This is an annotated checklist of the 145 species of birds (as of May 2005)that I have observed at Institute Park during the past 9 years. Three forms of bird information are provided. For each species, general information such as frequency of occurrence, breeding status, location in the park, and behavior is first given in text format. For species whose occurence is regular enough to establish a trend, bar charts are also presented which show the pattern of annual occurence in a quantitative fashion. The third information format is photos of selected species. These video stills were taken by me (but not always in the park). An annotated map can be consulted for information about birding locations within the park. Birds observed on the WPI campus or Rural Cemetery adjacent to the park have also been included in the checklist.

If you have questions or comments or want more information about the birds found at Institute Park, please contact me at This is also the address for submissions for the Central Massachusetts Bird Update.

Checklist updated March 4, 2002:

You can jump to a category of birds from the menu below, or browse the checklist starting from the beginning.

Common Loon (CL)
Very rarely seen at IP. Loons prefer larger and deeper bodies of water, such as the Wachusett reservoir. One confused loon made an appearance at the park in the fall of 1996, to the delight of birders , Photo.

Pied-billed Grebe (PBG)
Small diving bird, seen only in migration, primarily in fall. Bar chart, Photo.

Double-crested Cormorant (DCC)
Common summer resident, although does not breed here. Birds seen in summer are immatures (ID'd by lightish upper breast). Adults seen in migration. They hold their wings out to dry. Dive for fish. Bar chart, Photo.

Great Blue Heron (GBH)
A large wading bird with a long beak, it stands statue-still waiting for a fish to spear. Commonly seen year round, but does not breed in the park. Seen less frequently in the park during late March and April, when it is elsewhere on its breeding ground. Bar chart, Photo.

Great Egret
Very rarely seen in the park. Similar to Great Blue Heron but all white. Two records: 9/28/92 and 8/21/95. Bar chart.

Snowy Egret
Similar to the Great Egret, but smaller, with a thin black bill rather than the larger yellow bill of the Great Egret. Even more uncommon inland that the Great Egret, only one sighting of two immature birds on 7/24/00.

Green Heron (GRH)
Formerly called Green-backed Heron, this small wading bird stays near the shore as it waits for fish. Seen less commonly in the past few years. I have observed immature birds during July and August interacting with adults (begging for food, chasing), but it is not known whether they have bred here. Bar chart, Photo.

Black-crowned Night-Heron (BCNH)
Often inconspicuous during the day, they perch in trees on the island and fire station peninsula. If you scan the trees during Aug or Sept you may see them. Sometimes they feed along the back shore during the day. Bar chart, Photo.

Canada Goose (CG)
Commonly seen year-round, these have bred at the park. During fall migration you may see smaller Geese with shorter necks -- these are the true "Canadian" Geese which migrate long distances.

Mute Swan
This beautiful bird is easily identified, large all-white body with a long gracefully arched neck. Its beauty belies its darker side however: it is an introduced (not native) species, which is quite territorial and aggressive toward other wildlife, and is harmful to the vegetation in its environment. Amoung birders and serious naturalists, this bird is actually considered a "nuisance species", and most unwelcome. Only one (fortunately!) bird, seen from 4/25/00 - 5/3/00.

Wood Duck (WD)
A beautifully ornate duck, found most often near the island. For breeding it needs a tree cavity or nest box. In the spring of 1998, a colleague of mine (Steve Pierson) and I put up wood duck boxes in the bay between the island and the apts. Breeding was confirmed by the observation of 8 chicks following the mother duck from 6/4/98-6/18/98. These ducks can blend quite well into the vegetation, literally disappearing right before your eyes, so patience is required to see them. This is a shy duck, easily disturbed by human presence. Bar chart, Photo.

Green-winged Teal (GWT)
Seen only in spring and fall migration, a small duck with a green patch seen on wing when it flies. Sometimes mingles with Mallards. Bar chart, Photo.

American Black Duck (ABD)
A commonly seen duck, similar in appearance to female Mallard. During winter, there are typically 10 times fewer Black Ducks than Mallards. Seldom seen here during April, when they are on their breeding grounds. Bar chart, Photo.

The most commonly observed bird at the park, it is almost always present. This is the duck that comes when you throw out bread crumbs (but please don't do this!). Breeds at the park. Numbers can swell to 200 or more in winter, when other ponds have frozen over. Bar chart, Photo.

