Jefferson Market Garden

BIRD GUIDE

Our Garden encourages bird life with specific plantings, bird houses, bird feeding stations, our sustainability practices, and our Koi pond and fountain.

See a bird not listed here?

Contact us and we will add it to this guide.

Chestnut-sided
Warbler

These handsome little birds pass through our area in spring and fall, traveling between winter quarters in Central America and breeding territories to the north and west of us. They can occasionally be seen in gardens busily foraging for insects on the leaves of trees and shrubs.

Ovenbird

Ovenbirds are common summer residents here, but they prefer forest habitats, so aren’t often seen in city gardens. They’re named for the dome-shaped nests they build on the ground, which are said to look like ovens. The orange streak on their crowns makes them easily identifiable.
Black-and-white
Warbler

Black-capped

Chickadee

These tiny zebra-striped birds pass through our area in the spring and fall, as they travel between their winter quarters in the tropics and their breeding grounds in northern forests. Perky, active, and not at all shy, they often creep busily along tree trunks and branches, foraging for insects.

This tiny, active bird is a much-loved visitor to feeders, where it greatly enjoys sun-
flower seeds. They also hang upside down on twigs, hunting for insects. They often travel in groups with other small birds, giving their excitable chick-a-dee-dee-dee call as greeting, conversation, or scolding.

American Crow

Crows are big, noisy, sociable, highly intelligent birds. They live throughout the US, they’ve adapted especially well to life in cities, and they’ll eat almost anything, animal or vegetable, they can find. Their population is only now recovering from devastation by West Nile disease.

Ruby-Throated

Hummingbird

This is the only species of hummingbird that inhabits the Northeast. The brilliant iridescence of the male’s throat doesn’t show in all lights, and the female is much plainer. When these minute creatures hover at a flower to sip nectar, their wings can beat up to 80 times per second.

House Sparrow

These spunky little immigrants arrived in New York in 1871 and have made their homes in close association with humans all across the country. They thrive on city sidewalks but also appreciate our lawns, gardens, feeders, and bird- baths. Only the males wear black bibs.

 

White-Breasted

Nuthatch

Pointy on both ends, nuthatches are most often seen traveling up, down (headfirst!), and around
tree trunks, prying tasty morsels out of crevices in the bark. Fairly inconspicuous little birds, they’re often noticed first by their soft erk-erk-erk calls. They nest in holes and mate for life.

 

Blue Jay

Blue jays are bold, brash, noisy, and intelligent. A little band of them might spend time among our garden’s trees, screeching at each other as they soar from branch to branch. They often act as lookouts, warning other birds of predators like hawks, owls, or cats.

Mourning Dove

Its small head, hesitant gait, erratic takeoff, and repetitive mournful cooing can make this dove seem uncertain of where it is and what it’s doing there. They’re quite successful birds, though: They can raise as many as six broods a year. In flight, their wings make a whistling sound.

 

American Robin

Robins regularly patrol our lawns, looking for tasty earthworms and insects. In winter, they feed mainly on berries. Males’ red breasts are slightly brighter than females’. Very vocal birds, they can produce anything from liquid melodious songs to what seems like maniacal laughter.

Tufted Titmouse

This acrobatic relative of the chickadee shares its cousin’s taste for sun-
flower seeds at feeders.  Their wide-open boot- button-black eyes make titmice seem constantly alert and inquisitive. A piercing peter-peter-peter song lets the world know exactly where they are.
Yellow Warbler

This bright, buttercup-yellow bird isn’t a canary, but it’s just as cheerful and persistent a singer. After wintering in the tropics, these warblers spread out and breed in most of the US. They particularly like to be in wooded areas near water, but they also frequent our yards and gardens.

Downy Woodpecker

This is the smallest North American woodpecker and the most familiar member of the family. It can easily be seen and heard drumming loudly on tree trunks, and it comes readily to feeders, especially when suet is offered. Only the males have the little red spot at the back of the head.

Northern Flicker

This large, bold member of the woodpecker family is often seen on the ground, indulging its unusual taste for ants. Both sexes have the black bib, but only males sport the red mustache. They enjoy making frequent announcements of their presence with loud, far-carrying calls.

Northern Cardinal

With its brilliant red coat and perky crest, the male cardinal is hard to miss. The female, light brown with red touches, is usually somewhere nearby. Their thick red bills identify them as seed eaters. Both sexes sing, most often in spring, with a variety of musical trills and whistles.

Northern Mockingbird

The mockingbird likes to spread its wings to display big white patches. Each individual can imitate any sound it has heard that it likes: other birds’ songs, snatches of music, barking dogs, ringing telephones—in cities, even car alarms and the clashing of garbage cans.

House Wren

This mini-bird has a maxi- voice. You’ll hear it more often than see it, because it likes to sing its rich bubbling song from deep within bushes. When it pops up to see what’s going on outside, it often holds its tail straight up in the air.  It weighs about as much as two 25-cent pieces.

European Starling

Starlings are tough, chunky birds. An introduced species, like many immigrants they’ve adapted well to US life. Glossy purple-black in spring and summer, they put on a coat of white speckles in winter and look like a whole different bird. They sing a variety of songs, some quite musical.
American Redstart

Conspicuous, hyperactive little warblers, redstarts like to fan their wings and tails to display their bright color patches as they zoom around chasing insects. While adult males are flashily dressed in black and orange, females and youngsters are gray-brown with yellow patches.

Common Yellowthroat

Another widespread member of the warbler family, this busy little fellow wears a bold black bandit mask and often shouts his witchity-witchity-witchety call while concealed in low bushes. His wife is much plainer, with an olive back and a paler yellow throat. They nest in marshes.

