Eagle-Watching and More at Inwood Hill Park
December 6, 2012

Eagle-Watching and More at Inwood Hill Park

January rings in more than just a new calendar year. It also kicks off prime eagle-spotting season at Inwood Hill Park in northern Manhattan. For the past five years, urban rangers have been releasing 3- to 4-week-old eaglets into the wild from an elevated platform.

The program has had great success in reintroducing eagles to the region. Winter is the time to check it out because when the air is cold and the trees are bare, these majestic birds are easier to see.  The best viewing time is around dawn—which might fit the sleep cycle of a toddler better than a teenager—and ranger-led weekend programs are frequent. 

Birds, Forests, Boulders, and Caves

If eagle-watching is an activity that starts too early for your family clock, or if you want to explore the park after some eagle-spotting, there is plenty you to do here. If snow is on the ground, bring a sled or saucer and join the local crowds at any number of great hills. On our first-ever visit to Inwood, we didn’t have a sled (we were in the area for dinner at a friend’s apartment) but so many people offered to let our kids borrow sleds that Riley and Halina may have gotten in more rides than if they’d brought their own. 

Inwood is also home to the only old-growth forest in Manhattan, which is interesting to ponder as you realize that Times Square is about eight miles away as the crow (or eagle) flies. Indeed, the park once contained the oldest, and perhaps the largest, tulip tree on the island. The tree was located at a crossroads—today the intersection of two footpaths—where, it is said, the Dutch acquired Manhattan from the Lenape who first lived throughout the area.  A rock marks the spot in the northeast section of the park.

From there, clear paths take you through the Indian Rock Shelters, an area of large boulders and caves where American Indians once lived. Heading east toward the Hudson River, you will walk through so-called Bird Alley, where you can spot (and hear) red-billed woodpeckers, great horned owls, and red-tailed hawks, which, like the eagles, are easier to see in winter. 

What are your favorite parks to visit early in the morning?

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