• Robert DeCandido PhD

Jamaica Bay!

Updated: Feb 28


19 June 2019

Bird Notes: This Saturday (22 June) we are headed to the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens, meeting at 10:00am at the Visitors' Center (free admission to JBWR; walk is $10/person). Getting there from Manhattan is easy - a NYC transit bus (the Q52+) stops right outside the Visitors' Center. Further details below and/or email us if you need more info etc.



Summertime...and Central Park birding is easy! Too easy some would say as we have to make due with Great Crested Flycatchers, Cedar Waxwings and nesting Tree Swallows + the usual Robins, Cardinals, Woodpeckers, etc. Our first southbound migrants will be here in early July if/when we get overnite winds from the northwest. In late June 2017, we had a male (singing) Kentucky Warbler in the Ramble...so one never knows. Generally we define southbound migrants as those that don't sing...that Kentucky male in late June sang +/- continuously suggesting he was wandering about looking for a mate. This Saturday at Jamaica Bay, there will be lots of species we don't see in June in Central Park: nesting Yellow Warblers and American Redstarts to Oystercatchers and Terns.


Black-bellied Whistling Ducks at Nickerson Beach (LI) by Deborah Allen on 17 June 2019


In this week's Historical Notes, the focus is on Jamaica Bay since we are headed there on Saturday. We present (1) an 1888 piece on hunting birds at Jamaica Bay and the Rockaways; (2) a 1900 article on the rare Great Egret and Snowy Egret at Jamaica Bay and the nearby Rockaways; (3) a 1908 piece on the Alien License Law to prevent immigrants from illegally hunting native birds such as in the Rockaways of Queens/Brooklyn; and finally, (4) a long article from 1959 summarizing the history and creation of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.


American Redstart by Deborah Allen at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Sanctuary on 17 June 2019


Good! The Bird Walks for mid-late June

All Walks $10/person

Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/ya65n5a8

1. Saturday, 22 June at 10am - the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Reserve in Queens. Meet at the Visitors' Center (has bathrooms; air-con and drinking water - opens at 9am/718-318-4340) at 10am yes 10am. We will be staying on paved and well-worn paths. We are not planning on muddy walking so it is fine to wear walking shoes. Do bring mosquito repellent and sunscreen.

See the MTA web site for directions: https://tinyurl.com/4xjne4p

-- Type in as your destination: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Reserve

-- Your starting point could be the 59th street Lexington Ave station.

If so, this is what you will see:

From 59TH ST - LEXINGTON AV (TOWARDS QUEENS) take N/R/W trains Take the FOREST HILLS-71ST AV bound Train departing at 8:17 AM Get off at WOODHAVEN BLVD STATION M/R at 8:42 AM Walk 0.1 miles (2 minutes) West to HOFFMAN DR & WOODHAVEN BLVD Take the +SELECT BUS ARVERNE B. 54 ST via WOODHAVEN BL via CRO bound Q52+ Bus departing at 8:55 AM Get off at CROSS BAY BLVD & WILDLIFE REFUGE at 9:27 AM


2.***Sunday, 23 June at 7:30am/9:30am - Boathouse Cafe = 74th st/East Drive (Central Park)

*** On mornings when two walks are scheduled, you can do both walks for $10/person. So you get two for one. OR you can do either the early walk or the second walk for $10/person.



Any questions send them our way: rdcny@earthlink.net or call: 718-828-8262 (home)


Cedar Waxwing at Jamaica Bay by Deborah Allen on 17 June 2019

The fine print: On Sundays starting June 23 through November, our walks meet at 7:30am and again at 9:30am at the Boathouse Restaurant (approx. 74th street and the East Drive). Please note: the Boathouse is not one of the buildings that surround the nearby Model Boat Pond - people make this mistake all the time!.