Blue-winged Teal
Not normally seen in the pond. A group of 2-6 was seen during the period 9/11/97-9/23/97. The female looks similar to a Mallard, but look for the grey bill, and when the wings are extended, the blue patch on the forewing.

Northern Shoveler
Not commonly seen, but occasionally one will stay for a week or more during migration. One female was present during most of the period 10/23/96 - 12/30/96. Another female (perhaps the same one?) was present during most of the period 10/9/97-4/9/98. Large spatulate bill, when seen well, is diagnostic. Bar chart, Photo.

Seen only in migration. Black rump and white wing patch. Recorded in 1992 and 1996, but absent from 1993-1995. A female was present during most of the period from 1/5/98-4/10/98. Bar chart, Photo.

American Wigeon (AMWI)
Seen only in migration, small numbers (1-5). Observed 12/2/95, in spring and fall of 1996, and fall of 1997. Females occur more often than males. Bar chart, Photo.

Ring-necked Duck (RND)
Commonly observed during spring migration. Numbers build to max of 20- 30 during Mar-April. Usually more males than females. Don't look for a ring on the neck (it's hard to see), but rather the white ring around the bill near the tip. Bar chart, Photo.

Lesser Scaup (LSC)
Uncommon migrant, during spring. Similar in appearance to Ring-necked Duck. Even more similar to the Greater Scaup (though this has not been observed in the park). Bar chart.

Common Goldeneye (CGE)
Rarely seen on the pond, during spring migration. Only 3 records: 3/23/93, 3/21/96 and 3/12/98. Round white spot between eye and bill is distinctive in male.

Bufflehead (BFH)
Not a rare bird to see in Worcester Co., but rarely seen on the pond. Only 2 records, in spring migration: 3/10/92 and 3/27/96. Male is distinctive, with upper rear of head all white. Bar chart.

Hooded Merganser (HMRG)
Seen in migration, mostly in spring, but sometimes in fall. Large white patch on back of head somewhat resembles the Bufflehead, but the flanks are brownish rather than white. Maximum daily count of 25 on 3/17/97. Males typically outnumber females. In mid-March watch for mating displays, in which the male whips his head back quickly (this is common in other ducks also). Bar chart.

Common Merganser (CMRG)
Commonly seen during spring migration, but rarely in fall. In large flocks (max daily count of 32 on 2/25/94), females usually outnumber males. Bar chart.

Red-breasted Merganser
Much less common inland than the Common Merganser, it is rarely seen in the park. Only one bird sighted, a male seen continuously from 3/21/01 - 4/6/01. This bird was associating with a group of Common Mergansers, and was actively displaying to female Common Mergansers.

Ruddy Duck
Seen only once, a female on 12/2/97-12/3/97. A small diving duck with a characteristically up-turned tail.

Turkey Vulture (TV)
Uncommonly seen, mostly during spring and fall migration. A large, black soaring raptor, sometimes mistaken for an eagle. It rocks unsteadily in the wind, and holds its wings up in a "vee". Bar chart.

Occasionally seen during migration, mostly in fall. When seen, they often circle low over the pond, hunting. If you're lucky you may see one dive into the water after a fish. One pair of Osprey stayed at the pond for 3 days in late Oct. 1995, and called to each other repeatedly. The photo here is of one of these birds. Bar chart, Photo.

Bald Eagle
Rarely seen. Only one sighting: 3/9/93. When this eagle flew over the pond, all the gulls flew up (which is how I noticed the eagle).

Sharp-shinned Hawk (SSHK)
Seen occasionally, mostly during spring and fall migration, but also sometimes in winter. A small hawk, with long tail and short wings, it flies with alternating flaps and glides. Some remain here during winter, but most migrate south. Feeds on other birds (I watched one devour a Rock Dove [aka pigeon] on 1/14/97) Bar chart.

Cooper's Hawk (CHK)
Very similar in appearance to Sharp-shinned Hawk, but larger. Only 4 sightings: 12/4/96, 9/18/97, 1/4/98 and 9/4/98.

Red-shouldered Hawk (RSHK)
A hawk that favors moist, mixed woodlands, it is seldom seen at the park. Only 1 sighting: 6/27/97.

