For years, the East End of Forest Park, located near Metropolitan Avenue and Park Lane South by the Water Hole, served as a paradise for bird watchers in the city.
Last year, however, the bird feeders were removed from the space by the Parks Department. The agency said the feeders had fell into disrepair. However, the Queens County Bird Club, which originally installed the feeders more than 15 years ago, said they were properly maintained by club members.
Instead, Queens County Bird Club President Arie Gilbert said, Parks Department staff may have removed the feeders because the club’s agreement was an informal one.
While the Queens County Bird Club had permission from some officials, they didn’t undergo the official process of notifying the Parks Department and being approved for the maintenance of the station.
“I have since discovered that Parks Department is a remarkably huge department,” Gilbert said. “They periodically do administrative things to various parks, and since we did it in a discreet manner with some permission, it wasn’t done 100 percent kosher.
“We worked with them over the year, and after we explained we had taken care of the feeder station in a responsible manner, they agreed to put them back up again,” he added.
In addition to the Park Department’s discussion with the club’s bird feeder committee, an online petition garnered support from more than 460 people.
Gilbert and the Parks Department said that they will be reinstalling new feeders within the next few weeks, sometime before Thanksgiving, so birdwatchers can utilize the space this season.
“Community amenities like this are most successful when they have a dedicated community group to help care for and maintain them,” said Parks Department spokesperson Meghan Lalor.
After finally coming to a written agreement, the club will continue to maintain the feeders, which will include thistle socks feeders, suet feeders, and hanging platform feeders to attract various types of birds.
Birdwatchers in Forest Park have spotted red-tailed hawks, woodpeckers, warblers, great blue herons, northern orioles, ruby-throated hummingbirds, sparrows and ring-necked pheasants.
The Queens County Bird Club is asking the community for donations in order to defray the cost of the posts, hardware, feeders, and the food. There’s a fundraising page at qcbirdclub.org and on the club’s Facebook page.
“We are very pleased to have worked with the Parks Department on this,” Gilbert said. “It was an unfortunate thing in the way things played out last year, but we’re very happy to have the feeders back up.”