Resources for Birders
Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a great home to birds, both migratory and year-round residents. To experience the Garden is to also bear witness to the swamp sparrows splashing in the Native Flora Garden, a great blue heron skimming the surface of the Water Garden, or the birdsong emanating from the tree canopies of the Woodland Garden. At Brooklyn Botanic Garden, we believe everyone can be a birder—all it takes to start is just a little bit of your attention.
Below are some resources and organizations to help guide and inspire you as you learn more about our feathered friends.
Field Guides & Apps
Audubon Guide to North American Birds
Adapted from Ken Kaufman’s Lives of North American Birds, this online bird guide offers detailed photographs and illustrations, in addition to bird species facts such as diet, nesting, and feeding behavior. Additionally, each bird species has a dedicated section to Climate Vulnerability, which includes maps projecting how climate change will affect a particular species’ range.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Cornell Lab’s Online Bird Guide offers information on identification and life history of over 600 North American species. Each bird profile also has a recording of their unique songs, calls, and wing sounds. There’s both an online bird guide and an app. Also, see other Cornell resources for bird nerds below.
Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America
In addition to distribution maps and photographs, Peterson guides are known for their detailed illustrations showing unique identifying characteristics birds take on at different stages of maturity, and through the seasons.
The Sibley Guide to Birds
Along with range maps and information such as nesting and behavior, Sibley’s Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern North America includes 650 bird species and over 4,600 illustrations.
Managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, eBird is a free birding app where you can record your birding observations, photos, and sound recordings. This open-access app maintains and shares your lists with other eBird users around the globe, of which there are currently hundreds of thousands.
A joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society, iNaturalist is photo-driven app where you can upload pictures of your observations (such as a particular bird, plant, or fungus). iNaturalist helps identify what you saw using visually similar photographs from other users, as well as your location and date of observation.
Audubon New York
With 30 offices and chapters in New York alone, you won’t be far from Audubon-led birding tours and migration outings.
Founded by Virginia Rose, Birdability’s mission is to improve physical accessibility of birding locations, empower a welcoming and inclusive birding community, and introduce people with access challenges to birding. You can find accessible birding locations using their crowdsourced Birdability Map, created in partnership with the National Audubon Society.
Brooklyn Bird Club
The Brooklyn Bird Club hosts spring and fall migration walks and year-round trips welcoming birders of all levels, both locally and within the tri-state region. Brooklyn Bird Club’s newsletter, the Clapper Rail, offers articles and updates from BBC members, as well as photographs, illustrations, and field sketches.
Feminist Bird Club
For LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, and birders with disabilities, Feminist Bird Club hosts birding tours and workshops throughout New York City and its other chapters across the U.S., Canada, and U.K.
NYC Queer Birders
NYC Queer Birders was founded as a way to cultivate community and explore the natural world of New York City with LGBTQIA+ bird-lovers. Monthly birding events are hosted throughout Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan.
Asian American Birders
Birding events for Asian and all birders are hosted throughout New York City’s parks.
Queens County Birding Club
Queens County Birding Club hosts field trips for birders of all levels in parks and forests throughout Queens and the greater New York area.
Geared toward birders with some experience, the Linnaen Society hosts lectures and leads field trips to parks and wildlife hotspots throughout the tri-state area.
While Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Prospect Park are great places to spot birds, there are abundant bird habitats and landscapes just a subway or bike ride away.
Birding by Subway
NY Audubon’s downloadable map shows birding hotspots that are accessible by subway and bus. Each birding stop includes descriptions on where to enter, and some bird species you might find.
Birding at NYC Parks
New York City’s public parks provide places to bird across the five boroughs. You can find yellow-billed cuckoos in Forest Park, black-capped chickadees in Staten Island’s Greenbelt, and American woodcocks in Pelham Bay Park’s Meadow.
For Bird Nerds
What are bird beaks are made of? How do migrating geese survive hail storms? A collaboration between Seattle Audubon and Western Washington Public Radio, Birdnote Daily covers a wide range bird-related topics, from mating habits, to nest-building.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers an online resource rich in the latest bird research, education, and conservation.
Cornell Lab also has Bird Academy, which offers online courses where you can learn a wide range of birding subjects and virtually drop into open lectures.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Handbook of Bird BiologyEdited by Irby J. Lovette and John W. Fitzpatrick, 3rd Edition (Wiley, 2016)
The Handbook of Bird Biology is an essential reference covering bird conservation and communities, diversity and classification, and physiology.
Stories of Birds and Birders
“Drew Lanham: Pathfinding Through the Improbable” (On Being)
In this episode, host Krista Tippet interviews Dr. J. Drew Lanham, ornithologist, author, and alumni distinguished professor of wildlife ecology at Clemson University. For Lanham, birding is closely connected to memory, landscape, history, and legacy—a practice both deeply scientific and deeply personal.
Your Bird Story
Created and hosted by Georgia Silvera Seamans of Washington Square Park Eco Projects, Your Bird Story is a broadcast of everyday people’s interactions and relationships with wild birds in cities.
Nests, Eggs, and Nestlings of North American BirdsPaul J. Baicich and Colin J.O. Harrison (Princeton University Press, 2005)
Nests, Eggs, and Nestlings is a species-by-species guide to the breeding biology of birds, with information on nest construction and habitat, breeding season, eggs and incubation, and illustrations to assist with identification.
Spring and Fall Migration in New York City
New York City is situated directly in the Atlantic Flyway, the migration corridor used by birds in the spring and fall seasons. Here, NYC Parks & Recreation lists common migratory birds and where they can be found, and tips on keeping them safe during their stay.
With charts and maps using weather surveillance radar data, BirdCast predicts and monitors the real-time nocturnal migration of birds across the country.
Most migrating birds, especially songbird species, make their journeys at night and risk confusion and collisions from light pollution. Audubon’s Lights Out program is a national effort to persuade building owners and managers to shut off excess bright lighting during migration season.
A World on the Wing: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds
Scott Weidensaul (W.W. Norton & Company, 2021)
Ornithologist Scott Weidensaul illuminates the immense scale at which birds exceed physical limits, accomplishing navigational and physiological feats with exceptional endurance, and the urgent work that needs to be done to protect these extraordinary species.