The Most Surprising Bird David Sibley Has Seen in Central Park

Last month, I owned up to my paltry life list and limited bird identification abilities, and I pledged to learn the names of the feathered creatures I see around me. In keeping with the plan, I’m posting the birds I saw on a walk through Central Park last week. I suppose I should be completely honest here and say that I didn’t actually identify the species—David Sibley did. The actual man, in the flesh. The Sibley Guide to Birds, with its renowned watercolor illustrations, is, of course, a valuable resource. But walking through the park with the famous birder was a real treat.

The walk largely focused on trees (it was organized to promote the just-released Sibley Guide to Trees), but Sibley also pointed out the flyers swooping through the canopy and alighting on branches. I was particularly tickled when one of the gentlemen on the walk stopped two passersby and said, “Do you bird?” “A bit,” responded one of the women, in a slightly suspicious tone. “Join us!” said the man. “That’s David Sibley.” As if on cue, Sibley stopped mid-sentence, put his binoculars to his eyes, and directed our attention to a black-and-white warbler perching in a nearby pin oak. With that, our party gained two new members. I’ll post a video of the walk soon. In the meantime, here’s a list of what we spotted last week. Oh, and the most surprising bird Sibley has seen in Central Park? Watch the video above to find out.

Downy woodpecker
Black-and-white warbler
Blue jay
Black-throated green warbler
Chimney swift
Gray catbird
Swainson’s thrush
Hermit thrush
Northern Parula
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Wood duck