17 Bird Species at Javits Center


More than 1,100 bird sightings and 17 species were observed on the Javits Center’s green roof in 2015, according to a new study conducted by the New York City Audubon. Of the 1,124 bird sightings during the ecological study in 2015, 17 bird species were found, six more compared to the previous year. The green roof remains the only green roof in New York City with a colony of nesting Herring Gulls, which produced 14 chicks in 2015. The diversity of bird species using the roof from spring to fall demonstrates the importance of the building’s 6.75-acre green roof to the community’s ecosystem and its unique presence within New York’s dense urban landscape. The green roof was constructed as a part of the Javits Center’s recent renovation, which included major upgrades to its façade, flooring, and mechanical and technology systems. The Javits Center has partnered with New York City Audubon and other research institutions to explore and understand the impact of its sustainability initiatives on Manhattan’s West Side neighborhood.

“Thanks to our green roof, the Javits Center is home to all kinds of travelers – including those with wings and those without,” said Alan Steel, President and CEO of the New York Convention Center Operating Corporation, which operates the Javits Center. “With all of our sustainable upgrades, the Javits Center has become a better neighbor to the West Side community, and we intend to explore new ways to improve the area’s quality of life. For 30 years, we have been a positive force for New York’s economy, and now, we can say we have become a positive force for its environment as well. I would like to thank New York City Audubon for their dedication to studying our roof and confirming the impact of our work.”

“No building in New York City has done more for the area’s bird population than the Javits Center, and the results of our study reflect that commitment,” said Kathryn Heintz, Executive Director of New York City Audubon. “The green roof has proven to be a habitat for a community of birds, bats and insects in an area of New York City that lacks green space. With its large size and unique location, the Javits Center has become a prime example of the important benefit of green roofs. We thank Alan Steel and his team for their ongoing contributions to the improvement and preservation of our natural environment.”

 According to the New York City Audubon study between May and October, the most prevalent birds utilizing the roof including a variety of functions such as nesting and foraging, were Rock Pigeons, Herring Gulls and European Starlings. Herring Gulls built 12 nests on the green roof in 2015, an increase from the eight nests observed the previous year, and a total of 34 eggs were laid – with 14 chicks hatched. Within a few days of hatching, Audubon researchers banded the chicks with a United States Geological Survey metal band in order to better monitor their movements and development. A pair of Canada Geese also nested on the green roof, with multiple eggs hatched. The New York City Audubon conducted the study for 26 weeks, compared to 10 weeks in 2014 when the construction of the green roof was completed and 524 birds were observed during the organization’s initial study.

The Javits Center green roof is the only active Herring Gull nesting colony on a green roof in New York City, according to the New York City Audubon. In 2014, their nests were only located on the most southern part of the north section of the roof, but in 2015, new nests were built on the north and east areas of the roof. The following is a full list of the 17 bird species observed on the green roof in 2015, including six new species – including a Palm Warbler, the first reported sighting of that bird on a green roof, according to the New York City Audubon:

  • Eastern Phoebe (new)
  • Palm Warbler (new)
  • Ring-billed Gull (new)
  • Peregrine Falcon (new)
  • Common Raven (new)
  • Song Sparrow (new)
  • Canada Goose
  • American Kestrel
  • Herring Gull
  • Great Black-backed gull
  • Rock Pigeon
  • Mourning Dove
  • Fish Crow
  • Barn Swallow
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • European Starling
  • House Sparrow

With specialized recording devices installed on the green roof, bats and arthropods also have been detected on the green roof. In 2015, five species of bats were recorded, along with 244 bat passes, or calls, an indication of a bat’s presence. Arthropods, or insects, representing 11 orders were collected, including a new family called water boatmen, which are primarily aquatic. According to the New York City Audubon, this is the first record of water boatmen utilizing a green roof. According to the study, the green roof -- comprised of sedum grown in Syracuse, NY – provides a habitat for birds, bats and arthropods necessary in such a dense urban environment, and as the roof matures, changes are expected in the abundance and diversity of arthropods and the variety of birds nesting and feeding on the roof.