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 http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S15369461.
I read that a few people later relocated a Lark Sparrow on the Great Hill, presumably the same bird. Fun stuff!!
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: http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7312.html.
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: http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7312.html.