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Urban Ornithology is the first quantitative historical analysis of any New York City natural area's birdlife – Van Cortlandt Park and the adjacent Northwest Bronx – and spans the century and a half from 1872 to 2016. Only Manhattan's Central and Brooklyn's Prospect Parks have preliminary species lists, not revised since 1967, and the last book examining the birdlife of the entire New York City area is now more than fifty years old. The present book also updates the avifaunas of those two parks, the Bronx, and other New York City boroughs.
Urban Ornithology treats the 301 bird species known to have occurred Within its study area, plus fifty potential additions. Its 123 breeding species are tracked from 1872, only twenty years after Audubon's death in Manhattan, supplemented by quantitative breeding bird censuses from 1937 to 2015. Gains and losses of breeding species are discussed in light of an expanding New York City inexorably extinguishing unique habitats. The many tradeoffs inherent in managing an urban park area for mass recreation while conserving its natural resources are examined throughout.
"This book is quite simply an inter-generational life work of exceptional breadth and depth by co-authors intimately acquainted with their subject. Urban Ornithology provides a meticulous account of eco-history of the Northwest Bronx, complete with excellent illustrations of the study area and environs at various periods, all of which is vital to an understanding of avifaunal changes and the importance of Van Cordtlandt Park and its sub areas to migratory birds."
– Richard P. Kane, co-author of Birds of New Jersey
"Urban Ornithology is a book of exceptionally high quality and reflects the expertise of the four authors, spanning their more than one hundred years of field work. What the authors have produced is unique for a North American regional work on ornithology. Urban Ornithology will be a monumental contribution to the growing field of urban ecology."
– Richard R. Veit, co-author of Birds of Massachusetts
"Growing up in mid-20th Century Manhattan with Central Park as my birding backyard, it was eye-opening to read John Kiernan's accounts of the much more diverse birdlife of the Bronx. Van Cortlandt Park seemed as remote and promising as the Adirondacks to a 12-year old on his first visit in 1960. Even now, for the city birder it still feels like the countryside. Urban Ornithology makes clear that the Bronx continues to be a birding hotspot and that, at its core, Van Cortlandt Park could with smart management become the premier urban wildlife park in the United States. The book's rich information on the ever-changing status of birdlife in the entire New York City region and the detailed comparisons with Central and Prospect parks make Urban Ornithology essential and fascinating reading for all New York City birders and naturalists."
– Roger F. Pasquier, author of Watching Birds: An Introduction to Ornithology and Painting Central Park