Here at NYC Audubon, we have time to take a very quick breath following the excitement of spring migration... before plunging right back into our conservation fieldwork with the City's breeding waterbirds. These past weeks we've been busy banding fledgling black skimmers, double-crested cormorants, herring gulls, great egrets, American oystercatchers, and common terns, all part of a greater effort to understand where "our" birds go during migration and the wintertime, and what areas are most important to them.
Common terns, featured in this issue, appear to be doing well in the City after years of decline. Director of Conservation and Science Susan Elbin reports on the work we've been doing
with this threatened species in New York State. (Don't miss our "It's Your Tern" festival this Saturday on Governors Island
, part of City of Water Day and featuring the thriving common tern colony there. Also in this issue we include a summary of our other banding work
—and remind you while you're out birding to "look at the legs"!)
Of course we can't forget the stars of the summer breeding bird show: the harbor herons.
The double-crested cormorant, an "honorary" harbor heron, got some attention in a recent column in the Wall Street Journal
on our Sunset Ecocruises. (Get your discounted tickets!
) NYC Audubon has also been featured one way or another in a few other stories recently on National Audubon's website: read about NYC Audubon's D-Bird website
and draw your own conclusion on a tongue-in-cheek take on birding outfits
Also in this issue: wind energy and birds
, fall volunteer opportunities
, and upcoming events: weekly Bat Walks in Central Park
, July trips to Freshills Park
and Croton Point Park
, and the Jamaica Bay Shorebird Festival on Saturday, August 20. And finally: save Monday, October 17 for the Fall Roost!
Common Tern with Chick on Governors Island © Barbara Saunders
New York City's
The common tern (Sterna hirundo), a native North American waterbird, was nearly extirpated from North America by the millinery trade in the late 19th century, and again by habitat loss and environmental contaminants in the mid-20th century. Thanks to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and other conservation efforts and environmental regulations, this species has been brought back from the brink of extinction. But populations have not returned to historic levels. The common tern continues to be a threatened species in New York State, and maintaining current population levels requires management to protect the breeding population. The major threats to tern populations on their breeding grounds appear to be space limitation due to habitat destruction and competition with other waterbirds. Common terns are also threatened by specific consequences of climate changes such as warmer summers and severe storms that impact shoreline nesting areas.
Common terns have been nesting in the Jamaica Bay area for decades. Just recently, a colony has established itself on the decommissioned piers of Governors Island. Just a ferry ride from lower Manhattan, the birds can been seen plunge-diving for fish to feed their growing chicks. Click here to continue reading on our blog, Syrinx...
It's Your Tern!
Saturday, July 16, 10am-4pm
(Rain date Sunday, July 17, noon-4pm) South Battery Triangle, Governors Island
With Governors Island National Monument, Governors Island Alliance, Waterfront Alliance, New York Harbor School, Earth Matter, National Park Service
Free. No Registration Necessary
Come celebrate Governors Island’s treasures: common terns and oysters! Common terns, listed as a threatened species in New York State, have nested for several years on three decommissioned piers on Governors Island’s waterfront. The colony has expanded over time and benefited recently from the introduction of oyster shells as a nesting material. This year, the Tern Festival will be held from 10am to 4pm as part of Waterfront Alliance’s City of Water Day. Free activities at this year’s festival will include bird walks and talks with Gabriel Willow and Annie Barry, and hands-on activities for the whole family including art projects and a scavenger hunt. In addition to food truck options available as part of City of Water Day, Little Eva's food stand will again return to the festival.
Click here for more information and directions to the Tern Festival.
Click here to learn more about City of Water Day activities and tours.
Double-Crested Cormorant Fledglings on Swinburne Island © Don Riepe
The Harbor Herons
Hit Wall Street
This week, The Wall Street Journal's “Urban Gardner” column shines light on some of our City’s lesser-known wildlife: the thriving breeding bird colonies of New York Harbor. Columnist Ralph Gardner Jr. shares his experience aboard one of our Sunset Ecocruises to the Harbor Heron Islands, where he takes in the sights of common terns nesting at Governors Island, the hundreds of cormorants breeding at Hoffman Island, and more. Click here to read Ralph Gardner Jr.'s column. Read more about our ecocruises, and get your special discount, below:
The nesting birds of the harbor heron colonies are off limits to the public—but NYC Audubon's Sunset Ecocruises to the Harbor Heron Islands can take you there! Ecocruises will run Wednesday evenings through August 17. We once again visit three different destinations, depending on which cruise you choose: the Brother Islands, Hoffman & Swinburne Islands, and Jamaica Bay. As a friend of NYC Audubon, you will receive a special discount of $5 off tickets to Hoffman & Swinburne and Brother Islands Ecocruises, and $8 off our Jamaica Bay Ecocruise. To receive your special discount, purchase tickets online at www.nywatertaxi.com/tours/audubon and enter one of the discount coupon codes below. (Coupon is valid for online purchases only and cannot be combined with any other offer or on previously purchased tickets. Please note blackout dates may apply. Each voucher is valid for one to four people. Expires 9.31.16.)
