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NY DEC Watchable Wildlife

Outdoor Discovery

Central Park
Description: It might come as a surprise that one of the most wonderful and accessible natural areas in the state exists in the heart of New York City. Yet Central Park both epitomizes and counters the stereotype of what constitutes a city park. At more than 800 acres and dominating 51 blocks of some of the world’s most valuable real estate, the park is an inspiring combination of architecture, landscape design and urban planning.

A wide variety of natural habitats is contained in this carefully landscaped park. There are woodlands for songbirds, wildflower meadows and grassy streamside areas for insects, and ponds for fish and turtles. Despite Central Park’s popularity with millions of city residents and visitors, an amazing array of wildlife can be seen there. It is on one of North America’s major bird migration routes, and in spring and fall, more than 275 migratory bird species have been sighted passing through.

Impressive rock outcroppings of Manhattan schist, the bedrock that supports the city’s many skyscrapers, are located throughout the park. One of the largest surviving stands of American elms grows along the mall between 68th and 72nd streets. At 100th Street, just off East Drive, a meadow is planted with native wildflowers that bloom throughout the warmer months.

Along the shore of Turtle Pond at 79th Street grows a wonderful array of milkweed, cattails, asters, mallows and coneflowers—habitat for bees, butterflies, dragonflies and hummingbirds. The Central Park Conservancy has a website (see Contact section below) where you can find a list of which flowers should be blooming each month.

Wildlife to Watch: Harlem Meer, a lake in the northeast corner, attracts mallards, black ducks, Canada geese, mute swans and wading birds such as the great blue heron and black-crowned night heron. The wooded, 38-acre Ramble, in the center of the park, offers the best birding. Turtle Pond is also an excellent birdwatching area.

Enthusiastic birders and park rangers assemble daily at Belvedere Castle to share their knowledge with visitors. Red-tailed hawks and peregrine falcons are often spotted from the upper terraces of the castle. Warblers and ruby-throated hummingbirds are frequent visitors at various times of the year in the beautiful Conservatory Garden.

Migrating monarch butterflies stop to feed on Central Park’s wildflowers in the fall as they travel to remote mountain valleys of south-central Mexico—an epic journey that continues through several generations of butterflies!

Central Park’s many water bodies are great places to see dragonflies, painted turtles and snapping turtles. And on summer evenings, little brown bats are often seen pursuing a meal of flying insects.

Special Tips: Central Park opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 1 a.m. every day, yearround. More than 25 million people visit annually. Four visitor centers and a gift shop are located in the park. Guided and self-guided tours are available. Restrooms are located throughout the park. Several roads are open to vehicle traffic.

Facilities in Central Park are fully accessible.

Ownership: NYC Department of Parks and Recreation 
Size: 843 acres 
Closest Town: Manhattan

RestroomsCross Country SkiingHikingPicnic tablesHandicap AccessibleDrinking WaterSwimmingBicyclingAuto Tour

Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

Central Park - Photo by NYC Dept. Parks & Recreation
Please see map link below

Driving Directions:
Located from 5th Avenue to Central Park West, between 59th and 110th streets

Map Link

Central Park : Wildlife Viewing Area