Broad-winged Hawk (BWHK)
Seen only in migration, mostly during fall. In mid-September, this is the hawk that migrates in large groups and forms "kettles" in which the hawks circle and rise on warm air thermals. Thousands per day can be seen on Wachusett Mt. Here at the park, the peak daily number has been 24 on 9/13/94 (although this was for only 1.25 hours watching) Bar chart.

Red-tailed Hawk (RTHK)
The most common raptor seen here, it can be seen any time of year. In recent years a pair has been nesting in downtown Worcester. I watched a pair constructing a nest in the park in March 1995, but it was not used for nesting. They eat squirrels, among other things (lots of these in the park!). The photo is a local Red-tailed Hawk, perched by the pond. Bar chart, Photo.

American Kestrel (AKES)
The smallest falcon, it is rare in the park. Most likely to be seen during fall migration. Three sightings: 11/28/95, 9/12/96 and 9/2/98.

Larger and darker than the Kestrel, it is also rarely seen in the park. Two sightings: 10/21/96 and 1/9/97

Wild Turkey
Certainly not a bird you would expect in a city park. However, one decidedly confused turkey decided in the winter and spring of 1997 to make its home at the corner of Park Ave. and Salisbury St., both of which border the park. I first saw a turkey at the park (perhaps this same one) as it flew over the pond on 4/22/96. From Dec 6, 1996 and on through the winter, a female turkey was spotted by numerous observers around WPI (across Salisbury St. from the park). It became bolder, and finally started to create traffic disturbances at the corner of Park and Salisbury, where it was being fed by well-meaning passersby. The situation was partly amusing, but also partly sad, since the turkey is not well adapted to dodge speeding cars. Finally the turkey was killed on 4/26/97 in a "hit-and- run".

American Coot (AMCO)
The Coot looks and acts like a duck, but is actually a member of the rail family. Seen only in migration. All records are from 1992, with no sightings since then. Bar chart, Photo.

Only occasionally seen during spring migration (4 records)

Solitary Sandpiper
Does not breed in Massachusetts. Only one sighting during fall migration 8/7/96 - 8/9/96 (shorebird "fall" migration starts in July). Likes shallow mudholes near edge of pond. Bar chart

Spotted Sandpiper (SSP)
Fairly commonly seen during late spring and again in mid-summer. Although it could potentially breed at the pond, the pattern of sightings suggests that it does not. Breast is spotted only during breeding plumage. Constantly moves its rear end up and down like it is dancing. Also bobs its head. Bar chart

Ring-billed Gull (RBGL)
The most common gull seen in the park, it does not breed here. Often seen roosting on ice during winter. Birds seen in summer are immature (plumage shows various dark bands on tail and/or wings), or nonbreeding adults. If the gulls all take off at once, look up in the sky for a passing raptor (such as Red-tailed Hawk). Bar chart, Photo

Herring Gull (HGL)
Less common in park than Ring-billed Gull, but still regular during winter. Typically around 5% of gulls seen are Herring Gulls. Bar chart

Iceland Gull
Uncommonly seen (5 sightings) in winter, it is the smaller of the "white-winged" gulls. There is no black markings near the tip of the wing, as in Ring-billed or Herring Gulls. Bar chart

Glaucous Gull
Rarely seen (1 sighting 1/22/96), it is the larger of the "white- winged" gulls. Bill is quite massive. Bar chart

Great Black-backed Gull (GBBG)
This gull is more common on the larger lakes and reservoirs, but is sometimes seen at the park during the winter in small numbers (1 or 2). Larger than a Herring Gull, with much darker back and massive bill. Bar chart

Rock Dove (RODO)
Commonly known as the "pigeon", this bird is most often seen at the park as it flies overhead, in groups of 5-20. If you keep your eye on the sky during a walk in the park, you're quite likely to see a group fly by.

