Looks like we made it: spring is finally (finally!) here. Birds are chirping, buds are exploding, and the air is so thick with pollen it feels a little like walking through a sandstorm.

Wait, what? No matter though, now is time to get outside and enjoy it, because we all know summer will be here soon.

But where to go? Well, you could choose one of the 1,700+ New York City parks scattered across the five boroughs, or you could choose another, less traditional patch of green: perhaps something like Green-Wood Cemetery.

Measuring in at 478 acres, and dotted with more than 8,000 trees, Green-Wood feels remarkably wild in places, especially when you venture past the more popular spots near the front gates. And while it is certainly a place for remembrance and reflection, it can also be a haven for discovery and appreciaton of nature, too.

So, grab your bike or hop the train and head out to Green-Wood this weekend. If you’re lucky, here are five things you might see:

  1. Birds!

    It’s prime migration season, so the park is covered with palm warblers, kinglets, black and white warblers, hermit thrushes, and your usual robins and sparrows. Don’t forget to look up, too—Green-Wood is home to several red-tailed hawks.

    A hermit thrush (left) and a palm warbler (right) in Green-Wood Cemetery. Photo credit: NYER.
    A hawk soars above trees in bloom. Photo credit: NYER.

    A great egret hunts for its supper. Photo credit: NYER.
  2. Blooms!

    Plenty that have already burst, and plenty that are still waiting.

    Blooms and buds in Green-Wood. Photo credit: NYER.

    Hot pink. Photo credit: NYER.
  3. Bees!

    Head down to Dell Waters, a smudge of a pond located in one of the more forgotten areas of the cemetery. The waters are murky, and the grounds a bit wild, but parked on the banks are a set of buzzing beehives. This is the cemetery’s first attempt at beekeeping—a project that they hope will assist with pollination on-grounds while also supporting the city’s pollinator population overall. And big, sweet bonus: they hope the bees will produce a supply of honey, too!

    Green-Wood Cemetery’s first foray into beekeeping. Photo credit: NYER.

    Happy bees. Photo credit: NYER.
  4. Solar panels!

    Just to the east of Dell Waters is a slightly larger pond called Crescent Water. Smack in the middle of the water is a solar installation (along with another larger panel on the shore). The panels generate energy for the pumping system that keeps the water from becoming stagnant. Crescent Water is a naturally-fed, glacial pond, but seems to need a bit of circulation support.

    Solar panels in Crescent Water. Photo credit: NYER.
  5. (Not-so-wild) Wildlife!

    Ok, so, it’s no National Geographic safari, but who doesn’t love stumbling across one of these guys? Just keep an eye out for the large holes that mark the entrance to their dens.

    A groundhog enjoying the last few hours of sunlight in Green-Wood. Photo credit: NYER.

Green-Wood has an active events calendar, too, full of tree walks and trolley tours. Check out their website for directions and details.

What’s your favorite non-traditional park?