In Green-Wood, I forget that I’m in the center of Brooklyn, New York City’s most populous borough. The 478-acre park was designed to provide visitors with consoling views of nature, and it seems quite natural that the hillside lanes are lined with ornate mausoleums, stone tombs, and memorial obelisks. I always plan on spending an entire day because there is so much to linger over, and I can’t resist stopping to read the inscriptions on the monuments.
The first birds I look for are the locally famous Monk Parakeets flying around their colonial nests in the spires of the gothic-revival gatehouse. From there I head to the ponds, where flowering shrubs harbor birds attracted to the water. Another good destination is Battle Hill, where the Battle of Brooklyn was fought during the Revolutionary War.
Green-Wood is a warbler paradise in spring. It is quiet, so birdsong is easily heard. During a visit in April, I saw Northern Parula, Yellow, Yellow-rumped, Hooded, Palm, and Prairie Warblers among the blossoming fruit trees. That same day, I saw Ruby-crowned Kinglets, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Hermit and Wood Thrushes, a Winter Wren, and Cedar Waxwings. The following week’s visit added Black-throated Blue and Black-throated Green, Blue-winged, and Nashville Warblers, and a Northern Waterthrush. — Julie Feinstein
Julie Feinstein is a collection manager at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. She also wrote the article Feather Colors: What We See.
Rolling hills and grassy fields, woods, flowering shrubs, and several ponds.
Gentle hills crisscrossed by paved paths and roads varying in slope. Paved paths are wheelchair-accessible. Roads open to cars driving slowly.
Hawks, herons, gulls, Peregrine Falcon, Osprey, Chimney Swift, Brown Thrasher, Ruby- and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Veery, and Wood, Swainson’s, Hermit, and Gray-cheeked Thrush. Also American Wigeon, Wood Duck, American Woodcock, sparrows, woodpeckers, and plenty of migrant warblers in spring and fall. The must-see birds are the Monk Parakeets at the gatehouse.
When to go
Great in all seasons but fabulous during spring migration.
Restrooms at main gate. Maps available at gatehouse office. Bird walks, guided cemetery tours, and self-guided walking tours available. Fast-food restaurants are close, as is Brooklyn’s Chinatown (along 8th Ave. between 62nd and 42nd).
Public cemetery. Open daily 8-5. Extended hours in summer; check website for schedule changes. Permission required at gate, but admission is free. Parking allowed on roadsides. MTA R Train stops at 25th St., one block from main entrance. Bus 63 stops at main entrance (www.mta.info).
Bring binoculars and wear comfortable shoes. Dress for the season.