New York City Audubon champions nature in the city’s five boroughs through a combination of engaging and entertaining programs, and innovative conservation campaigns.
New York City Audubon
House Wren © François Portmann

May and Selected June Local Events

Click here to see ALL Events & Adventures

5/1: Camera Club

5/1: Snapper Reading and Discussion

5/1: Cocktails and Norwegian Tales

5/2: Spring Warblers

5/3: The New Native Plant Garden at New York Botanical Garden begins

5/4: Sterling Forest Warblers

5/4: Biking & Birding: Clove Lakes Park & Silver Lake Park

5/5: Photography Workshop: Sterling Forest Warblers

5/5: Spring Hot Spots of Staten Island

5/7: Screening: Bermuda's "Treasure Island" 

5/8: Lecture -- Visions: Earth Elements in Bird and Nature Photography

5/9: Beginning Birding

5/11: Van Cortlandt Park Bird-a-thon

5/12: Birding at Wave Hill

5/17: Member Walk in Central Park

5/18: Jamaica Bay Saltmarsh Restoration

5/18: Spring Migration on Randall's Island

5/19: Nesting Peregrines and Red-tails of the Upper West Side

5/19: Explore the Bronx River by Rowboat

5/19 "Jamaica Bay Lives" Launch Party and Trailer Screening

5/26: Red Knots & Horseshoe Crabs at Jamaica Bay

5/26: Jamaica Bay Sunset Ecology Cruise

6/1: Hawks Watch in Astoria Park

6/2: Explore the Mysteries of the Meadowlands by Pontoon Boat

6/2: Sunset Ecocruises to the Harbor Herons Islands - Brother Islands

6/5: Camera Club

6/5: The Breeding Birds of Doodletown Road

6/8: Biking & Birding: Jamaica Bay

6/9: Sunset Ecocruises to the Harbor Herons Islands - Jamaica Bay

6/11: Twilight Bat Walks in Central Park

6/15: The Parakeets of Green-wood Cemetery

6/16: Sunset Ecocruises to the Harbor Herons Islands - Hoffman & Swinburne Islands

6/18: Twilight Bat Walks in Central Park

6/22: Birding by Canoe in Constitution Marsh, NY

6/23: Jamaica Bay Sunset Ecology Cruise

6/23: Sunset Ecocruises to the Harbor Herons Islands - Brother Islands

6/25: Twilight Bat Walks in Central Park

6/29: Photo-Workshop: Nesting Waterbirds of Nickerson Beach

6/30: Sunset Ecocruises to the Harbor Herons Islands - Jamaica Bay

Ongoing Local Events

Van Cortlandt Bird Walks:  Saturdays, 8-9:30am, Year-round

Central Park Birding with Families, Sundays, 10-11am, March 3 - May 26

Birding Tours of Bryant Park, Manhattan, Mondays and Thursdays, April 8 - May 23

Upcoming Overnight Trips

Click here to see ALL overnight trips

Cock of the Rock © Bill Bouton

Friday, May 24-Saturday, June 1
Guide: Gabriel Willow
Join Maine native Gabriel Willow on an exciting new itinerary to the beautiful Maine coast. We’ll visit the both the "Down East" and Acadia Birding Festivals, taking part in expert-led birding workshops, tours, and lectures. Excursions include landing on Macchias Seal Island, home to a large puffin, razorbill, and murre colony; a visit to a bird-banding station; and hikes in spectacular Acadia National Park to seek out breeding warblers and boreal species such as gray jay, spruce grouse, and both crossbills. Includes double-occupancy lodging in Macchias, Lubec, and Bar Harbor; a lobster dinner; and all transportation in Maine (airfare not included). Limited to 12. $1,795 ($425 single supplement). Click here to learn more and see a full tour itinerary.