Brother Islands and Hoffman & Swinburne Ecocruises: To receive $5 off each ticket purchased, enter the code BIRDS in the space labeled "Redeem Discount Coupon."
Jamaica Bay Ecocruise: To receive $8 off each ticket purchased, enter the code JAMAICA in the space labeled "Redeem Discount Coupon."
Visit New York Water Taxi's website for more cruise details and to purchase tickets.
D-bird in the News
National Audubon featured our online database, D-Bird, in a recent web article
. To learn more about D-Bird and see an interactive map of D-Bird data, click here
Gabriel Willow: Birding Fashionista?
Our own Gabriel Willow is featured in the photo accompanying a recent post about birding attire on Audubon.org
. (To be clear, Gabriel actually had nothing to do with the creation of the article; a photo of his walk on Governors Island was simply used as an example of birding outfits
.) As you'll see when you read the post—and accompanying comments—this article has ruffled some feathers. But we thought we'd share it anyway; we'll let you come to your own conclusions about what is acceptable birding attire! Read the article here
This Fledgling Snowy Egret with Blue Colored Leg Band Was Originally Banded at Hoffman Island. Photo © NYC Audubon
Keep on the Lookout for Banded Birds
Over the past three months, our conservation team has been busy banding birds all over New York City. Banding birds with field-readable leg bands and wing-tags like the one seen above provides researchers with invaluable information. These identifiable bands can help us learn about where birds go during migration and the winter season, whether they return to the same places each year to nest, and what areas are important to their survival. All together we have banded over 350 birds this year and counting.
So while you're out birding, don't forget to look for field-readable color bands! You might be seeing birds we've banded, or maybe even birds that others have banded elsewhere. We have color bands on American oystercatchers, black skimmers, common terns, herring gulls, double-crested cormorants, great egrets, and more! Some of our great egrets even have wing tags that are easy to spot and read.
Every band sighting yields important information, so report banded birds to the U.S. Geological Survey Bird Banding Lab. In the past few weeks alone we've gotten reports of a herring gull chick we banded last spring at the Jacob Javits Center seen in Hamilton Harbor, Ontario, as well as a great egret we banded as a fledgling in 2013 on Elder's Marsh seen foraging in Whitestone, Queens! While not birds, we also tagged around 800 horseshoe crabs throughout Jamaica Bay and these tags can be reported to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service here.
Photo © Paul*
Wind Energy Environmental Assessment Published
The Bureau of Energy Management (BOEM) is vested in creating sustainable solutions to meet NYC’s energy needs. An area in the New York Bight has been identified for future wind farm development. BOEM has published an Environmental Assessment for that sight, open for public comment. NYC Audubon supports the wise development of wind energy as long as the wind turbine siting does not present a risk to birds and other wildlife.
You can read the Environmental Assessment by clicking here.
You can submit comments by clicking here.
Big Brown Bat © Angell Williams*
Central Park Has Gone Batty!
Explore the mysteries of Central Park at twilight on our Twilight Bat and Insect Walks. Naturalist Paul Keim will lead you in search of curious nocturnal insects such as crickets and katydids--and of course, in search of bats! We'll seek these fascinating and misunderstood flying mammals and learn about their great importance to our environment. We'll see local bat species in flight as they hunt and dive for insects, and hear them with an echolocator. Walks run Tuesdays, July 19 through August 16, 7:45-9:15pm. Click here to see our list of local trips and choose which Bat Walk you'd like to attend.
