Which Way Would You Go?

View from Governors Island © NYC Audubon

View from Governors Island © NYC Audubon

Another glorious day in the New York Harbor!


If you were a bird flying up the Atlantic coast on your annual spring migration, what would you do when you reached New York City? Would you fly to the west (up the Hudson River), to the east (up the East River), keep going north at a higher altitude over the high-rises of Manhattan, or just fly north and navigate through the avenues and maze of buildings?  What routes do migrants actually take?


These are some of the questions we are looking to answer as part of a collaborative investigation between New York City Audubon and Fordham University on how birds and bats navigate urban landscapes. Today’s post is an additional aspect of the rooftop microphone project I talked about on March 15.


Looking at the map of New York City, you can see Governors Island sitting about ½ mile from the southern tip of Manhattan, which provides a great vantage point to use to answer our questions. Not only is the island well positioned, it also has the features we need for positioning a small-scale avian radar unit: level ground, slightly elevated above the surrounding area; and no large, nearby buildings obstructing the horizon. The entire unit, including the trailer, weighs 3,800 pounds. Thanks to generous support from the Leon Levy Foundation and on-the-ground help from the National Park Service  and the Harbor School, we hope to have the unit up and running in time  to catch spring migration.


-Susan Elbin


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