Urban Birds

Due to a nagging hip injury, I have been turned away from hiking and turned towards bird-watching, which is really long periods of walking punctuated with focused periods of excitement. I’m amazed by the diversity of birds found in the five boroughs of NYC, from kingfishers to kestrels to mergansers.

Hooded merganser & Canada geese, Central Park, 2016

Their presence raises all sorts of questions for me. How are their internal systems affected by the noise and light pollution? How does their reproductive success compare to counterparts in rural areas? How does noise affect their communication, especially with songbirds? How do their densities compare to the ‘natural’ density of the species? Within an area, how are different species and different populations distributed?

So far, I’ve gone to Jamaica Bay, where I saw ruddy ducks for the first time; Randall’s Island, where I saw my first kestrel in years; Central Park twice (once for the Christmas Bird Count) where I saw a great horned owl (!), loads of white-throated and house sparrows, three red-tailed hawks cruising on thermals, a Northern flicker, and a lone warbler (confirmed by a much more experienced birder).

A good reminder to be mindful of urban wildlife and urban habitat. An even better reminder of the importance of providing a foothold for biodiversity.

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