March is roaring in like a lion, on cue; we'll just have to hope that gentler, meeker weather is indeed on its way. We can be sure that our migrants are on their way; red-winged blackbirds and common oystercatchers, often among the earliest of our summer birds to return, were out in force on a recent expedition to Jones Beach. And male hooded mergansers seemed to sense spring in the air this past weekend, as they put on a spectacular show on the Central Park Meer for (one assumes) admiring females.
We start this issue with a call for help for our returning migrants: NYC Audubon is working to ensure safe passage through our urban landscape via Project Safe Flight and Lights Out NY. Also in this issue: Exciting new tours of northern Maine and Trinidad & Tobago; our new Camera Club Facebook group; approval of new NY state park funding; the New-York Historical Society's Audubon's Aviary Exhibit debuts; Mark Hauber lectures on the battle between brood parasites and their hosts; member trips; and our March volunteer orientation. Happy March!
Please note: This Saturday's Sandy Hook trip has been canceled due to continued closure of the area following Hurricane Sandy. Also, our Winter Seals and Waterbirds Ecocruises have been extended one more Sunday: The last tour is this coming Sunday, March 10. Last week we saw a number of harbor seals, a large flock of long-tailed ducks, and a beautiful male redhead off of Swinburne Island. Buy tickets here.
Common yellowthroats are very frequent victims of window collisions in New York City. Photo © David Speiser
Make This Spring Migration a Safe One for Returning Migrants
Each year, an estimated 90,000 birds are killed in New York City during migration through collisions with building glass. This staggering number of deaths is caused primarily by two interrelated problems: artificial night-time lighting that attracts birds to urban sites, and reflective glass that creates the illusion of sky or habitat.
Bright lights, especially on overcast nights or when the moon is new, can overpower the weaker visible light from the moon and stars that birds use to navigate. Recent studies have shown that nocturnally migrating birds can be disoriented by light and become “trapped” by illuminated structures.
Though night-migrating birds may sometimes collide with lighted windows on high-rise buildings, more often the birds become confuse or disoriented by night-time lighting and wind up spending the night on sidewalks or in pocket parks. The next morning, the birds are ready to forage for food or lift off to continue their migration. It is at this time that habitat (trees, shrubs, or sky) reflected in glass windows proves fatal. Birds may fly, full force, into what looks like sky or trees—with deadly results. NYC Audubon has found most collisions occur during the day at the lower levels of buildings, where large glass exteriors reﬂect abundant vegetation or sky, or where transparent windows expose indoor vegetation.
Solutions exist to address these man-made hazards to our migrating birds, and NYC Audubon needs your help to implement them. Click here to read more and learn how you can be part of the solution
Atlantic puffins on Maine's Machias Seal Island © Emil Kepko
A Maine Vacation... and a Birding Education
NYC Audubon and native Mainer Gabriel Willow have a different kind of Maine adventure planned for this spring, following successful expeditions in recent years to Monhegan Island and Maine's southern Coast. This year's tour heads to what Gabriel calls "the real Maine": the great boreal forests and craggy coasts of Maine's northern border. While there, the group will take part in not just one but two birding festivals: the Down East Birding Festival, located right near the Canadian border (and including a quick visit to New Brunswick's Campobello Island); and the Acadia Birding Festival, in the renowned and spectacular Acadia National Park. We'll take part in expert-led birding workshops, tours, and lectures--and have some spectacular opportunities to meet bird researchers and get close-up and personal with the birds themselves.
While Down East, the group will land on Machias Seal Island, the largest puffin colony in the lower 48, and also home to large colonies of razorbills and arctic terns--as well as smaller numbers of nesting common eiders, Leach's Sterm petrels, and roseate terns. The group will meet with puffin researchers and visit several bird blinds on the island that allow close-up viewing of these fascinating birds at their nesting sites.
As part of the Acadia Birding Festival, the group will visit with bird-bander Seth Benz, former director of the Hog Island Audubon bird camp. We'll visit his banding site as he uses mist nets to capture migrating songbirds on Mount Desert Island, called by Roger Tory Peterson, "the warbler capital of the world." While we hike and canoe through Acadia's awe-inspiring landscape, we'll also be looking for breeding boreal species such as gray jay, boreal chickadee, both crossbill species, and spruce grouse.