Mourning Dove (MODO)
Not as common to see as the Rock Dove, but regularly seen in small numbers (1-3) during the warmer months. May nest in the park. Has a long diamond-shaped tail, which in flight can suggest a hawk. Wings make a fluttering whistle sound in flight. Bar chart

Common Nighthawk
Normally seen only during fall migration, late august and early september. Large migratory movements timed to coincide with abundance of flying ants. Most likely to be seen just before dusk, around Sept. 1. Only one sighting: Sept. 13 (12 seen at midday)

Chimney Swift (CHSW)
Often described as a "flying cigar", it is fairly commonly seen during summer. Spends most of the day in the air, even drinking from the pond by skimming the surface with mouth open. Bar chart

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (RTHB)
The only hummingbird likely to be seen here, you might mistake it for a bee. Only 2 sightings: 5/14/96 and 9/9/96

Belted Kingfisher (BKF)
Often seen perched on tree branch overhanging the pond, it waits for its opportunity and then dives into the water to spear a fish. Makes a dry rattling call as it flies to a new perch. Can be seen any time of year that there is some open water. Bar chart

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Only one record, 10/21/98. Somewhat resembles Downy Woodpecker, except the red on head is confined to crown and forehead (and the chin on the male), and breast is dark.

Downy Woodpecker (DWP)
Common any time of year, it probes under and removes bark from trees to get insects hiding there. Bill is smaller than length of head. Bar chart

Hairy Woodpecker (HWP)
Similar to Downy Woodpecker, but larger, with bill equal to length of head. A bird of the forest, it is much less common in the park. Bar chart

Northern Flicker (NFL)
This woodpecker with the spotted breast and black triangular bib is quite distinctive. A migrant, it arrives at the park in late March or early April, and is often seen on the ground probing for insects. It has nested in the park, in a dead tree not far from the tennis courts. Bar chart

Eastern Wood-Pewee
Visually distinguishable from the "empids" by the lack of eye-ring and proportionately longer tail, it is most easily identified by it's easily- learned call "pee-aah-weeee", which rises in pitch at the end. It is a bird of the deep forest, so does not nest near the park. Expected only in migration. One sighting (hearing!) on 5/27/99.

Alder Flycatcher
One of the "empids", virtually identical to the Willow (see below), and best distinguished by the diagnostic call. Only one sighting (or more accurately, a "hearing"), (5/24/99). Only expected during migration.

Willow Flycatcher (WFC)
This is one of the "empids", a group of flycatchers which are difficult to distinguish by sight. Best way to ID is to listen for the diagnostic call -- "fitz-bew". Seen only rarely, during migration in May.

Least Flycatcher (LFC)
Another of the "empids", this one calls with an abrupt "che-beck". Seen (and heard) only occasionally during migration in May. Bar chart

Eastern Phoebe (EPH)
This flycatcher is easier to ID than the empids, since it lacks an eye ring or wing bars, and usually pumps its tail up and down. It arrives earlier than the other flycatchers, usually in early April. Distinctive call is "fee-bzzz", with the second note much buzzier than the clear note of the Chickadee's "fee-bee" song. Absence of sightings in June suggests that it does not nest in the park. Bar chart

Great Crested Flycatcher
Rarely seen in the park. Only one record, on 5/27/98. A large flycatcher, it feeds high in the treetops. Seen from below, the reddish tail contrasts notably with the yellowish belly.

Eastern Kingbird (EKB)
A very aggressive and territorial flycatcher, this bird defends a vertical column of air above its nesting area, and will even attack larger birds like crows or even Red-tailed Hawkes!. Easy to ID by the white band at the end of the tail. Hunts for insects such as dragonflies in the usual flycatcher fashion, by watching from a branch, darting out after the insect, and then returning to the branch. Has nested in the park (bush near the inlet pipe, June 1996) Bar chart

Tree Swallow (TSW)
The most common swallow seen at the pond, it is often seen during the spring swooping over the surface of the water, gathering up small flying insects. Adults in spring usually have a bluish tinge on the back and clear white underparts right up to the bill. In late summer, however, immature birds have all brown backs and can be confused with Rough-winged Swallows (see below). Not known to have nested at the park. Bar chart

Northern Rough-winged Swallow (NRWS)
Not as commonly seen as the Tree Swallow, it shows up later in the spring migration, and has an all brown back. Call is also different (more buzzy and raspy than the Tree Swallow), and the throat and chin are dusky, rather than clear white as in the Tree Swallow. Bar chart

Bank Swallow (BKSW)
Only two sightings (6/30/96 and 5/9/97). Best field mark is distinct band across chest.

