c. Virginia Freire

Experience Brooklyn’s Wild Side

May 13, 2016

On May 22, join the Prospect Park Alliance and Audubon New York for the last program in the series Living Water Explorations at Prospect Park. Open to adults 18 and over, this is a hands-on workshop by the Lullwater, dipping for snails, leeches and dragon fly nymphs! Water testing kits and pond dip nets will be provided. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. Register today!

This special series of environmental education programs for Brooklyn residents, which took place this spring, builds off the Alliance’s long relationship with Audubon New York—in 2000 the Alliance and Audubon partnered to establish the first urban-area Audubon Center in the nation. Funded through the Office of the New York State Attorney General and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation through the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund, the program series explores the community of Greenpoint and Prospect Park (all of Brooklyn’s backyard!) to discover the variety of wildlife that flourishes in the borough.

Register Today!

c. Tom Stephenson

The Painted Bunting: Flocking to the Park

December 15, 2015

This month, you may have noticed the influx of binocular-wielding, camera-toting bird lovers in the vicinity of the LeFrak Center at Lakeside searching for a rare and magnificent bird called the painted bunting, otherwise known as the bird that broke the Internet. This migratory member of the cardinal family is the first of his kind to be seen in Brooklyn in years, and has generated a significant amount of buzz thanks to his polychromatic plumage.

But the beloved painted bunting is hardly the first exciting species to temporarily call Prospect Park’s abundant lush woodlands, home. John Jordan, Director of Landscape Management for the Prospect Park Alliance, rattles off a list of impressive avian visitors, most recently some nesting great horned owls. “We regularly have red-tailed hawks and each year we get a great number of migrating – and sometimes nesting – songbirds coming through the Park,” he adds.

The Park’s woodland habitats do not exist by happenstance, but are the result of years of hard work by the Prospect Park Alliance’s Landscape Management and Design and Construction teams. In the late 1980s, when the Alliance was first founded, the Park’s natural areas were in a dire state. Decades of erosion and neglect had left the Park’s woodlands and waterways a poor habitat for wildlife. Over the past two decades, the Alliance has invested millions of dollars to revitalize the Park, planting hundreds of thousands of trees, plants and shrubs.

The LeFrak Center at Lakeside is an ideal example of this work. The project reclaimed three acres of wildlife habitat, including the site where the painted bunting was spotted – formerly a 300-space parking lot. Much of this restoration work is led by the Alliance’s Natural Resources Crew, which gives careful consideration to habitat value when deciding on plants to introduce to the landscape. “In addition to the aesthetic benefit, we think about how it adds to the health of the landscape and what creatures might utilize a plant for food, shelter or nesting,” said Jordan.

Prospect Park is designated as an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. Thanks in part to its prime location along the Atlantic flyway, Prospect Park’s acres of forest attract migrating birds every year, drawn in by an abundance of food, and a variety of habitats. “Each of these bird species is drawn to different things,” explains Jordan. “The owls come for winter roosts in the tall evergreens; the woodland songbirds each occupy a different niche.” The woodlands provide especially varied and rich habitats for birds. “Some species hunt in the tree tops for insects, some scour the understory for berries, fruit, and seeds, and others forage along the forest floor.”

Love the painted bunting? Join Alliance naturalists at the Prospect Park Audubon Center for bird watching and other nature programs on weekends and during the Winter Recess. The Brooklyn Bird Club also leads early morning bird walks and monthly explorations of the Park. Learn about upcoming bird watching events, and check out our Visit the Park section for more information about birding in Prospect Park.

Prospect Park Alliance Featured on NYC TV

October 23, 2015

Join TV host Dave Evans on a tour of things to do in Prospect Park! $9.99 with Dave Evans, an NYC Life program that highlights the best free or low-cost activities in the city, devoted a recent episode to Prospect Park. This episode highlights Prospect Park Alliance activities at Lefferts Historic House, the Audubon Center, the Carousel, Lakeside, and the Tennis Center, and also features an interview with Alliance President Sue Donoghue. Although it aired last week, the episode can be watched online at the NYC Media website.

Visit our calendar to learn about upcoming programs in Prospect Park.


c. Martin Seck

2016 Summer Checklist

August 11, 2015

There’s no shortage of fun to be had in Brooklyn during summer. In fact, the sheer number of options can be daunting! But worry not, Prospect Park fans, because we’ve got you covered, with our guide to some of the Park’s top events and attractions this summer.

BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival – It wouldn’t be summertime in Brooklyn without this mainstay of music and arts taking over the Bandshell. In addition to the highly touted benefit shows (with acts this year like Herbie Hancock and case/lang/veirs), the lineup features a wide array of acts and performers, ranging from the Violent Femmes, to Femi Kuti, to a live-score-accompaniment to David Bowie’s Labyrinth.

The Carousel – Bring the family to a Brooklyn classic, the Prospect Park Carousel! The tried-and-true children’s ride isn’t only fun for a sping, but the ornate woodwork and painting of the structure itself provides a perfect old-timey photo-op.

