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Wintering Birds Settle in for the Season

November 30

With December just around the corner, the last of our Park’s migrant autumn birds are soaring southward as other cold-weather residents settle in for the winter. In the spirit of all of this winged activity, we’re taking a bird’s-eye view of our seasonal guests – and what beautiful species you might expect to find in your Park in the months ahead.

Our riverfront sees multiple bird migrations throughout the year, with typical peaks in early to mid-May and mid to late September, but migrants continue moving southward through our Park into November. Head to the esplanade a morning after a northerly wind – birds are no dummies and use the wind to help them cover as much ground as possible – and you can see a number of migrant birds resting and feeding in the Park, an important refueling point on their long journeys.  

The birds you’ll find in the Park in December are our wintering migrants. Hard to believe on blustery days, but our wintering birds mostly hail from colder northern locales and come to New York City for a relatively warmer winter escape. During a brisk walk along the esplanade this winter you can spot Buffleheads, Common Mergansers, Ruddy Ducks, Common Goldeneyes, Canvasbacks, Ring-billed gulls, and Brants. If we find ourselves with temperatures so frigid ice floats in the Hudson, you may even be able to spot Bald Eagles in January and February.

The diversity and abundance of these wintering migrants, and how long they make their home in our Park, depends on temperatures and food availability in the greater region. This winter’s La Nina is expected to influence weather patterns, bringing potentially colder and wetter weather to NYC.  This would mean more winter migrants staying later into spring. Perhaps it will be worth asking for that pair of binoculars during this holiday season!