More Jamaica Bay Parks

More Jamaica Bay Parks

An assortment of shorebirds including Red Knots and Ruddy Turnstones feast on Horseshoe Crab eggs in Jamaica Bay. Photo: Don Riepe
Jamaica Bay has been the subject of enormous development pressure over the past 100 years. While the refuge headquarters on the largely man-made island at the Bay's center is rightly a world-renowned birding spot, the edges of the Bay—tidal creeks, salt marsh, mudflats, and uplands—are equally important to its ecology. Much of this habitat has been developed. But a number of properties, which continue to "buffer the bay," remain open land thanks to local conservation efforts over many decades. Western Jamaica Bay parks, such as Marine Park Preserve, Floyd Bennett Field, and Shirley Chisholm State Park, are included on our Brooklyn park pages. In addition to Big Egg Marsh, within Gateway NRA at the bottom of Broad Channel, the eastern Queens section of the Bay also includes a number of other preserved spaces. Though these parks vary in ease of access and some are lacking in facilities, they are popular with local birders and offer interesting birding to the adventurous.
The Marsh Wren's reedy song can be heard in Jamaica Bay. Photo: <a href="https://www.lilibirds.com/" target="_blank">David Speiser</a>
The Marsh Wren's reedy song can be heard in Jamaica Bay. Photo: David Speiser
Snowy Egrets regulary go fishing in the Bay's shallow waters. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/92057307@N05/" target="_blank">Keith Michael</a>
Snowy Egrets regulary go fishing in the Bay's shallow waters. Photo: Keith Michael
Common Terns nest on several island in the Bay. Photo: <a href="https://www.facebook.com/don.riepe.14" target="_blank">Don Riepe</a>
Common Terns nest on several island in the Bay. Photo: Don Riepe
Two of these parks, Dubos Point Wildlife Sanctuary and Bayswater Point State Park, were early successes in NYC Auubon's collaborative efforts to study and preserve ecologically important lands in the Bay. (Read more about this early habitat protection work.) Running roughly counter-clockwise around the Bay, starting south of the refuge headquarters, they include Big Egg Marsh (accessible from Broad Channel American Park), Dubos Point Wildlife Sanctuary, Edgemere Landfill (accessible from Rockaway Community Park), Bayswater Point State Park, Idlewild Park, and Spring Creek Park.

See a Google map of the parks described on this page.big-egg
A Ruddy Turnstone, flanked by Semipalmated Sandpipers, visits Big Egg Marsh. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/120553232@N02/" target="_blank">Isaac Grant</a>
A Ruddy Turnstone, flanked by Semipalmated Sandpipers, visits Big Egg Marsh. Photo: Isaac Grant
Big Egg Marsh

Birding Highlights by the Season

(no star = birding is not very productive, = somewhat productive, ✸✸ = productive, ✸✸✸ = very productive)
 
Spring Migration ✸✸
Shorebirds, wading birds, terns; lingering waterfowl
 
Summer ✸✸
Foraging wading birds and terns; shorebird migration starting in July. Nesting Willet, American Oystercatcher, Clapper Rail, Osprey, Willow Flycatcher, Yellow Warbler, Boat-tailed Grackle
 
Fall Migration ✸✸
Shorebirds, wading birds, terns; sparrows including Saltmarsh and Seaside
 
Winter ✸
Wintering waterfowl including Snow Goose; Northern Harrier
 
Year-Round Highlights
Gulls, Peregrine Falcon

Get Oriented

View a Google map of Broad Channel American Park, the neighborhood park that provides access to Big Egg Marsh.

Listen for the slow, repeating call of the Clapper Rail at Big Egg; the shy birds nests here. Photo: César A. Castillo "}" data-trix-content-type="undefined" class="attachment attachment--content"> Listen for the slow, repeating call of the Clapper Rail at Big Egg; the shy birds nests here. Photo: César A. Castillo
 
At the very bottom of the town of Broad Channel (the town just south of the Jamaica Bay Widlife Refuge headquarters, on the same island), are the marshes, beach, and mudflats of Big Egg Marsh. During the warmer months, this area offers an excellent opportunity to view shorebirds, waders, terns, and other waterbirds. Over 175 species have been documented here by eBirders, including uncommon species such as Marbled Godwit, Barrow's Goldeneye, both Gull-billed and Black Tern, Saltmarsh, Nelson's, and Seaside Sparrows... and a very rare Burrowing Owl. (Some suspect this last bird may have smuggled itself in on a plane from the Southwest.)