New York Philharmonic – Celebrate the 51th summer of free outdoor programming from the NY Philharmonic. Alan Gilbert leads the Orchestra in Beethoven’s Overture to Fidelio, Symphony No. 3, Eroica; and Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, featuring Anthony McGill on clarinet. As always, fireworks to follow!

Smorgasburg – Beautiful surroundings and eclectic offerings from 100 of the city’s most innovative purveyors of tasty treats? What more could you ask for? Smorgasburg provides both on the Park’s Breeze Hill, and convenes every Sunday through October.

Yoga in the Park – Looking to balance your summer indulgences with a little outdoor exercise and mindfulness? Head to the Long Meadow every Thursday evening for free community yoga classes brought to you by the Prospect Park Alliance, Bend and Bloom Yoga and lululemon Brooklyn.

Boating and Biking at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside – Celebrate the return of boating to the Lake with a spin on a pedal boat, or cruise around the Park in one of the bike rentals, including surreys, coupes, choppers and quad sport bikes.

Water Play – Perhaps you’ve been to the new Splash Pad Water Play Area at the LeFrak Center, named Best of New York by New York Magazine, but did you know there are five playgrounds with water features? Take your kids to each location to cool off this summer.

Of course this is just the tip of the summer activity iceberg here in the Park, check out our events calendar for more great summer pastimes.

Go Fish

July 11, 2015

Catch-and-release fishing is a time-honored summer pastime in Prospect Park. Prospect Park Alliance Supervising Educator Steven Wong, who oversees fishing programs at the Audubon Center, shares some tips to make the most of your fishing fun. Read on and grab a rod!

Prospect Park is not only home to Brooklyn’s only lake, but one that is well stocked for even the most avid anglers.  You’d be surprised at the number of species in the Prospect Park Lake which can be caught (and released)!

“Prospect Park Lake is among the fishing lakes in NYC,” proclaims Steve Wong, Supervising Educator with the Prospect Park Alliance, noting that while “the most sought after fish is the largemouth bass, you’ll also see black crappie, pumpkin seed, bluegill, yellow perch, brown bull head, and common carp.”

These fish are abundant, and range in size from half, to over five pounds. “What this means to the angler is that you can catch more fish per hour and have the opportunity to catch something bigger and more exciting,” explains Wong.

And in addition to a variety of fish, the Lake itself provides a wide range of fishing scenarios, including open water, waterfalls, vegetation, rocks, and submerged structures, which, advises Wong, “ allows more experienced anglers to test or practice different skills.”

During the summer months, Wong suggests early morning or late afternoon trips to the Lake to optimize anglers’ chances of catching something. “Depending on the species, some fish might be more active during rainy conditions or at nighttime,” adds Wong.

First time fishing? The Prospect Park Alliance offers free fishing clinics for families every Saturday and Sunday in July and August, as well as family fishing nights. Learn more about fishing events on our events calendar!

Please note: Public fishing is permitted only in designated areas. Anyone 16 and older is required to hold a freshwater fishing license. Learn more about fishing in Prospect Park.

PPA Profiles: Eve Schwartz

January 2, 2014

Anyone who has attended nature programs at the Prospect Park Audubon Center has likely met Eve Schwartz, an educator with the Prospect Park Alliance. A Philadelphia native, Eve has worked at the Alliance since June of last year, and is part of the team that designs all of the educational programs and exhibits about the Park’s natural habitats. She is extremely fond of the center’s collection of live animals, particularly a Albino Black Rat Snake named Chester.

You obviously enjoy working at the Prospect Park Audubon Center. What is your favorite part of your job?
I grew up next to a nature center in Philadelphia. I love sharing my love of nature with new people, so the Alliance’s educational programs are very special to me. Every day I get to connect people with a world they rarely see.

What are some of the questions that people ask at the Audubon Center?
About 60 percent of the people ask about birding. It’s very big in Prospect Park. During the summer, a lot of people ask us about fishing, too.

Why do you think that Prospect Park is such a popular place for birding, especially in the winter?
People don’t think of New York City as being a warm place in the winter, but compared to Canada, where many of these birds originate, the Park is actually a very hospitable environment. Among the species that make the Park their home during the winter months are Juncos, Chipping Sparrows, American Pipits and, occasionally, a Pine Siskin.

Where is your favorite spot to birdwatch in Prospect Park?
To see a variety of species, I like the Lullwater Trail, which goes from the Boathouse up to Breeze Hill, and it is very scenic. I’m a big fan of waterfowl, and it’s the best place to see them. I also like to go to the Vale of Cashmere at the northeast corner of the Park to see the warblers.

What goes into creating educational programs and exhibits?
I consider the season and animals we’d like to highlight. The goal is to make people into human field guides. When people understand nature, they are more likely to protect it and share their knowledge.

Join Eve and the rest of the education team on January 20 at the Audubon Center for Martin Luther King Jr. Day programs.