FIRST AIRED: August 31, 2017

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00:00:00
>> This group of researchers from the College of Staten Island is sampling birds. Mostly caught are gray catbirds and cardinals. And to the excitement of team leader, Dr Lisa Manna, a mockingbird.>> He's very fresh. This is a hatching year bird.>> While the species are common in this area, this location is anything but.
00:00:21
>> I am Ellie Park in New York and I am standing on top of what used to be the world's biggest landfill. And get this, at one point the garbage pile here was so massive it was 82 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty. But almost a decade into the Reclamation Project Fresh Kills is a far cry from its former wasteful self.
00:00:39
>> Mountains of garbage have transformed into lush forests and grasslands. And with it came wildlife species common and uncommon for the area, explains the park's science manager, Kate Field.>> Over in this direction is East Park. We have about eight osprey nests on site that are successful. The osprey's hunt the fish that are in the creeks here.
00:00:59
We have this year about 45 nesting pairs of grasshopper sparrows, which was not expected whatsoever as they are very uncommon.>> Other wildlife includes bald eagles, numerous fish species, and groundhogs, attracting scientists from different fields.>> It kinda gives us this sort of time point zero that is rarely available in this type of ecology work, to see what comes back when and how successful it is.
00:01:30
>> According to Manna, the birds are already thriving.>> We capture a lot of hatching year birds, which means those are birds that just hatched this summer. And they're about to undertake their first winter, or undertake their first migratory passage. And they're doing just fine.>> Part of Fresh Kills is still an active landfill closure construction site.
00:01:52
But when all is finished, it will be nearly three times the size of Central Park. While nature is gradually finding its way back, last to be allowed here will be humans, as the reclamation is projected to be finished at 2036.