See warblers, owls, raptors, woodpeckers, and other great birds in the last salt marsh and natural forest on Manhattan Island.
By Adam Marcus | Published: 8/19/2006
Inwood Hill Park is my favorite place to bird in New York City. Located on the Hudson River at the northern tip of Manhattan, it boasts the last salt marsh and natural forest on the island – fitting, since the park is thought to be where the storied $24 sale occurred. It also has steep, wooded hills with dramatic rock and cave formations.
Spring migration is the richest time to go. On one afternoon, I saw a dozen species of warbler, including Black-throated Blue, Chestnut-sided, Northern Parula, Black-and-white, and Blackpoll. Hermit and Wood Thrushes can be found in the denser woods, along with owls, raptors, several types of woodpecker, and many other species. Inwood Hill is also the site of a Bald Eagle-fledging program; I have seen young and adult birds in the area. On an early-morning run recently, a mature eagle flew above the hills beside me for several minutes before heading south toward the George Washington Bridge.
Among the park’s most appealing features is its tidal estuary, which alternates between placid pond and mudflat as the waters of the Hudson and Harlem Rivers come and go. The confluence is called Spuyten Duyvil, Dutch for “Spitting Devil,” because of the surging waters. — Adam Marcus
Adam Marcus is a New York-based science writer who has been birding for more than 30 years. He wrote the feature Feather Colors: What Birds See in our June 2006 issue.
At a Glance
Click on the coordinates to view location: 40°52’26N 73°55’12W
Web site: www.nycgovparks.org
W. 218th St. at Indian Rd.
New York, NY 10034
Mixed, including salt marsh, forest, river.
Varied, including flat meadows and steep trails. Paths are typically well paved, but most are not easily wheelchair-accessible.
Common species include warblers, thrushes, woodpeckers, Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, herons, ducks and geese, gulls, raptors (including Bald Eagles), flycatchers. Rarities include Black Skimmer, Peregrine Falcon, and Saw-whet Owl.
When to go
Spring is best. On Sunday mornings, the chief naturalist for Parks and Recreation leads free nature walks. Check the website or call the nature center for a schedule.
Nearby stores sell food and drink, and restaurants are within walking distance. The nature center has restrooms and potable water, as well as exhibits about the park.
City park. Admission free. Nature center open every day, 11-4.
Your visit can be rugged or easy. Wear hiking boots and explore hilly paths (beware poison ivy), or stick to the flats and marsh. Bring binoculars; a scope is unnecessary.