With a fresh blanket of snow dusting our outdoor collections and a sunny weekend on the forecast, the next two days are a welcome opportunity to experience a classic winter outing—with all the warm days we’ve been having, it certainly took its time.
On the docket is our long-running Bird Walk with Debbie Becker, where you can join up with veteran birders and newbies alike to tour our 250 acres with binoculars in hand. With the leaves gone from the trees, and the blanket of white casting the wildlife of the Garden in high contrast, now is one of the best times of year to go out and find our feathered friends.
Now is also the perfect time to take part in one of our weekend tours. Whether you’re looking to explore the wintry trees of the outdoor collections or stay warm in the steamy rain forests of our Haupt Conservatory, NYBG’s expert guides have got you covered.
Debbie Becker has been The New York Botanical Garden’s resident bird expert for over 25 years, and continues to lead her popular Bird Walks on Saturday mornings throughout much of the year. She maintains Birding Around NYC, where readers can find photo galleries of recent NYBG bird walks and up-to-date lists of species seen during each outing.
As the end of summer draws near, deep sighs can be heard from school children and cries of delight from parents. The pleasures of the warmer months are shared by many in different ways. For those of us who are naturalists and birders, we endure the summer months dreaming about the end of August, because it signals the most exciting seasonal change: the great fall bird migration.
Our plants and trees—it is their time to shine—have spent the summer producing berries and seeds to nourish the migrating birds. The fruit of the crabapple, dogwood, and viburnum become ripe with juicy berries for Scarlet Tanagers, Baltimore Orioles, and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, while the sweet gum tree offers nestled seeds—in sticky balls—to American Goldfinch, Pine Siskins, Red-winged Blackbirds and Purple Finch. Cedar Waxwings will also partake in harvesting berries for sustenance. Eastern Kingbirds use the ripe berries as lures to catch insects attracted to the sweet nectar. Birders and photographers fancy themselves capturing these scenes over and over again and flock to NYBG to enjoy the fall bird migration.
Debbie Becker has been The New York Botanical Garden’s resident bird expert for over 25 years, and continues to lead her popular Bird Walks on Saturday mornings throughout much of the year.
The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) is the best place to bird during the fall migration. With its diverse habitats it offers birders unique and spectacular views of migrating birds.
The great fall migration begins with the movement of shore birds in late July. The shores of the Bronx River and Twin Lakes often become a good stopover point for spotted and solitary sandpipers. They bob along the shoreline grabbing small insects and crustaceans. In the wetlands, Wilson’s Snipes stop to search for food and temporary shelter.
Warblers, ruby-throated hummingbirds, tanagers, and grosbeaks begin to arrive in late August and remain through early October.
The warblers are headed south with their immature offspring and many are no longer in breeding colors. Some are brown or olive green with one or two wing bars. This gives credence to the phrase “confusing fall warblers.” It is often a challenge to identify some warblers which adds a bit of mystery to birding.
July is just around the corner, and the grounds continue to impress us each day with new bursts of color. The Groundbreakers exhibit continues to bring visitors on a journey through the history of great American gardens, and now is the perfect time to see the parts of the Garden designed by these extraordinary women.
This Saturday will be the last chance to enjoy one of Debbie Becker’s famous Bird Walks until they resume in September! Our winged friends are enjoying the sunny days even more than we are, and there are a wide variety of species to observe. Enjoy a walk through the grounds and keep an eye out for cardinals, bluejays, robins, or even one of our resident Red-tailed Hawks! That’s just one event in a full weekend of programs. Click through to see what’s happening for all ages at the Garden this weekend!
Ayesha Adamo will be our DJ for this week’s party, backed by a signature cocktail known as the Four Roses Cooler. A refreshing yet warm blend of bourbon, grapefruit, honey and lemon, this one’s not to be missed. We are also mixing things up at our Orchid Demonstrations, covering Orchid Tips for Amateurs in the GreenSchool of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.
Head below to check out the rest of this weekend’s activities, both indoors and out!
This weekend we bid farewell to the Tropical Paradise exhibition, so this weekend is the last chance to enjoy all the tours, demonstrations, and samples surrounding this trip to the tropics. After Sunday, it won’t be long before the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory’s next stop in the Florida Keys for The Orchid Show: Key West Contemporary, opening Saturday, March 1.
In the meantime, make sure to bring your appetite when you join us at the Garden this weekend. In addition to the usual samples of coconut, vanilla, and banana available to smell and taste during Tropical Paradise, Saturday and Sunday mark the final days of this winter’s Culinary Kids Food Festival in the Dining Pavilion! From the Cheesemonger’s Shop to Spice Adventures, expect a world tour of science and nutrition with plenty of hands-on fun.
