Located along the Atlantic Flyway migration route, Brooklyn is a prime spot for birdwatching, with many species visible throughout the year. Some are present year-round, while others are seasonal or occasional visitors. Many common species are easily attracted by bird feeders or even bird seed just sprinkled on windowsills or the ground.
Blue Jay These noisy, bright blue birds are year-round residents and a familiar sight in backyards and residential neighborhoods where there are trees.
Northern Cardinal The male’s bright red plumage makes it easy to spot, while the greenish female is more elusive. Cardinals frequent backyards, parks, and street trees in Brooklyn all year round.
Dark-Eyed Junco This perky little gray, black, and white bird is a migratory visitor to bird feeders in spring and fall.
The many types of small, brown sparrows can be difficult for beginning birders to distinguish, but with practice become easily recognizable. References such as the excellent field guide The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America or the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s All About Birds website are helpful.
Song Sparrow These sparrows are identified by their striped appearance, with brown and gray stripes on the head and brown streaks on the throat and breast.
White-Throated Sparrow Another small, brown bird distinguished by the white patch on the throat. Some birds have white stripes on the head as well, while others have tan head stripes. The distinctive, bright yellow patch above the eyes can be difficult to see on a quick-moving bird. These sparrows have a beautiful song.
House Sparrow These familiar birds of city streets are ubiquitous, often nesting in building eaves and streetlights. Males are easy to identify by their black throats, which are much more prominent in summer. Females are relatively plain. They are not native to North America but were imported from Europe in the 1800s.
Hermit Thrush Another small, brown bird identifiable by its white eye-ring, boldly spotted breast and reddish-brown tail, it is often seen hopping in the underbrush in Prospect Park.
Black-Capped Chickadee These frequent winter visitors to birdfeeders are small, gray birds with black-capped heads, named for their distinctive “chicka-dee-dee-dee” call.
American Goldfinch Males of these sparrow-sized birds are a distinctive, bright yellow and black in summer, while winter males and females all year are greenish-yellow or greenish-brown with buff-colored bars on dark wings. Fun fact: the Goldfinch is the state bird of New Jersey, Iowa, and Washington.
Barn Swallow Most easily identifiable by their swooping flight and forked tails, barn swallows are often seen in Prospect Park, and in late spring and early summer can be found nesting in the Barn at the Prospect Park Zoo.
American Robin This well-known, red-breasted bird is often seen hopping about in parks, playing fields, and lawns in spring.
Mourning Dove Unlike its relative the common pigeon (also known as the Rock Dove), which was introduced from Europe, the long-tailed, tan-colored Mourning Dove with its mournful cooing is native to the New York area.
Other common birds that can be easily seen in streets, parks, and waterways in the Brooklyn area include pigeons, crows, mute swans, mallard ducks, brants, Canada geese, red-tailed hawks, black and white warblers, cerulean warblers, flickers, seagulls, barn swallows, and coots. Harder to see, but known to be but present in Brooklyn, are great horned owls and peregrine falcons. Some of the best birding spots in Brooklyn are in Prospect Park and Green-Wood Cemetery.