Prairie Warbler © Steve Nanz
Friday, June 7 - Sunday, June 9
Guides: Don Riepe, Mickey Cohen, Mike Bottini, With American Littoral Society
Spend an extended weekend at the eastern tip of Long Island during peak spring orchid and heather bloom. This trip includes double occupancy accommodations at the luxurious Manor House, five meals, five guided hikes, two evening programs, and a star watch, plus free pickup at the Montauk LIRR station. See nesting pine and prairie warblers, and visit a cranberry bog with flowering orchids and sundews. Easy hiking in woodlands and on the dunes, beach, and bluffs. Limited to 60. $385 ($120 single room supplement). For more information or to register, contact Don Riepe at 917-371-8577 or

Hooded Warbler © David Speiser
Saturday, June 15, 9am - Sunday, June 16, 6pm
Guide: Joe Giunta, Happy Warblers LLC
Look for breeding American bitterns, cerulean, hooded, and golden-winged warblers, and more at these three great birding areas. An overnight stay will facilitate being in the right spot at the right time. Bring lunch for the first day, binoculars, and a spotting scope (if you have one). Transport by passenger van included. Limited to 10. $275. Click here to Register.

Purple Martin © Steve Nanz
Friday, August 10, 10am - Sunday, August 12, 7pm
Guide: Don Riepe
Travel to southern New Jersey to observe the spectacle of thousands of purple martins on migration to their wintering grounds, and get to know this beautiful, spacious landscape of marsh and woodland just a few hours from New York City. Visit remote salt- and freshwater marsh and woodland habitat to see bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and a great variety of wading birds, terns, shorebirds, and more. Explore the wild and scenic Maurice River by canoe or flat-bottom boat, and visit the abundant wildlife of Brigantine NWR. Includes transportation and double-occupancy lodging. Limited to 60. $375 ($95 single room supplement). Click here to Register.

Greater Shearwater © Steve Nanz

Thursday, August 15–Sunday, August 18
Guides: Don Riepe, Mickey Cohen
With American Littoral Society
A fun-packed, nature-focused weekend in beautiful Cape Ann, Massachusetts. We hope to see pelagic species such as sooty and greater shearwater, Wilson’s storm petrel, and common eider—not to mention minke and humpback whales, basking shark, and family pods of dolphins. Includes three nights' stay in historic Gloucester, a half-day whale watch boat trip, an evening Essex River Cruise, easy canoeing on Ipswich River, birding at Parker River Wildlife Refuge, and guided hikes, plus a lobster dinner. To register, contact Don Riepe at 917-371-8577 or Limited to 40. $395 ($180 single supplement)

The eGret
May 2013

So far it has been a cold spring--and a slow one for impatient New York City birders waiting for the first big "fall out" of migrants heading north. Summer residents and early warblers have been trickling in, but we'll hope that the recent huge migrant fall-out in Texas, resulting in a U.S. record of 294 species counted in one day by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology "Big Day" team, is a harbinger of things to come.  While our neotropical migrants are yet to arrive in full force here in New York City, shorter-distance migrants such as our resident egrets and herons have returned; and we lead off this issue with an exciting development in surveys of wading birds in the Northeast.  Our resident hawks are also fully engaged in raising the next generation of City raptors, as Glenn Phillips reports below. (We also include local artist Sarah Sheppard's engaging and comic look at our local red-tailed hawks.)  Another exciting local development is the expansion of the City's recycling program to include all kinds of hard plastics. Finally, please note: A memorial event and walk has been planned for the late Starr Saphir, to take place in Central Park on May 8. 

As is fitting for a bird-filled month such as May, the calendar is also chock-full of bird-related events--and we've included more than we really had room for below:  The deadline for our fantastic Maine tour has been extended to this Wednesday, May 1.  Also this Wednesday, there are two events scheduled in addition to our monthly Camera Club: an event to celebrate the new novel Snapper and a talk at National Audubon celebrating the wildlife of Norway.  Also in this issue: Events for upcoming films  "Bermuda's Treasure Island" (May 7)  and "Jamaica Bay Lives" (May 19), our May 8 lecture featuring Kevin Karlson and Lloyd Spitalnik, our May 17 member walk, and a Jamaica Bay saltmarsh restoration project on May 18.  

