A Great Horned Owl on Hunter Island. This bird was easily seen a few years ago. He remained in the same place for months. When walking by he must of recognized us after passing him so many times.

All photos and text by Jack Rothman. All rights reserved. No photo may be copied or duplicated without written permission.Copyright 2023

Updated 12/1/23

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.

A very close Common Goldeneye. They should be arriving soon and inhabit the lagoon and distant waters near Hunter and Twin Island.

We almost always get a Barred Owl on Hunter Island in the winter.

You can usually find American Wigeon on the very south end of Orchard Beach. Sometimes it's best to walk over the City Island Bridge, turn right and follow the shoreline to get a close look. There's usually other waterfowl there too.

A Common Loon in non-breeding plumage off Orchard Beach.

A beautiful male, drake, Gadwall off Hunter Island.

Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

Upcoming Bird Tours and Other News

The Bronx- Westchester Christmas Bird Count will be on December 23. If you are interested in participating, please contact Richard Aracil, rvaracil@gmail.com.

The next NYC Audubon tour in Pelham Bay Park won't be until February 4 at 9:00am. I will be guiding the tour. However, I will most likely have a  City Island Birds walk before then. I will post it here a week or so before and send out a notification to those on the distribution list.

I will be be doing "Weird Duck Spotting" in Astoria Park on Jan. 20 for NYC Audubon. Please check their website for more info. It should be a fun morning if the weather cooperates.

A Call for Volunteer Birding Guides.

If you are a fairly good birder, a program called, "Feathered Friends" could use your help. The program was created by Chris Cooper from NYC Audubon. It takes 4th and 5th graders on bird outings in Van Cortlandt Park after school. The program doesn't begin until May but it's being organized now. At this time they're planning to hold tours every Friday from May 3rd to June 7th. The time commitment would be about an hour and half each day (2:30-4:00 PM). If you can't commit to each week, that's fine, any bit of help would be much appreciated! Please send me an email if you are interested. This could be fun and rewarding.

Winter Species are slowly returning.

Some of our waterfowl have been returning to the waters around Hunter Island. Red-breated Merganser, American Black Duck, American Widgeon, Brant, Red-throated and Common Loon and lots of Bufflehead have been seen. Purple Sandpipers have been out on the rock outcroppings along with Great Cormorants. On land, the usual array of sparrows, chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers and titmouse have all begun to come in. Of course, I haven't mentioned everything that has been seen recently.

If you don't go out, you won't see anything! Put on lots of layers and get out there!

A distant Purple Sandpiper. It's good to check out the rock outcroppings for this bird. A scope makes it a lot easier.