Barn Swallow (BNSW)
Seen occasionally during spring and summer, it has a reddish throat and forked tail. Bar chart

Blue Jay (BJ)
A common bird in the park, seen year-round. It is most conspicuous during migration, and becomes rather quiet and secretive while nesting. Has nested in the woods surrounding the pond (June 1997) Bar chart

American Crow (ACR)
Very common. If you hear a group of Crows caaww-ing in a rather agitated manner, they may be harassing a roosting hawk or owl. Often crows will harass Red-tailed Hawks in flight, diving at them as the hawks soar overhead. I have also seen crows mobbing an Osprey (Nov. 1996) Crows, in turn, are sometimes harassed by Common Grackles, a smaller bird. Has nested in pine trees in park.

Common Raven (RVN)
A bird of the north, similar to a crow but larger, with a wedge-shaped tail. Only one sighting (8/23/95, soaring overhead, drifting east)

Black-capped Chickadee (BCC)
A familiar sight at bird feeders, this friendly little bird with the black cap and bib is a year-round resident. Its "chick-a-dee-dee-dee" call is heard all year, while its clearly whistled "fee-bee" song (the "bee" lower in pitch) is heard mostly in spring. Nests in a tree cavity, which it excavates. I have observed nest construction in the park (April 1993) but have not confirmed nesting. Bar chart

Tufted Titmouse (TTM)
Aptly named for the crest (or "tuft") on its head, it sings a two-toned song "peter-peter-peter" with the "ter" lower in pitch. Most common in spring, but it is not migratory. Has nested in park (May 1997). Bar chart

Red-breasted Nuthatch (RBN)
More common some years than others, it is usually found in spruce and pine trees, where it feeds on cones. Call sounds like a toy tin horn. Bar chart

White-breasted Nuthatch (WBN)
This is the "upside down" bird, which spends most of its time creeping down the trunks of trees, probing beneath the bark for insects. Call is a nasal "yank-yank-yank". Nests in tree cavities. Bar chart

Brown Creeper (BCR)
This brown-backed bird is hard to spot as it creeps slowly up a tree trunk. It finds insects under the bark that the downward-going White-breasted Nuthatch has missed. When it gets near the top, it flies to the base of a nearby tree and starts up again. You are more likely to hear its high-pitched trill than to see it. Bar chart

Carolina Wren (CWR)
This bird is more common further south, but has been expanding its range north into Massachusetts, especially during years with mild winters. Only 10 sightings at the park, during years 1992-1994 and then again in Aug and Oct of 1998.

Golden-crowned Kinglet (GCK)
Only 5 sightings, during spring and fall of 1995, then again on 11/7/97 and 1/27/98. Quite active, it flitters from branch to branch, favoring coniferous trees. The yellow crown stripe is quite pronounced, distinguishing it from the Ruby-crowned Kinglet (see below). Bar chart

Ruby-crowned Kinglet (RCK)
Fairly regular in spring migration. Very active, it has the habit of nervously flicking its wings. The red crown patch is not usually visible unless the bird is alarmed. Very short-tailed and plump in shape. Bar chart

Veery (VRY)
Only 1 sighting, 5/14/97. Of the thrushes, this one has the least streaking or spotting on the breast and belly.

Swainson's Thrush (STH)
Not to be expected in the park, except rarely during migration. Only 1 sighting, 5/14/96 (at which time there was a major movement of Swainson's Thrushes through the area).

Hermit Thrush (HTH)
Seen mostly in fall migration. Seven records, fall of 95,97,98. Tail is somewhat reddish, contrasting with the back. Often raises and slowly lowers its tail.

Wood Thrush (WTH)
A bird of the forest, this is only to be expected in the park during migration. Only 1 sighting, 5/16/96. Easily ID'd by bold round spots on breast, and reddish cast to upper back and head.

