Staten Island, also known as Richmond County, can be reached from Manhattan by a spectacular ferry ride on Upper New York Bay past the Statue of Liberty. The older generations of Staten Islanders remember a time when this ferry was still the only direct way of commuting from the City’s other boroughs, before the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge was built in 1964. The island remained quite rural at that time—and local groups like Protectors of Pine Oak Woods
, and its forerunner, SIGNAL, have fought to preserve many natural areas including Mt. Loretto Unique Area, Long Pond Park, and both the Staten Island Greenbelt and the Bluebelt. Some of NYC Audubon's early advocacy work focused on helping to protect the first Harbor Heron nesting islands in the Arthur Kill and Kill Van Kull: Prall's and Shooters Island and Isle of Meadows.
Due to its impressive diversity of habitats, Staten Island offers spectacular birding opportunities all year round. Clove Lakes Park, not far from the ferry, vies for the title of Staten Island’s most popular spring migration spot, attracting all manner of warblers, tanagers, and other songbirds; this park also hosts the City’s only nesting pair of Great Blue Herons. At the island’s center, the Staten Island Greenbelt, a 2,800-acre network of second-growth forest, is one of the healthiest forest ecosystems in the City. Great Kills Park, Wolfe’s Pond Park, Mount Loretto Nature Preserve, Long Pond Park, and Conference House Park are among the many spots along the island’s southern shore that offer spectacular coastal birding, while the gradually opening Freshkills Park joins Goethals Pond in offering wetland and grassland habitat in the island’s northwest corner. Many other hotspots dot the island's shoreline, providing abundant birding opportunities.
Staten Island’s prodigious and diverse habitats account for the over 350 species of birds documented in Staten Island (Richmond County) eBird records
, a borough count second only to that of Queens. The island boasts of several unusual breeding species in recent years, including Pileated Woodpecker, Sedge Wren, Grasshopper Sparrow, Forster's Tern, and both Black and Turkey Vultures. Bald Eagles are now year-round residents on the island. Rarer species observed over the years have included Thick-billed Murre, Brown Booby, Sandhill Crane, Mississippi Kite, Eastern Whip-poor-will, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Western Kingbird, and Western Tanager, along with many rare gull, shorebird, and pelagic species.