Celebrating a Day Early

A vendor wearing a costume in observance of the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo sold imported fruit snacks on Sunday during a festival in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens.Ozier Muhammad/The New York TimesA vendor wearing a costume in observance of the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo sold imported fruit snacks on Sunday during a festival in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens.

In Prospect Park, Dog Owners and Bird Watchers Fight for Space

About a dozen bird watchers had just crossed the ravine in Prospect Park one recent morning when a northern waterthrush, the first of the season, alighted on a faraway branch. Thirteen pairs of elbows and binoculars rose along with a ripple of delighted murmurs.

“Dog!” blurted Tom Stephenson, a warbler expert who was leading the tour, as an unleashed golden retriever, still soggy from a dip, was zigzagging his way through the line of birdwatchers’ legs. “Take a picture!”

Prospect Park’s 585 acres have always been a marvel of urban ecology, a delicate balance not just of flora and fauna, but also of  children, joggers, mountain bikers, weekend racers, Frisbee players, sunbathers, and, of course, dog owners and bird watchers.

But this time of year, between the throngs trying to glimpse the prothonotary warblers, the yellow-bellied flycatchers and other migrants making their way up the coast, and the Brooklynites trying to give their corgis and springer spaniels a few moments of freedom and fresh air, it has been difficult to find a middle ground.

The conflict, at its root, is about basic animal nature: Dogs distress birds and can trample the delicate underbrush where birds feed and nest. Bird watchers say they have been answered with exclamations of “Nazi!,” “creep!,” R-rated curses and, occasionally, “I’m going to kill you,” when asking dog owners to respect the laws, which permit untethered animals in three meadows only after 9 p.m. and before 9 a.m.

An unleashed dog in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Some dog owners say bird-watchers have aggressively confronted them and their pets there.Yana Paskova for The New York TimesAn unleashed dog in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Some dog owners say bird-watchers have aggressively confronted them and their pets there.

One birder, Adam Welz, 41, said a dog owner once got in his face, following him across the park while hurling expletive-filled insults and threats to his life.

A video shot in February captured a typical scene. A sandy-colored dog bounds into a lake, sending a gaggle of waterfowl honking and flapping.

“I got him on camera!” said a woman’s voice behind the camera.

“Doing nothing!” screamed the dog’s owner.

“Chasing the wildlife!” the woman screamed back.

Tensions have simmered for decades. Mary McInerney, who was part of the New York Council of Dog Owners Group, or N.Y.C.D.O.G, (pronounced “nice dog”), which fought to protect off-leash rights several years ago, said a bird watcher once warned her “I know where you walk. and I’ll be there waiting for you.”

“The birders aren’t just nice little old ladies and guys with binoculars,” Ms. McInerney said.

Paul Gracie — who comes to the park year-round to exercise his brown and white fox hound, Sammy, unlike, he pointed out, the birders who come only in the spring and the fall — said that when a birder told him to leash his pet because it was interrupting the migratory pattern of the birds, “I was like ‘How are birds that stupid?’”

The dogs aren’t paying attention, said Mr. Gracie, 32, adding, “If they’re just minding their own business, what’s the problem?”

What many people don’t realize, said Rob Bate, president of the Brooklyn Bird Club, is that when a canine tears through the forest understory, the delicate vegetative layer covering wooded areas, they are destroying a crucial feeding and nesting habitat for birds. At this time of year, hundreds of bird species, many whose populations are in decline, are traveling thousands of miles up the Atlantic Flyway from as far south as Chile. The city’s green spaces become essential rest stops, known as migrant traps, amid a landscape of concrete and asphalt.

“If they don’t get a chance to feed and bulk up, they may not make it to their breeding ground,” Mr. Bate said.

His club has been lobbying the city’s parks department and the Prospect Park Alliance, the nonprofit conservancy that maintains the grounds with the city, for more enforcement and for signs to mark where dogs can wander off-leash. Many of the existing placards have been torn down, Mr. Bate, 63, said. At least one has been defaced with a swastika.

The Alliance said it hoped to have new signs designed and installed in the next several weeks.