American Robin (AROB)
The arrival of this bird on the lawns in April signals for many the beginning of spring. A little known fact is that some Robins spend the winter in Massachusetts, retiring to the woods to live secretly like the thrushes that they really are. Robins commonly nest in the park. Bar chart

Gray Catbird (GCB)
A common spring migrant and summer resident, it is all grey (except a cinnamon patch under the tail and blackish crown on head). And yes -- it does make a "meeoow" sound like a cat, hence the name. One of the so- called "mimids", it mimics other birds' sounds, generally with one repetition of each. Likely nester in the park, although I have not found a nest. Bar chart

Northern Mockingbird (NMB)
Another of the mimids, it mimics sounds from birds and other animals (even can imitate sirens and other man-made devices), generally alternating sounds with three or more repetitions. Rather aggressive and territorial. White patches in wings are conspicuous in flight. Year-round resident. A presumed nester (feeding of fledged young was observed (Aug 1994)), but nest has not been found. Bar chart , Photo

Brown Thrasher
The third member of the mimid group, it also mimics sounds from other birds, but usually repeating each sound twice. Mostly inconscpicuous on the forest floor, it is most noticeable in the spring when it perches up (usually at a prominant high point) and sings. Two sights: 5/2/00 and 4/21/01.

Cedar Waxwing (CWW)
A sleek, crested bird with a manicured look, it has a black mask through the eyes and a yellow tipped tail. Mostly seen in the park during mid summer, where it "flycatches" for insects over the pond. Feeding of fledged young observed 7/28/93, but nesting not confirmed. Bar chart

Northern Shrike
Somewhat similar to the Northern Mockingbird, but with black mask through eyes, darker grey back, and smaller white wing patches. A predatory bird, it caches its prey by impaling on a thorn or barbed wire. Uncommon and erratic. Only one sighting (12/16/95), during a major movement of shrikes into our area.

European Starling (EUST)
Not a native bird of North America, it was introduced from Europe into New York during the 19th century, and has become widespread, successfully competing with native species. Conspicuous in fall when it gathers into huge flocks. Confirmed nester in park. Photo.

Blue-headed Vireo
Formerly called the Solitary Vireo, it is the earliest of the vireos to pass through in spring. Only one sighting (5/10/96).

Warbling Vireo (WVI)
This plain looking bird is common to the park, and is best ID'd by its lack of distinguishing plumage pattern, and by its "warbling", finch-like song, which rises in pitch at the end. A likely nester (although nest has not been found). Bar chart

Red-eyed Vireo (REVI)
The red in the eye is visible only at close range, but the white stripe above the eye with black borders above and below is visible at some distance. Known for persistently singing its song, even in the mid-day heat. Song is similar to the robin's, but with a longer pause between phrases. Possible nester in park (not confirmed) Bar chart

Blue-winged Warbler (BWW)
Only one sighting, during spring migration (5/9/97).

Northern Parula (NPAR)
Occasionally seen during spring migration, its song is a rising buzzy trill. Bar chart

Yellow Warbler (YW)
Yellowish all over, with darker wings, its song has the cadence of "sweet-sweet-little more-sweet". A likely nester in park. Bar chart

Chestnut-sided Warbler (CSW)
Seen only in migration, its song has the cadence of "pleased-pleased-pleased to meetcha", with the "meetcha" sharply rising and falling in pitch. Bar chart

Magnolia Warbler (MAGW)
Seen in spring migration, the yellow underparts with black breast streaks, black mask and large white wing patches of the male are distinctive. Bar chart

Black-throated Blue Warbler (BTBW)
Only 3 sightings, all during May migration. Male is easy to ID by the solid blue upperparts, black throat and white underparts. Female looks very different, and is best ID'd by the small white patch on wing (male has this also).

Yellow-rumped Warbler (formerly Myrtle Warbler in eastern US)
Perhaps the most numerous warbler in migration, its yellow rump is conspicuous when it flies. Male has yellow on crown and on sides of breast, and white underparts with black streaks. Bar chart

Black-throated Green Warbler
Likes deep forest, so not found in park except rarely during migration. Usually high in top of tree, so hard to see, but song is easy to recognize. Only one sighting (hearing!) 4/21/01.

Blackburnian Warbler (BKBW)
Beautifully patterned with fire-orange throat, it tends to stay high in trees and sings a very high-pitched song. Only 2 sighting during spring migration (5/12/95 and 5/20/96). Bar chart

Pine Warbler
A fairly early migrant and summer resident, it favors coniferous trees and sings with a soft liquid trill. Likely nester in park or WPI campus. Bar chart

Prairie Warbler
Normally associated with open areas with scattered trees (power line cuts are a good place to find this species), it might be expected to be common in the park during migration. However, the only record is during the period 5/6/98-5/12/98. Its buzzy song rising in pitch makes it easy to locate in spring.

