Birdwatching in Prospect Park
October 12, 2021
A key focus of the non-profit Prospect Park Alliance's mission is to sustain and restore the park's natural areas, including Brooklyn's last remaining forest and only Lake, which suffered from significant erosion and neglect prior to the Alliance's founding. Keeping the park green and vibrant is important to both humans and birds alike. During the fall migration, one of the peak birdwatching times of year, we sat down to talk to Alliance EcoZone Gardener and avid birder Peter Dorosh, recognizing the park's important role as a haven for more than 200 species of birds.
“The most exciting season for birdwatching is now and in the spring, the biannual migrations when birds travel to and from their breeding grounds throughout North America,” Dorosh said. When asked why Brooklyn’s Backyard is a great place for birdwatching, he said: “Because it’s a contained green space surrounded by urban dwellings, birds migrating see a dark spot during their migratory travels at night (recognizing it as a green space), and come down from flight for shelter and food.”
The Alliance's landscape management team, which includes gardeners, a forester and also a forest ecologist, focuses on sustaining our natural areas with native plantings that are specifically geared to providing food and shelter for birds and other wildlife.
Prospect Park takes on even more importance for birds in light of a recent study that found steep, long-term losses across virtually all groups of birds in the U.S. and Canada. How to nurture birds in Brooklyn's Backyard? Please sustain our woodlands by staying on path, and not climbing or hanging structures on our trees. Have a dog? Please keep your pet on leash, and on path, in woodland areas. Dorosh explained that birds, whether they are nesting, breeding or migrating, see dogs as a threat. “Most particularly during nesting season, the parent birds get unnecessarily stressed and hyper-vigilant in trying to protect their young even if the nest is high above.” Even if birds are not directly attacked by dogs, just the sight of dogs can send birds into a panic, causing unnecessary stress during this critical time in their survival.
To learn more about birdwatching, connect with our partners at the Brooklyn Bird Club. They offer free, year-round programming to novices and avid birdwatchers alike. Find out more about bird watching in Prospect Park on our website.
Help spread the word about good park stewardship: Dogs are allowed off leash in the park from 6 am to 9 am and 9 pm to 1 am on the Long Meadow (not ballfields), Nethermead, and the Peninsula Meadow. At all other times and locations, dogs should be on their leashes. Birds and park wildlife will thank you!
c. Steve Nanz