Staten Island Greenbelt
The most rural of the city's five boroughs, Staten Island offers nature lovers a rich diversity-particularly of birdlife-in the 2500-acre Greenbelt. Here, they will find not only city birds, commonly found in all the boroughs, but farm country birds, such as indigo buntings, white-eyed vireo, woodcock, and northern orioles, all usually found in rural areas. Winter birding is particularly rewarding in the Greenbelt because of its extensive conifer plantings, which offer shelter to such birds of prey as owls (great-horned, long-eared, screech, and barn), the red shouldered hawk, and the kestrel, the smallest falcon native to this area.
Located in central Staten Island, the Greenbelt has some 35 miles of walking trails running along the crest of the Serpentine Ridge and winding through one of the last undisturbed forests in the city. Along its woodland paths are mature stands of oak, hickory, beech, maple, sweetgum, and tulip trees, as well as rare species of fern- such as fragile and royal- and drifts of such unusual wild flowers like blood root and wild pagonia. The Greenbelt also boasts glacial ponds and a 16-acre lake, one of the finest natural watersheds in New York City, offering refuge to a variety of small animals. The Greenbelt is also home to the 15-acre Great Swamp, near Farm Colony. Here you will find swamp rose, wild ginger, and, in Buck’s Hollow and at Latourette Park, native persimmon and blue gentian-species rare in urban forests.
Designated in 1984 to protect the island's natural lands, the Greenbelt actually encompasses seven city parks; baseball, football, and soccer fields located at its edge; the Seaview/Farm Colony Historic District; the Richmondtown Restoration; the Jacques Marchais Tibetan Museum; and the High Rock Conservation Center, a designated National Environmental Landmark.