Blue Heron Park

Great Blue Heron

by D. Speiser

Nesting**    Spring Migration***    Fall Migration***    Winter**

(no star = birding is not very productive, * = somewhat productive, ** = productive, *** = very productive)

The 250 acres of Blue Heron Park, owned by the City Of New York/Parks and Recreation, are made up of low lying, moist second growth forest with 3 named ponds. Wetlands such as Butterfly Pond in the park, are surrounded by dense vegetation, perfect habitat for many bird species. In spring, the vernal pools throughout the park attract a diversity of migrants, and in fall, weedy edge habitat around Butterfly Pond is particularly attractive to good numbers of migrating sparrows.

Palm Warbler

by D. Speiser

In late summer, Purple Martins and other swallows often congregate around Butterfly Pond before departing. Amphibians and a few species of reptiles including Eastern Box Turtle are still surviving here.

Pine and Palm Warblers, along with kinglets, Brown Creeper and Eastern Phoebes are often very common in spring and fall. In October the raptor migration can be quite good depending on the weather conditions and wind direction. A north or northwest wind, along with a cold front is ideal.

© NYC Parks

One of the 3 larger ponds, Spring pond is visible from Poillon Avenue just east of Hylan Boulevard. One can bird this pond from trails, and during migration, birds favor this wetland habitat. Green Herons are now breeding here and insect diversity, including dragonflies, is spectacular.

Spring and autumn are the best times to visit, however the many feeders in the rear of the Nature Center during winter time always have a fine variety of birds. In past years, Pine Warblers wintered along with Purple Finches, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and the more common residents. All can be observed at close range from inside the warm Nature Center building. Photographers have a fine time with the birds so close at the feeders.

Blue Heron Pond itself is now undergoing rapid succession and vegetation is replacing sections of the pond. In spite of less water, Wood Ducks, Little Blue Herons and Great Blue Herons can be found here along with migrating Solitary Sandpipers.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

by D. Speiser

In the woodlands during summer months, birders can find a rather good selection of breeding specialties for an urban park surrounded by dense housing development. Both cuckoos have nested and Eastern Towhee, Great Crested Flycatchers, Eastern Wood-Pewees, and American Woodcock are summer breeding residents.

A resident population of Wood Thrush survives despite problems associated with forest fragmentation and Cowbird parasitism. Surviving numbers of Wood Thrush are showing that this species, unusual as a breeding species in urban parks, is doing well here.

© NYC Parks

In addition, Eastern Screech-Owls and Great Horned Owls are permanent residents in the park. In late winter both of these species can be heard calling near the Nature Center. Calm clear evenings are the best times to hear the owls.

Trails, here at Blue Heron Park, are well marked and trail maps are available from the Nature Center. A naturalist is on duty on the weekends from 1 until 4 pm, and guided walks are sponsored by the Friends of Blue Heron Park. Friends of BHP has a bulletin and provides many programs throughout the year, including bird trips and walks led by Howard Fischer.

Urban Park Rangers also provide the public with programs and the Staten Island Rangers are stationed at this park. The Nature Center phone number is 718-967-3542 and a website will show all events in detail.

© NYC Parks

Getting There
Click here for a google map to the Blue Heron Nature Center. Click on directions and enter your starting point and mode of transport.

Resource Person:

2012- Howard Fischer

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