Streams

Central Park's Newest Resident: a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Monday, June 02, 2014

A Ruby-throated hummingbird in Central Park (courtesy of Deborah Allen)

Dr. Robert DeCandido (a.k.a. Birding Bob), who leads bird walks around New York City, said he recently spotted a female ruby-throated hummingbird sitting on a nest in Central Park.

This rocked his world.

According to him, it's the first time a hummingbird has been spotted on a nest in Central Park. Ever. While the birds breed in other parts of the city — DeCandido said they can be found in Staten Island, the Bronx and Brooklyn — they pass through Central Park and nest elsewhere.

In fact, he said, this may be the first hummingbird to nest in Manhattan. "If there were hummingbirds around," he said, "chances are somebody would have seen something. It's possible, but unlikely."

DeCandido described the nest, which is near the Shakespeare Garden, as a "little cupcake-like thing. It's really tiny! It's smaller than a Ring Ding. It's an Oreo-cookie sized thing, with a bottom."

(In real estate parlance, this would be sold as "charming and cozy w/park view to die for. Location, location, location!")

His partner, photographer Deborah Allen — who is the author of the forthcoming Field Guide to Birds of Central Park — agreed. "I've checked records going back to 1866," she said, which is when the park opened and been inventorying its native flora and fauna. No nesting hummingbirds.

If the ruby-throated hummingbird's nest contains eggs, and they are fertile, DeCandido said they should hatch in about two weeks.

Deborah Allen is keeping her fingers crossed.  "There's nothing more I'd like to see than a little beak sticking up," she said.

A male ruby-throated hummingbird. Don't look for one near the Central Park nest -- Dr. DeCandido says the females raise their young alone. (Photo by Catherine Millhaupt/flickr)

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