All photos and text by Jack Rothman. All rights reserved. No photo may be copied or duplicated without written permission. Copyright 2024.

Updated 7/6/24

City Island Birds

                          Since 2007

Welcome to City Island Birds. My name is Jack Rothman. I created this website and birding club because this area of New York City is little known and underutilized by birdwatchers and other nature lovers. Pelham Bay Park, with its woods and wetlands is a critical stopover and nesting area to many migratory species.

Birding News

City Island Birds was created in 2007 to bring birders, and would be birders, to the park. Everyone has always been and always will be welcome. Our walks are always inclusive, friendly, non-competitive, fun and free. We all love to see great birds, but without each other, it's never as enjoyable.

Saul's Science Watch

My birding buddy Saul has been writing wonderful science articles for the Hudson River Audubon Society. You can link for years of wonderful insights and information. Just scroll to the bottom of the page for a complete list of the articles.

Jack's talk , "Pelham Bay Park"

On March 14, 2023, I did a Zoom talk for the Saw Mill River Audubon. If you would like to view it, it is available on YouTube, Just link here.

Watch a City Island Birds birdwalk here,

and another walk here.

A pandemic interview about birding here.

Five Quick Beginning Birding Suggestions

1. Go out with a group or an experienced leader. You'll learn how to use binoculars, find birds, meet interesting and friendly people.

2. Wear appropriate clothes. Weather is always a little more extreme in open spaces. Don't wear your brand new $200 running shoes. It can be muddy.

3. Most leaders have binoculars to lend if you don't have your own. Opera glasses are pretty useless for birding. If you want to buy a pair, email me and I will make suggestions depending on your budget.

4. Bring a snack and water. Most walks are a few hours. You'll see that birding is not fast walking. Expect to be moving slowly.

5. Get a portable field guide to bring with you when you bird alone. Use it at home too. Look for the Peterson or Sibley guide.

Another warbler in June at Jamaica Bay was this American Redstart.

Upcoming Free Bird Tours

I have no scheduled walks at this time.  Generally birds are trying to stay hidden this time of the year as nesting season is over for most passerines. Fledges are trying to survive and build strength and fat reserves for the upcoming migration south. They generally stay hidden. In addition, birds, like humans, don't want to be out in the blazing sun.

Late July, early August begins the shorebird migration, so check back then.

Check "Local Clubs" above to see if other clubs are sposoring walks.

A Red-headed Woodpecker at Jamaica Bay in June. This bird may still be there. After walking through the Field Station turn right and keep walking. He hangs around not far off the main trail.

There are hundreds of nesting Black Skimmers at Nickerson. Every so often they would get spooked by something and rise up. It was quite a spectacle. On the right was one of a few Piping Plovers on the beach. Piping Plovers are endangered and controversial, causing many beaches to be closed to humans. It also has the wrath of some local beach residents because fourth of July firewalks ar no longer permitted where the birds nest.

A late Chestnut-sided Warbler at Jamaica Bay in June. This fellow was moving so quickly this was the only shot I could get of him.

A Red-tailed Hawk at Turtle Cove. Because it hasn't been mowed, I haven't been visiting at all. There are many ticks in the high grass. My advice is to wait until it's cut back. A few of us have asked the Parks Dept to pleeeeze cut it!

American Oystercatcher and chick. I always describe them as a man in a tuxedo, eating a carrot. They generally are not as skittish as other species. If you're patient and stay low, you can usually get some decent photos.

Names Given To Groups of Birds

Based on History and Literature

From The Verb To Bird, Peter Cashwell (Paul Dry Pub. 2003)

A gaggle of geese ( in water)

A charm of finches

A tiding of magpies

A descent of woodpeckers

A mustering of storks

A parliament of owls

A host of sparrows

A siege of herons

An unkindness of ravens

A cast of hawks

An ostentation of peacocks

A murder of crows

A walk of snipe

From An Exaltation of Larks, James Lipton (Penguin pub. 1993)

A party of jays

A gatling of woodpeckers

A murmuration of starlings

(in air)

A clutter of starlings

(on ground)

A mutation of thrushes

A fall of woodcock

A skein of geese (in air)

An exaltation of larks

A shimmer of hummingbirds

A spring of teal ( ducks)

A sorde of mallards

A rafter of turkeys

A descent of woodpeckers

A convocation of eagles

A leash of merlins

Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

In late June I took an early morning trip to Nickerson Beach on Long Island with some friends. This is a great place to see nesting terns, oystercatchers, piping plover, skimmers and other species. You need to get there early to escape the morning heat and the hefty entrance fee of $37.00 for non-residents. We arrived at 7:30am and beat the traffic, fee and heat. The nesting areas have warning signs and are cordoned off for people. If you are anywhere near the nesting area, the terns will dive bomb your head. They have been known to draw blood. The oystercatchers are not as agressive and they generally stay in their designated area. This is a great place for photographers. The nestlings are adorable. Bring your long lens.

There are several Wild Turkeys are near the carraige house at the Bartow-Pell mansion Museum off Shore Road. A lot of maintenance has been done to this area and it is now quite manicured and pretty. That really doesn't work well for birds that used to nest in some of the foliage around the area. If you take the trail that leads to the shoreline, you can usually see some song birds in the woods on your left. There are almost always waders and shore birds to the right. Beware of ticks!