Hallett Nature Reserve Opens to the Public

Southwest_corner_of_Central_Park,_looking_east,_NYCCentral Park boasts attractions with some of the cities most recognizable names: Loeb Boathouse, Wollman Rink and Tavern on the Green to name a few. Now, for the first time since 1934, a little-known, four-acre woodland called Hallett Nature Sanctuary will join that esteemed list.

Closed in 1934 by NYC Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, the track of land was designated a bird sanctuary and cordoned-off from the public. It remained untouched, even by park employees, until 2001 when the Central Park Conservancy began once again maintaining and cultivating growth in the heavily-wooded area.

The Sanctuary did host many birds throughout the years, but an infestation of non-native plants and wisteria threatened to wreck havoc on its environment. Now, thanks to the conservancy, it’s been restored.

But even though the Hallett Nature Sanctuary will now be open to the general public, there will be restricted hours at which visitors interested in sampling the pristine nature hidden at the center of the concrete jungle will be able to stop by.

April 1 – June 30
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

July 1 – August 31
Monday & Friday: 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Wednesday: 2:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Sunday: 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Thursday, May 12
Open Birding Hours
8:00 am – 10:00 am

Central Park – One of the Best Places in the U.S. for Watching Migrating Birds

Central Park, New York City


New York City's Central Park has a birding population that rivals that of many forests.

New York City’s Central Park has a birding population that rivals that of many forests. (Michael Yamashita/Corbis )

It may come as a surprise, but Central Park in New York City is a birders’ paradise. For decades, the 843-acre park in the center of the city has been an under-the-radar stomping ground for binocular-wielding birders hoping to spy one of the 30-something warbler species that stop here during spring migration before heading farther north. One of the most popular spots in the park for birders is The Ramble, a 36-acre, heavily wooded area that’s less frequented by tourists. Over the years more than 230 species have been seen there, including 40 that reside there year-round. “The diversity of birds there rivals, and in some cases is better than, some forests,” Guida says.

In the spring, the park also holds weekend birding-basics workshops for families interested in honing their birding skills.

114th Annual Christmas Bird Count

Experience the beauty of the park in winter while you help collect valuable data, and learn about birds when you participate in this annual event with the National Audubon Society.

The Christmas Bird Count is a citizen-science tradition started by ornithologist Frank Chapman in 1900 and the longest-running  wildlife annual census. The data you collect is used to assess the health of bird populations and guide conservation action in Central Park and beyond.

Each group is led by an experienced birder. Dress warmly and remember to bring your binoculars.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

8:00 a.m.12:30 p.m.


Reservoir Running Track & Landscape in Central Park

Cost – Free

Event Organizer

National Audubon Society, NYC Parks and Recreation

Contact Number

(212) 360 1324

Contact Email


111th Annual Central Park Christmas Bird Count

Take part in this annual citizen-science tradition started by ornithologist Frank Chapman on December 25, 1900.  The collected data will be added to an ever-growing database that provides valuable information to research scientists who study early winter bird populations across North America.

8:00 a.m.:  Meet a the South Pump Station of the Reservoir (85th Street and 5th Avenue).  All counting groups will be escorted by Urban Park Rangers.

12:30 p.m.:  Data tally and refreshments at the Arsenal Gallery (3rd floor of the Arsenal at 64th Street and 5th Avenue).

Dress warmly and don’t forget your binoculars!  For more information, contact NYC Audubon at (212) 691-7483 or ChrismasBirdCount@nycaudubon.org.

Bard For The Birds

The starling is only mentioned once by Shakespeare, in a passage which shows that in his time this bird, which possesses remarkable powers of imitation, was taught to say words. The fiery Hotspur declares that although the King had forbidden him to speak of Mortimer he would find his Majesty –

“When he lies asleep,
And in his ear I’ll holla ‘Mortimer!’
I’ll have a starling shall be taught to speak
Nothing but ‘Mortimer,’ and give it him,
To keep his anger still in motion.”
[1st Henry IV – I, 3]

There it is – one passage in one play by the Bard.  Wouldn’t seem so very important – except for the fact that because of this single reference there are now over 200 million of the birds making their home on the North American Continent.

In 1890 a drug manufacturer named Eugene Scheiffelin had the intriguing notion  that New York City should be home to all Shakespeare’s songbirds. He brought thrushes and skylarks from England and released them into American skies. They failed to fight their way into our ecology.  He also released 100 starlings into Central Park.  They fared a little bit better.

The starling can now be found from Alaska to Florida in flocks that may number as many as one million.  They carry disease, destroy millions of dollars in crops every year and drive indigenous species out of their natural habitat.  In 1960 a flock in Boston was so large it fouled the engines of an airliner at takeoff and caused a deadly crash.  They have also defied decades of attempts to curb their numbers.   Starlings are the extreme edge of Darwinism.

It might have been a lot better if Hotspur had mentioned a parrot.