Osprey © Lloyd Spitalnik
Birding Gems of Staten Island: Freshkills Park
Sunday, July 24, 8am-3pm
Guides: Cliff Hagen, Tod Winston
Meet at the Staten Island Ferry and start your trip with a journey across the Upper Bay! This is a special opportunity to see Freshkills Park in transition from what was once the world’s largest landfill into an expansive park. Currently closed to the general public, the Park is home to rolling grasslands, tidal marshes, successional woodlands and a freshwater pond system, which host an array of breeding birds, butterflies, mammals, frogs, and turtles. Grasshopper sparrows, osprey, yellow warblers, and blue grosbeaks nest alongside wrens, blackbirds, orioles and shorebirds. Click here to learn more
Bobolink © Lloyd Spitalnik
Explore the Birds of Croton Point Park
Saturday, July 30, 8:20am-3pm
Guide: Gabriel Willow
Travel in comfort aboard Metro North to visit Croton Point Park, a beautiful 500-acre park on a peninsula on the Hudson River, about one hour north of the city. The park is rich in natural and human history - it has the oldest native american oyster shell middens in the northeast, revealing that it was inhabited as long as 7,000 years ago; today, the park has a wonderful mix of forest, wetlands, and grassland. The grasslands are atop a hill formed by a former landfill, and are home to hard-to-find breeding bird species such as indigo bunting, grasshopper sparrow, bobolink, and eastern meadowlark. The woodlands nearby are home to breeding great horned owl, willow flycatcher, and orchard oriole, as well as the more expected common breeders. Click here to learn more and to register.
Jamaica Bay Shorebirds © François Portmann
11th Annual Jamaica Bay Shorebird Festival
Saturday, August 20, 7:30am-5pm
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
With Gateway National Recreation Area and the American Littoral Society
During the past 40 years, over 40 species of shorebirds have been recorded at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge’s East and West Ponds from mid-July through October, with the greatest diversity and abundance usually occurring in August. Come to our 10th annual Shorebird Festival and enjoy presentations and expert-led walks. Free bus transportation from Manhattan to Jamaica Bay is available for NYC Audubon members at the Student/Senior level and up. Click here to learn more
Work in NYC Audubon’s friendly office or in the field and make a difference for the City’s wildlife. There are many ways you can help. If you would like to volunteer for specific programs like the ones listed below, or want to learn more about ways you can contribute, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to learn more ways you can volunteer.
PROJECT SAFE FLIGHT VOLUNTEER ORIENTATION SESSIONS
There are many ways to participate in Project Safe Flight! Volunteers can monitor buildings weekly for window collisions (beginning September 1); pick up injured birds and transport them to the Wild Bird Fund (as needed); participate in our Tribute in Light monitoring event (on Sept. 11); and more. Training dates for all of these Project Safe Flight activities are below. Training sessions will be held at our offices at 71 W 23rd St Suite 1523 unless otherwise noted. Please contact us to register.
THE URBAN AUDUBON
- Collision Monitoring: Tuesday, August 16 and Monday, August 22, 6-7pm
- Tribute in Light Monitoring: Thursday, September 1, 6-7pm. With National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
- Injured Bird Transporting: Wednesday, September 7, 6-7pm, at The Wild Bird Fund: 565 Columbus Avenue in Manhattan.
Join the newsletter committee and contribute your writing skills to four seasonal issues. Meetings are bi-monthly in the early evening.
INTERNATIONAL COASTAL CLEANUP
Saturday, September 17, 10am-2pm (Rain Date: Sunday, September 18)
With Sadhana, American Littoral Society, and National Park Service
Join us at North Channel Bridge to take part in a multi-state effort to improve coastline habitat. The North Channel Bridge area, used by species like the American oystercatcher, is also a stone’s throw away from the Harbor Heron Islands, the newly restored Elders Point Marsh, and the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Help us clear the beach and raise awareness of the importance of coastal areas to birdlife. Equipment and refreshments are provided; free bus transportation from Manhattan is available (space is limited). Click here to learn more and register.
SAVE THE DATE: THE FALL ROOST
The Fall Roost will take place on Monday, October 17.
The Fall Roost raises essential funds to protect wild birds and their habitats in the five boroughs. The Roost returns this year to Guastavino’s, the exciting landmarked space under the 59th Street Bridge. The evening starts at 6:30 with cocktails and a silent auction, followed by a seated dinner. More details coming soon.
This cliff swallow peaking out of its adobe nest was just one of 106 species sighted on Gabriel Willow's recent trip to the Adirondacks. Other highlights included gray jay, black-backed woodpecker, ruffed grouse, yellow-bellied flycatcher, boreal chickadee, mourning warbler, red crossbill... and the rare Bicknell's thrush. Photo © Chang Peng.
Top and Sidebar Photos: great egret © Steve Nanz; black-crowned night-heron © Laura Meyers; great shearwater, bald eagle © Lloyd Spitalnik; northern harrier © dfaulder*
* This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.