For The Birds: New York City Summer Birdwatching


A recent post on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Greening the Apple blog about seasonal birdwatching in Sandy Hook, New Jersey got us thinking: Do you have to go all the way to a neighboring state to check out the summer’s cool birds?

So we hit up two area birders — Dr. Robert “Birding Bob” DeCandido and “City Birder” Rob Jett — to find out.

Dr. Birding Bob, who leads birdwatching trips through Central Park, said that you can check out the City’s feathered fauna anywhere in New York.

He said that starting around mid-June, the young of kestrels — a small falcon species, if you will, will start to leave the nest.

For other birds such as warblers, he said, fall migration will start as early as July.

“If you went up to the top of the Empire State building at night, you might be able to see birds migrating at night,” he said.

But what kind? He said that warblers can be spotted first, followed by flycatchers and sparrows later in the season.

“You can also look for wood ducks and their families,” he said. “They are nesting now in the Bronx for example, along the Bronx River and in Staten Island. They have young right now. The young are out with the adults feeding.”

City Birder Jett, who works extensively in Brooklyn, said of the cedar waxwing: “This colorful, gregarious songbird can be easily found around the city now feeding in black cherry trees, mulberry trees, and other fruiting trees and shrubs.”

“Summertime, mostly June and July anyway, is when all of our locally breeding birds are raising their young. The red-tailed hawks are leaving their nests all over the City — including in Prospect Park and in Greenwood Cemetery.”

Jett then told us something that made our hearts melt.

“They’re not afraid of people yet, so they’re actually very approachable. You can see them chasing butterflies on the ground.”

He added: “A lot of the birds are nesting around Prospect Park and other wooded areas have migrated here just to breed and at the end of the season, they’ll turn around and leave.”

Any rare finds lately?

“This month, we found a hummingbird nest,” he said. “It’s the first time ever in Brooklyn.”

As the summer starts to progress, he said, shore birds are starting to head south so from Dead Horse Bay to Bennett Field, such as sandpipers.

He also suggested checking out Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge to see these and more shore birds in July and August — and swinging by Prospect Park and Greenwood to see nesting birds.

Also keep your eyes peeled for Baltimore orioles and baby robins, he said.

“Robins are really prolific,” Jett said. “They can have as many as three broods per season.”

Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.