Staten Island Birding - History and Overview

[br] © SI Borough President's Office
© SI Borough President's Office

Staten Island is officially Richmond County, named in honor of the Duke of Richmond, King Charles II’s illegitimate son. Giovanni da Verrazano discovered the island in 1524. Eighty-five years later Henry Hudson rediscovered it, giving it the name of Staaten Eylandt. Thousands of years before the colonists, Native Americans settled on Staten Island.

A number of famous naturalists are affiliated with Staten Island, including Henry David Thoreau, who spent the summer of 1843 here, entomologist and conservationist William T. Davis, botanist Nathaniel Lord Britton, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (his Hylan Boulevard residence still stands), and ornithologist James Chapin.

[br] © SI Borough President's Office
© SI Borough President's Office

Walking the Staten Island Greenbelt, a 3,000-acre network of second-growth forest in the island’s center, you can experience the healthiest forest ecosystem in the entire city.

In addition to these thriving woodlands, Staten Island contains 2,000 acres of freshwater wetlands (the Staten Island Bluebelt), tidal marshlands, and 60 miles of waterfront, providing great diversity of avian habitat. On Christmas Bird Counts, Peregrine Falcon, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Purple Sandpiper, Great Horned Owl, Orange-crowned Warbler and Snow Bunting have been regular sightings.

[br] © SI Borough President's Office
© SI Borough President's Office
 

In all seasons, but particularly during winter and spring migration, Staten Island offers excellent birding opportunities. Among the best places along the oceanfront are Great Kills Park, Wolfe’s Pond Park, Mount Loretto Nature Preserve, Long Pond Park, and Conference House Park; in the northwest corridor are Goethals Pond and Bridge Creek; and mid-island are Clove Lakes Park, Blue Heron Park and the Greenbelt's High Rock Park.

Staten Island can be reached from Manhattan by a spectacular ferry ride on Upper New York Bay past the Statue of Liberty. Many bird species can be observed from the ferry.

Birding websites of note for Staten Island
Staten Island Museum Section of Natural History holds meetings and ecology walks, conducts Staten Island's Christmas Bird Count, Waterfowl Count, and Butterfly Count. The Museum also offers mid-week birding tours.

Bird Watching on Staten Island This site is another source for birding the varied habitats of S. I.

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