Our "Go Birding" section would not have been possible without the generosity of Marcia T. Fowle and Paul Kerlinger authors of the book The New York City Audubon Society Guide to Finding Birds in the Metropolitan Area. They have allowed us to make some of the chapters in their book the basis for this section of our website. We then proceeded to update each birding location in New York City, working with knowledgeable naturalists, many of whom provided information for the book in 2001. Hopefully, in updating this clear and useful book, we have been true to their spirit of love for the very special wildlife environment of New York City, continuing to make the birding information accessible to all.
Thank you Marcia and Paul!

Birding in NYC

[b]Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge[/b][br]by F. PortmannJamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
by F. Portmann
Few people associate New York City with wildlife or birdwatching, but the truth is that in the City's parks and green spaces, and along portions of the 578-mile waterfront, you'll find some of the best places in the world to watch birds. New Yorkers need only take a bus, subway, or ferry to truly world-class birding locations in all five boroughs--including Central Park in Manhattan, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens, Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and Great Kills Park on Staten Island. Hundreds of bird species may be seen at these hot spots and many more across the city, and the variety changes constantly throughout the year.
[b]Barn Swallow[/b][br]by F. PortmannBarn Swallow
by F. Portmann

 

Extraordinary birding in New York City is due to a combination of geography, topography, and habitat diversity. New York City is located at a geographic nexus of the Atlantic Flyway bird migration route and nesting distribution for numbers of species. For tens of thousands of years, since the end of the last ice age, birds migrated to and through the area. Large numbers of arctic, boreal, northern temperate, and southern temperate species follow this migration route. On an annual basis, more than 200 different species frequent the New York City metropolitan area.

After a night or day in flight, birds migrating over the city alight somewhere in the metropolitan area for rest and food. Because of the numbers of migrants and the fragmented nature of open space suitable for landing, unusually dense concentrations of birds can occur during migration.

Birding in New York City is an adventure. Frequently it is better in this urban area than in the wilderness.

[b]American Bittern[/b][br]by F. PortmannAmerican Bittern
by F. Portmann

 

[b]Shorebirds[/b][br]by F. PortmannShorebirds
by F. Portmann

 

The concentration, diversity, and numbers of birds are astounding. Where else in North America or the world can you see 75 or 100 species of birds in one day? With binoculars around your neck and perhaps a scope over your shoulder, you wend you way through busy streets or maneuver for a seat on a crowded subway. You reach your birding destination. While you observe a snowy egret spearing a crustacean, an osprey carrying a fish to its nesting platform, a red-bellied woodpecker probing a decayed tree for insects, or a long-eared owl eyeing you from its cedar tree perch, out of the corner of your eye you may see the Arthur Kill oil refineries, a jet on its way to Paris, or the Manhattan skyline. We, at NYC Audubon, hope this website provides you with the kind of information that will lead to many memorable birding experiences. Go forth with friends and enjoy.

Pelham Bay Park

© NYC Parks
The Bronx is northernmost of New York City’s five boroughs and the only one physically attached to the mainland--Manhattan and Staten Island are islands by themselves; Queens and Brooklyn are part of Long Island. Two of the city’s largest public parks, Pelham Bay Park and Van Cortlandt Park, are in The Bronx as is the venerable New York Botanical Garden. These urban parks, plus a string of parklands along the Hudson River, Spuyten Duyvil Shorefront Park, Riverdale Park, Wallenberg Park and Wave Hill, provide a diversity of habitats that are especially scenic and wonderful for birding.

Places to Go Birding in the Bronx -

Prospect Park

© NYC Parks
Brooklyn (Kings County), the most populous of the five boroughs with well over 2.3 million residents, is the second largest borough in area (81.8 square miles) after Queens. It occupies the southwestern end of Long Island, fronting on New York Bay and the Narrows, Harlem River, and Jamaica Bay. In the heart of the borough are three landscaped parklands: Prospect Park, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and Green-Wood Cemetery, each of which offers very good birding. Other Brooklyn birding opportunities are found by Jamaica Bay at Floyd Bennett Field and Dead Horse Bay.


Places to Go Birding in Brooklyn -
[b]Great Egrets in Central Park[/b][br]by F. PortmannGreat Egrets in Central Park
by F. Portmann

 

Manhattan - Incongruous as it may seem, birding enthusiasts from all over the world visit Manhattan to go birding. In the midst of skyscrapers, concrete, and asphalt, there are three large islands of green--Central Park, Inwood Hill Park, and Riverside Park--that attract migrant, over-wintering, and, of course, resident birds. Because of the concentration of migrating birds that can occur, Central Park is considered one of the birding hotspots of the country.


Places to Go Birding in Manhattan -
[b]Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge[/b][br]by F. PortmannJamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
by F. Portmann

 

Queens is almost as large as Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island combined, encompassing 37% of New York City's total area. Its western and northern shorelines follow along the East River and Long Island Sound while its southern shores open on Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Two districts of the expansive Gateway National Recreation Area are in Queens: the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (shared with Brooklyn) and the Breezy Point District.
The Wildlife Refuge includes saltmarsh, open water, and buffering uplands. The Breezy Point District, on the western end of the Rockaway Peninsula, is a long narrow barrier beach with shoreline on both the Atlantic Ocean and the Rockaway Inlet leading into Jamaica Bay. The District includes Jacob Riis Park, Fort Tilden, and Breezy Point. In 1997, the National Audubon Society designated the entire Jamaica Bay Complex an Important Bird Area of Global Significance. These federally-owned coastal areas, along with city-owned Alley Pond Park and Forest Park, offer extraordinary birding opportunities in Queens.

Places to Go Birding in Queens -

Staten Island's Greenbelt

© NYC Parks
Staten Island (Richmond County) has a 3,000-acre network of second-growth forest in the island's center called the Greenbelt . Here you can experience the healthiest forest ecosystem in the entire city. In addition, Staten Island contains 2,000 acres of freshwater wetlands (the Staten Island Bluebelt), tidal marshlands, and 60 miles of waterfront, providing great diversity of avian habitat. On Christmas Bird Counts, peregrine falcon, lesser black-backed gull, purple sandpiper, great horned owl, orange-crowned warbler and snow bunting have been regular sightings.

Staten Island's Greenbelt

© NYC Parks
In all seasons, but particularly during winter and spring migration, Staten Island offers excellent birding opportunities. Among the best places along the oceanfront are Great Kills Park, Wolfe's Pond Park, Mount Loretto Nature Preserve, Long Pond Park, and Conference House Park; in the northwest corridor are Goethals Pond, and Bridge Creek ; and mid-island is the Greenbelt with High Rock Park; also the imminently beautiful Clove Lakes Park and Blue Heron Park.

Staten Island can be reached from Manhattan by a spectacular ferry ride on Upper New York Bay past the Statue of Liberty. Many bird species can be observed from the ferry!

Places to Go Birding in Staten Island -

*Go Birding banner photograph of cedar waxwings © Lloyd Spitalnik.

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