There's a massive movement afoot, or more accurately, aloft. I'm not talking about political awakenings, #MeToo, or teenagers finding their voices to combat senseless gun violence. I'm talking about the great spring migration, tens of thousands of birds, from tiny hummingbirds to large bald eagles, flying from the tropical climate of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean to their breeding grounds as far north as the coast of Greenland and the arctic.
In North America, birds commute along one of four flight paths, including the Atlantic Flyway, which is routed directly over New York City. Over 500 species of birds take time to feed and rest in the New York City area. Central Park, an 800 acre oasis of green in the densely populated metropolitan area, offers a particularly diverse range of bird species. And with much warmer weather pushing into the New York City area over the past few days (yesterday and today are exceptions!), migrating birds have been traveling in this air space. Some species travel at night and some travel during the day. Recent sightings in Central Park have included American Woodcocks, Eastern Phoebes, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Blue-Grey Gnatcatchers, Green Herons, Louisiana Waterthrush, Yellow Throated Warblers, Snowy Egrets, and Belted Kingfishers. A osprey was sighted in Inwood Hill Park a few days ago.
Non-migratory species are busy too, preparing their nests. Red-tailed hawks can be seen nesting on South Tower of the San Remo on Central Park West, in Washington Square Park, and at 927 Fifth Avenue, near 74th Street (home of the famous Pale Male). Screech owls are nesting in Inwood Hill Park, and a Great Horned Owl is nesting in Pelham Bay Park. Cardinals, Robins, Blue Jays, and Song Sparrows are readying their nests for their young as well.
You don't need to be an expert birder to appreciate this wonder (I am a relative beginner)! Simply having an awareness that this ancient cycle is taking place can add a sense of awe to your day. Think about the massive activity talking place overhead while you go about your day and while you sleep, precision hitchhiking on air current superhighways and singular wingbeats adding up to a journey of thousands of miles. Combine that with simply tuning into--noticing--bird songs. Even in well-trafficked urban areas--city midtowns, packed with tall buildings, people, and cars with horns blaring--birds, and not just pigeons, are abundant. Those curbside trees you may see bordering sidewalks and busy city streets are havens for sparrows with their delightful, melodic songs, and many other birds. And if you have a moment, wander into a green space or park. Sightings can be found everywhere this time of year. Bryant Park, abutting the west side of The New York Public Library in midtown, is often a resting and dining spot for unusual migrating species.
Add some song and color to your day, and awareness of ancient cycles, and think about the remarkable journey our feathered friends take every spring and fall.
About this Blog
Hi! I'm Nancy Kopans, founder of Urban Edge Forest Therapy. Join me on an adventure to discover creative ways to connect with nature in your daily life, ways that are inspired by urban surroundings that can reveal unexpected beauty, with the potential to ignite a sense of wonder.