A paved path leads from the Broad Channel American Park parking lot past basketball courts on the right (waterfowl and gulls sometimes hang out in puddles here), and a marshy tidal creek and area of low scrub on the left. Check the marsh for wading birds such as egrets, night-herons, and Glossy Ibis, all of which nest on nearby Subway Island. The shrubs here, as well as along the dune line, can be productive for songbird migrants. A sandy path then veers off slightly left and heads past baseball diamonds towards the beach that borders the southern end of the island.
Peregrine Falcons often stop by to hunt in Big Egg. Photo: François Portmann "}" data-trix-content-type="undefined" class="attachment attachment--content"> Peregrine Falcons often stop by to hunt in Big Egg. Photo: François Portmann

Look for Common and Forster's Terns as you walk west along the beach here, which leads to a view out onto Big Egg Marsh itself: a low patchwork of Spartina alterniflora, the main component of low salt marsh. A spotting scope may pick out American Oystercatchers, wading birds, and Osprey. In May through early June and  late July through early September, look for migratory shorebirds such as Red Knots, Ruddy Turnstones, dowitchers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, and less common species such as White-rumped and Western Sandpipers, as well as accidental species.

Little Egg Marsh, an island of sandy uplands ringed by mudflats and salt marsh, is visible in the distance, directly west of Big Egg Marsh; a large breeding colony of Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls shares this island with smaller colonies of Common Terns and Black-crowned Night-Herons.
Great and Snowy Egrets abound in Jamaica Bay. Photo: Don Riepe "}" data-trix-content-type="undefined" class="attachment attachment--content"> Great and Snowy Egrets abound in Jamaica Bay. Photo: Don Riepe

The beaches and mudflats of Big Egg are a primary spawning ground for Atlantic Horseshoe Crabs: The larger females come ashore to bury their eggs at high tides on nights with a full moon in May and June. Shorebirds have evolved to migrate at the time this spawning occurs, and a feeding frenzy of shorebirds and gulls can occur as birds gobble up the fat-rich eggs. (Learn more about NYC Audubon's horseshoe crab monitoring and research.

In the wintertime, look from the beach for diving waterfowl such as Red-breasted Merganser, Bufflehead, and Horned Grebe; common dabbling waterfowl are also frequently joined by Snow Geese. Northern Harrier may be seen hunting low over the marshes. Year-round, look for Peregrine Falcon, which nest on nearby bridges.

Red Knots swarm over Brant. Photo: Don Riepe "}" data-trix-content-type="undefined" class="attachment attachment--content"> Red Knots swarm over Brant. Photo: Don Riepe
 

When to Go 

To see birding highlights by the season at Big Egg Marsh, see the top of this section. 

To learn about bird migration times and get other timing tips, see the When to Bird in NYC guide on our Birding 101 page.


For park operating hours, see the “Directions and Visiting Info” section, below.
 

eBird

View eBird hotspot records for Big Egg Marsh to explore recent bird sightings, species bar charts, and more. (Click on “Hotspot Map” at left to see other nearby locations.)
 

Personal Safety

While Broad Channel American Park and the beaches leading to Big Egg Marsh are generally safe to bird, the more remote areas by the marsh are not well frequented and birding with a companion is recommended. Watch for Poison Ivy in scrubby areas by the beach; prepare for mosquitoes in summer. 

Guided Bird Walks

NYC Audubon leads occasional walks and events that include Big Egg Marsh, often in partnership with the Northeast Chapter of the American Littoral Society. Visit NYC Audubon's Local Trips page for information on upcoming walks led by NYC Audubon.

The American Littoral Society's Northeast Chapter, based in the heart of Jamaica Bay in Broad Channel, Queens, offers birding and other natural history walks and trips throughout the year, both around Jamaica Bay and beyond.

The Queens County Bird Club, a nonprofit organization founded in 1932, offers frequent bird and nature walks and trips in Queens parks and beyond, along with lectures and presentations focused on birds, natural history, and conservation topics. 

