watching_birds-photo Watching, Attracting and Feeding Birds in New York
with Sam Crowe

Bird feeders

There are many different kinds of bird feeders. You can make your own or purchase one of the many different commercial brands. Some feeders are more suited for one species over another and some are more for decoration than actual use.

A simple platform feeder is a good way to start and attracts a variety of different species. A long narrow platform can accommodate several birds at once and minimizes contamination of the feeding area. Place only as much seed on the platform as is being consumed in a day or two. A platform feeder can be placed low, near the ground or higher on a pole or tree.

White-throated Sparrow.

White-throated Sparrow.

Feeding birds can be a very simple process. This White-throated Sparrow was attracted by homemade suet (a mix of peanut butter and cornmeal) spread on a tree branch.


Birding Rockefeller State Park Preserve

Rockefeller State Park Preserve is only 30 miles from New York City.  The park has a bird list of  180 species and is a designated IBA (Important Bird Area) by the Audubon Society.  The area features 22 acre Swan Lake, several walking trails, a dedicated bird feeder area and the Rockefeller Art Gallery.  Guided bird walks are sometimes offered.

Birding Quick Hits

Cats kill millions of birds each year.  Please keep your cat indoors, good for the birds and good for a healthier cat. Learn more at the American Bird Conservancy Cats Indoors web site.  l

Learn about the American Bittern.
American Bittern

Frequently Asked Questions

What is melanism?

Melanism is caused by an excessive amount of melanin. Melanin is a dark pigment that is found in the feathers of birds. Melanistic birds are, therefore, birds that are darker than normal for a given species.

Hawks and falcons often have melanistic color phases. The melanistic phase of a Red-tailed Hawk is commonly called a Harlan's Hawk and was once considered a separate species.

The melanin pigment also increases the strength of feathers. Many species of gulls and terns have black tips on the ends of their wing feathers. The melanin that causes the dark coloration also provides extra durability for the feather tips.

Bird identification

Learning to identify the birds you see is a fun and rewarding experience.  If you are a novice at identifying birds we have several options for you.

50 common New York birdsNifty Fifty Guides:  Our Nifty Fifty Guide to the Birds of New York is available on-line and in print.   It contains 25 common backyard birds and 25 additional common birds found in New York.  Purchase the print version.

The online version is shown below. Click on a corner to turn the page. has multiple resources for identifying a bird you have seen as well as information on improving your identification skills.   You can also send us an image on the web site and we will try to identify it for you.