Ten Reasons Why I Love New York City

A couple of weeks ago I brought chicken soup to a Facebook friend sick and miserable in a motel outside of Kennedy airport. Julie has tons of Facebook friends, and when she wrote about my soup delivery they showered me with thanks. It was a bit overwhelming. I was surprised that a lot of them said they would and could never live in New York City (or any city). One woman said she did get a different picture of the city from reading my blog, which made me realize that I actually don’t have a lot here about birding in the city.

So, here are some of the reasons why I love living in NYC, especially Queens. I’m drawing on photos I’ve taken over the past few years, so I can’t show Every Reason. I don’t have photos of the theater and I can’t convey the energy I feel when I walk around the East Village or people watch in Bryant Park. If you’re not from New York City, I hope you’ll see how possible it is to live here and still be very much a part of the natural world. You just may have to take the subway to get there.

1. Snow Geese Flying over Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. A few miles from JFK Airport as the goose flies.
JRWR: Snow Geese in Formation

2. Pink-footed Goose at Meadow Lake, a 12-minute walk from my home. Much better view than the one I got in Iceland.
Meadow Lake: Pink-Footed Goose

3. Snow. And Cardinals in the Snow.
Central Park: Northern Cardinal Stuffing Face

4. A Robin nesting in a traffic light. Shown to me by one of Central Park’s best nature photographers (thank you again, Cal).
Central Park: Robin & babies at red light

5. Great Horned Owlets almost every year in my neighborhood park. Alley Pond Park: GHOwlets

6. Family. Three generations (including me, the photographer) enjoying music in Central Park. Then, I force them to look at the birds.
Music in Central Park

7. Meadowhawks at Little Alley Pond, Queens. When you look at them, you can’t hear the cars whizzing by on the Parkway next door.
Alley: Meadowhawk

8. Monk Parakeets Building a Nest in Whitestone, a mile from where I grew up.
Whitestone: Monk Parakeets Enjoy Winter Berries

9. Bridges. Ways out, ways in. And, some of them are home to Peregrine Falcons. Brooklyn: Verrazano Bridge

10. Jamaica Bay sunsets. Look closely and you can see “the city” on the other side. This is my constant source of wonder, the juxtaposition of the natural against the man-made. Jamaica Bay NWR: Terrapin Trail, sunset


28 responses to “Ten Reasons Why I Love New York City

  1. I LOVE THIS and I love you, Donna. Have yet to properly thank you for that incredible matzoh ball soup, the People mag, the meds and most of all the pure kindness that motivated your mission of mercy. Africa was AMAZING and I had the best start thanks to two days’ enforced rest at the Hilton Garden. Sharing with my fabulous Facebook friends, who will remember your kindness for a long time, as will I.

    Your photos are amazing. Now I have to know what your rig is!!
    xoxo jz

    • Julie – Rig means camera and equipment, right? These were taken over a period of years, so I think they reflect every camera in my arsenal, including my little point-and-shoot. Nowadays, I use my Nikon D7000, usually with a 120-400 Sigma zoom. And then, post-processing for cropping and lightening up shadows. I never change color or background, o.k., once in a while I will eliminate a twig. But, I like my photos to reflect the reality of nature, even if it means trees and leaves and people in the background. Can’t wait to see your Africa photos!

  2. Wow, these are fantastic photographs. I grew up in New Jersey (moved to California in 1970, when I was 18), but don’t remember seeing quite as much beauty as you have shown me here. It is a wonderful thing to know that so much wildness can live and thrive there.

    • Robin, I work in New Jersey, and there are lovely places there too, though so many people make fun of it. I think few of us think of nature when we are young.

  3. Thank you Donna for taking care of our beloved Julie. Your pictures are wonderful.

    From a fellow bird lover in Tennessee.
    Watching for Purple Martin any day.

    • Thank you, Judy! I would love to visit Tennessee some day. I traveled through the Great Smoky Mountains on the Carolina side once, many moons ago, and I felt the Tennessee side beckoning.

  4. Fabulous photos from a very dear soul. Thank you for all of it. Every bit.

  5. Birders would often look upon me with pity when I told them I lived in NYC. Never mind that two of the country’s greatest birding sites are in The City; the quarter-acre churchyard across the street from my apartment, where the local birders kept a sightings log, recorded 152 species as visitors. “Trapped” in the “lifeless cement surroundings” of Manhattan, I lived a far more ornithologically rich existence than most. Good on you for pointing this out. Thanks.