Gray Catbird

Catbirds seem to have a lot of curiosity about the world around them, which they indulge while peering out from low shrubbery or boldly perching in the open. They are great vocalizers, with a variety of songs and calls, including the sharp catlike mew that gives them their name.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

This bird is a hard-working member of the wood-

pecker family. Instead of noisily drumming on tree bark to expose insects, the sapsucker drills into the tree trunk to drink the sap that oozes from the holes. Circles of its holes are visible around several of our garden’s large trees.

White-throated Sparrow

Typically sparrow-brown bodies, bold black-and-white-striped heads, and pure white bibs make these gregarious little birds unmistakable. They winter with us, and their frequent whistling calls cut through the cold air in a rhythm that sounds like “Old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody.”

Brown Creeper

Looking like a piece of

bark come to life,” the tiny brown creeper quietly works its way up and around large tree trunks, seeking insects and other bits of food. After wintering in the southern US, it migrates through our area in spring on the way to its forest nesting grounds.

Blue-headed Vireo

The full white “spectacles” on this small bird give it an inquisitive look. Its grey-blue head gray contrasts with its gray-green back and white-streaked wings. Vireos are common in our area in summer, though often hard to see within foliage.

Chipping Sparrow

Summer residents in our area, their size, shape, and behavior are like house sparrows, but a closer look reveals the bright chestnut-colored cap, white eyebrow, and black eye line. They’re named for their call: a frequent sharp chip.

Northern Parula

A black-and-chestnut-colored throat band marks the male of this tiny member of the family of New World warblers. Many species visit our Garden for a day or so during their migration season. 

Hermit Thrush

Thrushes are a family of shy birds that like woodland areas, where they forage on the ground among leaf litter, weeds, and grasses. All have lovely songs. The hermit, a bit smaller than an American robin, is recognizable by the color of its tail, which is redder than its brown back.

Black-throated
Blue Warbler

Males of this species are among the handsomest of the wood-warblers. Females are much plainer, mostly greenish-gray but with the same white wing spot and a white eyebrow. Not at all shy, they’re often seen in yards and gardens during spring and fall migration seasons.

 

Dark-eyed Junco

Cold-weather visitors, juncos make themselves at home in city gardens, as well as woodlands and fields. They especially enjoy patronizing feeders. These small birds are neatly dressed in smooth slate-gray plumage, with contrasting white bills, bellies, and outer tail feathers.

Red-tailed Hawk

These large raptors are familiar sights in the sky over our neighborhood, as pairs of red-tails have nested on a building ledge facing Washington Square Park for several years. Other pairs have made their homes elsewhere around Manhattan. Only adult birds have the “trademark” reddish tails.

Budgerigar

A parakeet, evidently an escaped pet, enjoyed our Garden for a few days this Spring.  Apparently tame, it came to the hand of a visitor who had parakeets of his own. Man and bird went home together. 

Eastern Towhee

Looking a bit like smallish, brightly colored robins, towhees are actually members of the sparrow family. They forage on the ground, jump-kicking at leaves to unearth tasty morsels, and generally visit our Garden in migration. Males have black backs, females rich brown.

Red-breasted Nuthatch

If you see a tiny bird creeping head-first down one of our Garden’s tree trunks, it will be either the Red-breasted Nuthatch or its cousin the White-breasted Nuthatch. 

Rock Pigeon

Ubiquitous in cities the world over and frequently considered a nuisance, this big gray pigeon is a successful urban dweller. In almost any season, hopeful males give courtship displays – puffing chests, spreading tails, burbling gently, and strutting in circles around often-uninterested females.

Great Blue Heron

Standing up to four feet tall and with a six-foot wingspan, this majestic bird is the largest heron in North America. Unfortunately, the individual that once made a stop at our garden was not a welcome visitor. It was seen, early one morning, breakfasting on the fish in our pond.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

These tiny, hyperactive birds are mostly plain looking: greenish-gray, with a white eye ring and a white wing bar. But when a male gets excited – whether by an attractive female, a challenging rival, or a potential predator – he can raise his head feathers to reveal a brilliant red crown patch.

 

American Goldfinch

In their summer plumage – bright butter yellow with touches of black and white – male American goldfinches are unmistakable. Come winter, both sexes wear more sober, grayish brown tones, but they’re always lively, active little birds, busily flocking around feeders.
 

Carolina wren

Carolina wrens are very small, like house wrens. Chunky and lively, they perch conspicuously and sing a song that sounds like “victory, victory, victory.”  Both sexes have a distinctive bold white eye stripe.

Golden-crowned Kinglet

The tiny Golden-crowned Kinglet is more colorfully marked than the Ruby-crowned Kinglet, but similarly active, excitable, and curious about its surroundings. Both frequent our area in winter, then migrate up to high northern forests to breed.

Scarlet Tanager

These brilliant red birds with coal-black wings and tail migrate between their winter homes in the tropics of South America and their breeding grounds in Northeastern US forests. They’re distantly related to our familiar Cardinal, but they don’t have a crest. 

Contents

 

American Crow

American Goldfinch

American Redstart

American Robin

Black-and-white Warbler

Black-capped Chickadee

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Blue Jay

Brown Creeper

Carolina Wren

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chipping Sparrow

Common Yellowthroat

Dark-eyed Junco

Downy Woodpecker

Eastern Towhee

European Starling

Golden-crowned Kinglet 

Gray Catbird

Great Blue Heron

Hermit Thrush

House Sparrow

House Wren

Mourning Dove

Northern Cardinal

Northern Flicker

Northern Mockingbird

Ovenbird

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-tailed Hawk

Rock Pigeon

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Tufted Titmouse

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-throated Sparrow

Yellow Warbler

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Bird Descriptions by Diane Darrow