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New York City Parks: A Surprising Sanctuary for Wildlife

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A concrete jungle called the ‘Big Apple,’ New York is home to some of the world’s most famous infrastructure and areas. From the Empire State Building and World Trade Center to Wall Street, it’s a haven for business, commerce, and sales. 

Statue of Liberty sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor in New York City

Are there enough parks in New York?

While many have heard of the city’s natural jewel, Central Park, the majority may need to be made aware of the vast amount of animal life that runs through the city. With over 14% of New York’s land divided into parks, it isn’t only Central Park that provides animals with homes and food; there are other beautiful and serene parks like Bowling Green, Harlem River, City, and Bryant Park. 

Boarded by the unforgiving Atlantic Ocean, which funnels down the vast Hudson River, which you can spot in the photo above, and through the heart of New York, reaching places like Manhattan, there’s also no shortage of marine life. 

How do animals thrive in cities?

Animals have demonstrated remarkable adaptability in thriving within urban environments. Cities, while challenging, offer several opportunities for wildlife. Some species have adjusted their behaviors and habits to coexist with humans. They use altered habitats, utilizing buildings and infrastructure for shelter and nesting. Urban areas often provide a consistent food supply from discarded human food or readily available prey like rodents. Parks and green spaces within cities serve as havens for foraging and refuge, while artificial water bodies offer drinking and bathing sites for birds and mammals.

Central park on a rainy day, New York City

Nocturnal behavior helps certain animals avoid human disturbances, while reduced predation, a milder urban microclimate, and limited competition in these environments can favor their survival. These adaptable creatures often exhibit selective behaviors, such as pigeons’ navigational prowess and rats’ ability to withstand urban toxins. They coexist with humans and illustrate nature’s remarkable ability to adapt to ever-changing landscapes. However, it’s essential to strike a balance between urbanization and wildlife conservation to ensure the coexistence of both.

Animals You Can Spot in Parks

Squirrels: Eastern Gray Squirrels are abundant in New York City parks, such as Central Park.

Birds: Parks host numerous bird species, like pigeons, sparrows, red-tailed hawks, and even waterfowl like mallard ducks.

Eastern Chipmunks: These small rodents can be found in some city parks.

Opossums: These marsupials are known to inhabit urban parks and green spaces.

Raccoons: These adaptable mammals are often seen in parks, especially at night.

Turtles: Red-eared sliders and painted turtles are common in park ponds and water bodies.

Butterflies: Various butterfly species, like monarchs and swallowtails, can be seen in parks with gardens and flowers.

Fish: You might find fish like sunfish and carp in ponds and water bodies.

Insects: Parks host a wide array of insects, including bees, ladybugs, dragonflies, and grasshoppers.

Bats: Several bat species can be found in New York City parks, contributing to the local ecosystem.

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