Jamaica Bay is the best place in New York City to observe seasonal migration of birds. The Bay's islands and their ponds are a key layover spot for birds along the Atlantic Flyway. During the spring and late summer, it's possible to see over a hundred types of birds, including the wonderfully named Lesser Yellowlegs.
Birding in Jamaica BayJamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge attracts almost as many photographers as it does birds. A small shelter, or blind, overlooks one pond and is a great spot for surreptitious photography.
- The best time to see birds in Jamaica Bay is in early April and then from late July to late August.
- Bird photography in Jamaica Bay.
The Piping Plover, an endangered species, visits Jamaica Bay. Please keep to the marked trails in order to avoid disturbing the nests of these and other birds (as well as bird photographers).
Hikiing in Jamaica Bay
- Trail Length: 1 and 1/2 miles
- Time: 45 minutes or less
- Wear: Long sleeves, pants, boots
A trail loops from the Visitors Center through fairly open terrain with lots of low-lying vegetation, including a real surprise: a prickly pear cactus that thrives in the islands of Jamaica Bay.
The trail continues through marshy areas of thick, tall grasses and trees. The hike is easy and not long, though you should bring plenty of water and dress properly. I recommend long pants because of the brush and bugs, and sturdy boots because of the mud and wet.
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center
- Hours: Open all year from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Location: Cross Bay Boulevard Queens, New York, 718-318-4340
- Admission: Free
Directions to Jamaica BayBy Car: Take the Belt Parkway to exit 17, and go south on Cross Bay Boulevard. Follow Cross Bay Boulevard over North Channel Bridge and continue 1 1/2 miles to the Visitors Center on the right.
By Subway: Take the A train to Broad Channel station. Walk west to Crossbay Boulevard then turn right (north) and walk about half a mile to the Visitors Center.
By Bus: The Q53 and Q21 buses stop at the Visitors Center.