* These species can be found on the street rather than just in parks 

American Robin     Turdus migratorius

The robin is a very common bird, usually seen on the ground in large groups of robins foraging for worms. However, they can also be spotted in trees. Their eggs are a very distinct pale turquoise color. Male robins have mainly a dark gray tail, back, primaries, secondaries, nape, crown, and face, with a white eye ring and a  red- orange breast and belly. The bill is a bright orange yellow color. They are usually about 10" long with a 17" wingspan.  

Seen very often in all parts of Central Park, on the ground and in trees. 

Barn Swallow     Hirundo rustica

Barn Swallows are fairly common. Their nests, little caves made of mud, are almost always built on a man made structure like under a bridge or roof. They forage for insects over open fields and ponds.  They have small whiskers near the sides of their bill, which help them catch insects. They have a blue crest, nape, back, and forked tail, with a red face and throat and pale breast and belly. 

In Manhattan, swallows are most likely to be found in a park, over a pond or field area. 

Blue Jay    Cyanocitta cristata

A very common bird, seen in both small groups (2-3 birds) and larger groups during migration. Often in trees, but can be found on the ground foraging for acorns and seeds. Jays are closely related to crows and ravens so they make a similar shrill, almost prehistoric sounding "squaw" noise. Their coloring makes 
them very distinct, they have a bright blue crest and throat, nape and scapulars, with white tips on secondaries and black tips on primaries. Black tail and "necklace" and white face and belly. They are about 11" long and have a 16" wingspan. 

Seen in great numbers in trees in Central Park. Many were gathered in tall trees near Shakespeare Garden calling to each other. 

Canada Goose   Branta canadensis

Common bird that is usually in large flocks. Can be found in a lot of different places, not necessarily always near water. A strong indicator of their presence is the huge amount of poop that they leave behind. They have a long black neck and black tail, white cheek, breast, and under tail coverts. The rest of the body (the majority) is a light brown. They usually measure around 25- 45" with a wingspan of 43-60". 

Can be found in Central Park, in the Lake and in Turtle Pond. 

Common Grackle   Quiscalus quiscula

The Common Grackle is what its name suggests; common. It can be easily found due to its loud, shrill, call, a k-shee noise. It is relatively large for a city bird, and is basically all dark. It has a shiny dark blue head and wings and belly with a dark purple and green tinge, while he tail is completely black. They are usually about 12.5" long and 17" long. 

While Grackles are common, they are rarely found in the concrete parts of the city. Rather they are abundant in parks and wooded areas like that. There are many living around the reservoir in Central Park. 

Double Crested Cormorant   Phalocrocorax auritus

The Double Crested Cormorant is a common water bird. It is usually found on many different types of open bodies of water, from ponds to the ocean. Cormorants can be solitary or in large flocks. They roost on tree branches, raised posts and rocks, and sandbars. Often, they can be seen standing still with their wings open, drying their feathers. For food, they dive for fish. They are usually around 33" long with a wingspan of 52". 

Cormorants can be seen at the Reservoir in Central Park. 

European Starling   Sturnus vulgaris *

This is a very common bird throughout the entire city. These small brown birds do not shy away from humans. They gather in large flocks in trees and on the ground, where they forage for seeds and insects as well as the urban equivalent, crumbs. Their appearance differs greatly during the breeding and non- breeding seasons. While breeding (December- August) they are darker and have more uniform, solid colors. During the non breeding season (September- Februaury) they are more speckled and have a lighter face. They are about 8.5" long and have a wingspan of 16".

Starlings can be seen in both a wooded habitat like Central Park as well as in a tree on a Manhattan street, or a sidewalk, street, or gutter.

House Sparrow   Passer domesticus *

This sparrow is extremely common, more so in cities than in the "wild".  Often uses man made shelters to build nests- in bird houses, building cracks, pipes, streetlights, etc. Usually in large flocks and can be most often found looking for crumbs and food handouts where there are a lot of people, parking lots, popular parks, bus stops, outdoor restaurants, etc. They have a reddish brown nape and back, grey tail, crown, and belly, and white cheek. A dark brown spot on the throat and chest is a defining characteristic of this species.  They can be about 6" long and have a wingspan of 9.5". 

This sparrow can be found all over Manhattan, but as stated earlier, mostly in places where there is a lot of human traffic. In the park, they are usually near benches, and on the street, they are usually near restaurants, bus stops, and trash. 

House Wren   Cistothorus palustris

House Wrens are tiny and are usually found under bushes in brushy areas. They often make loud 'chip' notes while foraging. Its main color is brown, with dark barring on tail, under tail covert, and wings. The rest of its body is a solid pale brown.

In Manhattan, they can be found in Central Park under and around bushes, in areas that are less populated with humans.

