Thursday, October 10, 2013

Lark Sparrow in Central Park!

For readers from the Midwest or Western USA, a Lark Sparrow is no big deal. But for New York, and especially Manhattan, a Lark Sparrow is a pretty unusual bird. Lark Sparrows don't breed in New York, as evidenced by NYS Breeding Bird Surveys of 1980-1985 and 2000-2005 (they don't breed along the East Coast at all!). Ebird only has one record of a Lark Sparrow in Manhattan, from 2011 (granted Ebird is a newer resource, but it has been pretty heavily used over the last several years).

As such, one should always make notes on such an unusual bird. These notes are on the Lark Sparrow, from 10-10-2013, 10:20 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. at the Great Hill in Central Park, just east of the 103rd St and Central Park West entrance, looking down from a paved path over the grassy area (the pool was directly south as the crow flies):

Seen well by both myself and Tomas Lundquist. We saw it fly off and come back twice, noticing the white on the outer tail feathers and very tips of the other tail feathers. This bird was larger than the Chipping Sparrows it was among on the ground, as close as fifteen feet from us. It had a dark central spot on an otherwise plain breast. The black marks on its throat were very clear. Above those black throat marks, there were bright white patches, and above a light chestnut brown cheek patch; a black line seemed to touch the throat marks, encircle the white and cheek patch, touch the back of the head and go back through the eye. Its head stripes were also this light chestnut brown, divided by a white line directly over the top of the head. We last saw the bird around 11:20 a.m. I was at the site for another 1.5 hours and joined by another birder, but did not refind the bird.

For my full checklist from the morning, visit

I read that a few people later relocated a Lark Sparrow on the Great Hill, presumably the same bird. Fun stuff!!

Works Consulted:
New York State Breeding Bird Atlas 2000 [Internet]. 2000 - 2005. Release 1.0. Albany (New York): New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. [updated 2007 Jun 11; cited 2013 Oct 10]. Available from:

New York State Breeding Bird Atlas [Internet]. 1980 - 1985. Release 1.0. Albany (New York): New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. [updated 2007 Jun 6; cited 2013 Oct 10]. Available from:

Monday, October 7, 2013

Equal viewing for equal birds!

We are the united female birds of America,
and we demand to be seen!

(Black-throated Blue Warbler)

We are half of our respective species and
want your admiration too!

(Wood Duck)

the radical notion that female birds
are equally beautiful


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sketches of a pheasant: my introduction to drawing

Drawing 1: Just getting the pencil on paper (pencil)

Drawing looks easy when you watch the masters. David Allen Sibley, author and illustrator of Sibley Field Guides, dazzles some young kids (and blows my mind) in this Youtube clip. Or check out Pedro Fernandes transform observations and research into a bird poster for Cornell University's Department of Ornithology.

Drawing 2: Contour (pencil)

But drawing birds was quite a challenge for me! Determined to make the most out of a required art course (for my teaching certification), I thought I would learn to draw birds. In addition to our in-class drawings and weekly assessment pieces, each student had to draw a real-life object for homework assignments. The object had to be a physical 3-D item, as in not a drawing or photograph. So where was I going to find a bird?

Friday, February 1, 2013

2nd Annual Vallarta Bird Festival

2nd Annual Vallarta Bird Festival  
March 7-10, 2013

View from Vallarta Botanical Garden restaurant

"The Vallarta Bird Conservancy presents this years festival March 7-10 and will be hosted by Co-founder Vallarta Botanical Gardens.  4 days of guided tours, presentations, and lectures for a wonderful opportunity to view, learn and enjoy the wonderful birds in Puerto vallarta and Cabo Corrientes area.
Greg R. Homel , the keynote speaker and guide, is an ornithologist, award-winning international nature photojournalist, documentary film producer, and lecturer.  Greg along with other professional international guides and biologists Alex Martinez, Carlos Bonilla, Sandra Gallo-Corona, Neil Gerlowski, Paul Hart, Roberto Ornelas, William Tractenberg and Luis Morales will be leading tours and lectures each day."

Birding with Alex Martinez in 2010. We had a totally awesome time!