It’s Bird Week, and the High Line is an excellent place to observe our avian friends, those who live here permanently as well as the thousands more who pass through en route to someplace else. The High Line parallels the Hudson River, one of this country’s great migration superhighways, and when the Rail Yards section opens later this year, a huge seating platform facing the river will provide one of the best bird-watching perches in the city. But throughout the park in every time of year you can discover many different species of birds. In March I joined Ben Cacace, project leader for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird Project, on an art tour in section 3, and he identified ten species in under an hour. Ben’s checklist from our visit is here, and the High Line’s eBird Hotspots are here. (See below for more info. about eBird and a link to register so you can help build the High Line’s bird list.)
Below are a few of my favorite sitings, beginning with a hungry sparrow enjoying a meal in Sarah Sze’s magnificent 2011 sculpture installation “Still Life With Landscape (Model for a Habitat).” (As always, click an image to enlarge it.)
In 2012 this peregrine falcon and his mate made a temporary home under the eave of the Drug Enforcement Agency headquarters at 16th Street. For most of the month of March they could be spotted swooping above the High Line…
or simply hanging out on the ledge, people-watching.
This year, after one of the coldest winters on record finally began to give way to Spring, this Robin was a glorious sight.
But the horticultural design of the High Line makes it a particularly hospitable place for birds all year long, including in the dead of winter. Since the grasses and plants aren’t cut back in Fall, they create ideal nesting and foraging spots for birds. (Read more about the Cutback here.)
And for birds, the High Line is one, long, 24 hour buffet table….
Mourning Doves are abundant in New York City and on the High Line…
The Sun Deck provides a particularly picturesque location for an early morning bath.
And hey, this is New York City so no celebration of birds is complete without a pigeon or two. Like their fellow human native New Yorkers, pigeons also love to walk the rails on the High Line, but the park rangers never kick them off. Lucky pigeons.
Contrary to popular opinion here in Gotham, pigeons do like a nice bath.
If you’d like to help build the High Line’s list of birds, eBird is a simple tool to use and you can create an account here. Fellow birders a bit farther north got serious about tracking observations in Bryant Park and the list has grown to 108 species as of today.