We’re closing out September with a stuffed weekend of on-the-move activities that’ll handily fill your outdoor quota for the week! And because we’re straddling that neutral stretch between the balmy end of summer and the chill of autumn, it’s the perfect time to strike out on a walking tour in one of our inspired collections, brush up on your techniques in the Native Plant Garden, or conquer your phobias with a hands-on introduction to Halloween’s creepiest critters.
But we’ll start you off easy: meet Debbie Becker here at 11 a.m. on Saturday, and bring your binoculars. She’ll be setting out with her weekly group of scrappy birders in search of the avian species that call the NYBG home, as well as those that are just passing through. It’s migratory season for many birds, including some species of warblers, so expect to see some color.
Over in the Clay Family Picnic Pavilions, our friends from local outreach programs will be taking over with the help of spiders, snakes, and at least a few crawly creatures with more legs than could ever seem necessary. But while they may be frightful Halloween symbols to some, most of these insects, reptiles, and amphibians are helpful, industrious, and misunderstood. This is a chance to not only come in contact with these animals from around the globe, but get to know them for the benefits they afford the environment. And that’s only one small part of the ongoing Haunted Pumpkin Garden activities taking place from now through October 31!
The Garden goes to the birds this weekend with outdoor activities geared toward the wildlife lover in all of us (you’ll get a pass if you have an ongoing feud with pigeons—that’s almost rote for any New Yorker). And because it just so happens to be migratory season for a number of bird species, the timing couldn’t be better. So bring your binoculars, your kids, and an open mind toward gardening for critters, because we’ll be making room for all three over the next couple of days.
For birders new or established, Debbie Becker is back after a brief summer hiatus with Bird Walks each Saturday at 11 a.m. Keep an eye out over the next few weeks for the colorful puffballs known as warblers that should be making pit stops in the Garden during their fall migration. In the Native Plant Garden, we’ll have experts on hand teaching home gardeners the ins and outs of attracting wildlife—such as beneficial insects—to backyard beds. And in among the vegetables of the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden, kids are welcome to dig to their hearts’ content during activities that highlight the hands-on aspects of keeping a garden. Our Pollinator Pals program also highlights the importance of the bees and butterflies that pollinate our crops.
Taking the stage Saturday at 1 p.m., Wild Medicine curator Dr. Michael Balick presents “Ancient Wisdom and Modern Medicine,” an enlightening presentation on ethnobotany and the global medicinal plant landscape as informed by his many years of plant exploration worldwide. Tickets are limited for this Ross Hall event, so it’s best to make a point of registering yours online before you arrive.
Another special event taking place on Saturday the 7th is our once-only bibliophile treasure hunt! Don’t worry, that’s my own personal title for it. After 12 years away from fiction, Liz Gilbert—author of Eat, Pray, Love—is back with The Signature of All Things, a sweeping tale of botany, exploration, and love in the 19th century. So it’s only fitting that we’d hold this contest at one of the world’s finest botanical institutions. When you’re walking the grounds this Saturday between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., keep an eye out for one of 10 special vouchers hidden throughout. If you happen to see the cover of Liz’ new book on the laminated sheet, snap it up and bring it to our Shop in the Garden for a free advance copy of the novel and a $25 discount on an NYBG Adult Education course of your choice!
Pat Gonzalez is back this week with a fresh highlight feel from her adventures in the Garden, something I always eat up. As both a guest and a Visitor Services Attendant with the NYBG, Pat has spent the past five years documenting the lives of our raptor residents through the lens of her camera, creating a timeline of activity among the Great-horned Owls, Red-tailed Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, Kestrels, and other winged wildlife that crosses her path. While I’m sure she’ll laugh off the comparison, I like to think of her as our very own Jane Goodall of the bird world.
Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” is a nice touch, I think, that highlights the streamlined elegance of these birds. Though a brief look back into Pat’s Plant Talk postings will show you just how well it belies their hilarious clumsiness at times. There’s something about seeing a young hawk divebomb a park bench in its efforts to figure out hunting that I can’t help but laugh over.
For the birders and animal lovers out there, Debbie Becker’s long-running Bird Walk returns from its summer hiatus on Saturday, September 7, giving you ample time to prep your notebooks, binoculars, and cameras for some time wandering the Garden. It’ll go a long way toward helping you understand the joy that Pat feels each time she happens across one of her feathered friends.