Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Trinity Church

     So it isn't often I go to church, or ever for that matter, but today a bird brought me to church-- or at least the cemetery alongside of one.
     Trinity Church on Broadway, in downtown Manhattan has been a hang out for a yellow-breasted chat over the last week, almost 2 weeks. I tried to see him Saturday, but the church and its cemeteries open after 8am and I went by before, knowingly aware that the yard wouldn't be open. But you could never get as good of views from the street because while being strikingly beautiful, this bird can easily disappear under your nose and in front of your face.
     I got a few acceptable shots, enjoy:
NOT A CHAT. For the first half hour I was chat-less... just seeing white-throated sparrows (above), a single hermit thrush (who is anything but shy-- it nearly flew into me as a passer-by flushed it off the path), and then pigeons, house sparrows, and starlings.
I ran into another birder (we're easy to pick out from the regular folk), the person who originally found and has been following this Chat. He gave me some pointers on where it usually is and noted its very likely a juvenile bird due to its brownish flanks -- seen better below.
He also thankfully called my attention to it when it arrived!
It's underside glows golden and I realized why I would easily miss this bird from the street. It flies low - landing on headstones and on the fence. It favored two magnolia trees which happen to be the same color as it, so fall foliage was in its favor for camouflage. 
Considered rare, I wanted to look more into why. These birds are not endangered, but they have declined a bit, especially here in NY and their breeding ranges within NY have also become less than what they were historically. So I suppose seeing a juvenile is a good thing, perhaps he didn't travel too far to be here in Manhattan.
There is a small tree in the NW corner of the North Cemetery (Alexander Hamilton is on the South side- the church is in the middle of it all) that this little bird does perch on from time to time, and matches pretty well. So if you're patient and can swing at least 40 minutes to catch this little golden nugget, I recommend a trip to Trinity Church.