Weekend Getaways: Birding in the Big Apple

Manhattan’s Central Park is a surprisingly popular destination for birdwatchers.

Suzanne Goldsmith
Columbus Monthly
Birdwatchers in Central Park

John F. Kennedy International Airport is not the only place migrants can be found arriving in New York City. Smack dab in the middle of The City That Never Sleeps is Central Park, an 843-acre urban oasis that is both home to many bird species and a popular refueling stopover for those traveling to warmer or cooler climes. Interest in birding grew during the pandemic, and on any given day you can see bird-peepers throughout this green heart of the city.

From the 40-acre, forested Ramble, attractive to songbirds, to the 100-acre reservoir that draws waterfowl year-round, to the newly restored Hallett Nature Sanctuary, Central Park offers plenty of diversity to its winged visitors. While spring is the best time to catch migrating warblers, as many as 12 species of raptors are seen passing through and over the park in September and October. This past August, an osprey delighted birdwatchers near Harlem Meer, a body of water in the park’s northeast corner (check out #birdcp on Twitter for sightings). Belvedere Castle is a good spot for watching migrants pass overhead, while Summit Rock offers a high-up perch from which to look for birds in the Ramble’s treetops.

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The best time for birdwatching in the park is in the early morning or late in the day, when birds are on the move. To get oriented, check out the map of birding locations on the website of author and former competitive birder David Barrett. Guided bird walks also are offered by NYC Audubon and private parties like Robert DeCandido, aka “Birding Bob.”

Find more Weekend Getaways:12 Great Direct-Flight Vacation Destinations From Columbus

Flights from Columbus to New York City

American, one to three daily; Delta, two to three daily; both airlines fly to LaGuardia Airport.

This story is from the October 2021 issue of Columbus Monthly.