c. Virginia Freire

Spring Migration Bird Checklist

March 15, 2019

We hope you rested up during the quiet winter season, because spring is here and the migratory birds are on their way to Prospect Park! With over 150 migratory species set to make an appearance in Brooklyn’s Backyard, Prospect Park Alliance has pulled  together a spring migration checklist to help you make the most of this spectacular season. 

Prospect Park lies on one of the great flight paths of the natural world, the Atlantic Flyway. In fall, many species migrate south along the Atlantic coast to reach wintering grounds with abundant food. In spring, they head north to return to their breeding territories. During these months, birds of all kinds stop briefly in the park, and for some species, the park is their destination.

Spring Migration Checklist:

  • Early Migrants: Starting as early as February or March, early-migrating species of birds are making their way through Prospect Park. These species include the easily identified Red-winged Blackbird, as well as the Common Grackle, Eastern Phoebe and the well-camouflaged American Woodcock.


Red-winged Blackbird, c. Steve Nanz

  • Birds of Prey: Many raptors begin their trip north early in the season. In addition to our year-round Red-tailed Hawk residents, look for Merlins, Cooper’s Hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks and more soaring above the park, perched on high vantage-points and snacking on small mammals.
  • Warblers: The rock stars of spring migration, 36 species of warblers can be spotted over the course of spring migration in Prospect Park. Known for their bright colors in spring, warblers are a group of energetic songbirds that migrate at night and rest and re-fuel by day. When warblers journey over Brooklyn, they are likely to stop in Prospect Park, where they feed on insects and berries. Rested and refueled, they continue on their way after a day or two. Keep an eye out for vibrant yellows of the Common Yellowthroat and Palm Warbler, blue on the Black-throated Blue Warbler and Cerulean Warbler, and fiery orange on the handsome Blackburnian Warbler.


Blackburnian Warbler, c. Steve Nanz

  • Brightly-colored Migrants: When peering through foliage, some of the easiest birds to spot are the brightly-colored species. Bright red might mean a Scarlet Tanager, vibrant orange could be a Baltimore Oriole, blues show up on Eastern Bluebirds and Indigo Buntings, and even our year-round American Goldfinches wear their brightest spring yellow.

Ready to grab a pair of binoculars and get out into the park? Check out our birdwatching page, with birding tips, locations and upcoming bird walks in Prospect Park. And, download the Prospect Park App to see how many birds you can spot in our Backyard Birds Challenge!