So much to do, and so many birds to see! Read more below--and happy May.

*** Special Note: Our May 1 Camera Club meeting will take place at 71 W. 23rd St. Read more details here

Black-crowned night-herons are a common nester on our harbor heron islands. Photo © Laura Meyers
Black-crowned night-herons are common nesters on our harbor heron islands. Photo © Laura Meyers

Efforts Align for a Coast-Wide Colonial Waterbird Survey from Nova Scotia to Virginia in 2013

A unique opportunity for advancing colonial waterbird conservation and management has presented itself this field season; the schedules of colonial waterbird survey efforts in the Mid-Atlantic, New England and Maritimes—two Provinces and ten States—have been aligned to make a comprehensive regional picture of waterbird populations possible. Having such a regional "snapshot" of populations will be valuable for making conservation and management decisions. For example, site- and state-level conservation priorities are more ecologically meaningful if based on regional information; likewise, regional information is required to make appropriate decisions about local and state population management (e.g., gull control). NYC Audubon has been conducting nesting surveys of wading bird populations on our "harbor heron islands" since 1982, and we are pleased to be able to take part in this larger survey of waterbird populations.  Click here to read more...

Pale Male and Octavia © Bruce Yolton
Pale Male and Octavis stand guard over there Fifth Avenue nest. Photo © Bruce Yolton

Everything's Coming Up Red-Tails and Peregrines

A sure sign of spring in New York City is the hatching of raptor chicks in their nests across the city. From peregrine falcons at Riverside Church to red-tailed hawks in neighborhoods across the city, NYC Audubon is getting reports that most nests are showing signs of successful hatching. In Washington Square Park, under the watchful eye of a webcam provided by NYU (, three chicks have hatched and are visible both online and sometimes when watching from the street. At Pale Male and Octavia’s Fifth Avenue nest, the chicks are not yet visible, which is typical for this long established and rather deep nest.  Click here to read more....

Starr Saphir © The Central Park Effect
Starr Saphir, a veritable birding institution in New York City, passed away on February 5, 2013. Photo courtesy of "Birders: The Central Park Effect."

Starr Saphir Memorial Walk in Central Park

Lenore Swenson, Starr Saphir's friend and frequent birding companion and guiding alternate, has organized a memorial walk in Central Park in honor of Starr, to take place on Wednesday, May 8. Legendary for her encyclopedic birding knowledge and passion for enlightening others about the joyous practice of birding, Starr taught thousands about the natural wonders within Central Park. She influenced countless New Yorkers to take interest in birds and NYC Audubon is forever grateful for her work. We hope to see you all there to honor the memory of Central Park’s “Matriarch of Birding.”

The walk will meet at summit rock (W. 83rd street just inside the park), Wednesday, May 8, at 7:30am. You can enter at W. 81st or W. 85th streets. A rain date is scheduled for Friday, May 10.  Visit Starr's website for more information and updates about the memorial.  

Plastic Beach ©*
Plastic Beach ©*

NYC Expands Curbside Plastic Recycling to Include Rigid Plastic

Great news! New York City's curbside recycling program will now be able to accept rigid plastic. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced last Wednesday that the City will be expanding its curbside recycling program to include previously unrecyclable rigid plastic used in items such as beverage cups, shampoo containers, toys, hangers, and many other products.

The city has partnered with Sims Municipal Recycling for the expansion. Sims will process all the formerly unrecyclable rigid plastic on behalf of the City and plans to open a recycling facility in Brooklyn. The expansion will save New York City 50,000 tons of waste a year, according to Mayor Bloomberg. Thank you to Sims Municipal Recycling for helping to reduce the amount of waste our city produces.