 Directions and Visiting Information

Parking is available at Broad Channel American Park.

Subway: the park is a 20-minute walk from the A Broad Channel station.

View a Google map of Broad Channel American Park, the neighborhood park that provides access to Big Egg Marsh.

Visit the NYC Parks page for Broad Channel American Park for operating hours, directions, and additional background information. dubos
The beauty of the Laughing Gull, a nester in Jamaica Bay, can be overlooked.  Photo: <a href="https://laurameyers.photoshelter.com/index" target="_blank">Laura Meyers</a>
The beauty of the Laughing Gull, a nester in Jamaica Bay, can be overlooked. Photo: Laura Meyers
Dubos Point Wildlife Sanctuary
Birding Highlights by the Season
(no star = birding is not very productive, = somewhat productive, ✸✸ = productive, ✸✸✸ = very productive)
 
Spring Migration ✸✸
Shorebirds, wading birds, terns; lingering waterfowl
 
Summer ✸✸
Foraging wading birds and terns; shorebird migration starting in July; American Oystercatcher, Osprey, Willow Flycatcher, Yellow Warbler, Boat-tailed Grackle
 
Fall Migration ✸✸
Wading birds, sparrows
 
Winter ✸✸
Wintering waterfowl including Snow Geese and diving ducks; Northern Harrier
 
Year-Round Highlights
Gulls, Peregrine Falcon

Get Oriented

View a Google Map of Dubos Point Wildlife Sanctuary.

Check the marsh grass of Dubos Point for the well-camouflaged Wilson`s Snipe. Photo: Richard Fried "}" data-trix-content-type="undefined" class="attachment attachment--content"> Check the marsh grass of Dubos Point for the well-camouflaged Wilson`s Snipe. Photo: Richard Fried
 
Dubos Point Wildlife Sanctuary, named for husband and wife environmentalists Dr. Rene and Jean Dubos, is a sandy split of land jutting into Jamaica Bay from the Rockaway Peninsula. First acquired by NYC Parks in 1988, the preserve was enlarged through several additions enabled by NYC Audubon's "Buffer the Bay" program, which made ecological assessments of undeveloped land around the Bay and advocated for their protection. The "point" itself is actually dredge fill deposited upon salt marsh in the early 1900s with the aim of real estate development. But the development never materialized, and the property is now a wild pensinsula including uplands hosting nesting songbirds, ringed by salt marsh visited by waders and other waterbirds. This has proven to be a good spot to find the elusive Wilson's Snipe, during migration and over the winter.
Glossy Ibis, which nest on nearby Subway Island, forage at Dubos Point. Photo: Lloyd Spitalnik "}" data-trix-content-type="undefined" class="attachment attachment--content"> Glossy Ibis, which nest on nearby Subway Island, forage at Dubos Point. Photo: Lloyd Spitalnik

Though somewhat neglected and not sporting any well-tended access pathways, for the adventurous birder, Dubos Point offers unfettered access to Jamaica Bay and its wildlife. The property is close to Subway Island, one of the most productive wader nesting colonies in Jamaica Bay; during the warmer months, Glossy Ibis, Great and Snowy Egrets, and Black-crowned Night-Herons that forage here are likely birds nesting on that island, which is transected by the A train subway line. The point is also directly across the water from Joco Marsh, an extensive salt marsh that lies directly at the end of a runway from John F. Kennedy International Airport. Joco Marsh is the largest Laughing Gull colony in the New York City area, and also hosts nesting Common and Forster's Terns, as well as Clapper Rail.

The uplands of Dubos Point offer nesting territory to several species found in similar habitats around the Bay, such as Willow Flycatcher, Yellow Warbler, Red-winged Blackbird, and Boat-tailed Grackle. Keep eyes peeled for fishing Osprey during the warmer months; two dozen pairs nest on platforms around the Bay. Fall through spring, the scrubby habitat is a good spot for sparrows such as Savannah and American Tree Sparrow, while the point offers a vantage point onto the Bay to look for wintering waterbirds. Look for diving ducks like Red-breasted Merganser and Bufflehead; dabblers such as Brant and Snow Goose may also congregate in great numbers in Joco Marsh and Silver Hole, another patch of salt marsh directly across from Dubos Point.

