A visual journal exploring the birds of Inwood and Northern Manhattan

by Teri Tynes – writer, photographer, and illustrator

Leaf Out: Spring in the Old-Growth Forest

The story thus far…

Just six weeks ago, the trees in the forest were bare, but now they are so covered in leaves that it’s hard to see the birds. In early March it was easy to follow the flight of hawks and of the littlest chickadee. The resident Blue Jays, almost always easy to see and hear, took note of the Northern Cardinals singing again and the arrival of many American Robins. 

The visitors came in the anticipated order. The Great Egret arrived at the Salt Marsh, a Louisiana Waterthrush flew into the woods and wandered the forest floor, and an Eastern Phoebe flitted about the White Pines where the Barred Owl lives. 

Inwood Hill Park. April 30, 2023

Northern Flickers arrived to join the other woodpeckers, and a Pileated Woodpecker made a celebrity appearance. The little birds of winter – White-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creepers, Black-Capped Chickadees, and Dark-eyed Juncos started to move on from the winter grounds, but a persistent Tufted Titmouse still makes the loudest sound in the forest. Yesterday, I also heard the deeper sonorous note of a Wood Thrush, signaling a seasonal shift in the deep woods. That was the sound not of spring but of summer.

Now that the forest has greened, the Eastern Screech-Owl, a major character of the winter months, has retreated from view. The Barred Owl seems to be sticking around.

The warblers have arrived in the high canopies, most notably a large though dispersed company of Yellow-rumped Warblers. 

Inwood Hill Park. April 30, 2023

Down at the marsh, the Red-winged Blackbirds have joined the chorus of Song Sparrows and Northern Mockingbirds. A few Northern Rough-winged Swallows appeared in a thick fog. I’ve missed seeing Cedar Waxwings this spring and wonder where they have gone. 

Earlier in April the weather was unusually warm, with a high of 90 degrees breaking a record on April 13 in Central Park. The day before, early in the morning, I saw what was surely a coyote dash across the White Pines heading west. I have also seen a Turkey Vulture perched on a rock near the Henry Hudson Bridge, a chubby groundhog meandering along the Eastern Ridge, and a muskrat surfacing and diving in the Salt Marsh. 

Inwood Hill Park. April 30, 2023

The latter part of the month experienced cooler and wetter conditions, with many downpours on the weekends. 

A walk in the forest yesterday between rain showers revealed a sneak preview of coming attractions. In the bright wet forest, so bright as to approach a neon green, I heard new sounds. The Merlin app from the Cornell Lab indicated the songs of a Scarlet Tanager, a Yellow Warbler, and a Baltimore Oriole. I was not able to see them, but a major pleasure of bird watching is bird hearing.

Note: BIRDS OF INWOOD launched a little over six weeks ago on March 15, 2023. Thank you for coming along thus far on this experimental hyper-local birding adventure. The website is still young. Now that the month of May has arrived, we can look forward to more arrivals, some surprises, and activities in the nests. – Teri


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