Our home phone is 718-828-8262...and Deborah's cell is: 347-703-5554. Email is above (rdcny@earthlink.net). If you are lost and trying to get to the bird walk, call Deborah's cell phone...but remember on weekends there will be 2-3 other people calling who are also lost - please be patient! If in doubt about whether a walk will take place or not the morning of the walk: check the main landing page of this web site as well as the "Schedule" page - if the walk is cancelled, information will be posted there by 6am the day of the walk, and usually by 11pm the night before. If still confused and as a last resort, call us at home - if no one answers it means we left for the bird walk! We end all our Central Park walks (except Fridays) at the Boathouse at about noon; you can get a cup of coffee and a muffin there (around $6 total). Walks last about 3 hrs (less if hot or rainy), and you can leave at anytime - we won't be offended. If you need directions/help to your next destination, just ask someone on the walk - we are a helpful group.


Common Tern by Deborah Allen, 4 June 2018 at Nickerson Beach (LI)


Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)


Friday, 14 June (Conservatory Garden/105th street and 5th Avenue at 9am) - We managed five warbler species today...how, I don't know! Common Yellowthroat (a lone male; the female from last Friday could not be re-located today so these warblers are not likely nesting at the Wildflower Meadow); Northern Parula; American Redstart; a singing Ovenbird; and a Blackpoll Warbler. On the other hand, we could not find Red-eyed Vireos: a pair usually nests in the area of the Great Hill.

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Friday, 14 June: https://tinyurl.com/yxq4adrp


first-year male Orchard Oriole near its nest at NYBG (Bronx) by Deborah Allen on 15 June 2019

Saturday, 15 June (New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx at 9:45am) - the first of our Saturday excursions brought us to the Bronx. We located an Orchard Oriole nest (first-year male - see Deborah's photo above) at 7:30am and we were happy to show the group at 10am. Other good birds included (only) one pair of Yellow Warblers; Wood Thrush; nesting Eastern Phoebes (two pairs) under Boulder Bridge (perhaps the only location in NYC where E. Phoebes nest); a family of White-breasted Nuthatches...and not on Deborah's list were the native wildflowers Dr. Andy Greller was able to ID for us: Squaw-Root; Yellow-eyed Grass (an Iris); Whorled Loosestrife; Round-leaved Pyrola - and more. Thank You to Oona (8 years) and her Dad, Dan, for help with the flora and the birds.

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Saturday, 15 June: https://tinyurl.com/y4zh52sv

Scarlet Tanager in Central Park on the 16 June Bird Walk by Deborah Allen

Sunday, 16 June (Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe at 74th st and the East Drive at 7:30am/9:30am) - I have to remember that this is June and this is Central Park: reduced expectations are the norm...and then I'll be happy with Cardinals, Flickers, etc. We did have some good birds: the Scarlet Tanager male Deborah found at 8am was magnificent - see Deborah's photo above; and for the second (9:30am walk), the nesting Tree Swallows at Turtle Pond were amazing in their own right.

Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Sunday, 16 June: https://tinyurl.com/y3qqr2g5


Osprey in flight at Oceanside (LI) on 25 June 2011



HISTORICAL NOTEs



SNAP SHOTS [1888]. A CONDITION of things is reported to exist on Long Island near New York which certainly calls for action on the part of the Long Island game protector. The Rockaway Rod and Gun Club control six miles of territory between Jamaica Bay and the ocean, the land being posted according to law. This land and that adjoining it is daily overrun by gunners, said to come mainly from New York and Brooklyn, who slaughter the song birds now on their spring migration from the south. Not the slightest regard is paid to the law: highholders [Flickers], robins, meadowlarks, song birds generally and small snipe are killed here every day and in the most open manner. The principal day for this shooting is Sunday, when the woods and fields are overrun with a horde of city gunners who destroy everything that has feathers. These law breakers pay no attention to the signs of the club warning off gunners and trespassers except that occasionally they use them as targets and shoot them down. Efforts have been made by the Rockaway club to induce the local constable to do his duty in the matter of protecting their property, but he makes no arrests, and it is freely asserted that he fears violence at the hands of the shooters. This is a shameful condition of things, and the Long Island game protector ought to do what is necessary in the matter without delay. The abominable killing of migrating song birds was checked last year, and it is a shame that it should have broken out again this spring.



