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

The Purple Martins are Coming

Purple Martins will start arriving in New York in early April.  If you have an existing Purple Martin house now is the time to open it up. 

male and female Purple Martins

Female (left) and male Purple Martins.

If you are new to being a Purple Martin landlord you should start by reviewing the Purple Martin section of this site.  You will find information on selecting a good martin house and the keys to properly locating and managing the martin house.  You should not put up a martin house unless you are willing to spend the time to manage it.  A key to making this easy is to select a pole mounting system that makes it easy to monitor the nest boxes and to remove the nests of species such as the House Sparrow.

 We invite you to come back often.  The home page is updated every week.

New York Tourism site - good for birders

Surprising to many, New York is a great state for birders.  The vast array of habitats supports a great variety of birds.  Colorful birds such as warblers, tanagers and orioles inhabit local woodlands. New York's Adirondack State Park is larger than Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier and the Grand Canyon combined.  

The official New York Tourism site provides a great deal of information for visitors looking to explore the state.

Quick Hits

If you are trying to attract Purple Martins for the first time, you can try playing the martin Dawn Song.  More information is available on the web site.  

Learn about the Rose-breasted Grosbeak.
rose-breasted grosbeak

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the secret to bird migration?

Great question! Many studies have tried to come up with the answer, or answers, to this question and the complete story is still unknown.

Migratory birds have a remarkable ability to migrate to often-distant winter homes and then to find their way back to breeding areas each year. Their travels may take them halfway around the world, along convoluted paths, through storms, and over mountains and oceans. Yet most migrants manage to make the trip, following the same path each year with remarkable consistency. Some bird banding stations have captured the same bird in the same location one or more years apart, even after the bird has traveled hundreds or even thousands of miles.

Arctic Tern

Arctic Tern

Some Arctic Terns make a round trip each year from above the Arctic Circle to the Antarctic and back again. In some cases they travel 25,000 miles in a single year.

To migrate successfully, birds need an internal map to give them an idea of their current position and a compass to keep them moving in the direction of their destination.  Try this mind game to see how you would fare.

Mind game...
Imagine that it is fall. You are blindfolded and placed in an airplane. The plane lands and you are dropped off somewhere near the border of Canada and the United States. Your blindfold is removed and you are left in the middle of nowhere, on your own to find food and shelter. No one has told you that it is going to become colder and no one has told you that heading south (whatever that means) will take you to a warmer location with more food. What would you do to survive?

If you are lucky, you are a tiny bird, perhaps weighing less than a quarter. Your parents taught you a few songs and which bugs to eat, but the most remarkable knowledge they gave you happened before you hatched from your tiny egg. You were born with the instinct to react to shorter days. You know the best chance for survival is to travel in a specific direction and you have some idea as to how far to travel. This is a remarkable and powerful gift of instinctive knowledge from your parents.

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.