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• Intro / Home
• Historical Neighbors
• Street and Backyard

• Park and Green Places

• Shore and Wetlands

• Salt and Freshwater

• Tiny Neighbors
• Unwelcome Neighbors
• Occasional and
  Unexpected Neighbors

• Wildlife Sighting Log
• Resources

• Hours and Tours


Occasional and Unexpected Neighbors
Occasional Intro | Image:1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Have you heard about the cat-size rats in the city subways? Or discarded pet snakes, dumped into plumbing systems, who emerge unexpectedly from someone else’s toilet? Or those alligators in the sewers? These, and other fanciful urban animal legends, resurface every so often, just like the wandering snakes. However, some of the wild animals that really do occasionally show up within city limits, and make good newspaper copy, seem equally improbable.

How do South American Monk Parakeets survive so far north? There are thriving colonies of them in several Brooklyn locations, and these green parrots have also been spotted in Central Park and in Riverdale’s Wave Hill. Why is there a flourishing population of western Black-tailed Jackrabbits at John F. Kennedy International Airport? It is believed that escapees from a shipment en route to a game farm found the flat, grassy airport fields congenial. A Florida Manatee, affectionately named "Chessie," swam up the East River in 1995. Humpback and other whales have been fatally stranded on Rockaway and other New York City beaches.

Since Pelham Bay and Van Cortlandt parks in the Bronx border the mainland, it is not surprising that Coyotes and White-tailed Deer have traveled south from wild areas of Westchester County. A dead Gray Fox was found in Forest Park, Queens, and Red Foxes have been reported in parks in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens. Ring-necked Pheasants have been observed in natural areas in every borough. American Bald Eagles, whose nesting populations elsewhere in New York State have increased, are occasionally spotted in the city, flying overhead. Last spring, in an attempt to introduce the species locally, four eaglets were installed in a special nest cage in Inwood Park. Many other animals featured elsewhere in the exhibition, including Golden Eagles, Gyrfalcons, some migrant songbirds, and many butterflies and moths, are infrequently seen, and might also be considered occasional neighbors.

Check out the sighting log to record your interaction with some of the native New York City wildlife featured in Urban Neighbors. You may also browse the sighting log by animal, borough, park or natural area, and/or habitat to view a sighting you have submitted or to read others’ observations.



Eastern Chinese
Ring-necked Pheasant
and subspecies / NYPL


Red Fox / NYPL


Deer /NYPL


Periodical Cicada/
Michael J. Feller


Humpback Whale/
Don Riepe, American Littoral Society

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