The eGret
February News & Events

NYC Audubon Celebrates 30 Years of Conservation

Great Egret, © Steve Nanz

Greetings from NYC Audubon.   We hope many of you are planning to get out and bird this weekend, and contribute to the 15th annual Great Backyard Bird Count. In this issue you can also read an update on Four Sparrow Marsh, and we hope you'll join us on March 1 for a lecture by Israeli ornithologist Yosssi Leshem.   We have also added a few more Winter Seals and Waterbirds Ecocruises; we hope you'll join us.  

This issue is a fairly short one, as we're busy at the NYC Audubon office preparing our new website for its debut on February 29.  We hope you'll come and visit us then, and see what the new site has to offer!   Happy February.

Redhead Duck © Laura MeyersPhotographer Laura Meyers recently spotted this beautiful male Redhead in the Bronx.

This Weekend: The Great Backyard Bird Count

Whether you stay in our own yard, visit a neighborhood park, or travel farther to your favorite birding hotspots, you can contribute to the 15th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC).  The GBBC, like the Christmas Bird Count or Breeding Bird Count,  is an effort to take a "snapshot" of bird numbers that can be compared to prior years.  Examination of 15 years' worth of data collected across the U.S. and Canada may alert scientists to species declines due to disease or other threats--and adds to our knowledge of species distribution, migration patterns, and winter "irruptions" of northern species.  

Anyone can participate, and you can bird as long as you want, wherever you want.  The count begins today, Friday February 17, and runs through the end of Monday, February 20.  You can learn how to participate on the GBBC website.  The Great Backyard Bird Count is led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada and sponsorship from Wild Birds Unlimited.

 The saltmarsh sparrow is one of four sparrow species known to breed at Four Sparrow Marsh. Photo © David Speiser

Progress Report: Four Sparrow Marsh 

On February 8, the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) presented its scaled-back plan for development at the Mill Basin property adjacent to Four Sparrow Marsh to the Brooklyn Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) meeting. The project as proposed to Community Board 18 in January and again at the Brooklyn ULURP meeting includes only the existing Toys R Us and a new car dealership that would occupy much of the existing parking lot. The new proposal would include a parking easement on the adjacent undeveloped property. NYC Audubon executive director Glenn Phillips testified at the ULURP meeting in support of re-zoning to allow the project to go forward as planned, as long as the remaining undeveloped property is transferred to the Parks Department and re-mapped as parkland, along with re-mapping Four Sparrow Marsh itself (That property has already been transferred to the Parks Department). Community Board 18 has already made similar recommendations. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz seemed supportive of the Community Board and NYC Audubon. Borough President Markowitz questioned representatives from the EDC about their willingness to address the concerns of the community board. From here, the proposal will go to the Planning Commission and then to the City Council. In the coming months NYC Audubon will be calling for your help, in order to make sure that your City Council Member knows where you stand on this project.  
It is looking very possible that the remaining undeveloped uplands may become park. With your help we can protect this important buffer for Four Sparrow Marsh and ensure that the marsh itself remains protected.

Common Cranes © Dror GaliliCommon cranes, seen here flying against Syria's Mount Hermon in the background, are among the subjects of Dr. Leshem's research. Photo © Dror Galili

Lecture Series


By Yossi Leshem, Tel Aviv University
Thursday, March 1
7:30pm reception; lecture begins at 8pm
The Jewish National Fund Building at 42 East 69th Street (between Park and Madison Avenues)

Please join us in welcoming Israeli Ornithologist Dr. Yossi Leshem, senior researcher in the Department of Zoology in the Faculty of Life Sciences at Tel Aviv University and founder and director of the International Center for the Study of Bird Migration at Latrun, Israel.  Dr. Leshem's research includes tracking of storks, pelicans, and vultures via satellite transmitter; the employment of raptors as biological pest control; and the use of bird-tracking radar by military aircraft.  His talk will highlight the ways his research has helped to reduce collision hazards and conserve migratory birds through international cooperation.  In partnership with the Jewish National Fund, American Friends of Tel Aviv University and the American Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel.  Our lecture series has been made possible by the support of Claude and Lucienne Bloch.

Harbor Seal © Steve NanzA seemingly contented harbor seal,  one of the target species of our Winter Ecocruises. Photo © Steve Nanz

Winter Seals & Waterbirds Ecocruises

We've added two more cruises to our Winter Ecocruise schedule!  Come out and enjoy a trip to look for winter ducks and seals, and great views of the New York harbor.  There are two cruises on Feb. 26: 
Morning Cruise: 11am-1pm
Afternoon Cruise: 2-4pm
Meet at South Street Seaport’s Pier 17 and come aboard NY Water Taxi’s eco-friendly vessel for a winter adventure in New York Harbor! Look for harbor seals on the rocky shores of Governor’s Island and the more remote Hoffman and Swinburne Islands. Learn about the surprisingly diverse winter birds of New York City, including ducks, geese, loons, and sandpipers, many of which migrate south from the Arctic. See the Statue of Liberty and pass under the Verrazano Bridge. Dress warmly and bring your binoculars. Limited to 60. Register online or contact New York Water Taxi at 212-742-1969. $35 for adults; $25 for children 3-12 (no member discount)

Snowy Owl © David Speiser
This beautiful adult snowy owl was seen in late January and early February at Jones Beach.  Photo © David Speiser

Top photo of Great Egret © Steve Nanz