The Salt Marsh of Dubos Point. Photo: Marielle Anzelone "}" data-trix-content-type="undefined" class="attachment attachment--content"> The Salt Marsh of Dubos Point. Photo: Marielle Anzelone
 

When to Go 

To see birding highlights by the season at Dubos Point Wildlife Sanctuary, see the top of this section. 

To learn about bird migration times and get other timing tips, see the When to Bird in NYC guide on our Birding 101 page.


For park operating hours, see the “Directions and Visiting Info” section, below.
 

eBird

View eBird hotspot records for Dubos Point to explore recent bird sightings, species bar charts, and more. (Click on “Hotspot Map” at left to see other nearby locations.)
 

Personal Safety

We recommend you bird the somewhat remote Dubos Point Wildlife Sanctuary with a companion. Watch for Poison Ivy in upland areas; prepare for mosquitoes in summer. 

 Directions and Visiting Information

View a Google Map of Dubos Point Wildlife Sanctuary.

Subway: Dubos Point Wildlife Sancuary is a 15-minute walk from the Beach 60th Street A train station.

Visit the NYC Parks page for Dubos Point Wildlife Sanctuary for directions and additional background information. rockaway-community-park
Edgemere is a good spot to find migrants like the "Ipswich" Savannah Sparrow. Savannah Sparrows also nest here. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/144871758@N05/" target="_blank">Ryan F. Mandelbaum</a>
Edgemere is a good spot to find migrants like the "Ipswich" Savannah Sparrow. Savannah Sparrows also nest here. Photo: Ryan F. Mandelbaum
Rockaway Community Park/Edgemere Landfill (RESTRICTED)

Birding Highlights by the Season

(no star = birding is not very productive, = somewhat productive, ✸✸ = productive, ✸✸✸ = very productive)
 
Spring Migration ✸✸
Wading birds, terns; lingering waterfowl
 
Summer ✸✸
Foraging wading birds and terns; Willet, American Oystercatcher, Osprey, Willow Flycatcher, Fish Crow, Barn and Tree Swallows, Yellow Warbler, Boat-tailed Grackle, Red-winged Blackbird
 
Fall Migration ✸✸
Terns, wading birds, kinglets, sparrows, and finches, possible American Pipit
 
Winter ✸✸
Wintering waterfowl including Snow Geese and both dabbling and diving waterfowl species; Northern Harrier, possible Short-eared Owl, Eastern Meadowlark; mixed sparrow flocks
 
Year-Round Highlights
Gulls, dabbling waterfowl, Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Savannah Sparrow

Get Oriented

View a Google map of Rockaway Community Park and Edgemere Landfill.

Short-eared Owls winter at Edgemere Landfill. Photo: David Speiser "}" data-trix-content-type="undefined" class="attachment attachment--content"> Short-eared Owls winter at Edgemere Landfill. Photo: David Speiser
 

Edgemere Landfill (Restricted Access)

Like many protected "natural areas" on the shores of Jamaica Bay, today's Edgemere peninsula has been substantially transformed from its natural state. Originally a patchwork of low-lying salt marsh islands, the area between Dubos and Bayswater points was once known to locals as "Little May Marsh." Starting in the 1910s, dredge fill taken from "borrow pits" in the nearby bay was used to build up land in the shallow marsh, with the intention of creating more land for housing. Trash dumping on the site began in 1938, and continued more or less unabated, despite much local opposition, until 1991. In the early 1980s, it was discovered that drums of toxic waste had been dumped at Edgemere in the prior decade, and the New York State Department of Environmental Protection (NYSDEC) declared the landfill a Superfund Site.

Soon after, a report from the New York Public Interest Group (NYPIRG) documented widespread toxic dumping at Edgemere and several other New York City landfills. A Superfund suit filed by New York City in 1985 would eventually involved over 100 corporations and public entities, and result in multiple settlements totalling over $60 million, concerning Edgemere and four other New York City landfills. A complex plan was developed to remove toxic matrials and contain and cap Edgmere landfill, and following much wrangling between city and state agences, capping was completed in 1997. In 2003, the NYSDEC declared the landfill "cleaned of all toxins."

