Harbor Seals © Mike Baird*
Special Discount for NYC Audubon Friends—and Valentine's Day Cruise Treats!
Get Them Before They're Gone: Winter Seals & Waterbirds Ecocruises
Our Winter Seals and Waterbirds Ecocruises are starting to sell out; make sure and get your tickets now! Cruises run Sundays through March 7. (Our March 13 cruise is sold out. There is no cruise on Superbowl Sunday, February 7; we didn't want to compete with the Superbowl that day, even though birds are sorely underrepresented in this year's contest—nary a Cardinal or Raven to be found!) Come along on our Valentine's Day Cruise and take home a complimentary Valentine's Day gift bag on us. And whatever date you choose, enjoy a two-hour wintry cruise out on the harbor, hot chocolate included, in search of the varied wildlife that calls our city home during the snowy months. Wintering waterbirds like common and red-throated loons, horned grebes, bufflehead, red-breasted mergansers, and greater scaup are likely, as well as great cormorants and long-tailed ducks. And of course, harbor seals, which in recent years have been seen in groups of several dozen, lazing about on the rocks of Swinburne Island.
As a friend of NYC Audubon, you will receive a special discount of $5 off each adult and child ticket. To receive your discount, purchase tickets online at www.nywatertaxi.com/audubon-winter and enter the code SEALS in the space labeled "Redeem Discount Coupon." (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 4/31/16.)
Snowy Owl © François Portmann
Snowy Owl Ruling
A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that airport officials had the authority to kill migratory birds that posed a threat to planes at Kennedy International Airport. The ruling concluded a lawsuit brought by animal advocacy organization Friends of Animals in response to killing of three snowy owls at JFK airport in late December 2013. In its ruling, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld a lower court’s decision and found that federal permits could allow for the Port Authority to kill the birds when a plane and its passengers are endangered.
Following the first reports of culling of snowy owls at areas airports in 2013, public outcry and advocacy by NYC Audubon and other groups resulted in creation of a new snowy owl "trap, band, and relocate" program at area airports managed by the Port Authority. NYC Audubon has participated in the banding and release of several snowy owls since that time with the full cooperation of the Port Authority and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. We are in communications with partners at the Port Authority and look forward to continuing to cooperate in this program, in order that lethal control in the interest of public safety be utilized only as a last resort, when all non-lethal methods have been exhausted.
Show a Loved One that You Care this Valentine's Day with a "Band of Love." American Oystercatchers, Photo © Lloyd Spitalnik
For Valentines Day (or Any Day): Bands of Love
Endangered piping plovers, threatened American oystercatchers, ospreys, and great egrets will soon migrate through the New York City area, travelling from the Bahamas, Gulf of Mexico, and locations yet further abroad. We know of these birds' winter whereabouts largely through the efforts of NYC Audubon to band a small number of birds each spring season. Help us track waterbirds, wading birds, horseshoe crabs, and snowy owls by giving someone special a "Band of Love."
Your gift will not only support valuable research on birds—you will also receive a lovely 5x7" photograph of one of the species that NYC Audubon monitors and get a field update with the number of an animal we tag or band and a field photo from banding day. Click here to learn more and donate today.
Plum Island Is an Important Nesting Habitat for Roseate Terns. Photo © Michael J. Morel/USFWS*
Action Alert: Plum Island Up for Sale?
Plum Island, an important habitat for endangered roseate terns and piping plovers, is in danger of being sold by the federal government and developed. Located at the end of Long Island's North Fork, Plum Island has long been preserved due to the presence of a federal research facility there. This important habitat is now endangered however; please make your voice heard. Click here to learn more and act now.
Painted Bunting in Prospect Park © Laura Meyers
New York City's Unusual Winter Visitors
Due to New York City's presence along the Atlantic Flyway, the urban green oases that attract a concentrated number of birds—and perhaps the high concentration of dogged and determined birders that live here—vagrant birds are frequent sightings in our area. This winter has been no exception. The star of the show this season has definitely been the male painted bunting that attracted a throng of enthusiastic onlookers in Prospect Park. A bird of the southwestern U.S. that winters in Central America and Southern Florida, the painted bunting was far out of its normal range—but seeming to find good forage in native plantings located by the LeFrak Center skating rink. The bird has not been seen in recent weeks; we hope that colder weather prompted it to migrate south (perhaps in the company of the female painted bunting sighted on the Christmas Bird Count in Long Island's Caumsett State Park?). Other unusual sightings this winter have included visitors from the north such as a black-headed gull spotted repeatedly on Prospect Park Lake, and an immature Iceland gull seen on the Central Park Reservoir (not far from two snow geese, also uncommon visitors to the reservoir). Central Park has also been graced by the continuing presence of a very cooperative great horned owl, seen frequently roosting by the Ramble feeding station, as well as an assortment of warblers: orange-crowned, Wilson's, and black-and-white. Orange-crowned and Nashville warblers have been seen in both Prospect Park and Queen's Kissena Park—which has also hosted Wilson's and pine warblers, a common yellowthroat, as well as two unusual sparrows (clay-colored and lark), in addition to two cackling geese.