Mallard   Anas platyrhynchos

This is a common and very familiar duck to most people. It is found in most shallow bodies of water, both natural and maintained. They can be in pairs or small flocks, or in large flocks depending on the location. The males have a bright green face, head and neck, with a white band around the lower part of the neck. They have a distinct brown patch on the lower part of the neck and breast. The majority of the body is pale grey, with black upper tail coverts and primaries, and blue and white secondaries. The females are mainly brown with blue and white secondaries. They are usually about 23" long with a wingspan of 35".

They can be seen in many bodies of water in Central Park, namely Turtle Pond, The Lake, The Reservoir, and The Harlem Meer. 

Northern Cardinal   Cardinalis cardinalis

The Northern Cardinal is an extremely distinct bird, due to its bright red color, its red bill, and its striking crest. It is usually found in brushy areas around the edges of woods. It is usually in pairs or small groups and does not migrate, so it can be found year round. It main diet is seeds fruit and insect larvae. Cardinals are usually about 9" long and have a wingspan of 12". 

It is very uncommon to see a Northern Cardinal outside of a park. Observed in Central Park, it was always in trees.

Red Tailed Hawk   Buteo jamaicensis

The red tailed hawk is uncommon around the city. It perches at high points; on trees or poles. Nests in tall areas near open areas to hunt in. Usually eats small mammals. The most distinctive feature of this hawk is the red- orange tail. It also has a pale breast, belly, and underside of wings. Its back, nape, and crown are dark brown, while the face is light brown. Like most raptors, it has a hooked beak, used for ripping apart prey.  They are usually about 19" long with a 49" wingspan. 

The most famous red- tailed hawk in Manhattan is the Pale Male, a male hawk who has nested around Central park since 1991. He is one of the first red tailed hawks to make his nest on a building rather than in a tree. The building he chose was 927 Fifth Avenue, a very expensive apartment building across the street from Central Park, and home to Mary Tyler Moore.  His nest has spawned controversy as well as many hatchlings over the years, and it remains it its original location today, twenty years after it was first built. He is now with his eighth mate, losing the previous seven over the years due to ingestion of poison pigeons, car accidents, or in one case, the September 11th Attacks. It is common to see many birders gathered around the Model Boat Pond in Central Park with large scopes, observing Pale Male's nest. Since Pale Male started gaining attention, more red tails have been found to be living in Manhattan. In a 2007 Audubon Society commissioned study, there were 32 red tailed hawk nests counted throughout the city. Pale Male is often seen around Central Park, and the Upper East and West sides. 

Photos of a Red Tail (not Pale Male) attempting to swim in the Reservoir:

Red- winged Blackbird   Agelaius phoeniceus

The red- winged blackbird is the most commonly seen black bird. It usually nests and roosts in marshland or brushy areas. It searches for seeds and invertebrates in open fields in large flocks. An adult male is very distinctive, it is mostly black with a red and yellow stripe on its secondary coverts. 

Red Winged Blackbirds can be found around Turtle Pond and Belvedere Castle in Central Park. 

Ring-billed Gull     Larus delawarensis

This is a commonly seen bird and one of the most common gulls. They gather anywhere from lakes to oceans and around restaurants and city parks, looking for scraps. On sea water, they eat seafood such as crabs and other shellfish, and can be very aggressive when looking for food and will steal food from each other. Adults have pale blue grey back and white breast, belly, and head, with brown speckled neck, black primaries, and a black ring around their bill. 

They can be found in large flocks on the Reservoir in Central Park. 

Rock Dove    Columba livia *

Also known as the Pigeon, this is one of the most common birds in New York City and the world. They can be found in trees, lamp posts, building ledges, and streets. In general they are grey, with black stripes on tips of wings and tail. They have a dark grey head and a shiny purple- turquoise neck. They can also be completely dark grey, brown, or white and grey.  They are usually in small flocks and when taking off, the wings make a soft hooting noise. They are usually 12.5" long and have a wingspan of 28". 

Rock doves are very common in cities and can be found in almost any part of Manhattan. They can be foraging on the ground for seeds or crumbs, sitting on a branch or telephone pole, or flying overhead. They have a reputation for being dirty and nicknames that play off of that, such as 'rats with wings'. For the most part, this reputation is accurate, so they should not be touched or picked up. 

White Throated Sparrow    Zonotrichia albicollis

The white throated sparrow is a very common sparrow and can be found in bushes and near openings in woods. It can be found in flocks with the house sparrow and has a striking white throat and supercilium. It can have contrasting crown stripes of brown and yellow or brown and white. Overall, its body is reddish brown. 

It can be found wherever there are house sparrows, either in bushy areas around Central Park, and sometimes on streets and sidewalks looking for crumbs. 


* These species can be found on the street rather than just in parks