Peter Joost, a quiet and gentle board member of NYC Audubon for the past two decades, led a bird walk in Central Park yesterday as part of the Mostly Mozart Festival, which has birds—and music inspired by birds—as a central theme this year. Joost has worked tirelessly to protect local birds and their habitat in NYC for the past 35 years, having served as president of the Brooklyn Bird Club and the Linnean Society, as well as a beloved educator at St. Bernard's School.
I learned from Joost that there are 30 nesting species in Central Park, including cardinals, blue jays, robins, swifts, and house sparrows—which apparently used to be so numerous, they would create clouds in the sky. According to Joost, the sparrows were finally done in once the internal combustion engine took away their key food supply: horse manure.
I also learned that some 790 other bird species stop off in Central Park during their annual migrations, with the birds always flying at night to avoid predators and various man-made threats.
At one point, we all heard a repetitive, high-pitched chirp. "That's a baby cardinal," Joost said, "shouting 'Feed Me! Feed Me!'" Sadly, I didn't see anyone carrying around staff paper, Messiaen-style, in order to write it down.
More info on upcoming Mostly Mozart bird walks here.