Notes on Birds of Long Island (1900). Ardea egretta [Great Egret] and A. candidissima [Snowy Egret]. It is a pleasure to note that both 'White Herons' are still entitled to notice among the present avifauna of Long Island, notwithstanding the continued persecution to which both species throughout the entire limits of their range have been of late years subjected, and the consequent diminution in their numbers. Their persistent occurrence on Long Island in spite of their decline in numbers is rather remarkable and may he regarded as denoting that Long Island is an attractive feeding ground for this genus of birds. It may also be that there exists an instinct affecting certain individuals leading them to migrate in the autumn in a direction contrary to that of the species as a whole, or, that the genus is simply prone to a wandering, restless disposition. Since Mr. Dutcher's note on the former was published nothing, I think, has appeared to show that either of the birds now nest on Long Island, and it seems questionable whether the birds have nested so far north since the prevailing demand for their plumes first began. Late occurrences of the two species are as follows: During the autumn of 1897 several "White Herons" were noted about the shores of Jamaica Bay, Queen's County, by several observers from whom I heard of them. Chas. Ward, a gunner of Rockaway Beach, shot several on or about October 1, one of which was merely wing-tipped. This bird was preserved alive for some time, in which condition I saw it on October 9, it having then been in captivity about a week or ten days. The bird was confined in a boat builder's shop where its unnatural surroundings affected it unfavorably, as it appeared drooping and sick. It proved to be a specimen of the American Egret, Ardea egretta. A flock of Snowy Herons, A. candidissima comprising six or seven individuals, was seen on the salt meadows near East Rockaway in mid-August this year (1899). Two of these, which were wing-tipped, are now in the possession of Mr. Daniel DeMott of East Rockaway. They are at present in apparently excellent condition, established in roomy, comfortable quarters, with out-door run and with in-door shelter. Mr. DeMott recalls having seen "White Herons" in his locality fifteen years ago, but none since until the present summer. He writes: "The two which I now have would eat from my hand a week or two after their capture. I now have them in a yard enclosed in wire netting with a coop eight feet high attached. I notice they sit in the uppermost part of the coop most of the time during the day unless called out to be fed; but when night comes they will leave the coop and sit in the open yard until morning.” The chief food of the herons is small fish, with which they are kept abundantly supplied. Mr. DeMott bas several other wild birds quartered in separate enclosures, including Black-bellied Plovers, Turnstones, and one Golden Plover, all in apparently excellent condition and comprising in all a decidedly interesting natural history exhibit. WILLIAM C. BRAISLIN, M.D., Brooklyn, N.Y.


Greater Yellowlegs - August 2016 at Brigantine (Forsythe) National Wildlife Refuge, NJ


Alien License Law [1908]. Apropos of the discussion now going on in several states in regard to license laws, it may be noted that, as might be expected, the strongest reason for a high alien license is furnished by the actions of aliens themselves. The most important feature of the license is not revenue (though that has its importance and is equitable), but the fact that it restricts many aliens (largely Italians) from hunting at all, and enables wardens to more easily investigate the hunting done by those who continue to go gunning.

Coming from a country devoid of appreciation of the economic value of birds, and where the smallest of feathered creatures are considered legitimate prey and food for man, Italians are strongly inclined to shoot the song birds of this country, as the most easily secured dainty to add to a none too varied larder. Despite the plea that has been made for them by some of the newspapers, viciousness, quite as much as ignorance of the law, is shown by these aliens, as evinced by frequent assaults on wardens who are enforcing the laws. The case of game warden, Daniel Edwards, of Beacon Falls, Conn., whose face was filled with shot by an Italian violator of the game law, is still fresh in mind. This is perhaps, the most atrocious case, but the news items coming into the National Association office contain very many accounts of lesser assaults and threatened assaults on wardens.