Rob Bate, left, president of the Brooklyn Bird Club, and Adam Welz, a fellow birder, scan the trees. Mr. Bate said dogs can destroy habitats as they run through the forest understory.Yana Paskova for The New York TimesRob Bate, left, president of the Brooklyn Bird Club, and Adam Welz, a fellow birder, scan the trees. Mr. Bate said dogs can destroy habitats as they run through the forest understory.

The Parks Enforcement Patrol has responded with two plainclothes operations this year, said Meghan Lalor, a spokeswoman for the parks department. So far this year, the department has issued 141 dog-related summonses in Prospect Park, including for unleashed dogs, compared with 171 in all of 2013 and 59 the year before.

Ms. Lalor would not say whether the officers posed as bird watchers. “Due to the nature of the operation, and out of concern for the safety of P.E.P. officers, we can’t share more details,” she said.

A spokesman for the Police Department said they were “working with the community committee regarding the situation,” referring to a monthly meeting of groups including the Brooklyn Bird Club and Fido of Prospect Park, a group that represents the off-leash community.

Parks officers can do only so much, given that they watch over thousands of acres of woodland and public pools and beaches across the city, said Adrian Benepe, the former parks commissioner.

“Rules have been adapted and developed to take care of the greatest good,” he said, “But, by nature, they have to be somewhat self-enforcing.”

Indeed, no one with a uniform was in sight on a recent bright morning, when a great egret seemed to be posing for a photographer and two bird watchers. Its statuesque silhouette was shimmering in the surface of the Lullwater when its neck shot up. Above, a spray of robins, mourning doves, cardinals and a blue jay darted out of the trees and a cluster of warblers that had been chirping went quiet.

On the muddy pathway below, just beyond the sanctioned off-leash area, was a black-and-white Siberian husky sniffing its way along the water’s edge. The egret looked around before opening its white wings to propel itself to the other side.

A gray-haired gentleman in a Audubon-branded anorak shot the dog a stony stare as it trotted blithely out of sight. Its owner trailed several paces behind, leash dangling in hand.

Mr. Welz, who is a journalist trained in ornithology, was also taken out of the moment.

“Dog owners have been generously accommodated,” he said, “and they just abuse that. They disregard everybody else who uses the park. The arrogance is astonishing.”

Michelle Boyd, 31, who was recently in the peninsula meadow with her beagle-terrier mix, Chloe, said the birders she’s encountered can be “kind of mean.”

“If I see a bird watcher out and there’s a fork in the road,” she said, “I try to avoid them in an effort to avoid confrontation, but also to respect their space.”

A version of this article appears in print on 05/05/2014, on page A18 of the NewYork edition with the headline: In Prospect Park, a Clash of Leisure Pursuits.

Apps and Resources for Birders in New York City

Photographs by Piotr Redlinski for The New York Times and Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

This time of year, New York City’s green spaces become what are known as “migrant traps” for birds flying to their breeding grounds.

Even the tiniest pocket park will have an unusually high concentration of species setting down to rest and feed.

Here are a few resources to help bring you closer to the avian tourists and residents in the city.

Birding Groups and Tours

NYC Audubon | The local branch of the national organization hosts lectures and tours for birders of all levels in the five boroughs. Starting in June, they also host EcoCruises on New York City Water Taxis.

New York State Young Birders Club | This group organizes field trips and other events for birders between the ages of 10 and 19.

The Brooklyn Bird Club | Founded in 1909, this organization hosts walks for members and nonmembers on Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends during migration seasons. They also organize tours in Green-Wood Cemetery, Ridgewood Reservoir and other parks around the city.

Queens County Bird Club | This “full-service organization of naturalists” conducts regular field trips, walks, lectures and presentations.

The Linnaean Society of New York | The club hosts field trips and free lectures, open to the public, at the American Museum of Natural History on the second Tuesday of every month from September through May, except in March.

American Littoral Society | Explore the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge with the “guardian of the bay,” Don Riepe.

Central Park Conservancy | Pick up a free birding kit – complete with binoculars, a guidebook, maps and sketching materials – at Belvedere Castle from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm daily. The equipment must be returned by 4:00 pm. Call 212.772.0288 for more information.

