NYC For the Birds

It’s easy to forget that the city’s parks and trees are teeming with wildlife. Hundreds of bird species perch within them, especially during the spring months. The range of birds that stop in or pass above is impressive. Read on for information about where to go and what you’ll see – and check out the NYC Parks website for upcoming birding tours in all 5 boroughs.

Manhattan

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Red-Tailed Hawk; Image by Keenan Adams

Central Park
Birding experts consider Central Park’s 843-acres of city greenery to be one of the best birding spots in the country, with over 270 bird species visiting the park every year. Stop by Conservatory Water, Central Park’s model boat pond, where a telescope is stationed with a direct view of the Red-tailed Hawk that makes its nest atop an apartment building on 5th Avenue at 74th Street. The pond is right next to the Hallett Nature Sanctuary, a nicely wooded area where birds love to nest and rest. Then head up towards the Ramble between 73rd and 78th streets, where you’ll see a range of warblers and songbirds.

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Yellow-bellied Flycatcher; Image by Dominic Sherony

Riverside Park
Riverside Drive between West 72nd & West 129th Streets
This small UWS park along the Hudson River has a designated 10-acre bird sanctuary with a yearly average of 120 different species calling it a temporary home. Start at 116th Street and head up to the Bird Drip, a man-made source of water for the birds right near 120th Street. During your walk you may spot Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, Wild Turkeys, Worm-eating Warblers, sparrows, and orioles. Across the street from the sanctuary, between 120th and 122nd Streets, look on the bell tower of Riverside Church for Peregrine Falcons.

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Belted Kingfisher; Image by Kevin Cole

Inwood Hill Park
Seaman Avenue between Dyckman & West 218th Streets

In Inwood Hill Park you can see everything from Black-capped Chickadees  to Belted Kingfishers. NYC’s Audubon Society experts suggest entering the park at 218th Street and Indian Road and walking along the shoreline, where you’ll be able to spot shorebirds like Solitary Sandpipers and gulls. You can also enter at Dyckman Street and walk westwards to the river where you’ll see cormorants, ducks, and gulls.

Brooklyn

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Blue Grosbeak; Image by Bill Bouton

Brooklyn Botanical Garden
150 Eastern Parkway b/t Empire Boulevard & President Street
Stop by in the spring peak between May 1 and May 15, preferably on a clear, cool morning. Walk through the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden then venture down to the Terminal Pond, located in the southeast side of the Plant Family Collection. Stop by the Lily Pool to round out your tour. You’ll be likely to spot some Blue Grosbeaks, Red-tailed Hawks, European Starlings, and mallards while also soaking in the most incredible cherry blossoms during the peak season.

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Quaker Parakeet; Image by Juan Emilio

Green-Wood Cemetery
500 25th Street b/t 5th and 6th Avenues
Brooklyn, NY 11232
Serious bird watchers say this cemetery is the best spot for observing Brooklyn’s famous flock of Quaker, or Monk, Parakeets. If you’re really dedicated, stop by at 6AM on any Saturday or Sunday morning in May for a special tour of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and more than 20 species of wood-warblers led by a birding expert.

Staten Island

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Egret; Image by JJ Harrison

Great Kills Park
30-98 Cedar Grove Beach Place at Cedar Grove Avenue
This park is prime territory for the novice bird watcher, with two well-marked trails you can follow, where you should keep an eye out for shorebirds like Purple Sandpipers. Be sure and stop by the southern tip of the park, Crooke’s Point, where you can scan the water for egrets and Red Knots.

Queens

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Northern Parula; Image by Skeeze for Pixabay

Forest Park
This is the largest forest in the borough and in the spring these trees become home to a wide variety of land birds, including species of thrush, vireo, and warbler. The New York City Audubon recommends searching for birdlife in the East End of the park. Enter at the intersection of Park Drive and Metropolitan Avenue, then follow Park Drive and take the first trail on the right, which will lead you to the “Water Hole,” where you may find Northern Parulas, songbirds, and flycatchers.

 

Main image of Peregrine Falcon by US Fish and Wildlife Headquarters.

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