92 Species of Birds in Tompkins? He’s Got the Photos to Prove It

P9110220Sanna Chu Dennis Edge.
Blackburnian Warbler at Tompkins Square ParkDennis Edge Blackburnian warbler

It’s bird migration season, meaning you can see more than just the usual pigeons and sparrows in Tompkins Square Park. Dennis Edge, a local birder, has photographed 92 species there, and he’ll talk about it at the 6th & B community garden later this month.

The retired graphic designer often roams the park with a digital SLR camera and telephoto lens. Just yesterday morning he spied an American redstart warbler, a migratory bird with orange patches, in the vines near the park’s offices.

American Kestrel in Tompkins Square ParkDennis Edge American Kestrel

Mr. Edge, 74, grew up in North Carolina and moved to the East Village in 1970. He first became interested in birds over 10 years ago when he photographed an injured red-tailed hawk on East Ninth Street. He contacted the National Audubon Society and was put in touch with a bird rehabilitator, who told him to throw a blanket over the bird, put it in a box and bring it over. “Easier said then done,” he said.

But the experience made him want to be a birder. “I photographed that first red-tailed hawk I saw and I’ve had a camera in my hand ever since,” he said.

Indigo Bunting at Tompkins Square ParkDennis Edge Indigo Bunting

Mr. Edge estimates that he has photographed over 200 species of birds, 92 of which he found in Tompkins Square Park. The spring migration period (from March to June) and the fall migration (from mid-August till end of October) keep him especially busy.

During these periods, Mr. Edge has seen 22 warbler species – vocal birds that are easier to hear than to see – including the chestnut warbler, ovenbird, Wilson’s warbler and the much sought-after blackburnian warbler. These migratory birds have different plumage depending on the season. The spring mating plumage is brighter and more colorful. “I try to get a lot of spring shots because of that,” said Mr. Edge.

Cooper's Hawk tail in Tompkins Square ParkDennis Edge Cooper’s hawk

Among the more scarcely seen birds that Mr. Edge has spotted are the brilliant blue indigo bunting and the electric orange summer tanager. The park’s year-round residents include blue jays, house sparrows, starlings, robins and woodpeckers.

“New York is situated right in the eastern migratory flyway for birds,” said Mr. Edge. “That’s why we get so many species coming through here. We’re lucky.”

Mr. Edge will offer tips on how to spot these birds during a talk at the 6th & B community garden on Sept. 21, at 8 p.m.

Red-tailed Hawk in Tompkins Square Park