These sightings are of course just a taste of what's to be seen in the New York City area; check www.ebird.org for the most recent sightings in your neck of the woods.
Common Goldeneye © Andrew A. Reding*
Winter Waterfowl Galore!
Winter is the time for waterfowl in New York City: A great variety of species, most in colorful breeding plumage, migrate south from northern nesting grounds to spend the winter in the relatively comfortable climate of New York City's sheltered harbor. This winter there are a number of opportunities to learn about and waterfowl such as dabbling ducks, diving ducks, mergansers, goldeneye, scoters, eiders, and more:
WINTER WATERFOWL ID WORKSHOP
Thursday, February 18, 6-7:30pm (class) and Saturday, February 20, 10am-1pm (trip)
Guide: Gabriel Willow
If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck... but is it a dabbling duck or a diving duck? Or could it be a grebe? This class will help you distinguish between ducks, geese, loons, grebes, and more. Learn how their shapes reflect their behavior and ecology, and how subtle differences in form and pattern will allow you to identify waterfowl with confidence. Winter is the best season for waterfowl-watching in NYC, and the class will be followed by a field trip to put our newfound skills to work. We will seek out the diverse mix of dabbling ducks, bay ducks, sea ducks, grebes, loons, and cormorants to be found in NY Harbor from Battery Park. Click here to learn more and register.
WINTER WATERFOWL OF THE BROOKLYN COAST
Saturday, February 6, 9am-3pm
Guide: Kellye Rosenheim
Join Kellye Rosenheim on a multi-stop tour of Brooklyn's most productive coastal winter waterfowl sites. We'll visit Bush Terminal Piers Park, Gravesend, and Calvert Vaux, where we'll look for interesting saltwater species such as common golden-eye, long-tailed duck, loons, and horned grebe in addition to our more common winter visitors. Click here to learn more and register.
Atlantic Puffin © David Speiser
Puffins, Warblers, and Lobster Boats: The Enchanting Coast of Maine
Saturday, May 21 – Saturday, May 28
Guide: Gabriel Willow
Come along with NYC Audubon and explore Maine's “Country of the Pointed Firs”: land of lighthouses, quaint villages, and lobster pounds... all nestled in a setting of primeval pine forests, bogs, and bucolic islands. Home to some of the East’s last true wilderness, Maine hosts populations of Atlantic puffin, bear, moose, shorebirds, and dozens of warbler species. This land of forests and rocky coast has been an inspiration to artists and naturalists for generations. Our trip will visit coastal salt marshes and beaches, the beautiful fishing village of Camden, and enchanting Monhegan Island—charming artist colony and birders' paradise. Click here to learn more and see a full trip itinerary.
2016 Lecture Series
PLEASE NOTE: Our upcoming lectures will take place at the Central Park 4-D Theater, just north of the Arsenal Building at 64th Street and Fifth Avenue. Capacity at this theater is limited to the first 75 guests on a first-come, first-seated basis.
Lectures are free and open to the public. This series has been made possible by the support of Claude and Lucienne Bloch.
PRIORITIES AND PARTNERSHIPS: NYC AUDUBON CONSERVATION UPDATE
By Susan Elbin, PhD and Conservation Staff
Tuesday, March 15, 6:30pm
Central Park 4-D Theater
NYC Audubon conducts scientific monitoring in all five boroughs to understand how birds are using our urban environment and how this environment affects them, via Project Safe Flight, our Jamaica Bay program, and our Harbor Herons project. Join us as Susan Elbin and research staffers Darren Klein, Debra Kriensky, and Tod Winston provide updates on what this research has taught us in the past year.
White-Throated Sparrow © Laura Meyers
Top and Sidebar Photos: great egret, Atlantic puffins © Steve Nanz; surf scoter © Lloyd Spitalnik.
* This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.