Thursday, October 15, 2015

Best Public Transportation Birds

I mentioned in my last posting that I was thinking about great birds I've seen without the use of a car. Unlike most of the United States, New York City is unique in that there are subways and buses that can get you nearly anywhere at any time. They've also expanded their bike lanes and rental bike program making, in many cases, a car unnecessary. As a city birder, I've seen a good number of rare birds via mass transit. Below is a list of some of my best rare bird chases / sightings using only public transportation or bicycle. I invite you to add your best mass transit bird stories in the comments section.


King Eider, August 29, 2014
Plum Beach, Brooklyn

I have my friend Shane to thank for finding this seaduck and getting the word out quickly. In this case I thought it would be faster to bike down to the beach than wait for a train and bus. I posted about it here.

Red-necked Phalarope, August 15, 2011
Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn

No so much rare, as rarely seen around NYC. This was another great find by Shane that I was able to pedal down to the coast and see. I posted about it here.

Glaucous Gull, December 22, 2013
Coney Island Creek Park, Brooklyn

Probably my most ridiculous, circuitous afternoon of subway and bus rides ever as I attempted to track down a Glaucous Gull in Coney Island. It took 2 buses, a subway and a long walk in the freezing rain to be successful. I covered the marathon chase here.

Couch's Kingbird, December 26, 2014
West Village, Manhattan

The first New York State record of a Couch's Kingbird was at the unlikely location of Washington Street in Manhattan's West Village. Much of the mainstream media picked up on the story. Here's one piece from CBS News. For this chase all I had to do was take the F train to the A train and walk a few blocks.

Gray-hooded Gull, July 30, 2011
Coney Island, Brooklyn

Without question, this bird wins the grand prize as it had never been recorded in New York State and only one other time in North America. It was also likely the easiest mega-rarity in New York City for people see. The bird was hanging around on the beach about 350 yards from a major transit hub for 4 different train lines and several buses. This bird also caught the attention of the mainstream media. Here's an article from the New York Times. You can read my posting about it here.


No matter what city you call home, I'd love to hear about your best train, bus or bicycle birds. Put your stories in the comments section below.

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