Apps

Merlin Bird ID | Launched in January of this year, this free app is targeted for novices and anyone who wants to know “what’s that bird?” It asks basic questions like the the size (robin or goose?), color (buff? white?), location (eating at a feeder? soaring or flying?) and the date of the sighting, then creates a list of several possibilities with photos, a brief description and audio of its call. “It’s like like having a birding coach in your pocket,” said Jessie Barry at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology who said the app was designed to work like an experienced birders brain. So far, it includes 350 species and covers most North American birds. Ms. Barry said the Android version is anticipated in June and, later this year, a photo identification tool that will help identify the bird.

BirdsEye North America | Not to be confused with the frozen foods company, BirdsEye is a bird-finding app for those birders experienced enough to identify 50-100 species. Using GPS data and sightings reported to Cornell’s eBird database, it provides maps and real-time bar charts displaying the visiting species, and can help guide you to birding hotspots and notable sightings nearby. For $19.99, it contains a catalog of more than 1000 species, most of which have photos and audio. Available for iPhone and Android devices, it offers to be a handy way to keep track of your sightings.

iBird Pro Guide to Birds | This iOS app contains zoomable illustrations and photos for roughly 1,000 species found in North America, providing audio samples of bird calls fpr the majority. If you’re not sure what bird you’re looking at, the app could help with a four-step identification process that narrows down the field by habitat, wingspan, shape and color. This app is geared towards advanced birders and professional naturalists, but there are also a range of products geared towards less seasoned seekers.

Larkwire | Using games, this app trains your ear to differentiate and identify bird sounds . It plays a song and asks you to click on the bird that you’re hearing: Is that a black-headed Grosbeak? An American Robin? Both (iOS) mobile and web apps are available for land and water birds of North America. The free demo includes 21 species.

The Sibley eGuide to Birds App | This app displays approximately 6,600 images of 810 species, shown in flight and at rest, as well as about 800 range maps and 2,3000 songs and calls.

Resources on the Web

eBird.org | Launched by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, this site collects observations in real-time. Birders can share checklists and explore bar charts and graphs of around 175 million bird observations worldwide.

BirdCast | Also from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, BirdCast is a collaborative project that tells you when and where birds are migrating in real-time.

prospectsightings.blogspot.com | The former president of the Brooklyn Bird Club, Peter Dorosh, reports on recent sightings in Prospect Park and North Brooklyn nature news.

www.cityislandbirds.com | Updates from the woods and wetlands of Pelham Bay Park.

citybirder.blogspot.com | This site includes a live Twitter feed of bird sightings and maps of Brooklyn birding spots.

New York Today: Feathered Tourists Come to Town

A black and white warbler stopped for a rest in Central Park last week.Ruth Fremson/The New York TimesA black and white warbler stopped for a rest in Central Park last week.

Updated 8:42 a.m.

Good crisp Monday morning to you.

Look up in the skies and the trees around the city this week and you are sure to see a visitor.

It’s peak migration season for birds making their way to breeding grounds up north.

Hundreds of species are on the move across the East Coast on a path known as the Atlantic Flyway.

And many will rest and refuel in New York City’s green spaces.

“You’d be surprised at how many migrants a place like Battery Park or Bryant Park” has “tucked amid the skyscrapers,” said Harry Maas, the president of NYC Audubon’s board of directors.

“I’ve found warblers on East 53rd Street.”

Songbirds, like sparrows, thrushes and finches, fly at night, Mr. Maas explained.

By daybreak, they’re desperate for a place to come down to rest and feed.

That can be tricky when they’re passing near the city.

“The more development, the harder it is for birds,” he said.

Which is why our city’s parks are critical pit stops.

Mr. Maas said as many as 175 species will pass through the city by mid-month, like the hooded and prothonotary warblers, summer tanagers, broad-winged hawks and bald eagles.

For Bird Week, City Room’s celebration of avian life, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has drawn up a list of 15 species most likely to be passing through town.

Here’s our own list of resources for bird-watching in the city.

