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


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

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Just as we finished our Saturday walk on 1/19/19, we found a Merlin perched on a nearby branch. We all had very good looks. This Merlin was seen on the same branch in the fall and I’m thinking he could possibly be the same bird.

The Pileated Woodpecker is still in the park. Let’s hope he continues.

All photos and text by Jack Rothman.

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

Updated 1/21/19

Copyright 2019

Lots of Common Loon are all around in Eastchester bay. Scope them from the Beach or Hunter Island.

On our last walks we saw a Horned Grebe in its winter plumage. The photo above is the same bird as it develops its breeding plumage. The photo was taken in March. Eventually it was gone from Eastchester Bay, off to its breeding ground, further north.

Jack’s Upcoming Walks (On Hiatus)

Wednesday Hunter Island Walk- January 16

Link for results

City Island Birds Saturday @ Hunter Island -January 19 @9:00am

Link for results

Right now, there are no walks planned for a few weeks. We should resume in mid to late February, weather permitting. The footing becomes precarious with snow and ice, and it gets windy and quite cold in the park in late January and February.

However, if you’re up to it, there are some great birds in the park.

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

So far I’ve seen four different Barred Owls, all in different locations in the park. Our group saw two during the Christmas Count. We also saw two Saw-whet Owls in the park, but they are gone now. Others have seen our resident Great Horned Owls.

Video of the Pileated Woodpecker by Raphael Samanez, Link Here

On our last walk, a few birders asked me about seeing Great Horned Owls in the park.  I believe there are at least two mating pairs. For many years, at least one pair have nested in the same tree on Hunter Island. The owls will begin their mating rituals very soon and by the end of February, mom should be sitting on eggs. It’s a difficult time for the owl because she must stay on the eggs to keep them warm and protect them from predators and the often frigid weather. By the end of March, beginning  of April, sometimes later, the owlets will emerge. The eggs don’t all hatch at the same time. She will continue protecting the owlets until they’re big enough to fledge. Even after they fledge, both the male and female adults will watch from a distance. The photo on the right is an owlet in the nest. Link for owls.

Red-breasted Merganser, like this one, can be found between Hunter and Twin Island.

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