Today, Edgemere Landfill has become new grassland habitat, like other City landfills such as Staten Island's Fresh Kills (now Freshkills Park) and the Pennsylvania and Fountain Avenue Landfills (now the new Shirley Chisholm State Park, on the north shore of Jamaica Bay). Access to Edgemere Landfill remains restricted, unfortunately, but the site has proved productive when birded by local birders with the proper permits (for Christmas Bird Counts and other surveys). During migration, grasslands species such as Bobolink and a variety of sparrows may be found here; in the spring, some, such as Savannah Sparrow, stay to nest. In the wintertime, Short-eared Owl and Eastern Meadowlark are spotted. The beach and mudflats on the pensinsula's edge attract waders and waterbirds that nest on the Jamaica Bay Islands, and additional shorebirds during migration. It is hoped that the landfill will become more accessible for birding in the future.

Barn Swallows follow their instincts in Rockaway Community Park. Photo; Donna L. Schulman "}" data-trix-content-type="undefined" data-trix-attributes='{"image":true}' class="attachment attachment--content"> Barn Swallows follow their instincts in Rockaway Community Park. Photo; Donna L. Schulman
 

Rockaway Community Park

Rockaway Community Park, at the peninsula's base, has its own complex history, including a past life as part of Rockaway Airport. Several natural areas here attract stop-over migrant landbirds and host nesting species such as Willow Flycatcher, Yellow Warbler, and Boat-tailed Grackle. The small bays on each side of the peninsula, Sommerville Basin to the west and Conch Basin to the east (merging into Norton Basin further north) also attract a wide variety of waterbirds year-round.

Watch for the darker Snow Goose variant known as the blue goose in Jamaica Bay. Photo: Laura Meyers "}" data-trix-content-type="undefined" class="attachment attachment--content"> Watch for the darker Snow Goose variant known as the blue goose in Jamaica Bay. Photo: Laura Meyers
 

When to Go 

To see birding highlights by the season at Rockaway Community Park, see the top of this section. 

To learn about bird migration times and get other timing tips, see the When to Bird in NYC guide on our Birding 101 page.

 
For park operating hours, see the “Directions and Visiting Info” section, below.
 

eBird

View eBird hotspot records for Rockaway Community Park and Edgemere Landfill to explore recent bird sightings, species bar charts, and more. (Click on “Hotspot Map” at left to see other nearby locations.)
 

Personal Safety

We recommend you bird the more remote areas of Rockaway Community Park with a companion. Watch for Poison Ivy in upland areas; prepare for mosquitoes in summer. 

 Directions and Visiting Information

View a Google map of Rockaway Community Park and Edgemere Landfill.

Visit the NYC Parks page for Rockaway Community Park for operating hours, directions, and additional background information. bayswater
Yellow-crowed Night-Herons come to hunt at Bayswater Point State Park.Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/120553232@N02/" target="_blank">Isaac Grant</a>
Yellow-crowed Night-Herons come to hunt at Bayswater Point State Park.Photo: Isaac Grant
Bayswater Point State Park

Birding Highlights by the Season

(no star = birding is not very productive, = somewhat productive, ✸✸ = productive, ✸✸✸ = very productive)
 
Spring Migration ✸✸
Shorebirds, wading birds, terns; lingering waterfowl
 
Summer ✸✸
Foraging wading birds and terns; shorebird migration starting in July; American Oystercatcher, Osprey, Willow Flycatcher, Yellow Warbler, Boat-tailed Grackle
 
Fall Migration ✸✸
Wading birds, sparrows
 
Winter ✸✸
Wintering waterfowl including Snow Geese and diving ducks; Northern Harrier
 
Year-Round Highlights
Gulls, Peregrine Falcon

Get Oriented

View a Google map of Bayswater Point State Park.

The 12-acre Bayswater Point State Park is another site preserved through the Buffer the Bay program in the 1980s. This preserve of upland forest, dune, beach, and marsh was once the estate of New York City banker Louis A. Heinsheimer; his mansion built in 1907, was demolished in 1987. Purchased by the Trust for Public Land in 1986, the property became a state park in 1991, and was restored and managed for several years by NYC Audubon. For its relatively small size, the park has amassed an impressive list of bird species: over 150 species have been documented here.