Some months since, one of our special wardens, an enthusiastic bird student and earnest protectionist, was trying to check some of the violations he had frequently witnessed on his outing trips near New York. On September 14, last, he "found an Italian, at Rockaway Beach, about one and one-half miles from the railroad station, using two wounded Semi-palmated Sandpipers as decoys. I told him that he was violating the law, but he pretended not to understand me. I picked up one of the struggling birds, when he said, in fairly good English,'let go, or I shoot!' I walked toward him holding the bird behind me, intending to explain the case to him. We were then about ten or fifteen yards apart. He discharged one barrel of his gun, intending, I believe, to scare me. Although most of the shot went wild, four pellets lodged in my right leg, below the knee. Seeing that he had hit me, he turned and ran, with his bag, in the direction of Jamaica Bay, where there are numerous small houses. I tried to follow him, but my leg inconvenienced me and I was soon out-distanced. Returning to the beach, I killed the remaining bird, having killed the other while talking to the Italian. I then removed two of the pellets, being unable to dislodge the other two, as the calf of my leg was already inflamed. I hurried home and dressed my leg, removing the other two shot next morning. I have been to Rockaway twice since then but I have not encountered my assailant again."

An alien license, high enough to be almost prohibitive, in all states where aliens are found in numbers (which means almost every state in the Union), is one of the most important measures of game legislation, not only in the interests of the preservation of game, but also for the better safe-guarding of life and limb of the wardens. B. S. BOWDISH.


Semi-palmated Plover at Pelham Bay Park (Bronx) in August 2017


June 28 [1959]. Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, N. Y.

We assembled at the parking field at Cross Bay Boulevard and found a really cosmopolitan group - some of whom were for the birds. Since this is a sanctuary and the place is always alive with shorebirds, terns and skimmers. We elected to visit the heronry and the tern colony first. We had fine views of these interesting birds and found the nests of terns and green herons. In covering the area we noted the continuing changes in the ecology, from salt marsh to fresh water ponds, the result of diking and impounding works. Outside the dike is salt marsh, with marsh pink (Sabatia stellaris), marsh fleabane (Pulchea camphorata), and glasswort (Salicornia sp.) as common plants, while inside the dike we now have [the orchid] ladies tresses (Spiranthles cernua), willow herb (Epilobium sp.) and hardhack (Spirea tomentosa) taking hold. There's an easy air of friendliness on Torrey Club trips that this leader enjoys. Everyone had a nice day and a few of us learned a thing or two with Jim Murphy along, who wouldn't! Attendance 30. Leader, E. J. Whelen.



THE JAMAICA BAY BIRD SANCTUARY [1959]

Emanuel “Manny” Levine

The date is May 1st, 1958. The time is 7:00 P. M. Standing on the north shore of a large fresh-water pond are four bird-watchers. In the back of them, one can see the skyscrapers of Manhattan. All four observers had spent the day in that morass of concrete and steel, engaged in their various bread winning tasks. Now they had binoculars and telescopes trained on seventeen spinning, whirling Phalaropes. The final tally proved to be fifteen Red Phalaropes and two Northern Phalaropes. According to other observers, the highest count during that day had been thirty-five Phalaropes at any one time.

While searching for more Phalaropes on the southern end of the pond, one of the party called attention, gleefully, to a European Teal, (pardon me, a Common Teal according to the new AOU Checklist - a change I do not think I will ever get used to). This rare visitor to our shores was in with a little group of Green-winged Teal. Also on the pond were Blue-winged Teal, Black Duck, Ruddy Duck, and some lingering Bufflehead, which had not yet departed for more northern climes.

Stalking their watery prey on the margins of the pond were several Common and Snowy Egrets.

A Green Heron had flapped away uttering an indignant "quawk," when they had taken their positions at the pond's edge.

Overhead, a Nighthawk rubbed wing coverts with several Tree Swallows, both species engaged in feasting on airborne insects.

Had more daylight been left, they no doubt would have gone searching for migrating warblers in the willow trees on the west side of the pond. But since the light was rapidly fading, these four reluctantly folded up their tripods, and stole away.

Several days later, a Wilson's Phalarope obligingly entered the same pond to complete the list of Phalaropes and a Glossy Ibis dropped in to keep company with the egrets.

Where is this avian paradise in sight of the Manhattan skyline?

I have chosen the above paragraphs to introduce you to the Jamaica Bay Bird Sanctuary.

