Shirley Chisholm State Park

Shirley Chisholm State Park

Shirley Chisholm State Park offers a variety of habitat including grasslands, tidal creeks, marsh, and beach. Photo: Karen Benfield

Birding Highlights by the Season

(no star = birding is not very productive, = somewhat productive, ✸✸ = productive, ✸✸✸ = very productive)
 
Spring Migration ✸✸ 
Flycatchers, cuckoos, warblers, tanagers, orioles, grosbeaks, grassland songbirds; shorebirds, wading birds
 
Summer ✸✸
Possible nesting Ring-necked Pheasant, Killdeer, Willow Flycatcher, Common Yellowthroat, Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Savannah Sparrow; foraging Osprey, wading birds, terns, skimmers, and shorebirds
 
Fall Migration ✸✸
Shorebirds, wading birds, raptors, flycatchers, grassland and other songbirds
 
Winter ✸✸
Wintering waterfowl including dabbling and diving ducks, loons, and grebes; accipiters, Northern Harrier, possible Short-eared Owl; mixed songbird feeding flocks, Snow Buntings, Horned Larks
 
Year-Round Highlights
Peregrine Falcon, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel; gulls


Get Oriented

Shirley Chisholm State Park is one of the best bets in New York City to find the ever scarcer Ring-necked Pheasant. Photo: Karl Schneider/Audubon Photography Awards
Shirley Chisholm State Park is one of the best bets in New York City to find the ever scarcer Ring-necked Pheasant. Photo: Karl Schneider/Audubon Photography Awards
Shirley Chisholm State Park's direct access to Jamaica Bay provides excellent vantage points to see many waterbird species, such as this wintering Bufflehead. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/144871758@N05/" target="_blank">Ryan F. Mandelbaum</a>
Shirley Chisholm State Park's direct access to Jamaica Bay provides excellent vantage points to see many waterbird species, such as this wintering Bufflehead. Photo: Ryan F. Mandelbaum
Like its "sister" park-turned-landfill on Staten Island, Freshkills Park, Shirley Chisholm State Park has attracted nesting Blue Grosbeaks, an usual species for New York City, in recent years. Photo: Megumi Williamson/Audubon Photography Awards
Like its "sister" park-turned-landfill on Staten Island, Freshkills Park, Shirley Chisholm State Park has attracted nesting Blue Grosbeaks, an usual species for New York City, in recent years. Photo: Megumi Williamson/Audubon Photography Awards
Opened to the public in 2019, this newest Brooklyn park on the northern edge of Jamaica Bay is among several man-made bird habitats in New York City that have turned trash to treasure. Built upon two immense garbage dumps, the Fountain and Pennsylvania Avenue landfills, this 407-acre site occupies an area that historically consisted of tidal creeks and salt marsh. After a long-term remediation project overseen by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, the land now returns to ecological use. 
 
Shirley Chisholm State Park offers a variety of habitat including grasslands, tidal creeks, marsh, and beach. Mural art by Danielle Mastrion. Photo: Akilah Lewis "}" data-trix-content-type="undefined" class="attachment attachment--content"> Shirley Chisholm State Park offers a variety of habitat including grasslands, tidal creeks, marsh, and beach. Mural art by Danielle Mastrion. Photo: Akilah Lewis


The two landfills operated from 1956 to 1983, and since their closure have been sealed, engineered with piping systems to vent methane and other gases, capped with a thick layer of topsoil, and planted with a variety of native grasses. Though part of Gateway National Recreation Area, Shirley Chisholm State Park is being developed and operated by New York State Parks, in a cooperative agreement with National Park Service and the City of New York.

The new park’s mixed habitat of grasslands, woods, wetlands, and beaches provides a beautiful new public space for southern Brooklyn, named after Brooklyn-born trailblazer Shirley Chisholm: the first African American Congresswoman, as well as the first woman and African American to run for President. Ten miles of walking trails, several piers, and direct access to Jamaica Bay and Fresh, Hendrix, and Old Mill Creeks also provide birders the opportunity to discover which species are making use of this new green space. The park opened a new Environmental Education Center on its Fountain Ave. (eastern) side in 2020.

Two immature Northern Harriers battle it out in Shirley Chisholm State Park. Photo: Keith Michael "}" data-trix-content-type="undefined" class="attachment attachment--content"> Two immature Northern Harriers battle it out in Shirley Chisholm State Park. Photo: Keith Michael


Though access to the park’s habitats was quite limited before its opening in 2019, eBirders have already made great progress in documenting species in the park’s Fountain Ave. and Pennsylvania Ave. sides. The over 150 species recorded so far have included many waterbird species typical of Jamaica Bay, as well as grassland specialists such as Short-eared Owl, American Pipit, Dickcissel, Bobolink, and Eastern Meadowlark. (Earlier records attest to visits by Rough-legged Hawk and Snowy Owl.) NY Breeding Bird Atlas III volunteers have discovered several unusual nesting species for New York City: Ring-necked Pheasant and Blue Grosbeak. Northern Harrier may also be nesting in the area. 

The park’s high elevation promises to make it a good fall hawk-watching spot, as well as a good spot year-round for hunting Peregrine Falcon and American Kestrel. Ample access to the tidal creeks and open bay should provide good vantage points spring through fall to view foraging wading birds, terns, and shorebirds, and diving and dabbling ducks during the winter months. 
 
Short-eared Owls are among the grassland bird species that have been spotted in Shirley Chisholm State Park. Photo: David Speiser "}" data-trix-content-type="undefined" class="attachment attachment--content"> Short-eared Owls are among the grassland bird species that have been spotted in Shirley Chisholm State Park. Photo: David Speiser


When to Go 

To see birding highlights at Shirley Chisholm State Park by the season, see the top of this page. 

To learn about bird migration times and get other timing tips, see the When to Bird in NYC guide on our Birding 101 page.

 
For Shirley Chisholm State Park operating hours, see the “Directions and Visiting Info” section, below.
 

eBird

View eBird hotspot records for the two side of Shirley Chisholm State Park: the Fountain Ave. Landfill (east side) and the Pennsylvania Ave. Landfill (west side), to explore recent bird sightings, species bar charts, and more.
 

Personal Safety

 Shirley Chisholm has quickly become popular with locals as a place to walk and exercise, and as it is well frequented is a fairly safe place to bird. Nevertheless, care should be taken in remoter areas of the park.

Guided Bird Walks

NYC Audubon leads occasional trips to Shirley Chisholm State Park. Visit our Local Trips page for information on upcoming walks led by NYC Audubon.

The Brooklyn Bird Club, a private nonprofit organization founded in 1909, offers frequent bird walks in Brooklyn and beyond. The club provides a number of other resources for birders as well, including a checklist and map for birdwatchers of Prospect Park, The Clapper Rail newsletter, and an active blog with the latest news and bird reports.
 

Directions and Visiting Information

View the New York State Parks page for the Shirley Chisholm State Park for directions, a park map, and additional background information. 
 
View and download a New York State Parks map of Shirley Chisholm State Park. (Note that this map is oriented with south, facing Jamaica Bay, at the top.)
 
View Google maps to the Fountain Ave. entrance and the Pennsylvania Ave. entrance of Shirley Chisholm State Park.
 

Other Resources