Like its neighboring Jamaica Bay parks, Bayswater Point looks across to Joco Marsh and the open bay, and is an excellent spot to see a variety of waterbirds including Common, Forster's, and Least Terns,  Laughing Gulls, and wading birds during breeding season. Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, which nest in several nearby housing developments, are likely to be found foraging along the shoreline. During migration, shorebirds stop by the mudflats here, and groves of trees in the uplands attract warblers and other songbirds.

In the wintertime, check for diving and dabbling ducks in the open bay as well as in the more sheltered Norton Basin, to the west, and Mott's Basin, to the east.

A flock of Red-winged Blackbirds. Photo: François Portmann "}" data-trix-content-type="undefined" class="attachment attachment--content"> A flock of Red-winged Blackbirds. Photo: François Portmann
 

When to Go 

To see birding highlights by the season at Bayswater Point State Park, see the top of this section. 

To learn about bird migration times and get other timing tips, see the When to Bird in NYC guide on our Birding 101 page.


For park operating hours, see the “Directions and Visiting Info” section, below.
 

eBird

View eBird hotspot records for Bayswater Point State Park to explore recent bird sightings, species bar charts, and more. (Click on “Hotspot Map” at left to see other nearby locations.)
 

Personal Safety

We recommend you bird the somewhat remote Bayswater Point State Park with a companion. Watch for Poison Ivy in upland areas; prepare for mosquitoes in summer. 

 Directions and Visiting Information

View a Google map of Bayswater Point State Park.

Visit the New York State Parks page for Bayswater Point State Park for operating hours, directions, and additional background information.idlewild
The hard-to-spot Marsh Wren breeds in Idlewild Park. <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/puttefin/9076255630/" target="_blank">Photo</a>: Kelly Colgan Azar/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/" target="_blank">CC BY-ND 2.0</a>
The hard-to-spot Marsh Wren breeds in Idlewild Park. Photo: Kelly Colgan Azar/CC BY-ND 2.0
Idlewild Park

Birding Highlights by the Season

(no star = birding is not very productive, = somewhat productive, ✸✸ = productive, ✸✸✸ = very productive)
 
Spring Migration ✸✸
Shorebirds, wading birds, terns; lingering waterfowl
 
Summer ✸✸
Foraging wading birds and terns; shorebird migration starting in July; nesting Willet, Clapper Rail, Willow Flycatcher, Barn and Tree Swallow, Marsh Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Yellow Warbler, Seaside and Saltmarsh Sparrows, Boat-tailed Grackle
 
Fall Migration ✸✸
Shorebirds, wading birds, sparrows including marsh species
 
Winter ✸✸
Wintering waterfowl; Northern Harrier, mixed songbird feeding flocks
 
Year-Round Highlights
Common dabbling waterfowl, gulls, Great Blue Heron, Red-tailed Hawk, common songbirds

Get Oriented

View a Google map of Idlewild Park and a NYC Parks map of Idlewild Park Preserve (PDF).

Idlewild Park, sandwiched as it is between John F. Kennedy International Airport on one side and dense Queens neighborhoods on the other, nevertheless hosts some of the most productive salt marsh habitat in Jamaica Bay. The park draws its title from the first name of its busy neighbor: "Idlewild Airport" began construction in 1942, and retained that name till it was rechristened John F. Kennedy International Airport in December 1963. The undeveloped marshes now included in Idlewild Park was aquired by NYC Parks in the 1950s and 60s.

A Forever Wild Preserve, the 160-acre Idlewild Park has undergone substantial restoration efforts conducted by NYC Parks. Fed by several branches of Hook Creek (Hook Creek Park is adjacent), the park includes freshwater and tidal wetlands, forest, meadows, and grassland dune-scrub habitats. The park is perhaps the best site in the City to find nesting marsh-specialist songbirds such as Marsh Wren and both Saltmarsh and Seaside Sparrows. The forested areas of the park host a variety of species as well, including Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and possibly American Redstart. Wading birds, terns, and other waterbirds from nearby nesting colonies forage here.

Idlewild is a good spot to look for Saltmarsh Sparrow. Photo: François Portmann "}" data-trix-content-type="undefined" class="attachment attachment--content"> Idlewild is a good spot to look for Saltmarsh Sparrow. Photo: François Portmann
 

When to Go 

To see birding highlights by the season at Idlewild Park, see the top of this section. 

