Located in the Bronx, New York, City Island is a small island, approximately one mile long and a quarter mile wide. City Island is surrounded by Eastchester Bay on one side and Long Island Sound on the other. Its bridge attaches to a roadway adjacent to Pelham Bay Park, New York City's largest park. In this area, and in the waters and wetlands, in and around City Island, many bird species thrive. Here, several and varied migratory birds are found. This website was created to help study, appreciate, and protect all the birds of this area.

Welcome to City Island Birds. I created this website 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.


Barnacle Goose at Orchard Beach

Jack Rothman


Traveling and Birding the Amazon

Several people have requested information about our trip to the Amazon.

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Here’s a bird I haven’t seen in Pelham Bay Park since 2012, a Lincoln’s Sparrow. I’ll keep trying...

I’m not sure if these birds are still around. They’ve been here for months, so I hope you got a chance to see them.

All photos and text by Jack Rothman.

All rights reserved. No photo may be copied or duplicated without written permission.

Updated 2/17/19

Copyright 2019

This is a digiscoped photo of a rare duck for our area and first time seen here, a Barrow’s Goldeneye. The photo was taken by Patrick Horan off Orchard Beach. We have lots of Common Goldeneye off Hunter Island.

In late January, Jane and I spent some time in Florida. While staying on Sanibel Island, we went to the J.N. Ding Darling NWR a few times. One morning we heard that Richard Crossley was giving a talk, got there an hour early and couldn’t get a seat. Luckily, he was giving a talk again later in the afternoon and we were able to get there even earlier. The talk was fascinating. Richard spoke about how he got into birding, his birding philosophy and adventures, and how and why he came to write his field guides. If you’re not familiar with his field guide, you ought to look at one. These guides are not meant to carry with you but should be referenced at home or in a car. They show each bird in its natural habitat, at many different angles and in different light. Richard believes you should study the bird in the field and reference it at home. He says in order to know a bird, you need to spend at least two hours in observation. He is a big advocate of conservation and getting young people into birding.

Jack’s Upcoming Walks

Walks to resume in March, exact days TBA soon.

We will resume our in March, with walks by me or another guide, just about every weekend. Some walks will be sponsored by NYC Audubon. I last saw the Barred Owl on Wednesday, 2/13 and the Pileated Woodpecker on 2/5. I was out 2/16 and didn’t see either bird, but obviously that doesn’t mean they’re not around. Many of the usual waterfowl are around. This season, there are a group of Surf Scoter that have been hanging around Orchard Beach, near the defunct changing areas. Sometimes they’re pretty close into the beach area. I don’t remember ever seeing them in so close. The footing on Hunter Island is muddy and icy, depending on the temperature. The beach is fine when the wind settles down and is productive with a scope. If you go out, wear boots and overdress. March is coming, time to think about migration!

If you’re interested in being on our distribution list, just send an email to:

jack@cityislandbirds.com.  We are totally non-commercial and your name and email address won’t be shared with anyone. All walks are free.

Want to know what a bird walk is like? Watch this video done by Rafael Samanez on one of our PBPK walks, if you were there, you may be in it!  Link Here

There have been a few Canvasback in the lagoon opposite the Orchard Beach Parking Lot. A scope makes it easier to find them, swimming along with the Greater Scaup. I’ve also seen them off Tier Street on City Island.

Video of the Pileated Woodpecker by Raphael Samanez, Link Here

I found this Red-headed Woodpecker two weeks ago on Hunter Island. I believe it’s the same one we found a few days before the Christmas Bird Count.

Binocular and Smartphone Help

If you’re not familiar with how your computer or smartphone can help you be a better and more successful birder, you should read my little primer, link here.

If you need or want a new pair of binoculars, you might want to begin here. Binoculars have really changed in the last few years. You can get a fantastic pair for a few hundred dollars and a really good pair for less than $200. Years ago, there wasn’t nearly as much choice. You should link here for ratings.

List of Birds at Our Puddle 2017

Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Plover, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Pectoral Sandpiper, Baird’s Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Killdeer, White-rumped Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalarope, Black-headed Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Bonaparte’s Gull, Laughing Gull, Peregrine Falcon, Wilson’s Snipe, American Pipit, Merlin, Canada Goose.             

“The difference between a beginning birder and an experienced one is that beginning birders have misidentified few birds. Experienced birders have misidentified thousands.”

Pete Dunne

City Island Birds
Since 2007