Nest Fest, by Sarah Sheppard
Artist Sarah Sheppard participated in NYC Audubon's "Bird and Nature Illustration" class with Alan Messer last fall. Photo © Sarah Sheppard

A Comic Celebration of Manhattan's Red-tailed Hawks

Check out Sarah Sheppard’s humorous and adorable debut web comic “Nest Fest," featuring none other than Manhattan's favorite birds of prey, red-tailed hawks! Very early in her cartooning education Sarah discovered the NYU Hawk cam and has been inspired by red-tailed hawks ever since. Recently posted on her tumblr page "Pip-Squawk," the comic whimsically celebrates Manhattan’s red-tailed hawks and their trendsetting nesting sensibilities. We enjoyed it very much and hope to see more of these in the future. Click here to view the comic!

Sarah has also posted new designs for her cafepress store, also called “Pip-Squawk.” The store features mugs, magnets, and tee-shirts bearing red-tailed hawk-inspired designs and illustrations. Sarah has been kind enough to donate all proceeds from Pip-Squawk to NYC Audubon. Click here to take a look at Sarah's work.

Maine Coast  © Gary Brown*
Acadia National Park © Gary Brown*

Last Call for Maine!

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.  

***Don't miss out on this great opportunity; our registration is May 1.***  You can learn more about our Maine expedition here. 

Norway Fjord Photo  © Mozzercork*
Norway Fjord © mozzercork*

Discover the Incredible Wildlife and Natural Beauty of Norway

Did you know Norway features no fewer than 42 national parks? Or that you can actually walk through its vast expanses of arctic tundra, mountain passes, majestic fjords and more for days without seeing another human? Learn that and more by attending “Cocktails and Norwegian Tales,” a lecture by zoologist, wildlife photographer, and owl expert Roar Solheim.   Roar will share with members his views and experiences as a professional scientist and naturalist and describe why his nation’s 15,000 miles of coast and vast interior expanses represent a once-in-a-lifetime birding opportunity.

NYC Audubon members and friends are invited to attend the event, which will be held at National Audubon Headquarters at 225 Varick Street, New York, on Wednesday, May 1, from 6:30pm to 8:30am. Click here to RSVP; space is limited and may fill up quickly.

Snapper, by Brian Kimberling
Snapper © Pantheon Publishing

Brian Kimberling's Novel Snapper Debuts to Critical Acclaim

Brian Kimberling’s fantastic debut novel, Snapper, went on sale last week to rave reviews. The book tells the coming-of-age story of an affable and aimless ornithologist studying songbirds in backwoods Indiana, who disastrously falls in love with the place and its people. Click here to view the book on  Brian also wrote an op-ed for the Sunday New York Times this past week, entitled “What do the Birders Know.” The piece explains the importance of birders in monitoring climate change.  Click here to view the piece.

Brian will be speaking May 1 at 7pm at the Community Bookstore in Park Slope with Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Birds of a Lesser Paradise, to discuss their books and explore humanity's strained connection to the animal world. The community bookstore is located at 143 Seventh Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11215. For more information, email  

Bermuda's Treasure Island was released in 2005
"Bermuda's Treasure Island" © Green Planet Films

A Special Screening of Bermuda's Treasure Island"

On May 7 New York City Explorers club will be screening Bermuda’s Treasure Island, the 2005 film by filmmaker Deidre Brennan documenting the extraordinary conservation success story of Bermuda’s legendary seabird, the Bermuda Petrel. Also known as Cahow, the bird was thought to be extinct for over 300 years until a 1951 expedition found several in a deep crevice on a rocky island.

The film documents the work of David Wingate, a school boy who was invited on the expedition and was so moved by the moment he dedicated his life to saving the cahow, Bermuda’s national bird. Largely due to Wingate and his successor's exceptional work, the cahow’s population has increased to over 200, and Nonsuch Island has been transformed to serve as the cahow's new colony and as a “Living Museum” of Bermuda’s native and endemic plants and wildlife. The film is a testament to what can be possible, the extraordinary efforts of one man to save a species from extinction and restore habitat, and to the amazing resilience of nature if given a chance and a helping hand.