To learn about bird migration times and get other timing tips, see the When to Bird in NYC guide on our Birding 101 page.


For park operating hours, see the “Directions and Visiting Info” section, below.
 

eBird

View eBird hotspot records for Idlewild Park to explore recent bird sightings, species bar charts, and more. (Click on “Hotspot Map” at left to see other nearby locations.)
 

Personal Safety

We recommend you bird the somewhat remote Idlewild Park with a companion. Prepare for mosquitoes in summer. 

 Directions and Visiting Information

View a Google map of Idlewild Park.

View and download a NYC Parks map of Idlewild Park Preserve (PDF).

Visit the NYC Parks page for Idlewild Park for operating hours, directions, and additional background information.

Learn more about ongoing NYC Parks restoration efforts at Idlewild Park.spring-creek
Watch for hunting Northern Harrier in Spring Creek Park. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/92057307@N05/" target="_blank">Keith Michael</a>
Watch for hunting Northern Harrier in Spring Creek Park. Photo: Keith Michael
Spring Creek Park

Birding Highlights by the Season

(no star = birding is not very productive, = somewhat productive, ✸✸ = productive, ✸✸✸ = very productive)
 
Spring Migration ✸✸
Shorebirds, wading birds, terns; lingering waterfowl
 
Summer ✸✸
Foraging wading birds and terns; shorebird migration starting in July; nesting Willet, Willow Flycatcher, Yellow Warbler, Boat-tailed Grackle
 
Fall Migration ✸✸
Shorebirds, wading birds
 
Winter ✸✸
Wintering waterfowl including dabbling and diving waterfowl species; Northern Harrier
 
Year-Round Highlights
Common dabbling waterfowl, gulls, Double-crested Cormorant

Get Oriented

View a Google map of Spring Creek Park.

Look and listen for American Oystercatchers in Spring Creek Park. Photo: Lawrence Pugliares "}" data-trix-content-type="undefined" class="attachment attachment--content"> Look and listen for American Oystercatchers in Spring Creek Park. Photo: Lawrence Pugliares
 
Spring Creek Park, formering a buffer between the neighborhood of Howard Beach and Jamaica Bay, is a mixture of uplands (built largely upon the site a of a municipal landfill) and tidal marsh and creeks. The park is divided into three sections. The southern section, below the Belt Parkway and along the shore of Jamaica Bay, is part of Gateway National Recreation Area, and is the most accessible, traced by several simple trails. A northern section of tidal creeks and saltmarsh is a Forever Wild Preserve under NYC Parks jurisdiction, while a third section is made of up marshland along the Belt Parkway.

The southern portion of Spring Creek Park is directly east of Shirley Chisholm State Park, across Old Mill Creek. The park offers access to both the tidal creek and the open Bay; it is directly north of Elders Point East and West Marsh Islands, two of the most productive Harbor Heron colonies in the harbor in the past decade. In spring and summer, these islands host breeding Snowy and Great Egrets, Black-crowned NIght-Herons, Glossy Ibis, and small numbers of both Little Blue and Tricolored Heron, as well as a large Double-crested Cormorant colony and nesting Osprey. These birds, along with American Oystercatchers, gulls, and terns forage in tidal creeks along the shore of Jamaica Bay.

In the wintertime, look for both dabbling and diving waterfowl such as Brant, Gadwall, Bufflehead, mergansers, and grebes in the creek and bay.

Tricolored Heron nests on islands near Spring Creek Park. Photo: Richard Fried "}" data-trix-content-type="undefined" class="attachment attachment--content"> Tricolored Heron nests on islands near Spring Creek Park. Photo: Richard Fried
 

When to Go 

To see birding highlights by the season at Spring Creek Park, see the top of this section. 

To learn about bird migration times and get other timing tips, see the When to Bird in NYC guide on our Birding 101 page.

 
For park operating hours, see the “Directions and Visiting Info” section, below.
 

eBird

View eBird hotspot records for Spring Creek Park to explore recent bird sightings, species bar charts, and more. (Click on “Hotspot Map” at left to see other nearby locations.)
 

Personal Safety

We recommend you bird Spring Creek Park with a companion. Prepare for mosquitoes in summer. 

 Directions and Visiting Information