Birding by Subway

From Central Park to Jamaica Bay, New York City boasts some of the very best birding in the United States: over 350 species have been recorded in the five boroughs.

The City owes this rich birdlife to a lucky confluence of location and habitat; situated at a pivotal point along the Atlantic Flyway, it is a major migratory stopover. Many species also stay to breed or spend the winter in the City's diverse landscape of forest, marsh, grasslands, and shoreline. Many of the City's prime birding spots are just a subway or bus ride away.

Get out to these spots with the help of our interactive "Birding by Subway" map. To get public transit directions to your NYC birding destination, click on any of the more than 25 birding spots marked with red labels on the map below. Then, enter your starting address (street address, city, state) in the pop-up window of the birding hotspot you selected and click "Get Directions." You can also choose to get biking, driving, or walking directions to these spots as well. Happy birding!

You can download a PDF version of our Birding by Subway brochure here.

You can receive a physical copy of the brochure by becoming a NYC Audubon Contributing Member. Already a NYC Audubon contributing member and somehow did not recieve a copy? Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Using a mobile device? Click here to view a stand-alone, enlarged version of the map at www.nycaudubon.org/birding-by-subway-mobile




Created by Darren Klein

Bronx Birding

 

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.

Blue Heron Park

Great Blue Heron

by D. Speiser

Nesting**    Spring Migration***    Fall Migration***    Winter**

(no star = birding is not very productive, * = somewhat productive, ** = productive, *** = very productive)

The 250 acres of Blue Heron Park, owned by the City Of New York/Parks and Recreation, are made up of low lying, moist second growth forest with 3 named ponds. Wetlands such as Butterfly Pond in the park, are surrounded by dense vegetation, perfect habitat for many bird species. In spring, the vernal pools throughout the park attract a diversity of migrants, and in fall, weedy edge habitat around Butterfly Pond is particularly attractive to good numbers of migrating sparrows.

Palm Warbler

by D. Speiser

In late summer, Purple Martins and other swallows often congregate around Butterfly Pond before departing. Amphibians and a few species of reptiles including Eastern Box Turtle are still surviving here.

Pine and Palm Warblers, along with kinglets, Brown Creeper and Eastern Phoebes are often very common in spring and fall. In October the raptor migration can be quite good depending on the weather conditions and wind direction. A north or northwest wind, along with a cold front is ideal.

© NYC Parks

One of the 3 larger ponds, Spring pond is visible from Poillon Avenue just east of Hylan Boulevard. One can bird this pond from trails, and during migration, birds favor this wetland habitat. Green Herons are now breeding here and insect diversity, including dragonflies, is spectacular.

Spring and autumn are the best times to visit, however the many feeders in the rear of the Nature Center during winter time always have a fine variety of birds. In past years, Pine Warblers wintered along with Purple Finches, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and the more common residents. All can be observed at close range from inside the warm Nature Center building. Photographers have a fine time with the birds so close at the feeders.

Blue Heron Pond itself is now undergoing rapid succession and vegetation is replacing sections of the pond. In spite of less water, Wood Ducks, Little Blue Herons and Great Blue Herons can be found here along with migrating Solitary Sandpipers.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

by D. Speiser

In the woodlands during summer months, birders can find a rather good selection of breeding specialties for an urban park surrounded by dense housing development. Both cuckoos have nested and Eastern Towhee, Great Crested Flycatchers, Eastern Wood-Pewees, and American Woodcock are summer breeding residents.

A resident population of Wood Thrush survives despite problems associated with forest fragmentation and Cowbird parasitism. Surviving numbers of Wood Thrush are showing that this species, unusual as a breeding species in urban parks, is doing well here.

© NYC Parks

In addition, Eastern Screech-Owls and Great Horned Owls are permanent residents in the park. In late winter both of these species can be heard calling near the Nature Center. Calm clear evenings are the best times to hear the owls.

Trails, here at Blue Heron Park, are well marked and trail maps are available from the Nature Center. A naturalist is on duty on the weekends from 1 until 4 pm, and guided walks are sponsored by the Friends of Blue Heron Park. Friends of BHP has a bulletin and provides many programs throughout the year, including bird trips and walks led by Howard Fischer.

Urban Park Rangers also provide the public with programs and the Staten Island Rangers are stationed at this park. The Nature Center phone number is 718-967-3542 and a website will show all events in detail.

© NYC Parks

Getting There
Click here for a google map to the Blue Heron Nature Center. Click on directions and enter your starting point and mode of transport.

Resource Person:

2012- Howard Fischer

The Birding Community

NYC Organizations and Clubs

New York City Audubon

www.nycaudubon.org

The American Littoral Society -  NE chapter
www.littoralsociety.org/index.php/chapters1/
northeast-chapter/jamaica-bay-guardian


WildMetro
www.wildmetro.org

City Island Birds
www.cityislandbirds.com

The Brooklyn Bird Club
www.brooklynbirdclub.org/contacts.htm

Queens County Bird Club
www.qcbirdclub.org

The Linnaean Society of New York http://linnaeannewyork.org/

Staten Island Museum
www. statenislandmuseum.org

American Museum of Natural History
www.amnh.org

New York State and National Organizations

National Audubon Society
www.audubon.org

New York State Young Birders Club
www.nysyoungbirders.org

American Birding Association www.americanbirding.org

Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology - All About Birds
www.allaboutbirds.org/Page.aspx?pid=1189

