10:30-12:30

Hazy overcast to sunny, humid, 70-85 degrees

The Governors Island unit of the National Park Service marked National Public Lands Day with several events, including a bike tour from Grants Tomb to Governors Island. I chipped in by conducting a bird census program. Ryan, Lori, Dan, Gloria and Gloria's partner (sorry I never got your name!), and I counted birds in all areas of the Historic District except Ft. Jay. We missed the fort only because we ran out of time. It was not a very good day for birding. Not only were there very few migrants, but year-round residents seemed in short supply as well. Despite that, we had a wonderful time touring the island. Ryan gets credit for spotting the belted kingfisher, which I've never seen on the island before.

9:30-10:30 am & 1:15-4:00 pm

Before and after the census program I counted birds in the remaining areas of the island (Ft. Jay & the entire perimeter), on my own in the morning and with Lori in the afternoon.

The following table shows the total numbers for the day by combining the tallies from the morning census program and the tallies from Lori's and my outtings before and after the official census program.

Double-crested cormorant 20
Black-crowned night heron 7 (6 adult, 1 immature)
Canada goose 21
American black duck 8
American kestrel 2
Great black-backed gull 3
Mourning dove 15
Belted kingfisher 1
Downy woodpecker 1 (female)
Northern flicker 3
Blue jay 4
Barn swallow 1
Robin 14
Mockingbird 1
Brown thrasher 1
Starling 1
Palm warbler 4
Pine warbler 5 (4 female, 1 male)
Northern cardinal 3
Dark-eyed junco (slate colored) 1
House sparrow 7

Did You Know?

U.S. Army Air Corps Colonel Hap Arnold in the 1930s.

Henry “Hap” Arnold (1886-1950), a founding father of the modern U.S. Air Force, got the itch to fly while a second lieutenant in the infantry at Fort Jay in 1909, watching biplanes take off and land on Governors Island. His commanding officer told him that he knew of no better way to commit suicide. In 1911, he learned to fly with the Wright brothers and would go on to become the first five-star general of the Army Air Corps and the first and only five star general of the U.S. Air Force.