This Is The Perfect Time To Take Up Birdwatching (Yes, Even In New York City)

While we’re all cloistered inside (as we should be), it may seem like New York City is a ghost town. But there’s a lot of movement happening — it’s just not human movement. 

For the more than 200 types of birds in New York City, it’s springtime. That means that migratory birds are traveling far and wide to settle down into their summer homes for the warmer months. It also means that, while we’re Netflixing-and-nesting, our feathered friends are literally nesting, waiting for eggs to hatch. 

For some of us lucky enough to have a tree outside our windows, the spring hustle and bustle is happening right before our very eyes. Within the view of a single fire escape recently, for instance, two blue jays made a cameo, along with a bright red male cardinal and his female partner, dozens of sparrows and starlings and even a pair of doves (no, not pigeons, actual doves). (A couple of birds shrouded in mystery will, next time, become revealed with the help of the Audubon Bird Guide App.)

For others who live in homes too high up or too far from branches, it can be harder to spot those flying families during our weeks at home. 

But we’ve got some breaking news for you: There is a special someone on the live cam at 55 Water Street in Lower Manhattan.

This live cam looks onto a famous peregrine falcon nesting site. Peregrine falcons, once an endangered species, have enjoyed an inspiring comeback and are one of the amazing wild species that manage to live in the city. The live cam is only active when there’s some activity; luckily, it’s springtime, and it appears that someone is keeping some eggs warm at 55 Water. That means we all have something to look forward to. 

Allowing oneself small pleasures like bird-watching these days is not just a trivial pastime. It can be a way of escaping ourselves and our worries. Think of what Jonathan Franzen writes about the consolations of birdwatching, like in his essay, “Farther Away,” a tribute to his friend David Foster Wallace:

“In the summer before he died, sitting with him on his patio while he smoked cigarettes, I couldn’t keep my eyes off the hummingbirds around his house and was saddened that he could, and while he was taking his heavily medicated afternoon naps, I was studying the birds of Ecuador for an upcoming trip, and I understood the difference between his unmanageable misery and my manageable discontents to be that I could escape myself in the joy of birds and he could not.”