Bright Lights, Bald Eagles, and other fancy feathers
About two years ago, after a 100-year absence, park rangers at Northern Manhattan's Inwood Hill Park began to reintroduce the glorious Bald Eagle back to New York. The reintroduction didn't go smoothly at first, as illness and even transit systems threatening the eagles' existence. (One eagle from the first group got hit by a train on the tracks running alongside the Hudson River.) However, four more young Wisconsin eaglets arrived in the park last June and were soon taking aerial tours of New York and New Jersey. Bring binoculars and you might get a glimpse of them! Call the Inwood Hill Nature Center at (212) 304-2635 for more info or visit
their Web site.
Inwood Hill Nature Center
Located in Inwood Park at 218th and Indian Road
Directions: Take the 1 or the 9 train to the 215th Street stop. Walk North to 218th Street. Take a left and walk on 218th Street. The entrance to the park is at the end of the street. The Nature Center is located in Inwood Park. OR Take the A train to 207th Street. If you are in the last car of the train (near the handicap elevator), proceed west to Seaman Avenue, then north to Isham Street. If you are in the first car of the train, you will exit onto Isham Street. Go west to Seaman Avenue and proceed north into the park, keeping the baseball field to your right. Walk toward the Water. The Nature Center is the building on the water.
According to the New York City Parks Department, wild turkey populations live in various parks across New York City, including Van Cortlandt Park and Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx, Inwood Hill Park in Manhattan, the Greenbelt in Staten Island. Single wild turkeys were even spotted strutting their stuff in Manhattan's Riverside Park and Battery Park last year.
New York Wild
The ultimate in reality T.V.! Web cams posted on nests of owls to osprays. Some amazing shots.
Wild turkeys in Battery Park? Bald Eagles in Inwood? Falcons on Fifth Avenue? Believe it or not, New York City is a bounty for bird watchers. Wild New York: A Guide To the Wildlife, Wild Places and Natural Phenomena of New York City by Margaret Mittlelbach and Michale Crewdson (Crown Publishers, 1997) tells readers exactly where to see wildlife of all types (birds, rabbits, turtles) in the most unexpected places throughout the city. We'll tell you where to find wild birds and other creatures.
Manhattan: The tulip tree forest within Inwood Hill Park is not only a great spot to avoid the heat, but is rarely visited even on weekends when the rest of the park is jam-packed. It is accessible by the # 1 train.
Brooklyn: While Prospect Park gets unbelievably crowded on summer weekends, nearby Green-Wood Cemetery (5th Ave. and 25 street) is always a great place to stroll in solitude. The hilly necropolis is a great for bird watching (look for red-tailed hawks, blue birds, flickers) and also for tree watching (look for Victorian Age specimen trees). It's open 365 days a year, but check in at the front gate for permission to walk around. Take the R train to 25 St.station.
Bronx: Van Cortlandt Park has many great natural attractions that are seldom visited--they include a swamp, a grassland, Tibbetts brook, two forests, and the aqueduct trail. Take #1 train to 242nd St. Station.
Queens: Cunningham Park's Southern Forest (Francis Lewis Blvd./Union Turnpike) is cool, quiet, and dotted with tiny kettle ponds that attract all sorts of wildlife. Q46 bus stops on Francis Lewis but double check directions before going.
Staten Island: Avoid the shoreline during weekends and stay within the borough's forested interior. The Greenbelt has several hiking trails which are always empty. One great place to start is High Rock Park (Nevada Ave. just off Rockland Ave) but there are many other places to hook onto one of the trails. Call 718-667-6042 for directions.
Late Spring/Early Summer Wild Surprises
You may be able to find a few of these wild springtime surprises (beautiful flora, birds, fish, frogs, even amorous horseshoe crabs!) before summer officially begins!
Manhattan: Bring binoculars and a field guide to Inwood Hill Park in the northern tip of Manhattan to observe migrating songbirds like warblers.
Brooklyn: Visit Green-Wood Cemetery (near Park Slope) to view beautiful springtime blossoming of magnolia, dogwood, cherry, and crabapple trees.
Queens: Check out the kettle hole ponds in Cunningham Park (the Southern Forest section) for freshwater wildlife such as kingfishers, herons, and spring peeper tree frogs (they can be heard, but rarely seen).
Bronx: Bring binoculars and patience to Van Cortlandt Park (the swamp section) to spy on the park's mascot species--the wood duck, which is perhaps the most colorful and attractive bird in North America.
Staten Island: Experience all the glories of spring in New York City's most intact natural area--highlights include natural streams, springtime wind flowers like bloodroot, and the lucky spotting of box turtles, black racer snakes, warblers, and frogs. And of course, don't miss out on the great horseshoe crab springtime mating ritual--which can be seen best along shoreline areas in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island!
This article about Wild New York was provided courtesy of John L. Kolp, chair of the Adirondack Mountain Club's Knickerbocker Chapter. Check them out at www.adk-nyc.org.