Hawk Migration Association of North America www.hmana.org

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
www.nrdc.org/

The Nature Conservancy
www.tnc.org

New York State Ornithological Association
www.nybirds.org/

New Jersey Audubon
www.njaudubon.org

 

Cape May Bird Observatory
www.birdcapemay.org


Ebird
www.ebird.org


Migratory Bird Research
www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov

North American Rare Bird Alert
www.narba.org

Xeno Canto
www.xeno-canto.org/

American Bird Conservancy www.abcbirds.org

 

Internet Bird Sightings Lists

E-Birds NYC (birding group for NYC area)
groups.yahoo.com/group/ebirdsnyc/

The NY State Birding List (birding group for all New York State)
birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/NYSB.html

Metro Birding Briefs (Rarities ONLY in the Tri-State Area)
groups.yahoo.com/group/btblue/

SINaturaList (birding group for Staten Island)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SINaturaList/


Wildlife Photographers

David Speiser http://www.lilibirds.com/gallery2/main.php

Lloyd Spitalnick  http://www.lloydspitalnikphotos.com/

Francois Portmann http://www.fotoportmann.com/birds/

Steve Nanz
http://www.stevenanz.com/

Don Riepe

NYC Birding Blogs

The Birding Dude  birdingdude.blogspot.com

The City Birder citybirder.blogspot.com

Fotoportmann  www.fotoportmann.com/birds

Marie Winn's Central Park Nature News    mariewinnnaturenews.blogspot.com

NYC Birding  nycbirding.blogspot.com

Prospect Park & Regional Bird Sightings peters-prospect-bird-sightings.blogspot.com

Urban Hawks  urbanhawks.blogs.com

10,000 birds  10000birds.com

The Mulberry Wing www.stevewalternature.com/

Resources for Beginner Birders

Guide to Bird Watching from Your Window  www.blindschalet.com

High Rock Park

Nesting**    Spring Migration***    Fall Migration***    Winter**

(no star = birding is not very productive, * = somewhat productive, ** = productive, *** = very productive)

High Rock Park, owned by the City Of New York/Parks and Recreation, is a fine place to bird in spring, fall and winter. With approximately 190 acres of older second growth forest, which is part of Staten Island's Greenbelt, a stroll in these woods can be a rewarding experience for naturalists..

Oaks dominate with hickories, White Ash, Sweetgum, Black Birch, American Beech and other deciduous trees native to our region making up the character of this forest.
Some of the vernal ponds, permanent ponds and the Loosestrife Swamp (which is close to the parking area) are excellent in early spring for locating a fine diversity of migrant birds.

Fungi and wildflowers can be found along with Spring Peepers, Gray Tree Frogs and other amphibians. White-tailed Deer are now recent immigrants in the Greenbelt and are encountered while walking the trails.

Hooded Warbler

by D. Speiser

Both kinglets, Hermit Thrushes, Eastern Phoebes, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Pine, Yellow, and Palm Warblers are among the spring migrants that can be observed in good numbers in a more natural setting compared to other parks. From mid-March through May, birds can be seen and heard in the trees.

The rich understory here provides habitat for species such as Hooded Warbler, Kentucky Warbler (rare) and Mourning Warblers.
Gray-cheeked Thrush can be found in mid-May along the asphalt road leading uphill especially after a rainfall when many larvae fall from trees. Flowering oaks in spring harbor a number of caterpillars on their catkins. This produces a wealth of food for warblers and other migrants. During good flights or "waves" this park can be very productive.

Cooper's Hawk

by D. Speiser

Woodpecker diversity is good along with a superb list of breeding residents as well. The Pileated Woodpecker, which is so rarely observed along the coastal plain (that includes our five boroughs), was observed here on two occasions by reliable observers. In 2007, these woodpeckers also wintered in another part of the Greenbelt, Buck's Hollow. If there is any habitat with mature trees, this would be the most likely natural area to locate these birds.

Among some of the "urban" nesting highlights here in High Rock Park are: Wood Ducks, Cooper's Hawk, Eastern Screech-Owl, Great Horned Owl, Yellow-billed Cuckoo (in summer), as well as Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher and Great Crested Flycatcher. After a long absence in the Greenbelt, the Acadian Flycatcher is now breeding here, both in High Rock and Buck's Hollow.

Look for the Acadian Flycatcher in June in the moister parts of the park near the swamp and just west of the swamp beyond a glacial hill of the moraine. Acadian Flycatchers are quite vocal but it requires some patience to locate the birds.

With some patience, Eastern Screech-Owls can be found roosting in Wood Duck boxes or in tree cavities. Creating a stressful situation for the owls with tapes or imitated calls during the breeding season, is discouraged.

Eastern Screech-Owlets

by D. Speiser

Spring is the best season to visit High Rock, however fall can bring surprises as well. Walking the trails in winter can be a challenge and sometimes there is a super variety of wintering sparrows, finches, chickadees and woodpeckers.

Mosquitoes can be a problem in summer so bring some insect spray. Ticks are rarely found in the woods.

Restrooms are located at the top of the asphalt road just to the right of the Administration Building and staff parking.

Trail map and Directions
For a trail map to High Rock Park and the Greenbelt click here.
Look for High Rock on the map detail.
Trails are well marked and appear to more like hiking trails that typical city park walking paths.

Start your walk in High Rock Park at the end of Nevada Avenue, where you will find a parking lot.
For a google map and directions (type in your starting point) click here.


Resource Person:

2012- Howard Fischer, tour leader for Protectors of Pine Oak Woods and Friends of Blue Heron Park.

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