Tips for Birdwatching in Prospect Park
March 9, 2020
People are often surprised to learn that Prospect Park is one of the best birding locations in the United States. Located along the Atlantic Flyway, the 585-acre park is ideal for birding, with more than 250 species spotted each year, including migrating songbirds in spring and fall, and a large diversity of waterfowl and resident birds throughout the year. In fact, Prospect Park has been designated one of New York’s 130 Important Bird Areas (IBA), which are critical for bird conservation.
Since its founding, Prospect Park Alliance has cared for the natural areas of the park, making sure that wildlife and ecosystems can thrive in the borough with the least amount of green space per resident. In recent years, the Alliance’s team—which includes a Natural Resources Crew, a Woodlands Youth Crew and a dedicated corps of volunteers—has enriched the park with native trees and plants that support our avian residents, ensuring that Prospect Park is a bird haven for generations to come.
During the spring and fall migration season, many birds visit Prospect Park as a stopover to rest and refuel on their journeys between wintering grounds and summer breeding sites. Here are some tips from Prospect Park Alliance naturalists in order to make the most of this time of year:
Where to See Birds:
Prospect Park is home to Brooklyn’s last remaining forest, a destination for birds. Some of the best birding locations can be found along the higher-elevation ridges, such as Lookout Hill and areas in the park’s northeast corner, including the Vale. Peter Dorosh, Field Technician with the Prospect Park Alliance Natural Resources Crew, attributes this to the presence of oak trees in these areas, and the bugs that live there. “Oaks host a great diversity of insects,” Dorosh says, “it’s like going to a cafeteria for a warbler or other birds that feed on insects.” Prospect Park is also home to an extensive watercourse, which leads to Brooklyn’s only lake. From the Upper Pool (home to Dog Beach), down to the Lake, look for ducks, herons and a variety of shorebirds that are attracted to the abundant food in the park’s thriving waterways. Learn more about three migratory bird hotspots in the park.
When to See Birds:
Early morning is an ideal time to catch lots of bird activity. As birds awake, they are likely to seek out food, and this flurry of movement makes them easier to spot. Dusk is a similarly good time to spot feeding birds, filling up their bellies before bed.
What Birds You’ll See:
With over 250 species of birds frequenting Prospect Park during migration season, you’re sure to see a lot! From early arrivals to birds of prey, spirited warblers to brightly-colored fan-favorites, check out our Spring Migration Checklist to learn all about the birds on their way to Brooklyn’s Backyard.
With those tips, you’re ready to find feathered friends in the Park! Check out upcoming bird walks and learn more about Birdwatching in Prospect Park. and support the Alliance’s work to care for Brooklyn’s Backyard.