You can learn more about our upcoming Maine expedition here.
Dunlins at Jones Beach State Park, an important habitat for both migrating and breeding shorebirds. Photo © Francois Portmann
Governor Cuomo Proposes Unprecedented State Parks and EPF Funding
NYC Audubon applauds Governor's Cuomo's proposed State Fiscal Year 2013-2014 Executive Budget, which provides an unprecedented $90 million in capital funding for our state park system and adds $19 million in funding for the Environmental Protection Fund. These resources will help address the more than $1 billion in infrastructure needs and critical safety repairs needed to revitalize state parks like Jones Beach that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy. We believe the state's budget can serve as a national model for smarter rebuilding after storms and protecting these cherished places from the impacts of sea level rise and future storms. We hope the State Senate and Assembly approve this much-needed investment and seek additional means of creating more funding for our parks and environment.
NYC Audubon signed onto two letters written by "Parks and Trails New York" on behalf of friends of New York State parks addressing New York State Legislature. The first letter thanks Governor Cuomo for his budget proposal and the second urges the State Senate and Assembly to approve the budget. To learn more, visit Park & Trails New York's website.
Ruby-topaz hummingbird photographed in Trinidad © David Speiser
A Very Special Visit to Trinidad's Asa Wright Nature Centre
Last year, NYC Audubon's David Speiser was among a small group of photographers who traveled to Trinidad's renowned Asa Wright Nature Centre, invited for an express purpose: the creation of a photography tour itinerary that would make the best use of this spectacular nature preserve and lodge. Renowned for its great variety of tropical birdlife--much of it viewable from the Centre's "birding veranda"--this 1,500-acres property is a favorite of wildlife scientists and ecotourists. Its large rain forest and easy access to plentiful wildlife, including an oilbird colony located in the property's Dunston Cave, make it a rare birding opportunity--and and even rarer photographic one. David Speiser, a professional wildlife photographer who is also co-instructor of NYC Audubon's Camera Club, helped design daily photography sessions that will make use of new specially created bird blinds, built to provide great photography opportunities of species including hummingbirds, trogons, jacamars, and toucans.
A planned photography tour this June, led by David as well as by local birding guides, will spend time at both Asa Wright as well as on Trinidad's lovely sister island of Tobago. On Tobago, the group will stay at the Blue Waters Inn, nestled right on the beach in its own private bay, and take a glass-bottomed boat ride over coral reefs to visit a nearby red-billed tropicbird and brown booby colony. To learn more about this unique photography and birding opportunity and see a full itinerary, please visit our Trinidad and Tobago tour page
Announcing: The NYC Audubon Camera Club Facebook Group!
Great Egret Print by John James Audubon, courtesy of the New-York Historical Society
"Audubon's Aviary" Exhibit Opens Today
"Audubon's Aviary: Part 1 of the Complete Flock," the first of three annual exhibitions at the New-York Historical Society showcasing the stunning avian watercolors by John James Audubon, opens today, March 8. Celebrating the sesquicentennial anniversary of the New-York Historical Society's purchase of the Audubon avian watercolors and the release of the award-winning book, Audubon's Aviary: The Original Watercolors for the Birds of America
, the exhibit features 175 avian watercolors from Audubon's early drawings until around 1833.
Check out the New-York Historical Society's engaging online exhibition
for this momentous event, featuring photos of selected avian watercolors with the illuminating stories behind them, bird call audio for each of the exhibit's 175 featured birds, and additional information on trips and events celebrating Audubon's Aviary.
New Zealand shining cuckoo © Mark Hauber
All lectures are free and open to the public and are held at The Arsenal, Central Park, 5th Ave. at 64th St., 3rd Floor Gallery. This series has been made possible by the support of Claude and Lucienne Bloch and Patagonia.
