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    Governors Island

    National Monument New York

Birding on Governor Island with Annie Barry, October 2010

October 2, 2010
9:30 am 1:00 pm

Sunny, breezy, 63-70 degrees

It was another beautiful day on the island, and a good day for birding. I spotted many migrants, a few early winter residents, summer lingerers and year-round residents, for a total of 44 species. The double-crested cormorant count was higher than usual, with 27 spotted around the island's edge. Many were clustered on the Tango Pier. Canada geese were back in strong numbers (101). There were also herring gulls (25), great black-backed gulls (3) and American black ducks (8). Five black-crowned night herons roosted in the trees along Buttermilk Channel.

The warbler species tally was not that high, but some were there in good numbers:

Magnolia warbler 2 males
Black-throated green warbler 1 female
Black-throated blue warbler 3 (1 f, 2 m)
Palm warbler 1
Pine warbler

11 (9 f, 2m)

Black & white warbler 2 (f)
Common yellowthroat 4 (3 f, 1 m)
American redstart 1 (f)
Yellow-rump warbler 20
Unknown warblers 2

I don't often see chickadees on the island, and never in large numbers. Today was the exception. I counted 10 scattered all over the island, suggesting that a loose flock was moving through the area.I also don't see many nuthatches or goldfinches on Governors Island, but today I counted one of each.

Migrating birds included hermit thrushes (4), a wood thrush, phoebes (4) a great-crested flycatcher, a warbling vireo, a red-eyed vireo, a female scarlet tanager, golden-crowned kinglets (10), a ruby-crowned kinglet, chipping sparrows (3), winter wrens (3) and brown creepers (4). New arrivals that will likely reside on the island over the winter included white throated sparrows (8) and a male dark-eyed junco. Four catbirds were passing through as well. They reside in the New York area in the summer, but I rarely see them on Governors Island except during migration.

Woodpecker species counted were northern flickers (6), a female red-bellied woodpecker, a female hairy woodpecker, and an unknown downy woodpecker.

Year round residents included a mockingbird, a male northern cardinal, blue jays (2), mourning doves (4), rock pigeons (2), and house sparrows (27).

October 9, 2010
Open House New York
10:30 am-12:30 pm

Sunny, breezy, 60-70 degrees

This weekend Governors Island was one of many destinations for Open House New York, an event celebrating New York City's built environment. In honor of the day, and to celebrate migration season and birds in general, I conducted another bird census program with volunteers. My thanks go to Adele, Amanda, Lori and Ryan for helping to make it a very successful day. We counted an awful lot of birds, many of them migrants and some that I've never seen on the island before. Adele gets the prize for spotting the first field sparrow and Lori wins for spotting the first red-breasted nuthatch. Our tally for the program was:

Black-crowned night heron 2 (1 adult, 1 immature)
Cooper's hawk 1
Red-tailed hawk 1
American kestrel 2
Peregrine 1
Mourning dove 7
Red-bellied woodpecker 2
Downy woodpecker 2
Northern flicker 8
Eastern phoebe 7
Blue-headed vireo 1
Blue jay 4
Black-capped chickadee 13
Brown creeper 4
White-breasted nuthatch 2
Red-breasted nuthatch 2 (1 female, 2 male)
Winter wren 1
Golden-crowned kinglet 28
Ruby-crowned kinglet 12
Hermit thrush 2
Robin 4 (2 a, 2 i)
Mockingbird 3
Black-throated blue warbler 3 (1 f, 2 m)
Yellow-rumped warbler 22
Palm warbler 21
Pine warbler 5 (3 f, 2 m)
Black and white warbler 1 (f)
Unknown warbler 1
Northern cardinal 5 (2 f, 3 m)
Eastern towhee 1
Chipping sparrow 5
Field sparrow 1
Song sparrow 4
Swamp sparrow 1
White-throated sparrow 9
Dark-eyed junco 3
American goldfinch 2
House sparrow 12

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

Before and after the census program, I counted birds in the remaining areas of the island, along Buttermilk Channel, in Ft. Jay and around the perimeter of south island, on my own in the morning and with Adele and Lori in the afternoon. Adele spotted the first northern harrier counted in the Governors Island census. Andrew, who was unable to arrive on the island in time for the morning census, also made a small contribution by reporting his sighting of Swainson's thrushes later in the day. Our tally, combined with the morning census count, totaled 51 species. It was the day of the kinglet (a favorite bird of mine!), with high numbers of both the golden-crowned and ruby-crowned species. And chickadees were here in high numbers again, for the second week.

Double-crested cormorant 24
Black-crowned night heron 4 (2 adult, 1 immature)
Canada goose 154
Mallard 2 (1 female, 1 male)
American black duck 9 (3 f, 3 m, 3 ?)
Cooper's hawk 1
Northern harrier 1
Red-tailed hawk 1
American kestrel 3
Peregrine falcon 1
Herring gull 30 (24 a, 6 i)
Great black-backed gull 3
Ring-billed gull 2
Mourning dove 7
Rock pigeon 1
Red-bellied woodpecker 2
Downy woodpecker 2
Northern flicker 10
Eastern phoebe 12
Blue-headed vireo 1
Blue jay 8
Black-capped chickadee 20
Brown creeper 6
White-breasted nuthatch 2
Red-breasted nuthatch 3 (1 f, 2 m)
Winter wren 1
Golden-crowned kinglet 41
Ruby-crowned kinglet 25
Swainson's thrush 2
Hermit thrush 3
Robin 7 (5 a, 2 i)
Catbird 2
Mockingbird 6
Cedar Waxwing 6
Black-throated blue warbler 3 (1 f, 2 m)
Yellow-rumped warbler 26
Palm warbler 24
Pine warbler 7 (5 f, 2 m)
Blackpoll warbler 1
Black and white warbler 1 (f)
Common yellowthroat 1 (f)
Unknown warbler 1
Northern cardinal 5 (2 f, 3 m)
Eastern towhee 1
Chipping sparrow 7
Field sparrow 1
Song sparrow 6
Swamp sparrow 1
White-throated sparrow 19
Dark-eyed junco 10
American goldfinch 7
House sparrow 38

October 10, 2010

This was the last day of the 2010 season on Governors Island. I didn't bird today as other duties kept me busy, but casual observation showed that the island was once again host to many migrating birds. There seemed to be kinglets, warblers and red-breasted nuthatches everywhere. The island truly is an important stopover point for birds migrating along the eastern seaboard. Many birds also reside on the island, either all year or seasonally. As the park on south island is developed, I expect that important role to grow and that future census data will show an increase in the number of both resident and migrating birds on Governors Island.

Did You Know?


West Point graduates William Sherman and William P. Jones started their military careers on Governors Island in 1840. Sherman would fight and survive the Seminole, Mexican and Civil Wars. Jones was posted to Fort McHenry in Baltimore killed when thrown from a horse in 1841. Sherman died in 1891.