Palm Warbler (PAW)
An early spring migrant, it is generally found low to the ground, and habitually pumps its tail up and down. Bar chart

Blackpoll Warbler (BPW)
One of the latest spring migrants, its appearance signals the end of the warbler migration. The male's facial pattern is somewhat similar to the Black-capped Chickadee, but the underparts and underparts are streaked and the bill is longer. Bar chart

Black-and-white Warbler (BAWW)
This black and white striped bird is often found creeping along branches or the tree trunk like a nuthatch. Song is a high-pitched "wheez-a-wheez-a-wheez-a", like a sqeaky wheel going round and round. Seen during spring migration. Bar chart

American Redstart (AMRS)
Fairly common is spring migration, the male has the Halloween colors of black and orange, while the female has yellow in place of orange on the tail and wings. Frequently pirouettes on branches, spreading its tail and displaying its bold T-shape pattern. Bar chart

Northern Waterthrush (NWTH)
A secretive migrant usually found creeping around in the muck near the shore, it habitually pumps its whole rear end up and down. All sightings have been in the small bay between the island and the apartment complex. Bar chart

Common Yellowthroat (CYTH)
Fairly common in spring and fall migration, the male is easy to ID with its yellow underparts and black mask. Song has the cadence of "wichity-wichity-wichity-wich", with a slight rise in pitch at the end. Bar chart

Wilson's Warbler (WIW)
Somewhat similar to Common Yellowthroat, but male has small black cap. Seen occasionally during spring migration. Bar chart

Canada Warbler (CAW)
A spring migrant, the bold yellow eye-ring gives it a "spectacled" look. Bar chart

Scarlet Tanager (SCTA)
A striking bird, all red with black wings and tail, it is a bird of the forest and very unusual in the park, except during migration. Only one record on 5/13/97. Could be confused with Cardinal (see below).

Northern Cardinal (NCAR)
A year-round resident, it can often be found around Higgins House on the WPI campus, and near the apartments adjacent to the pond. Male is all red except for black around bill and on throat. Prominent crest and thick short bill for cracking seeds. Female mostly olive colored, with tinge of red on crest and wings. Sings a variety of loud, slurred whistles. Bar chart

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (RBGB)
A large seed eating bird, black above and white below, with massive bill and triangular rosy-red bib. Sings a song similar to that of the robin, but clearer and richer in tone (a robin that has taken voice lessons). Only 3 sightings (5/17/93, 5/21/93 and 5/8/98).

Eastern Towhee
Formerly known as the "Rufous-sided Towhee", this large long-tailed sparrow is usually found on the ground scraping through leaf clutter. Male is distinctive with black head, red eye, and rufous on side of breast. In spring it is easily identified by its three-part song "drink-your-teeee". Found in forested areas. Only one sighting on 5/2/00.

American Tree Sparrow (ATSP)
Most often seen in winter, occasionally during migration, this sparrow has a clear breast with dark spot in the center, bi-colored bill and rufous crown. Eight sightings, one in April and the rest in Nov and Dec. Bar chart

Chipping Sparrow (CSP)
A common sparrow in the park, it has a clear breast with no dark spot, a uniform black bill, and rufous crown. Song is a trill similar to the Pine Warbler, except more abrupt and mechanical sounding. Nests in park. Bar chart

Field Sparrow (FSP)
Very unusual in the park, only 2 sightings (11/9/95 and 5/7/97). Clear breast with bright pink bill and distinct white eye-ring.

Savannah Sparrow (SASP)
Not to be expected in the park, only 3 sightings (10/19/94, 5/12/97, and 5/8/98). Similar to Song Sparrow (see below), except shorter tail, and usually a yellowish wash to face in front of eyes (lores) and in stripe above eyes.

Fox Sparrow
Similar in appearance to the Song Sparrow, but larger, with reddish tail and wings, extensive gray on head and nape of neck, and thick dark brown streaks on breast. Uncommon, seen only in early spring and fall migration Only one record to date (4/5/02).

