It’s peak bird-watching season, when North America’s most colorful birds return from the tropics. Prospect and Central parks are prime stopovers, each “an island of green in a sea of concrete and tar,” says Robert Bate, president of the Brooklyn Bird Club. This year’s been slow, owing to a lingering winter and a north wind, but on May 9, club members flocked to check species off their life lists. “The Holy Grail is different for everyone,” says birder Ben Chase, “but for New York State it’s probably Bicknell’s thrush, which breeds in the Adirondacks.” None turned up; better luck next week.
Above: Greg Otis, medical writer: “In Prospect Park, a few people are the central clearing ground for information — primarily Peter Dorosh, @prosbird. People text them what they’ve seen, and then these guys send out a tweet.”
Eugene Shirley, security guard: “I love photographing the red-winged blackbirds. And the cardinals.”
Klemens Gasser, artist: “A bad day. The Thursday before, there were 22 warblers around. This day, ten or less.”
Ryan Candee, attorney: “In a migratory season, sometimes you get a real oddball — I just had three bald eagles fly over my backyard.”
Maude Brown, retiree: “I got a black-throated green warbler, but not a black-throated blue. A black-throated blue is very pretty.”
Michael Green, banking employee: “Twelve eyes are better than two. That’s the big advantage of a group — you don’t have to twist your head all the time.”
Heidi Cleven, stay-at-home mom, with Andrew Land, architecture-office manager: “There’s a big conflict in the park between birders and dog owners. People let their dogs off leashes, which endangers the birds. People yell and videotape each other. It’s like a war.”
Ben and Beth Chase, strategy consultant and teacher, with baby Esther.
Gabe Newman, student: “This year, I’ve seen a Kentucky warbler, yellow-throated warbler, a cerulean warbler.”
Marvin Baptiste, carpenter: “In my group, the highlight was a scarlet tanager and a Canada warbler.”
*This article appears in the May 18, 2015 issue of New York Magazine.