Nature is Where You Are

Mai 01 2019

#Bird watching #GoBirding #Wildlife watching

Nature is Where You Are

At 1x2 city blocks, Gabriel Willow’s patch may be small, but it packs a big punch: 129 species and counting in addition to dramatic skyscrapers and close proximity to New York City’s iconic Times Square. It’s the perfect place for a spot of birding before or after work, which is why Willow’s bird walks in Bryant Park are so popular.


“I hope that my guided walks challenge assumptions about urban areas as ecological deserts,” says Willow. “Cities are full of cliff-like structures and tasty pigeons, so falcons thrive here. Our parks are home to both resident and migrant birds, even bald eagles and red-tailed hawks have made a comeback.”

Willow shares his patch, green spaces in the heart of Manhattan like downtown NYC’s Central and Bryant parks, with the city’s countless workers, commuters, shoppers and pedestrians. But the geographical conditions that make cities ideal for humanity are also great for many birds, especially during migration time. Look closer and you might just discover an American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) in the shadows of a park bench, or a Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea) in an abandoned lot.

Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea)

“Prothonotary Warblers (Protonotaria citrea )have been sighted in the trees of NYC’s Central and Bryant parks during migration periods.”


American Woodcock (Scolopax minor)

“Look closer and you might just discover an American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) beneath a park bench.”

Green Heron (Butorides virescens)

“The natural conditions that make NYC ideal as a harbor town also attract birds like this Green Heron (Butorides virescens).”

“You don’t have to leave the city to enjoy nature,” says Willow. “It’s an urban treasure hunt and I encourage both resident and visiting naturalists to discover all that the city has to offer. Get out there and explore!”

Bird walks

“The scene is actually quite comical sometimes,” says Urban Birder and Environmental Educator Gabriel Willow with a smile. “We usually have 20-30 participants, and we're threading our way amongst rushing commuters who are annoyed at having to navigate around a dawdling group of birders; sometimes there's a yoga class on the park lawn with 1,000-odd people doing downward-facing dog and there we are off to the side with binoculars, looking for a Mourning Warbler (Geothlypis philadelphia) in the bushes but trying not to seem like weirdoes.”

Gabriel Willow offers bird walks in Central and Bryant parks in New York City. For more information, follow Gabriel on Twitter or Facebook, or check the list of upcoming events at NYC Audubon.

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