    • Central Park and Jamaica Bay! And yes, so many smaller places holding avian and other natural treasures. Thanks for reading my blog, Jason. Hope to meet you in the field in NYC.

  6. Growing up just over the bridge and birding the boroughs and the Island for nearly 20 years I completely get where she is coming from. Memories of incredible birds like Spoonbill Sandpiper at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Boreal Owl at Tavern on the Green. Western Reef Heron in Coney Island,Brooklyn… What can I say. The benefit of having everything you could ever want in such a small geographical area and still have incredible birds. Nothing like it anywhere in the world. I truly miss it myself. I really need to figure out how to get back up there.

    • John – Did you really see a Spoonbill Sandpiper at Jamaica Bay? Amazing. I did get to see the Boreal Owl and the Reef Heron. I know NYC birders with enviable life lists, and they’ve never birded far beyond the city boundaries.

  7. I adore NYC and visit every chance I get. As a bonus, it’s a pleasant train ride from VA to NY. I’d live there in a heartbeat, but my husband would never stand for it. I’ll be there again in three weeks or so, to see my son in a play!

    I very much enjoyed your beautiful photos. And thanks for taking such good care of Julie!

    • Kim – I think visiting NYC regularly is the next best thing. What play will your son be in? Before I needed to get up early in the morning, I was an avid theatre goer.

  8. Another Donna weighing in…and a long time fan of Julie Z. What’s not to love when someone can use words so skillfully AND shoot great photos.
    Anyhow–thanks for your paean to NYC. Our daughter lived in Manhattan for several years (and now lives in London). We loved loved loved visiting her, and are sad we don’t go to NYC as much as we used to. On the other hand, we do get to go to London, another great city.

  9. Well, ok, there are some good things about living in the city, I guess. 😉

    • Beth – I know, sometimes it is really hard. For me, that’s at night, when I hear sirens instead of the owls other birders write about.

  10. A birding friend forwarded these marvelous photos of yours of urban birds.
    I, too, am endlessly amazed by how our feathered friends and other critters accommodate themselves to urban life. We can think we own the built environment, but real, living nature is out there just waiting to be found, if only we will look!

  11. Nicely done Donna Schulman . One of my favorite sayings is “Bloom where you are planted” It is obvious that you have done that and you have the wonderful talent to share your world.

    • Thank you so much, Kathy. That is a good saying, I’m going to have to remember it when the down parts of urban living get to me.

  12. I love your photos and I love NYC too. Of course, it helps that I live about 1/4 block from Central Park where the daffodils on the sunnier hillsides are already in full bloom and one fat cardinal is still puh-tweeting his heart out . . . although this morning I spied two females, so that may be a part of his passion. It was a chilly, misty morning today and all the dogs, even the old dogs like Duncan and Phoenix, were so feisty and playful. Thanks for the beautiful photos.

    • Thank you, Valerie. Yes, you are very fortunate to live near Central Park, it is such a special place. I love going there when it snows. Not only do the cardinals look especially spiffy in the white stuff, you can hear the kids sledding down the hills and watch people cross-country skiing and even walking around in snow shoes!

  13. Donna you have done a wonderful job of pointing out the nature that is all around us. Your pictures exemplify the unnoticed beauty of NYC.
    Thank you so much for sharing this. RICK
    “All birders are blessed when we can see nature and gain an insight into the ebb and flow of life that is happening all around us constantly. Much of what humanity cares for, or is only aware of, is the self created artificial world around them.” Rick Kedenburg, 2012

    • Thank you, Rick. I consider you and our QCBC friends my teachers in seeing and knowing about the wonderful natural life in NYC, especially in Queens.

  14. Donna, thank you so much for your truly special photos, and your narrative describing the possibilities of the beauty around us.

    • Jean, I don’t think I included any of my Forest Park photos here, but that place is a prime example of what I was seeking to describe. Truly an oasis of peace in the middle of Queens.

  15. Gosh, what lovely photos. I especially like the one of the cardinal in the snowy tree – that could be a Christmas card! I don’t live in the US (I live in Birmingham in the UK) but my husband is American and when we visited the in-laws in March I saw cardinals in the trees for the first time and was captivated by their colour. My brother is a keen photographer and bought up lots of the last stocks of Kodachrome to specifically take pics of red objects. I wish that stuff was still around – it would make for some spectacular pics of cardinals. Glad I came across your blog.

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