Jamaica Bay consists of some 18,000 acres of water, marsh and meadowland, bordered on the west and north by the Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, on the east by Nassau County, and on the south by the Rockaway Peninsula.

As far back as fifty years ago, there were plans afoot to transform this wild area into a vast industrial port and shipping terminal. Some thirty years ago, this plan still appeared on the official planning map of New York City. Fortunately, this grandiose scheme never got off the drawing board, even though now, one of the world's largest airports, The International Airport, or "Idlewild", dominates the northeastern portion of the bay area.

There were also plans to turn Jamaica Bay into the dumping grounds for the refuse and garbage of New York City's millions, to actually create a huge garbage island. This plan was also scrapped.

Probably the individual most responsible for the Jamaica Bay Bird Sanctuary as we now know the area, is Mr. Robert Moses, Commissioner of the New York City Park Department. Mr. Moses also holds several other positions that have to do with the park systems and public works throughout the State of New York, and has always been in the forefront in the never ending battle to conserve our natural resources. The formal presentation of his plan for Jamaica Bay is dated July 1st, 1938. Work toward the full realization of this plan, is still going on right now, 20 years later.


Laughing Gull at Brigantine (Forsythe) in New Jersey in August 2011


The Jamaica Bay Bird Sanctuary, that part with which we are concerned, was officially opened in the Spring of 1951. Mr. Herbert Johnson was in charge, and he is still the man in charge of an area encompassing some 12,000 acres.

Mr. Johnson, incidentally, is a horticulturist by training. By his own admission, four years ago, he usually gave no more than a passing glance to even the more striking birds which entered his domain. Now, however, you are sure to find a pair of 7x50's in the cab of Mr. Johnson's light truck, as he makes his ceaseless rounds taking care of his numerous daily chores. The ornithological bug bit, and bit hard!

The heart of the sanctuary consists of two fresh-water ponds, separated by the six lane Cross Bay Boulevard, traffic artery to the Rockawavs. These ponds are simply and unromantically called East Pond and West Pond. The West Pond is approximately 40 acres and the East Pond is about 100 acres.

Both ponds were created artificially and coincidentally with the extension of the New York City subway system to the Rockaways, A huge dredging operation had to be carried out to build the necessary roadbed for the subway tracks across the Jamaica Bay. For those not familiar with the area, we hasten to explain that part of the "subway" system, runs above ground. We would also like to point out, that the creation of the ponds was not an accident, but an interrelated project.

After the ponds were "manufactured", the work of creating a sanctuary began in earnest. Huge aquatic plantings were put in, such as Eel Grass, Widgeon Grass, Musk Grass ,and Sago Pond Plant. These, of course, were to attract and feed ducks and geese. Artificial grain feeding is not resorted to except around the water traps used for the banding of waterfowl.

Beach grasses of several varieties were planted around the ponds as cover, and to thwart erosion of the sandy soil. Additional terrestrial plantings included Russian Olive, Aronia, Rosa rugosa, Rose multiflora, and Hercules Club. In the way of trees, a large number of Willows and Poplars were installed.

Growing in their native state throughout the sanctuary are large stands of Bayberry, Wild Blackberry, Wild Cherry, and Poison Ivy. And of course, as is always the case in such areas, we have the omnipresent Phragmites.

The stocking of the sanctuary with plantings is an eternal task. Mr. Johnson. and staff, maintain their own nursery for propagation and replacement of plantings. The staff of personnel varies from two to five persons, according to the season of the year.

We have above described an area which has all the makings of great bird country, but do we have the birds?

Well, as all bird students know, wild birds can read signs. No sooner than the signs, "Jamaica Bay Bird Sanctuary," went up, than in they flocked. Of course, we are taking some poetic license in this statement, but let us present some breeding data gathered over the last four years.

The Black Duck bred on the sanctuary immediately. The next year, the Ruddy Duck and the Blue-winged Teal nested within the area. In 1956, two pairs of Shoveller raised their young on the West Pond. The breeding season of 1955 brought the successful nesting of two pairs of Florida [Common] Gallinule. It is certainly to be expected that the numbers and species will increase in the following years. It is hoped that Gadwall, which have bred with varying success over the last dozen years at the Jones Beach Bird Sanctuary, will branch out to Jamaica Bay. The Jones Beach Sanctuary is approximately twenty miles east of Jamaica Bay and unfortunately is at present being allowed to "go to pot".

