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NY DEC Watchable Wildlife

Outdoor Discovery

Pelham Bay Park and Orchard Park Beach
Description: Pelham Bay Park and Orchard Beach is more than three times larger than Central Park, making it New York City’s largest park and, arguably, its most ecologically diverse as well. Nearly 3,000 acres encompass forest, marshland, meadows and rocky coastline, as well as a mile-long swimming beach. Varied habitats support a diversity of wildlife throughout the park, making this a real country haven on the city’s edge.

Wildlife to Watch: A swamp in the central woodlands is a prime environment for migratory songbirds, such as common yellowthroats, red-winged blackbirds and gray catbirds. The 189-acre Hunter Island Forest is one of New York City’s best owl haunts. Regurgitated owl pellets at the bases of trees, or mobbing jays and crows, help you spot owls including: great horned, northern saw-whet, long-eared, barred and eastern screech-owls. Several red-tailed hawks make their homes high in the trees, and ospreys search the waters of the sound for unsuspecting fish. The woods are also home to wild turkeys, raccoons, white-tailed deer and coyotes.

In spring, a regular resident of the meadow is the well-camouflaged and oddlooking American woodcock. In March and April, listen at dusk for the male’s nasal peent, and watch its spectacular aerobatic courtship flights.

The Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary near the park’s western boundary is a salt marsh dotted by forested rock outcrops. In the marsh, see several duck and goose species, great and snowy egrets, and green and great blue herons. During the winter, check open areas along Orchard Beach and around its parking lot for snowy owls visiting from the far north. Harbor seals can be seen at low tide along the coastline in winter. The beach is also where you can see the primordial spectacle of horseshoe crabs emerging from the sound each May, when they come ashore to lay their eggs.

Special Tips: From Pelham south, the park is closed from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.; the Orchard Beach section of the park is open from dawn to dusk.

718-430-1891, Hutchinson River, Long Island Sound between Bronx County Line and Middletown Rd., Watt Ave., Bronx, NY,

www.nycgovparks.org/ parks/pelhambaypark

Other Activities: Visitors enjoy miles of bridle paths and hiking trails punctuated by lookouts, as well as Orchard Beach and a breathtaking 13-mile saltwater shoreline hugging Long Island Sound. Urban park rangers provide free school programs and public tours throughout the year. Information from the Pelham Bay Nature Center will enrich a visitor’s viewing experience. Another great way to get a fresh perspective on marsh wildlife is from the water by canoe or kayak.

Ownership: NYC Dept of Parks & Recreation 
Size: 2,700 acres 
Closest Town: Bronx

RestroomsHikingPicnic tablesVisitor CenterSmall BoatsSwimming

Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

Please see map link below

Driving Directions:
By car: The Bruckner Expy./New England Thrwy. has two park exits: Country Club Road/Pelham Bay Park and Orchard Beach/City Island. The Hutchinson River Pkwy. has two park exits: Pelham Pkwy. East and Orchard Beach/City Island. Pelham Pkwy. serves as a crosstown route to the park.

By subway: Take the Number 6 train to the last stop, Pelham Bay Park. To Orchard Beach: Walk to BX29, take it 3 stops toward City Island, walk to beach.

Map Link

Pelham Bay Park and Orchard Park Beach : Wildlife Viewing Area