And here’s what else you need to know.

WEATHER

Pleasant indeed: mostly sunny with a good breeze and a high of 66. More of the same is expected Tuesday and Wednesday.

It might not rain until … the weekend.

COMMUTE

Subways: Delays on the northbound 3. The E, F and R are back to normal following Friday’s derailment. Check latest status.

Path: No problems. Check latest status.

Rails: Scattered delays on N.J. Transit Northeast Corridor. L.I.R.R. Check L.I.R.R., Metro-North or N.J. Transit status.

Roads: Inbound 40-minute delay at G.W.B. upper level 30 minutes at Lincoln Tunnel. Check traffic map or radio report on the 1s or the 8s.

Alternate-side parking is in effect until Memorial Day.

COMING UP TODAY

- Mayor de Blasio unveils his plan this morning for 200,000 new units of affordable housing.

- The Yankees pitcher and recent retiree Mariano Rivera gets a block of River Avenue outside Yankee Stadium renamed for him. 11:30 a.m.

- A casting crew from the reality show “Child Genius” seeks child geniuses at Brooklyn Amity School, a private school in Sheepshead Bay this afternoon.

- Learn basic bike repair and maintenance at a workshop at Times Up! on the Lower East Side. 6:30 p.m. [Free]

- Bebe Neuwirth talks about her life in the theater at the Public Library for the Performing Arts. 6 p.m. [Free]

- High school students from around the country perform August Wilson’s monologues at a competition at the playwright’s namesake theater. 7 p.m. [Free]

- PEN’s annual literary gala at the natural history museum honors Salman Rushdie, the jailed Chinese writer Ilham Tohti and the C.E.O. of Twitter. 6:30 p.m. [$1,250 and up]

- An all-female mariachi band plays at Passenger bar in Williamsburg for Cinco de Mayo. 8 p.m. [Free]

- For more events, see The New York Times Arts & Entertainment guide.

IN THE NEWS

- A heroin epidemic has taken hold on Staten Island. [New York Times]

- “Not like it’s the Nobel Prize,” said the 111-year-old Upper West Sider who is now considered the earth’s oldest man. [New York Times]

- A body found in Hudson River is that of a Columbia dental student missing since April 1. [Daily News]

- A turf battle in Prospect Park pits dog owners against bird watchers. [New York Times]

- A driver who fatally struck a 9-year-old Brooklyn girl while fleeing the police was charged with negligent homicide, the authorities said. [WABC Eyewitness News]

- More than half of baristas surveyed in the city say they suffer from repetitive stress injuries. [New York Post]

- A former police officer is charged with spray-painting anti-Semitic graffiti on buildings and cars in Borough Park, Brooklyn. [New York Times]

- “I started to cry, and now, we missed our limo.” Chaos erupted after a cruise ship broke down for hours in the Hudson River. [Gothamist]

- Scoreboard: Nets slay Raptors, 104-103, to advance in playoffs. Penguins slide past Rangers, 3-0. Mets topple Rockies, 5-1. Rays devour Yankees, 5-1. In soccer, Red Bulls beat Dallas, 1-0.

AND FINALLY …

There is something else to see in the skies this week: meteors.

Tuesday just before dawn is the peak of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower, made up of cosmic litter trailing behind Halley’s Comet as it makes its rounds of the solar system.

At this latitude, any meteors will be very low in the southeastern sky, just above the horizon, according to Space.com.

But if you can find a spot to see them, you’re in for a treat.

Meteors just above the horizon, known as “earthgrazers,” streak horizontally and leave colorful, long-lasting trails.

So head to the beach and keep your eyes peeled.

Joseph Burgess, Sandra E. Garcia and Kenneth Rosen contributed reporting.

New York Today is a weekday roundup that stays live from 6 a.m. till late morning. You can receive it via email.

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Winter Survivor, Sunbathing

Johann Schumacher

The dark maroon wings of the mourning cloak butterfly match the vast and subtle browns of the early spring woods. Velvety and saturated with color, the wings are bordered with a warm yellow band and dotted with a row of unexpected iridescent blue spots. This butterfly is both handsome and cryptic; while resting or feeding, it folds its wings to create a gray, ragged-edged silhouette — the perfect imitation of a dead leaf.

