Alas, we have now reached the unofficial end of summer and hope everyone enjoyed a great Labor Day. Just as students are now returning back to school, migrants are now returning south from their stay up north and stopping by the City. And speaking of school: We have been studying up on the recently released Gateway National Recreation Area Draft General Management Plan. The 650-plus page document, released in early August, serves as a framework for future park operations and a general environmental impact statement. We were shocked and disappointed at what we found. Find out why in our lead story and learn how you can help to make sure the plan is more sensitive to the needs of our birds.
Also in this issue: Last chance for joining us on our Ecuador trip; a report on our Central Park Bioblitz experience; our restoration designs for Jamaica Bay’s West Pond; a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in Tanzania; our Fall Roost is almost a month away; info on upcoming events, including Tweet at Children’s Museum of Art, a Gateway National Recreation Area General Management Plan Open House at Jamaica Bay, Tweet at Children’s Museum of Art, and the New York Birder’s Conference; and our own upcoming member events, lectures, and volunteer opportunities.
Many bird species, including these great and snowy egrets on their nesting colony, depend on strong protections for Gateway's wild places. Photo © Yigal Gelb
Your Input Is Needed to Protect Gateway:
NYC Audubon's Response to Gateway National Recreation Area's Draft General Management Plan
In early August, the National Park Service released the draft General Management Plan for Gateway National Recreation Area, which includes many critical wildlife habitats including Jamaica Bay NWR, Floyd Bennett Field, Breezy Point, Fort Tilden, Great Kills Park on Staten Island, and Sandy Hook in NJ. This document provides a framework for park operations and serves as a generic environmental impact statement--and was created following a process of public comment on several alternatives that emphasized different priorities for Gateway. NYC Audubon was surprised and concerned to discover that the National Park Service had chosen alternative B, which emphasizes increasing visitation and recreational services for the park, rather than alternative C, which provides stronger protection for the birds and other wildlife that live in the critical urban oases of Gateway.
Ultimately, NYC Audubon believes we will be remembered not for what has been built at Gateway, but rather what has been preserved. We ask everyone to request that the National Park Service rescind its preference for alternative B and adopt alternative C as the preferred plan. A Gateway National Recreation Area General Management Plan Open House will be held on September 10, 4-8pm, at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
. These open houses are important forums allowing you to speak directly with Gateway officials and let your opinion about the future of Jamaica Bay and the greater Gateway National Recreation Area be heard. NYC Audubon executive director Glenn Phillips and Director of Conservation Susan Elbin will on hand, so please join us as we continue to ensure Gateway National Recreation Area remains a tremendous habitat for birds.
Please also visit our Gateway General Management Plan webpage
, where you'll find a more detailed reaction to the plan, more information on open houses, and other ways to provide feedback about the plan and the future of Gateway National Recreation Area.
Long-Tailed Sylph © Francesco Veronesi*
Last Chance: Escape to Ecuador this December!
Shining sunbeam… long-tailed sylph… velvet purple coronet: These are just some of the romantically named hummingbirds you could see in Ecuador. Many, such as the endangered black-breasted puffleg of Quito, are endemic--meaning that they can only be found in Ecuador. Join Audubon’s John Rowden and Captivating Lands’ Edwin Perez this December 7-15 in exploring the bio-rich mountain and lowland forest habitats of the northern Andean slopes of Ecuador, looking for these winged rarities and so much more.
Birds you may see include gorgeous birds of prey like the carunculated caracara, the Andean cock-of-the-rock and other cotingas, guans, potoos, antbirds, toucans and barbets, as well as the mysterious oilbird! What better way to escape a week of New York City winter? Limited to 12. $2,695 ($150 single room supplement). Please click here to view a detailed tour itinerary
. Please contact Adriana Palmer at email@example.com
or 212-691-7483 x304 to learn more and to register.
Field Notes: 2013 Central Park Bioblitz Findings and Musings
Intern Kaitlyn Parkins, a graduate student in urban ecology at Fordham University specializing in bat ecology, reports:
More than 500 students and expert scientists from around the world descended on Central Park last Monday, August 26. Their goal: to identify as many living things as possible in 24 hours in order to gauge the diversity of the Park’s plants and wildlife. The first such study of the Park in a decade, this year’s Central Park Bioblitz was coordinated by Macaulay Honors College at CUNY and the Central Park Conservancy with the help of experts from all over the globe. Students and researchers broke into teams and fanned out over the Park’s 843 acres to identify arthropods, lichens, plants, reptiles, fish, birds, bats, and more.
