Birds and Brews Across the Boroughs

A stretching immature gull eyes a tasty prospect. © Marijs/Shutterstock


This article appears in the Summer 2021 issue of The Urban Audubon.

By Hillarie O'Toole

How can one top off a glorious day of birding? Sometimes (for adults 21 and over), nothing beats a nice cold brew. New York City has a growing number of locally owned craft beer establishments where thirsty birders can toast the sights of the day. The birding and beer pairing list below is just a sampling of what the City has to offer. Quoted descriptions of birding locations are taken from the newly redesigned NYC Audubon website (check out, where you can now explore recommended birding locations borough by borough. Always remember to bird—and drink—responsibly!

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds sometimes nest in The New York Botanical Garden. Photo: Will Stuart


Nestled within the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, you will find the Bronx Beer Hall. Located just a mile from The New York Botanical Garden, whose “diverse habitats have attracted a reported 229 bird species and make it a migrant hotspot,” the Bronx Beer Hall is an ideal place to taste a variety of craft beers, complemented by a menu that includes Italian dishes from fellow Market vendor Mike’s Deli.

Tree Swallows breed (and tussle over territory) at Ridgewood Reservoir. Photo: Bob Feldman/Audubon Photography Awards


One could plan a multiday bird-and-brew tour with all the options now available throughout Brooklyn. If you happen to find yourself birding at Ridgewood Reservoir, “a rich property of woodlands and wetlands” with 170 documented bird species, it will be worth the bit of a trek to Bushwick to experience the fine craft creations of the Kings County Brewers Collective. KCBC is a truly bird-friendly establishment, as brew master Pete Lengyel has founded an informal beer-drinking birding group called the “Beerders” and for the past several fall migrations has offered the “Safe Flight IPA,” with a portion of sales donated to support NYC Audubon’s Project Safe Flight.

Central Park’s beautiful Loch is a good place to find southward-bound Louisiana Waterthrushes, in late July through August. Photo: François Portmann


At the northern end of Central Park you will find “the Meer, a lake that hosts waterfowl in migration and during mild winters” and the Loch, “a babbling brook coursing over falls” that offers “some of the most tranquil and thrilling birding in the Park.” There is no shortage of phenomenal restaurants and places to grab a beverage post-birding near this beautiful section of Central Park. Just a short train ride on the C line or a little over a mile walk up Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, you will find Harlem Hops, which bills itself as Manhattan’s first 100-percent African-American-owned craft beer bar. It offers a bespoke collection of beers, many made by local, small-batch, and family-owned small businesses.

Bonus Manhattan pairing: When visiting the NYC Audubon Nature Center on Governors Island, be sure to visit Threes Brewing, located at the Liggett Terrace food court (and currently open May through October).

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge can offer startling numbers of Great and Snowy Egrets. Photo: Don Riepe


Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is known as “one of the best places in New York City to observe migrating species” and “one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the northeastern United States.” Luckily, for birders who also love beer, one of the most charming seaside breweries is just a bike or train ride away in Rockaway Beach. Rockaway Brewing Company, on Beach 72nd Street, offers a rotating list of original brews and a fantastic seasonal menu to enjoy on its spacious outdoor patio.

Nesting birds like the Baltimore Oriole may come for a dip at Clove Lakes Park. Photo: Dave Ostapiuk


Just a short bus ride from the Staten Island Ferry, you will find Cloves Lake Park, which attracts “an impressive variety of warblers, vireos, tanagers” and the “only pair of Great Blue Herons known to nest in New York City.” Equally as easy to get to by bus from the Ferry is the Flagship Brewing Company, founded in 2014 in the Tompkinsville section of the island. On weekends, you will often find local food trucks in its parking lot.