- Directions: numerous access points served by several subway and bus lines. Go to the MTA and Central Park Conservancy websites.
Central Park needs no introduction. This 843 acre urban green space offers not only human residents a break from city life, but also provides habitat for at least 836 plant and animal species, according to a 2003 BioBlitz report. The park is considered one of the best birding locations in the country, with 275 bird species recorded since it was constructed.
Created by Fredrick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux between 1858 and 1871, Central Park runs roughly through the center of Manhattan – from 59th Street to 110th Street, between 5th Avenue and Central Park West.
Though the land was once a swamp, its creators and subsequent managers crafted numerous habitats including meadows, hills, a reservoir, lakes, ponds, streams, and wildflower gardens amongst the exposed bedrock and huge boulders that indicate the area’s glacial history. And if that’s not enough, the park also has formal gardens and a zoo.
The hardest part about visiting Central Park is not when to go — any time of the year is great — but where! Some suggested locations include the Ramble, Central Park Lake, the Turtle Pond, and the Meer. Or stop by the model boat pond and visit with the birders keeping watch for Pale Male, the city’s famous Red-tailed Hawk.
But even if you don’t have time for a long walk through the park, just a short visit in areas with heavy pedestrian traffic is worthwhile. Relax on a park bench to listen for White-throated Sparrows calling out over the noise of people, and to watch American Robins running along the lawn looking for lunch as Eastern Gray Squirrels romp through fallen leaves.
And who says New York City is stressful?!
- The Central Park Conservancy, accessed on April 14, 2009 at: http://www.centralparknyc.org.
- Field Guide to the Natural World of New York City by Leslie Day, published 2007 by Johns Hopkins University Press.
- The New York City Audubon Society Guide to Finding Birds in the Metropolitan Area by Marcia T. Fowle and Paul Kerlinger, published 2001 by Cornell University Press.
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