Friday, November 03, 2006

The Henslow scoop

Books are written about the climbing of Everest or the discovery [or non-discovery] of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker. The story of how the elusive Henslow's Sparrow was found, the bird that created a major stir in Central Park this week, deserves at least a few paragraphs. Here's how it happened, straight from the discoverer himself, Lloyd Spitalnik.


Sheila, Harry and I were walking through the Pinetum on our way to the Reservoir. I walked a little ahead, as usual, and spotted a Pine Warbler on the lawn to the right. I hadn't taken too many pictures that day, so here was an opportunity. Because of this little guy, I stayed for more than a half hour taking images. Harry is very patient, but finally Sheila decided to leave.

Within 5 minutes of her departure I saw a little bird through the corner of my eye. It wasn't the Pine Warbler. I said to Harry "Get on this sparrow, it's something really good!" Quickly we called Sheila on her cellphone and fortunately she hadn't gotten very far.

I knew it was an ammodramus sparrow [a group of seven hard-to-find sparrows--MW] but wanted to make certain of its identity. I was on the phone with Sandy [Lloyd's wife -- an excellent birder--MW] describing the bird to her so she could look it up when Sheila got back. Fortunately she had a field guide with her. Then we knew for sure it was a Henslow's Sparrow.

A little earlier in the day, when we were at Sparrow Rock, Sheila had also said she was going to leave .That's when I said to her: "I'm going to find something good. You'd better stay, "" just to bust her chops a little and keep her in the park since it was such a warm day. Of course I never expected to find anything special. Boy was I surprised!

So now you have the story.

See you, Lloyd

Lloyd adds about his website: Http://

By the way, in addition to what's on the "Recent Work", page of my site, I've added an additional ten photos of the Henslow's in "Sparrows & Blackbird"