The film, featuring shots of the elusive cahow caught for the first time, will be screened at the NYC Explorers Club on May 7. The event begins with a 6pm reception and a screening at 7pm and will be attended by filmmaker Deirdre Brennan and the author of a book on the same subject by Elizabeth Gehrman. Click here to learn more.

Visions: Earth's Elements in Bird and Nature Photography © Schiffer Publishing 2012
Visions: Earth's Elements in Bird and Nature Photography
© Schiffer Publishing 2012

Upcoming Lectures

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.

Please note:  Our conservation program update and annual meeting, originally scheduled for Wednesday, June 12, has been rescheduled to Tuesday, June 11, at 6pm.  

By Kevin Karlson and Lloyd Spitalnik
Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 6pm

Join birding experts and photographers Kevin Karlson and Lloyd Spitalnik for a visual and musical program featuring a spectacular collection of bird and nature images from their recently published book, Visions: Earth Elements in Bird and Nature Photography. Reflecting the personal visions of eleven contributing photographers, the images are themed to the elements of the planet: earth, fire, air, and water—and include some of the finest action and behavioral photographs available, as well as moody and engaging nature photos. The unique theme and musical interludes in this program will capture your fancy and take you on a riveting visual ride through the world of birds and nature.


Jamaica Bay, Photo © Don Riepe
Jamaica Bay © Don Riepe

Come and Support the First-Ever Documentary Film About Jamaica Bay!

Please join NYC Audubon on Sunday, May 19, from 1 to 4pm for a fundraiser to help complete the first-ever feature documentary film on Jamaica Bay. This event will be held at the VW Dome 2, MoMA Ps1’s new temporary geodesic dome in Rockaway Beach. Jamaica Bay is along the Atlantic Flyway and is home to a vibrant ecosystem that includes more than 325 species of bird and 100 types of fish. The bay’s health has been seriously compromised by development, sewage pollution, dredging, and other stressors, but is making a comeback. Funds raised will help complete the film and raise awareness of this precious natural resource. Meet the filmmakers, get a sneak peek at the trailer, and enjoy music, local food, and a great time with the Jamaica Bay family. Suggested donation levels are $50, $100 and $250. Even if you can’t attend, please consider making a contribution. For more information and to register, please click here. Hope to see you all there!

Scarlet Tanager © François Portmann
Scarlet Tanager © François Portmann

Member Events

Friday, May 17, 7-8:30am

Meet at Central Park West and 72nd St for a members-only walk. Come ramble in the Ramble of Central Park with NYC Audubon Board President Harry Maas and enjoy the height of spring migration. Please contact Adriana Palmer at 212-691-7483 x301 or to register. Limited to 20. Free for Contributing NYC Audubon members at the Student/Senior level and up.

Jamaica Bay Marsh Island Restoration, USACE, photo © Ildiko Reisenbigler
The TogetherGreen initiative is an alliance between Audubon and Toyota founded in 2008. Photo © Don Riepe

Volunteer with NYC Audubon

Jamaica Bay, Queens, Rulers Bay and Black Wall (marsh islands)
Saturday, May 18, Time 7am-1pm

Join us as we help the recovery from Hurricane Sandy by planting Spartina grasses as part of saltmarsh restoration efforts. Saltmarsh acted as an important buffer during Sandy and increasing saltmarsh coverage will help the bay recover. Transportation provided, including a bus to and from Manhattan, and a boat to either Rulers Bar or Black Wall Island. We will meet at 71 W. 23rd Street and depart for Jamaica Bay at 7am. Contact Adriana Palmer at or 212-691-7483 x301 for details and to register.

Top and Sidebar Photos:  great egret, Atlantic puffins, prairie warbler, purple martin, greater shearwater © Steve Nanz; house wren François © Portmann; hooded warbler © David Speiser.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.
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