These dark colors are more than simply elegant; they help absorb the warming rays of the sun. This butterfly (Nymphalis antiopa) is a strong flier and is frequently encountered while it scouts the woods for sunny patches on which to land. When it finds a good spot, the butterfly opens its dark wings and may spend long minutes positioning and repositioning itself while following the sun’s rays, looking a bit like a model posing for the camera.

One of only a few adult butterfly species that survive the winter, the mourning cloak is also one of the earliest butterflies to be seen gracing the spring woods. But having survived months of harsh weather, hibernating under loose bark or in a tree cavity, the adults awaken to enjoy only a few short weeks of warmer weather. They emerge to mate and then deposit their eggs on black willow, birch and hackberry trees. Though very few adults persist past spring, by then each has survived for 10 or 11 months, making the species one of North America’s longest-lived butterflies.

Mourning cloak eggs develop into dramatic black, spiny, red-spotted caterpillars. These caterpillars feed and grow quickly on a diet of fresh spring leaves. By June, they pupate, and in midsummer they return to the woods as newly minted adults.

Male mourning cloaks aggressively defend a territory and can often be observed chasing other butterflies away. Their ambitions often involve creatures far greater than mere butterflies; mourning cloaks will attack much larger animals.

Indeed, the first encounter most people have with a mourning cloak occurs after unknowingly trespassing into a male’s territory. The butterfly immediately flies up and actively circles, often flying head-on at intruders, attempting to bully them out of the area. You haven’t lived until you’ve been attacked by a butterfly. Be prepared, when you travel in mourning cloak country.

Emerging well before most wildflowers, early-season mourning cloaks feed primarily on the sap dripping from wounds or abrasions in tree trunks and branches. I have also seen them actively feeding on the fluids dripping from sun-warmed road kill, rotting fruit, animal scat and mud puddles.

Even when wildflowers are available, mourning cloaks rarely seek them. This is hardly the carefree image we have of butterflies, but then, life is tough in the city. Mourning cloaks can be found in all five of New York City’s boroughs, wherever a park of decent size harbors tall trees and enough open space for them to call home.

A version of this article appears in print on 05/04/2014, on page MB4 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Winter Survivor, Sunbathing.

Week in Pictures for May 2

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A slide show of photographs of the past week in New York City and the region includes an amusement park in Rye, N.Y.; a prayer service for Sherpa guides; and storm clouds over the Brooklyn Bridge.

This weekend on “The New York Times Close Up,” an inside look at the most compelling articles in Sunday’s Times, Sam Roberts will speak with The Times’s A.O. Scott, Michael Kimmelman, Charles Isherwood and Patrick Healy; and the authors Richard Ravitch and Dean Silvers.

Tune in at 10 p.m. Saturday or 10 a.m. Sunday on NY1 News to watch.

Read current New York headlines and follow us on Twitter.

Big Ticket | For $26.6 Million, a Penthouse in SoHo With a Lawn on the Terrace

A SoHo artist’s studio that underwent a radical transformation from an airy but spartan loft to a sybaritic 7,200-square-foot luxury penthouse sold for $26,580,000 and was the most expensive sale of the week, according to city records.

As a bonus, the penthouse’s sprawling rooftop terrace has an authentic water tower augmented by an outdoor kitchen, a Boffi shower, Balinese stone walls, a covered patio with video and audio, and a synthetic lawn with an oversize hammock. Monthly maintenance is $5,223.

The five-bedroom, five-and-a-half-bath penthouse, a.k.a. No. 6W, at 383 West Broadway between Spring and Broome Streets, had an asking price of $32 million, which, if paid, would have set a record for a downtown co-op. Rupert Murdoch’s former co-op at 141 Prince Street retains the record, $27.5 million.

