That's a Warbler, Maybe: Amateur Spring Birding in Inwood Hill Park

Note: This post from 2014 should get you in the mood for bird watching. In March of 2023, I launched Birds of Inwood.

In the thick green forests of Inwood Hill Park on Sunday, a splendid New York spring day suitable for most anything, I tried my best to find and take pictures of uncommon birds. This week in May is best for spring birding, migratory and otherwise.

In the morning and afternoon I hiked the high thickets and valleys of the park. Along the southern rim, the section of high woods just north of Dyckman Street, amazing little birds appeared in abundance. I snapped pictures of Black and White Warblers, an American Redstart, a Yellow-rumped Warbler, a couple of Baltimore Orioles, an Orchard Oriole, a Swainson's Thrush, a few Northern Cardinals, several loud Blue Jays, and a ton of Chipping Sparrows. Later, below at the water's edge, I saw many shorebirds. At a local school near the entrance of the park, a Red-tailed Hawk perched on its favorite rooftop satellite dish (note 2018: The dish has been trashed, but the hawk still visits the old pole).

Compared to the regular birders in the park, I am an amateur of the first class. I'm not even sure I correctly identified the birds listed above. I did use a beginner's app, namely Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Merlin Bird ID App to make a few identifications. I then double-checked these birds later, and even for this specific location, against the more experienced birder lists on eBird. While I had the phone out, I also used Google Maps to make sure I wasn't completely lost in the woods.

While walking north and south, I kept my bearings by locating the morning sun to my east. Call me old-fashioned. Though a novice birder, I am somewhat adept at walking, even if much of my experience tends toward the city's streets and boulevards. I do know my east and west, and I'm aware of the location of the Hudson River. On this sunny Sunday afternoon, most people were out to experience the pleasure of walking in the woods and to enjoy high views of the river, the George Washington Bridge, and The Cloisters.

As with most weekend wilderness experiences in New York City, brunch is usually nearby. Recommendations here are noted on map. File under "Roughing it in New York."

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from Sunday, May 11, 2014. I'll let the birders amongst you identify the birds in the pictures above. (Hint: clicking on the pictures make them bigger.)

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