AT A GLANCE
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is a wildlife refuge in New York City managed by the National Park Service and is composed of the open water and intertidal salt marshes of Jamaica Bay. The refuge provides habitat for a wide variety of flora and fauna, both marine and terrestrial. It was established in 1972 and covers an area of 9155 acres (37.05 km2). It is one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the northeastern United States.
The refuge is part of the greater Gateway National Recreation Area, a 26607 acre (10767 ha) National Recreation Area in the Port of New York and New Jersey. Scattered over Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, New York, and Monmouth County, New Jersey, it provides recreational opportunities that are rare for a dense urban environment, including ocean swimming, bird watching, boating, hiking and camping.
These two sites are fantastic year-round birding sites, great for both land birds and waterfowl, while the nearby Atlantic coast in Rockaway is a reliable place for seabirds in season. In the spring and fall, warblers, grosbeaks and thrushes pass through in great numbers, while the ponds at Jamaica Bay are packed with shorebirds for most of late summer. Fall and winter bring large flocks of ducks and geese, while just off-shore lucky birders can find alcids, gulls and occasionally even a migrating whale. ). It’s a birder’s paradise with almost 300 bird species sighted at the refuge over the last 25 years; that is nearly half the species in the Northeast!
The easy walking trails throughout the parks make for a comfortable day of birding, and the close proximity of John F. Kennedy International Airport can permit the adventurous birder an exciting few hours during an extended layover.
The exact nature of this trip varies based on the season, and other places nearby may be substituted where appropriate.
Yellow-crowned Night Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
Wood-warblers (many species)
Little Blue Heron
A wide variety of sandpipers (most easily seen during high tide on mudflats in the park)
The list here is similar to that of spring, but most waterfowl begin to show up in October. Peak hawk migration also occurs during the fall months.
American Black Duck
Waterfowl are the primary target within the park, as are wintering sparrows. The coastline offers the possibility for alcids and rare gulls.
Do you have a quick question about this birding tour? Speak to a specialist at