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 2024

Updated 2/11/24

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.

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

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

It was "Weird Duck Spotting" in Astoria Park Feb. 11. There weren't any weird ducks but there were nice people and normal ducks. Despite the dreary weather and a bit of wind, we really had a fun morning. Species Account

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 Free Bird Tours

Feb. 18- Pelham Bay Park with Richard Aracil 9:00 Meet in Orchard Beach Parking Lot

Feb.24- Linnean Society of NY Walk with Jack in Pelham Bay Park- You must be a member. Sign up required.

March 3- Pelham Bay Park with Joe McManus 9:00 Meet in Orchard Beach Lot.

March 17- Pelham Bay Park with Jack 9:00 Meet in Orchard Beach Lot

All Walks are Free- Please check the NYC Audubon Website for details.


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



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.


A Call for Volunteer Birding Guides

A wonderful group of both novice and experienced birders showed up for the walk on Feb. 4. It was 28 degrees at the start but with the strong sun it didn't feel cold at all. There was no wind. While woodland birds were few, we enjoyed some great waterfowl which included Long-tailed Duck, Red-throated Loon, Red-breasted Merganser, Bufflehead and Brant. This was a friendly and social group and we all enjoyed seeing the birds together. The seals were sunning themselves out on a rock outcropping on this beautiful morning. Link for a bird list