All in all, twenty-seven different species of ducks and geese have been recorded on sanctuary waters, including Blue Goose, Snow Goose, European Widgeon, and Common Teal. An active observer should be able to list most of these twenty-seven during his birding year.

The sanctuary also houses a considerable sized heron rookery. As regular breeders, the rookery includes Green Heron, Black-Crowned Night Heron, Yellow-Crowned Night Heron, Common Egret and Snowy Egret. The area is also visited by Little Blue Heron, Louisiana Heron, and, of course, the Great Blue Heron. A rare visitor has been the Glossy Ibis.

Special mention must be made of the breeding of a pair of Louisiana Herons in 1955, as reported by A. J. Meyerriecks in the Wilson Bulletin, Vol. 69, No. 2, June 1957.

Also worthy of special mention is the recording of Purple Gallinule on the West Pond, seen by more than a score of observers, during the first week of May 1958.

As for Rails, the normal checklist complement has been recorded in full. The Clapper Rail is an abundant breeder. The breeding status of the other rails must await an actual breeding census and study.

To this list of water and marsh birds, we then add an imposing list of shore birds. The shore birds are to be found on the margins of both ponds, as well as the tidal flats, adjacent to the West Pond. The list includes such rarities as Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Hudsonian Godwit, Marbled Godwit, American Oyster-catcher, Golden Plover, and all three Phalaropes as already pointed out. As a matter of fact, both Godwits, Ruff, and Curlew Sandpiper, have been recorded every year since the opening of the sanctuary. Those of us who can visit the area on a regular basis at the right times of the year have come to expect these birds. classing them as rare, but at the same time, regular visitors. Whether this is due to the close attention given to the area by scores of active watchers, or to other factors cannot readily be determined! Experienced observers have pointed out that it may be a mistake to put these birds in the "regular" class, as changing conditions may halt re-occurrences. This has happened many times in the East, causing unexplained absences for long period of time.

A complete listing of the shorebirds would total 32 species.


Black-bellied Whistling Duck by Deborah Allen in January 2017 in Ecuador


South of the West Pond, between the pond itself and the tidal flats mentioned previously, there is a large sand area which has been taken over by hundreds of Common Terns, Least Terns, and Black Skimmers, as a breeding ground. In addition to these, the sanctuary is visited regularly byBlack Terns, less often by Forster's and Roseates, and Royals and Caspians are rare visitors.

Did someone mention Gulls? Yes, we get them too, including Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull, Kittiwake, and Little Gull. The Herring Gull breeds on islands in Jamaica Bay which are part of the sanctuary.

So far, no mention has been made of land birds. If the reader would consult a map of the area, he would realize at once that this area, located right on a migration flyway, is a sort of "oasis" both during the spring and fall migrations. Just to give a sampling of the diversity of land birds, we chose such migrants as Prothonotary Warbler, Connecticut Warbler, Blue Grosbeak, Lapland Longspur, and Cliff Swallow.

Again, we must state, that an accurate list of breeding land birds in the sanctuary, awaits further study.

The one visitor which has caused the most excitement since the opening of the sanctuary was the European Redwing (Turdus musicus). This species has never been recorded on the North American mainland before. It was first spotted on February 21st, 1959, and stayed at the sanctuary until February 25th. It was seen by hundreds of people and received nationwide notice thru an article published in the New York Times. Sunday, February 23rd, brought three hundred observers for a glimpse of this unusual visitor. About a week after the bird departed for parts unknown, a carload of birdwatchers showed up bearing a Texas license plate. This is probably the longest trip made by any sanctuary visitors, to date.

By now, some of the readers who are familiar with the general area, might be saying, "So what, the place was always wonderful for birds". Let those readers not overlook the simple fact that before the Jamaica Bay Bird Sanctuary was created, actually encompassing an area of some 12,000 acres, this whole water and marsh wilderness was "up for grabs", with speculators and real estate developers, waiting for the signal. Once again, we must stress how much, we, who are conservation-minded, owe to Mr. Robert Moses.

