Cranford Rose Garden
Nesting** Spring Migration*** Fall Migration*** Winter**
(no star = birding is not very productive, * = somewhat productive, ** = productive, *** = very productive)
Located to the east of Prospect Park, across Flatbush Avenue, and to the south of the Brooklyn Museum lies the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Founded in 1910 as the research arm of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, it was built, like Prospect Park, on a portion of the Harbor Hill moraine that extends from Montauk Point in eastern Long Island to New York City. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden covers 52 acres featuring speciality gardens; the Japanese-Hill-and-Pond, Herb, Osborne, Shakespeare, Cranford Rose, and Fragrance (for the visually impaired) gardens, as well as the renowned Cherry Esplanade. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden conducts the New York Metropolitan Flora Project, an ongoing inventory of all the plants in the New York metropolitan area. As a semi-public institution, it has specific hours and suggests an entrance donation for adults, seniors, and students (free for children under 12). Picnics, radios, bicycles, and ball playing are not allowed.
Maps can be picked up at any entrance. The Steinhardt Conservatory serves food year round.
Native Floral Garden
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a natural retreat for birds due to the concentration and diversity of its berry-producing trees and shrubs as well as several ponds. During spring and fall migration, hundreds of birds drop down in the Garden for shelter, food, and water.
The Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden has the strongest draw for waterbirds. A good number, including pied-billed grebe, wood duck, American wigeon, and northern shoveler, are also found around Terminal Pond at the southeast end of the Plant Family Collection, and at the Lily Pool. Birding along the stream in the north section can also be productive. In summer, herons have been seen feeding on goldfish at the Lily Pool.
Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden
Hummingbirds have been seen in the Herb Garden during migration. Fruit bearing trees such as the crabapples northeast of Cherry Esplanade, the prickly ash along the path opposite the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, and the paper mulberry northwest of the Osborne Garden attract many resident birds and fall migrants, such as red-eyed vireo, white-breasted nuthatch, and cedar waxwing. Resident species include downy woodpecker, black-capped chickadee, and tufted titmouse.
Chimney swift and tree and barn swallows fly overhead or occasionally perch in the tops of tall trees.
Ground feeders, such as the northern flicker, hermit thrush, eastern towhee, chipping sparrow, white-throated sparrow, and dark-eyed junco, are found throughout the Garden. The lawns and shrubby edges of the Systematic Collection, Osborne Garden, and Cherry Esplanade are prime locations for the sighting of these species.
When to Go
The best time for spring migrants is between May 1 and May 15; for fall migrants, between September 15 and November 25.
Mallard Family in the Garden
Optimal Weather Conditions
Large fallouts of spring migrants occur on a clear day when the mornings are cool (low 50s) and midday temperatures rise to 60-70 degrees, after rainy periods with west or southwest winds.
In fall, birding is best on a day with or after west to north winds.
The Botanic Garden is an enclosed, limited-access park. In addition, guards regularly patrol the grounds. It is safe to bird alone.
The Eastern Parkway Gate Entrance is near the #2 and 3 subway stop. If coming from Prospect Park or the D/Q subway, there is a convenient entrance on Flatbush Avenue where it meets Empire Boulevard.
Click here for further directions from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden website.
Resource Persons for Brooklyn Botanic Garden:
2012 - Rob Jett, writer, The City Birder blog
2001 - John C. and Mary Yrizarry, Sterling Forest League of Naturalists