Our Osprey’s journey begins on a nesting platform in the heart of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is one of the most significant nature sanctuaries in the Northeastern United States not just for Ospreys, but for hundreds of other birds as well. With more than 330 bird species—nearly half of those in the Northeast—sighted at the refuge over the last 25 years, it is one of the best places in New York City to observe migrating species and a must-see for avian enthusiasts.
Originally managed by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the city transferred ownership of the refuge to the National Park Service in 1972, and the site became part of Gateway National Recreation Area. The park’s unique landscape includes a variety of rare native habitats including salt marshes, upland field and woods, several fresh and brackish water ponds, and an open expanse of bay. There is a wide variety of ranger and partner-led programs offered year-round at the site, including presentations on seasonal wildlife, sunset tours, hikes, boat trips, family programs and an annual lecture series. Check out what’s happening at Jamaica Bay.
Located on Broad Channel in southeastern Queens, the Visitor Contact Station, a Gold LEED certified building, welcomes visitors and is the starting point for many guided programs and a great place to begin a hike along one of the refuge’s beautiful trails. The Visitor Contact Station highlights Jamaica Bay’s remarkable plant and animal life, history, and the continuing human impact on the nature of the bay.
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, the only wildlife refuge in the National Park System, supports an impressive array of native reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, over 60 species of butterflies and one of the largest populations of horseshoe crabs in the Northeast. Numerous ranger-led nature hikes, bird watching sessions, and seining activities give visitors the chance to get up close to these incredible animals and learn about protecting them.
Jamaica Bay has some of the last remaining salt marshes in New York City. These islands offer critical habitat and ecological services for the estuary, but they are unfortunately disappearing at an alarming rate. Efforts to restore these important fish and shellfish nurseries are ongoing, and through this restoration work NPS, in partnership with other federal, city and state partners, hopes to be able to stem the tide of marsh loss in the bay.