Song Sparrow (SGSP)
A common sparrow in the park at most times of year, it has brown breast streaks and usually a brown central spot on the breast. Distinct 3-part song has the cadence "di---di---di---daaaaaah-di-di-di-di-di". Likely nester in park. Bar chart, Photo.

Swamp Sparrow
Only expected in migration season, there are only two records on 9/30/98 and 10/6/98. Distinguished by extensive grey on face, along with a clear (unstreaked) breast.

White-throated Sparrow (WTSP)
Mostly seen in migration. The white throat contrasts sharply with clear greyish underparts. Head striped black and white (or black and tan), and generally some yellow in lores (area between eye and bill). Song is a clearly whistled and drawn out "Oh sweet Canada Canada Canada", with all the phrases at the same pitch except the first "Oh", which is slightly lower. Bar chart

White-crowned Sparrow (WCSP)
Rarely seen in the park (only 1 sighting, 5/14/96), it is similar to the White-throated Sparrow except has pink bill and no yellow in the lores.

Dark-eyed Junco (DEJ)
A common winter resident, it is the "snowbird" sparrow, uniformly grey upperparts, face and throat, and white on the belly. White outer tail feathers conspicuous when it flies. Often found around the Higgins House on WPI property near the park. During spring migration in April you may hear its song, which is a trill similar to the pine warbler but with a more bell-like quality. Bar chart

Red-winged Blackbird (RWBB)
To the serious birdwatcher, the arrival of this bird in March signals the true beginning of spring. Well before American Robins have made their appearance on suburban lawns, the blackbird has returned to the cattail marshes where it begins calling (konk-ker-eeeeee) and displaying its prominent red wing patches. The male is unmistakable with all-black body and red wing patches, although the female is often mistaken for a sparrow, being brownish with heavy breast streaks. Commonly nests in the park. Can be aggressive in defending the area around its nest -- I have seen them harassing a Great Blue Herons in the pond!. Bar chart

Common Grackle (CGR)
This member of the blackbird family is a little larger than the Red- winged Blackbird, with a longer tail, and arrives just a bit earlier in the spring. It's "song" is not so pleasing to human ears, consisting mostly of assorted squawks and twangy croaks. In spring you'll see the males (with the longer, more vee-shaped tails) flying after the females across the pond. Commonly nests in the park. Bar chart

Brown-headed Cowbird (BHCB)
A nest parasite, it lays its eggs in the nest of other birds. It favors the nests of woodland birds, so is seen in the park mostly during migration. Bar chart

Baltimore Oriole (formerly Northern Oriole)
Patterned beatifully with black and orange, it has a short, melodic whistled song. Likely nester in park (feeding of fledged young has been observed, but nest not found) Bar chart

Purple Finch (PFI)
Very uncommon in the park; only one sighting, (5/21/96). To distinguish from House Finch, look for lack of streaking on breast and belly, more widespread raspberry color, and notched tail. Bar chart

House Finch (HFI)
Formerly quite common, its numbers have declined in recent years due to a contagious eye desease that affects only this species of bird. Sings a long warbly song, interspersed with raspy notes. Streaks on lower belly separate this bird from the similar Purple Finch (see above). May nest in park. Bar chart

Red Crossbill (RCB)
An itinerant and erratic species, not to be expected in the park. Only one sighting, a flock of 8-9 on the WPI campus (5/14/96). The unusual crossed bill is used to extract seeds from cones.

Pine Siskin (PSIS)
Another species that varies greatly in number from year to year, it is only likely during "invasion" years, when northern birds push down into Massachusetts to improve their food supply. A finch-like bird with streaking above and below, it has variable amounts of yellow on wings and tail. Two sightings: (12/16/95 and 5/14/96).

American Goldfinch (AGF)
Commonly seen all year, it calls with a characteristic "per-chick-it- ee" when it flies. Male loses the bright yellow color during the winter, becoming similar to the female (olive head and back). Feeds on thistle and other seeds, such as birch tree catkins. Bar chart

House Sparrow (HSP)
Abundant year-round, especially around the bushes near the apartment buildings. Not a native to North America, this species was introduced here in 1850 and has become widespread, in many cases aggressively displacing native North American species. It is not a true sparrow, but rather a type of "Weaver Finch" from Europe. Most commonly found in cities, where its constant chirping may be one of the few sounds of nature to be heard.