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Green-Wood Cemetery

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Green-Wood Cemetery
Brooklyn, New York
[Map]

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Description:

Green-Wood Cemetery, about the same size as Prospect and situated on the same morainal ridge, is close enough to the latter to attract much the same birdlife. It offers, however, some very special features of its own.

First and foremost, there are the trees. Except for those planted in rows along some of the avenues, most have been planted singly, and are move evenly spread out. As a result, most have not been forced--by competition--to grow tall. Thus one can spot birds a bit more easily than is sometimes the case in Prospect. (It all helps!) In addition, there are many more evergreens in the cemetery, luring what few owls come through our area. Fruit trees, more numerous than in the park, offer in the fall a food source that may entice some birds to linger longer.

The limited number of thickets and small ponds tends to concentrate many birds in a few areas that are relatively easy to cover on foot. It is a quiet place! Hearing birds is greatly enhanced, and listening becomes a pleasure.

Green-Wood should be birded in conjunction with Prospect. There are quite a few species that for one reason or another are to be found more consistently in one place than in the other.

Access:

The main office and entrance is located at Fifth Avenue and 25th Street; it is open daily but hours vary with the season. The gate at Fourth Avenue and 35th Street is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., seven days a week. Entrances at Fort Hamilton Parkway and on Prospect Park West are open 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on weekends only. Full information on hours and regulations can be obtained here.

Where to go:

Once through the main gate (25th St. entrance), head for the various ponds (see map), where most of the birdlife should be. Don't forget to cover the adjacent hills (dotted lines on the map.) Allow at least one half hour to reach the pond areas (Crescent, Dell Waters); the distance from the entrance is about a mile. Usually a trip to the ponds is enough for a short stay, but a warm south wind in spring and a cold northerly in fall may call for more exploration. Important note: Since the printing of this map, the pond labeled Dale Water has been filled in.

Walking from the Dale Water area to Cypress Avenue or to the Ocean Hill area is quite a hike. It's easy walking on the road but does take time--same for just plain looking.

Directions:

The R train 25th St. stop is just one block from the entrance. The #63 bus stops directly in front of the main entrance.

—Contributed by Richard Rosenblum

Note: One of the specialties of Green-Wood is the MONK PARAKEET. The bird has established several colonies around Brooklyn, but the Green-Wood colony is perhaps the most accessible. For many years there has been a large nest, housing dozens of these birds, in the gothic entrance gate at 25th Street (pictured on map). The birds can almost always be seen flying in and out of the nest, or somewhere in the vicinity. They are hard to miss with their squawking calls and bright green coloration.

An Historical Note

The cemetery, which opened in 1840, followed the precedent set nine years earlier by Cambridge's Mt. Auburn (also a notably birdy spot), which was the first non-sectarian rural cemetery in the U.S. The site includes the highest point in Brooklyn, and the Battle of Long Island took place, in part, where the cemetery now resides. Green-Wood represented a coup for our borough--Manhattan had no such facility. Some of the famous among the more than half million interments: Peter Cooper, Dewitt Clinton, "Boss" Tweed, Henry Ward Beecher, Currier and Ives, Horace Greeley, George Catlin and Asher Durand.

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