As the second pandemic year comes to a close, here is a selection of the birds seen in 2021: whether common or rare, they are the pulse of our natural environment and the unwitting repository of our hopes for the future.
In January 2021, a Snowy Owl landed on the third base line of a ballfield in Central Park, the first sighting of this bird in Manhattan since the 19th century. The bird was immediately mobbed by crows trying to drive her away and photographed by a crowd of birders responding almost as quickly to alerts on social media.
January 2021: A Red-tailed Hawk perched in Central Park, waiting patiently for a squirrel or small bird.
January 2021: A male Northern Cardinal comes to a woman’s hand for seeds in Central Park.
January 2021: a male Wood Duck in Central Park
February 2021: a female Common Merganser in the Central Park Reservoir swimming through reflections of buildings on Fifth Avenue that complement her plumage
May 2021: in the height of the spring migration season, a Cape May warbler fed on nectar from cotoneaster blossoms in Central Park. The sticky nectar is visible on its beak.
May 2021: American Robins have already fledged but are still dependent on their parents for food (2 photos).
May 2021: a Barn Swallow singing in Central Park
July 2021: An American Oystercatcher unafraid of beachgoers in Fort Tilden, Queens
August 2021: a female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird feeding in the garden at Fort Tryon Park, Manhattan
October 2021: Double-crested Cormorants on pilings in Cape May, New Jersey
October 2021: an Eastern Phoebe sits on a bush watching for insects to catch on the wing
November 2021: An American Robin with a deformed beak feeds on hawthorn berries in Central Park
December 2021: the cycle of life. A Red-tailed Hawk guards the squirrel it caught in Central Park