Spring Events for the Birds in New York City

Ornithologists, grab your binoculars! This season, the number of bird-centered activities happening in New York City is soaring. Beginning with the New York Historical Society’s celebration of the sesquicentennial of its purchase of John James Audubon’s avian watercolors, which also marks the publication of Audubon’s Aviary: Part I of The Complete Flock and a corresponding exhibit that will eventually include all 474 pieces in the collection, birders will have plenty to gaze upon over the next few months.

Audubon Hoopoe

John James Audubon (1785–1851) Hoopoe (Huppe fasciée), 1805–06 Pastel and graphite on paper; 11 13/16 x 7 7/8 in. (30 x 20 cm) Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle de la Rochelle, Collection Société des Sciences Naturelles de la Charente-Maritime, series 29, fol. 9

The exhibit at the New York Historical Society is the first of three stages of the Audubon-themed show to be rolled out through 2015, with one stage unveiled per year.  Part I, which is on display now, focuses on Audubon’s drawings of birds in the Eastern United States; Part II, due to be released in 2014, highlights water birds as well as species found in Canada and Labrador; and Part III, scheduled for 2015, includes outlying species as well as those found in the Western United States.

The historical society will also offer state-of-the-art media installations to enhance the collection. Select video footage and bird calls from the species on display are available on a hand-held device provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

For those looking for a more interactive experience with nature, the American Museum of Natural History is offering a series of bird walks this spring:

Lunchtime Spring Bird Walks (Mondays, April 8-29, noon-1:30pm, $50): Ornithologist Paul Sweet offers a tour of Central Park with a focus on spring migration. Participants can learn how to identify various New York City bird species using field marks, behavioral observations, and song. Call 212-313-7579 for information or to register.

Early Morning Spring Walks: If lunchtime tours don’t work for you, the museum offers early-bird specials Tuesdays through Fridays, from April 9 until May 31, from either 7-9am (Tue-Thu) or 9-11am Fri), which includes the same tour with ornithologists Paul Sweet (Tue, Fri) and Joseph DiCostanzo (Wed-Thu). Birder field cards are included with these walks and help participants keep track of what they’ve seen and identified.

Additionally, the City of New York Parks and Recreation Department offers its own series of birding events, held all over the city and in every borough. Some highlights include:

Birding for Families on March 24 at the Charles Dana Discovery Center
Saturday Bird Walks
at the New York Botanical Gardens, beginning April 6
Inwood Hill Birding
at the Inwood Hill Nature Center on April 20

For more info, visit nycgovparks.org/events/birding