COWBIRDS, CUCKOOS, AND FOSTER PARENTING IN THE AVIAN WORLD
By Mark Hauber
Wednesday, March 13, 6pm
Obligate avian brood parasites, including cowbirds in our parks and backyards, honeyguides in Africa and Asia, many cuckoos across the world, and even some finches and ducks, lay their eggs in the nests of other species. The host birds raise the brood parasitic birds' young. Mark Hauber, Professor of Psychology at Hunter College, will discuss why and how hosts of brood parasitic birds fail to recognize "foreign" eggs in their nests and whether brood parasitic young face challenges, using illustrations and his experimental studies from North America, New Zealand, and Europe.
American Woodcock © David Speiser
MARCH MEMBER WALK IN PROSPECT PARK
Tuesday, March 26, 7:30-9am
Meet at the entrance to Prospect Park across from Grand Army Plaza, and join NYC Audubon Board Member Tom Stephenson for a members-only early spring migration walk in Prospect Park. Please contact Adriana Palmer at 212-691-7483 x301 or email@example.com
to register. Limited to 20. Free for Contributing NYC Audubon members at the Student/Senior level and up.
WOODCOCK COURTSHIP AT JAMAICA BAY
Thursday, April 18, 3-8pm
Join Don Riepe and Peter Mott to witness the spectacular flight of the woodcock! After a leisurely check of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge’s West Pond and gardens, we will adjourn to the woodcock courting grounds to look for male woodcocks executing their dramatic flight displays. Please contact Adriana Palmer at 212-691-7483 x301 or firstname.lastname@example.org
to register. Bring dinner; transport by passenger van, snacks, and drinks provided. Limited to 11. Free to members only at the Family and Supporter levels.
This ruby-throated hummingbird was rescued and transported to the Wild Bird Fund after a window collision at Rockefeller University. Photo © Heeun Jang
Volunteer with NYC Audubon
VOLUNTEER ORIENTATION SESSION
Thursday, March 14, 6:30-7:30pm
Want to make a difference for the City’s wildlife? You can help by working in NYC Audubon’s friendly office or in the field. NYC Audubon needs volunteers for its many conservation programs
, such as Project Safe Flight
and its Jamaica Bay Projects
, which include the harbor herons foraging study and horseshoe crab monitoring. Our office can always use a helping hand, too. Click the links above for more info. To learn more abou our programs and sign up, please register for our volunteer orientation by contacting John Rowden at (212) 691-7483 x306 or email@example.com
PROJECT SAFE FLIGHT MONITORING
Monday, March 18 and Thursday, March 21, 6:30-7:30pm
Spring is here, and migrants confront many hazards as they migrate through New York City. Volunteers are needed to monitor designated buildings for bird collisions, rescue injured birds, and record any casualties. For more information and to register, please contact Adriana Palmer at 212-691-7483 x301 or firstname.lastname@example.org
BIRD TRANSPORTER TRAINING SESSION AT THE WILD BIRD FUND CENTER
Wednesday, March 20, 6:30-7:30pm
We often receive calls from individuals who have found injured birds but are unable to transport them to rehabilitators. We need caring volunteers to transport these birds to licensed wildlife rehabilitators in the area. A training session will be held at the Wild Bird Fund Center on Wednesday, March 20, 6:30-7:30pm. For more information and to register, please contact Adriana Palmer at 212-691-7483 x301 or email@example.com
BAYSIDE ANGLERS WATERFRONT DAY
Sunday, April 14, 2013, 9am
We encourage everyone to join the Bayside Anglers for their upcoming 19th annual Little Neck Bay Shoreline Clean-Up on April 14 . Volunteers will be spending the day cleaning a winter's worth of debris from the nearly three-mile-long public shoreline in Bayside and could use your help. Participants will be provided refreshments and food while also being entered for a chance to win raffle prizes! Volunteers should bring their own basic tools like work gloves and paper grabber or "ez-reacher"--and are encouraged to wear boots or similar footwear with traction to prevent slipping on rocks. To learn more, visit the Bayside Anglers Website
Top and Sidebar Photos: great egret, tricolored heron, Atlantic puffins, prairie warbler, purple martin © Steve Nanz; tree swallow © François Portmann; American bittern, Trinidad motmot, hooded warbler © David Speiser