You may not realize it, but New York City is one of the best places in the country to enjoy the Spring migration. So on behalf of our feathery friends, we hereby invite all New Yorkers to get outside and enjoy the birds!
Now that spring is here, we'll be seeing a lot of birds that haven't been seen in New York since late summer or early fall of last year. Well over half of New York's birds are migratory. Plus, the resident birds are more vocal and visibly active this time of year. Some species to keep an eye out for:
Migration in all animals is an evolutionary response to the availability of food resources that changes seasonally. In other words, birds don't "decide" to migrate. It's hard-wired behavior. In spring, those birds that have wintered to the south of us return to their breeding grounds in New York and areas farther north.
Spring migration is when birds return to their breeding grounds. It's also when birds that breed farther north pass through and use New York to stop-over on their long journey, so it's a great chance to see beautiful birds in large numbers.
It's a little-known fact that New York City is home to two of the country's great birding destinations. Central Park and Jamaica Bay are often referred to as "islands" of habitat within seas of concrete. For migrating birds, these parks represent the only suitable habitat for miles and miles. Birds can stop, refuel on emerging insects, flowers and fruits, then be on their way.
Why become a birder? Because it's so easy! Even if you've never done it, there are many great resources to help get you started.
- National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern North America
- The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America
- A Field Guide to Bird Songs: Eastern and Central North America
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds online resource