NYC Audubon supplied the bird buffs, including Executive Director Glenn Phillips, Board President Harry Maas, and interns Darren Klein and myself (although I got to help with the bats, too). We also had the gracious help of volunteers Bruce Yolton, James Buckler, Richard Lieberman, and Phil Cusimano. Between all of us, we took over 40 students out to survey birds, focusing on the North Woods and the Ramble for highest diversity.
The forecasted major thunderstorms held off, and despite the drizzly weather, we saw a great array of species. Click here to read the rest of Kaitlyn's post on our Syrinx blog
The West Pond restoration concept would emphasize habitats like salt marsh and mud flats, build resilience to climate change, and improve public viewing of the pond.
Our Vision for Restoring Jamaica Bay's West Pond
Jamaica Bay’s East and West Ponds, two critical habitats used by migrating and nesting bird species, were breached by the storm surge from hurricane Sandy in October 2012. The East Pond (144 acres) was quickly repaired by the Transit Authority as part of its efforts to restore train service to the Rockaways, while the West Pond (44 acres) has remained breached. The recently released draft General Management Plan for Gateway National Recreation Area calls for “leaving West Pond breached until a study is completed under a more regional effort to reestablish freshwater wetlands.” This study will likely begin in early October.
While the National Park Service sought funding for the restoration of the west pond, NYC Audubon began exploring restoration concepts. We recommend that the National Park Service design the restoration to maximize habitat for the species of greatest conservation need in Jamaica Bay, while building long-term resiliency to climate change and sea-level rise as well as improving wildlife protection and opportunities for public viewing.
Please visit our West Pond Restoration webpage
to learn more about our recommendations for restoring this habitat, used by over 60 bird species identified as having significant conservation need.
Ostriches at Sunset © Patricia D. Moehlman
Explore Tanzania, an Adventure of a Lifetime!
Experience Tanzania's incredible diversity of wildlife with NYC Audubon! On this exhilarating 12-day trip, will visit awe-inspiring and bio-rich sites, stay at world-class eco-lodges, and even camp out under the stars in luxurious private tented camps at Serengeti and Tarangire National Parks. We’ll take in some of the greatest natural sights one can find: Serengeti lions on the hunt or resting in the golden savannah grasses; the calving of wildebeest, Masai ostrich high-stepping past gnarly acacia trees; and the breathtaking view from the southern rim of the Ngorongoro Crater.
There will also be plenty of birds of course (!), courtesy of our camping at the magnificent bird haven that is Tarangire, which boasts more than 550 species of birds from more than 16 different orders. Highlights include brilliantly colored yellow-collared lovebirds, superb starlings, lilac-breasted rollers, and the aptly-named go-away birds, which warn intruders in strangely human voices. This will be an experience you will never forget. Limited to 12. $6,985 (double occupancy, $1,000 single supplement). Includes two pre-trip workshops, lodging, local transportation, most meals, and all park fees. Click here for a full tour description and itinerary
. Please contact Adriana Palmer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-691-7483 x304 to learn more and register.
Hummingbird by Vik Muniz. Courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co.
Tweet at the Children's Museum of Art
NYC Audubon is pleased to be partnering this fall with Children's Museum of the Arts as they present their new exhibition of children's bird artwork, "Tweet." Bird call workshops will be offered during the exhibition to complement this sample of local children's perspectives on our birds. The first workshop will take place Saturday, September 28, 12-3pm. Please check cmany.org/tweet for more info, dates, and times.
This year's annual Fall Roost benefit takes place October 16, 6-9pm
The 2013 Fall Roost Is Almost a Month Away!
NYC Audubon’s Fall Roost benefit dinner returns to The Central Park Boat House on Wednesday, October 16. This year’s benefit will honor Oakes Ames, Dr. Claude Bloch, Karen Heidgerd, Rita McMahon, and the late Starr Saphir. Click here to learn more about the honorees.
Held annually since 2005, The Fall Roost raises funds for NYC Audubon’s numerous conservation and education programs while honoring some of the City’s birding luminaries. The evening begins with a silent auction and reception at 6pm, followed by dinner and program from 7-9pm. You can expect great food, excellent company, and a silent auction featuring new eco-adventures, unique cultural experiences, and a few fun surprises. For more information and to register for this event, please call our offices at 212-691-7483, extension 306, or click here to register online.
