Trip Reports
New York City Warbler Weekend — April 25-26, 2015
posted 8/21/15

Note: Our host for this fabulous weekend was Rob Bate of the Brooklyn Bird Club, a NYSYBC Partner Club. Many thanks to Rob for organizing the weekend, to Tom Stephenson for teaching us about warblers and their vocalizations (both at the Saturday workshop and while leading the Sunday walk), and to Nadir Souirgi for leading the nighttime segment at the Empire State Building. Thanks also to New York City Audubon for providing the conference room where the Saturday afternoon session was held.

We have TWO reports about this trip!

Tom Stephenson teaches us about warblers, photo by Carena Pooth
Tom Stephenson teaches us about warblers


On April 25, the NYSYBC began an exciting weekend of birding and bird-related activities in New York City. The group was a fair size, with between seventeen and twenty-two people attending from across New York State, and even outside of it (some members from New Jersey attended).

Our first activity of the day was an enlightening workshop on warbler vocalizations by Tom Stephenson, the author of The Warbler Guide. We began by discussing basics of warbler identification, before moving on to the fine points of their songs. Finally, Mr. Stephenson presented his method of learning warbler calls, the shorter, more difficult vocalizations made by warblers.

The next event involved going to the top of the iconic Empire State Building at night to look/listen for birds migrating at night over the city. This portion of the trip was led by Nadir Souirgi. Though the winds were wrong for migration and we did not pick up many birds (only four were confirmed as actual birds), we did enjoy fantastic panoramic views of New York, as well as company and conversation.

Despite the minor disappointment on the Empire State Building, it was a fun and informative weekend. Many thanks to Rob Bate, Tom Stephenson, and Nadir Souirgi for their generosity and willingness to devote time and effort to our trip.

                                                                              — Avery Scott, Age 13


The NYSYBC Warbler Weekend trip was a particularly special field trip because it was held over a weekend in New York City. It began at the headquarters of the National Audubon Society with a talk on bird calls, went on to the 86th floor observation deck of the Empire State Building in Manhattan, and finished at Prospect Park in Brooklyn the next morning.

Tom Stephenson’s talk on bird call identification was held at the New York City Audubon headquarters on 23rd street in Manhattan. Mr. Stephenson, author of The Warbler Guide, demonstrated to the group how to identify bird calls by ear and through sonogram. I was with at least sixteen others at the talk (the parents went sightseeing due to the room being packed).

After an amazing dinner, we went to the top of the Empire State Building, the parents joining us to listen for flight calls and watch migrants go by. To keep us occupied, we had an amazing view of the city from all sides. Despite our watching and listening efforts, and help from Nadir Souirgi, we did not see or hear a single bird up there.

Green Heron, photo by Carena Pooth
Green Heron, photo by Carena Pooth

However, we had much better luck on the walk in Prospect Park in Brooklyn the next day. The walk was led by Tom, who was testing our knowledge on the calls of different warblers and other birds, and was getting all the great bird pics. The weather conditions may have been chilly on the Empire State Building, but the walk was just perfect in terms of weather and sightings. We had several different types of warblers including Black-and-white, Prairie, and Yellow-rumped, a Great Blue Heron, and at least ten Wood Ducks that weren’t even at the park’s lake, but were instead in the pools where we could see them up close. We also had a great look at a Green Heron on the Peninsula. The Great Blue Heron was especially unusual. Other places we went to in the park were the Vale of Cashmere, the Midwood, and along the lake. It was a good trip, especially being that it took place in the most populous city in North America. Click here to view a map of Prospect Park.

I would like to thank Herb Thompson, Carena Pooth, Sue Freiburger, Rob Bate, Tom Stephenson, Nadir Souirgi, the Brooklyn Bird Club, and New York City Audubon for leading, coordinating, and teaching us much to know on these trips. I especially enjoyed the top of the Empire State Building, mainly because it was my first time up there after dark and the view was phenomenal. I had lots of fun and I hope to have more fun the next time I see you, at Peach Hill Park, Duchess County in June. Good Birding, all!

                                                                              — Noam Klotz, Age 16

View field trip photo gallery
View Prospect Park bird photos by Tom Stephenson

List of Birds Seen on this Trip - by Marc Katz

Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Wood Duck
Ruddy Duck
Pied-Billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Red-tailed Hawk
American Coot
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Blue-headed Vireo
Blue Jay
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
European Starling
Northern Waterthrush
Black-and-white Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Palm Warbler
Pine Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Purple Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Species Total: 59