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NY DEC Watchable Wildlife

Outdoor Discovery

Fort Totten Park
Description: A pristine stretch surrounding a preserved Civil War fortress in the Queens borough of New York City, Fort Totten Park not only provides busy city dwellers with recreation, relaxation and a glimpse into New York’s past, but also an opportunity to view wildlife in an urban setting.

Urban park rangers lead regular tours of the fort and surrounding natural areas. Bird enthusiasts congregate to watch migrating waterfowl as they rest for their long journey south. Others take canoes and kayaks out for a paddle along Long Island Sound to see birds, fish and other wildlife from the unique vantage point of the water.

Wildlife to Watch: A variety of hawk species circle park grounds looking for eastern gray squirrels and other small mammals or birds for a meal. Peregrine falcons search the skies for small birds they can dive on and snatch in mid-air at speeds measured up to 180 mph! Ospreys also frequent the park and are often seen with fish in their talons—live fish being this raptor’s exclusive diet. The deep, husky hoots of great horned owls are heard here at dusk during the winter months.

Energetic killdeer fly in short bursts barely off the ground, skittering around the park’s sprawling parade grounds looking for insects. Sandpipers can be found at the water’s edge, advancing and retreating with the rhythm of the waves, occasionally jabbing at small crustaceans exposed in the wet sand.

Coastal areas of the park provide habitat for a variety of waterbirds. Elegant snowy egrets stand out against the green of plants. Double-crested cormorants perch on fort battlements or vanish beneath the waves, using webbed feet to swim after fish far below, popping up minutes later, beaks firmly holding their catch. Great blue herons stalk the mud flats at low tide looking for pools of stranded fish and crabs to feast on. Many species of warblers also stop at Fort Totten during their seasonal migrations, and spotting them is a favorite sport of avid birders.

Special Tips: Guided walks, nature center, pool, soccer fields, canoe access

This site has accessible features, including a visitor center.

718-352-4793 Cross Island Pkwy., between Totten Ave. and 15 Rd., Queens, www.nycgovparks.org/ parks/forttotten

Other Activities: The visitor center combines park history with elements of the park’s natural diversity and is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Urban park rangers lead canoeing activities during the summer. A kayak and canoe launch located just outside the park is available for public use.

Ownership: NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation 
Size: 60 acres 
Closest Town: Bayside, Queens

HikingVisitor CenterHandicap AccessibleSmall BoatsSwimming

Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

Please see map link below

Driving Directions:
Take the Cross Island Pkwy. north to exit 32, Bell Blvd. Turn right at the traffic light. The parking lot is on the left side. A map of the park is located at the front gate.

Subway: Take the number 7 train to the last stop, Flushing Main St., then transfer to the Q16 bus, located on 39th Ave. and Union Ave., to the last stop, Fort Totten. Follow signs inside the park to the visitor center, located just behind the baseball field. Fort Totten is also accessible via the Q13 bus line.

Map Link

Fort Totten Park : Wildlife Viewing Area