The seller, the minimalist sculptor and earthworks artist Charles Ross, joined other artist-pioneers to buy the entire block-through building in 1973. He installed his studio on the top floor and rented out the small apartment on the Wooster Street side of the building. But in 2006, his friend Damion Berger, a British fine arts photographer and real estate entrepreneur, convinced him that the space was underutilized. In 2010, Mr. Ross downsized to the Wooster Street apartment and a gut renovation masterminded by Mr. Berger commenced, turning the space into what Mr. Berger described as “a bespoke family residence.”

The penthouse has a Bulthaup kitchen with Carrara marble countertops and Gaggenau appliances, and a marble-and-white-onyx master bath with an octagonal skylight and a free-standing cast-stone soaking tub. The “spa bath” has a steam shower for six. The wine cellar off the kitchen has a built-in humidor. There is a home theater and, in the great room, a walnut-and-steel Ping-Pong table.

Adam Modlin of the Modlin Group and Leonard Steinberg of Douglas Elliman handled the listing for the sellers, Mr. Ross and Chupinas Moon, a limited partnership. Trisha Riedel, also of Elliman, negotiated for the buyer, a limited liability company, 398 PH.

The runner-up, selling for $21,892,375, was a pristine 11-room Upper East Side duplex penthouse with two terraces at 135 East 79th Street, PH15E. James Lansill of the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group represented the sponsor, the Brodsky Organization, and Laurance Kaiser, the president of Key-Ventures, brought the anonymous buyers, Penthouse MOT. Monthly carrying costs are $15,550.

Big Ticket includes closed sales from the previous week, ending Wednesday.

A version of this article appears in print on 05/04/2014, on page RE2 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Water Tower Included.

Big Ticket | For $26.6 Million, a Penthouse in SoHo With a Lawn on the Terrace

A SoHo artist’s studio that underwent a radical transformation from an airy but spartan loft to a sybaritic 7,200-square-foot luxury penthouse sold for $26,580,000 and was the most expensive sale of the week, according to city records.

As a bonus, the penthouse’s sprawling rooftop terrace has an authentic water tower augmented by an outdoor kitchen, a Boffi shower, Balinese stone walls, a covered patio with video and audio, and a synthetic lawn with an oversize hammock. Monthly maintenance is $5,223.

The five-bedroom, five-and-a-half-bath penthouse, a.k.a. No. 6W, at 383 West Broadway between Spring and Broome Streets, had an asking price of $32 million, which, if paid, would have set a record for a downtown co-op. Rupert Murdoch’s former co-op at 141 Prince Street retains the record, $27.5 million.

The seller, the minimalist sculptor and earthworks artist Charles Ross, joined other artist-pioneers to buy the entire block-through building in 1973. He installed his studio on the top floor and rented out the small apartment on the Wooster Street side of the building. But in 2006, his friend Damion Berger, a British fine arts photographer and real estate entrepreneur, convinced him that the space was underutilized. In 2010, Mr. Ross downsized to the Wooster Street apartment and a gut renovation masterminded by Mr. Berger commenced, turning the space into what Mr. Berger described as “a bespoke family residence.”

The penthouse has a Bulthaup kitchen with Carrara marble countertops and Gaggenau appliances, and a marble-and-white-onyx master bath with an octagonal skylight and a free-standing cast-stone soaking tub. The “spa bath” has a steam shower for six. The wine cellar off the kitchen has a built-in humidor. There is a home theater and, in the great room, a walnut-and-steel Ping-Pong table.

Adam Modlin of the Modlin Group and Leonard Steinberg of Douglas Elliman handled the listing for the sellers, Mr. Ross and Chupinas Moon, a limited partnership. Trisha Riedel, also of Elliman, negotiated for the buyer, a limited liability company, 398 PH.

The runner-up, selling for $21,892,375, was a pristine 11-room Upper East Side duplex penthouse with two terraces at 135 East 79th Street, PH15E. James Lansill of the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group represented the sponsor, the Brodsky Organization, and Laurance Kaiser, the president of Key-Ventures, brought the anonymous buyers, Penthouse MOT. Monthly carrying costs are $15,550.

Big Ticket includes closed sales from the previous week, ending Wednesday.

A version of this article appears in print on 05/04/2014, on page RE2 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Water Tower Included.