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Central Park Bird Walks Begin in April

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Central Park hosts great birds in every season, but springtime offers the most dazzling avian sights and sounds as migrants from the tropics return to their breeding grounds in the north. The Museum’s series of morning and lunchtime bird walks, each led by an expert, begin in early April and are scheduled to coincide with this migration, as warblers, vireos, tanagers, flycatchers, grosbeaks, thrushes, and others make their way to their summer homes.

“Migration follows a regular sequence, with different species moving through each week, and there is always something new to see,” says Paul Sweet, collections manager in theDepartment of Ornithology, who leads the lunchtime bird walks. Pine Warblers and Palm Warblers are among the leaders of the pack, arriving in early April, and Mourning Warblers are among those who bring up the rear in late May. According to Sweet, at the peak of migration, observers may see and hear as many as 100 species in a day in Central Park, with birds sporting beautiful spring plumages and males singing their territorial and breeding songs.

The migrants fly at night and come down in the morning to feed. “The park is a green oasis in a desert of concrete,” notes Sweet, “so there is a concentration of birds here.” Most migrating species do not set up housekeeping in the park because it is not an ideal habitat—too many people and dogs, not enough insects—but it does offer a respite from miles of development surrounding it. And while the birds take a breather, lucky onlookers get to see some of nature’s most spectacular animals.

Click to sign up for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday early-morning bird walks, Thursdaylate-morning bird walks, or Tuesday lunchtime bird walks in April and May.