Here, the bird-watcher has a place “to hang his hat". He can park his car in a lot provided for that purpose, just adjacent to the West Pond. The West Pond is completely encircled by a gravel walk. By departing from the path for a very short distance, the mud flats can be easily birded. With just a little more effort, the East Pond can be readily worked.

There are not many places in New York City where the amateur ornithologist can pursue his hobby in such sympathetic surroundings. The hazards in some run the gamut between actual molestation by vandals, to suspicious questioning by the police. There is also one sanctuary near New York City, which is impossible to enter.

If all this sounds as though the sanctuary was created for the watchers and not for the birds, this is only because I, and countless others, are delighted to have an area so readily accessible and so rewarding. This is a most unusual combination, in this age of urban development.

The sanctuary can be reached by auto or subway. Any map will show it. If one is going to spend any length of time there, and most of the day can easily be spent in the sanctuary, it is a good idea to bring lunch, since there are no eating places in the immediate vicinity.

Officially, one must possess a permit to enter the sanctuary. To date, more than one thousand permits have already been issued by the Park Department, which officially administers the sanctuary. Some of the permits have been issued to persons in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Washington, D. C. A weekend rarely passes without at least one out-of-state car finding its way into the parking lot.

I would like to stress the official permit, even for those of us who visit the sanctuary regularly, and are well known to Mr. Johnson and his staff. As already pointed out, the sanctuary is officially attached to the New York City Park Department, and is dependent upon that body for funds with which to run and maintain the sanctuary.

The best way in which we can show our appreciation, and our need, and our continued interest, is to renew our permits every year, and to see that others do likewise. I am quite sure that the most regular visitors, including the writer, have not renewed their permits since they first obtained them.

I am going to take care of that chore just as soon as I finish typing this article. You may obtain your permits by writing to:

The Department of Parks

Arsenal Bldg.

Central Park

New York City, N. Y.

Besides regular maintenance of the sanctuary, work is constantly going on to improve the existing plant, and to develop some new area within sanctuary bounds. The present project centers on Canarsie Pol. Canarsie Pol is an island which lies in the bay about a mile west of the West Pond. It is the largest of several islands in Jamaica Bay. Sludge is being dredged out of the bay and being deposited on to Canarsie Pol. After chemical treatment, the sludge will be converted into artificial topsoil. Once this has been accomplished grain will be planted for the feeding of migratory waterfowl.

Projects such as these need your support and we once again ask that you write for your permits, or renew them if they have expired.

Another project on the docket, is the lowering of the water level in the East Pond. Primarily, this pond is to attract waterfowl, for breeding, feeding, and wintering. However, the abnormally high water level of the last two years has cut down the visiting shore bird population. The water level can and will be lowered without affecting the status of the waterfowl, and at the same time exposing more marginal area for shorebirds.

Those of us who live in New York City or, environs, are indeed fortunate to have such a wonderful place at our disposal. I am sure that many birdwatchers come to New York City on business or for other reasons. I am also sure, that like myself, they never travel without a pair of binoculars. Each new place brings new birding experiences. In a strange place, one always wants to find the "best spots". Left to one's own devices, the birder will eventually find the "best spots", but waste many valuable hours doing so.

I recommend the Jamaica Bay Bird Sanctuary, not only for the varied bird life it offers, but also as a place for meeting others interested in the same thing as he is. After all, will any of us deny that one of the reasons we enjoy birding so much, is the cultivation of friends with the same interests? Emanuel “Manny” Levine, 585 Mead Terrace, South Hempsted, New York.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks in flight by Deborah Allen at Nickerson Beach 17 June 2019

Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD Follow our Bird Sightings on Twitter: @DAllenNYC and/or @BirdingBobNYC






Black Skimmer at Nickerson Beach (LI) in July 2015












Least Tern at Nickerson Beach in July 2014








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@2020 ROBERT DECANDIDO, PhD