On the Bronx River with Rocking the Boat © Joaquin Cotten
Explore the Bronx River by Rowboat with Rocking the Boat
Launch from Hunts Point Riverside Park and explore the Bronx River aboard a hand-built wooden boat built by students--and be led by experienced rowers through the vibrant natural habitat of the Bronx River. This is the City’s only true river, and it hosts an abundance of wildlife, including herons and egrets, osprey, and belted kingfishers. Visit restoration sites and learn about the Bronx River ecosystem, as well as its social and cultural history. Rowing optional! The event is Saturday, September 14, 3-5pm. Limited to 20. $35 for adults, $25 for ages 18 and under. Click here to register.
Rocking the Boat works hard to create a welcoming environment where young people feel safe, respected, and cared for, and NYC Audubon is proud to be partners with this group! To find out more about their work, click here.
This November: The New York Birders Conference
This November 1-3, NYC Audubon will co-sponsor the New York Birders Conference and 66th annual meeting of the New York State Ornithological Association, hosted by the Queens County Bird Club at the Long Island Marriott in Uniondale, NY. The first event of its kind in the New York Metropolitan area, the conference is an opportunity for birders throughout the region to meet, exchange ideas, learn about new research, socialize, and bird together. The weekend will include paper sessions, bird identification workshops, presentations on important conservation issues from Susan Elbin, Tom Stephenson, and others, and a banquet dinner, featuring James Currie of Birding Adventures TV. And, yes, great field trips! Please visit www.nybirdersconference.org for more information and to register. To learn about NYC Audubon member transportation from Manhattan, click here.
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird at Zinnia © Ellen Michaels
BIRDS & BOTANY WALK IN CENTRAL PARK
Tuesday, September 10, 7:30-9am
Meet at Central Park West and 72nd Street, parkside. Join NYC Audubon Executive Director Glenn Phillips and co-leader NYC Audubon Board President Harry Maas for an eye-opening exploration of fall migrants and the plant life that supports them in the rich habitat of Central Park. Limited to 20. Free for Contributing NYC Audubon Members at the Student/Senior level and up. Please contact Angela Januzzi at 212-691-7483 x306 or email@example.com to register.
Come out and keep our beaches clean for wildlife. Photo © NYC Audubon
There are a number of ways to help conserve our City's wildlife this fall. To participate in any of the projects listed below, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
INJURED BIRD TRANSPORTATION
We need caring volunteers to transport injured birds to licensed wildlife rehabilitators in the City. A training will be held Monday, September 9, from 6–7pm. Please contact us at email@example.com or 212-691-8743 x304 to register.
INTERNATIONAL COASTAL CLEANUP
Join us at North Channel Bridge on September 21 and give back to the beaches and coastlines that give you so much summer enjoyment! As part of this multi-state effort to improve coastline habitat, we will be picking up debris at North Channel Bridge, which is used by species like the American Oystercatcher. North Channel Bridge is also a stone's throw away from the Harbor Heron Islands, the newly restored Elder Marsh, and the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Since Sandy, this cleanup has taken on even greater significance. Help us clear the beach and raise awareness of the importance of coastal areas to birdlife. Equipment, refreshments, and transportation from Manhattan are provided. To see a report of last years International Coastal Cleanup, you can visit this page on the Ocean Conservancy website. The event takes place Saturday, September 21, 10am–2pm. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-691-8743 x304 to register.
AUDUBON NEW YORK'S FOR THE BIRDS!
Audubon New York’s For the Birds! Program is looking for volunteer teachers. For the Birds! is an elementary education program that teaches environmental awareness and appreciation of nature through the study of birds. For the Birds! exposes students, usually for the first time, to the idea that their own neighborhoods provide valuable habitat to birds and other urban wildlife. A volunteer training session will be held on Wednesday, September 25, 9:30am–noon, at the Headquarters of National Audubon, 225 Varick Street. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Haley Main, For the Birds! Program Director, at email@example.com or 212-979-3064.
Epic Journeys Portrays the Astounding Migration of Shorebirds. Graphic © Migration Productions
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.
EPIC JOURNEYS: SHOREBIRD MIGRATION
By Shawn Carey
Wednesday, September 25, 6pm
Each year millions of shorebirds make an amazing round-trip journey between the northern and southern hemispheres. Join filmmaker and photographer Shawn Carey of Migration Production, and learn about their newest video, “Epic Journeys,” which looks at three shorebird species—red knot, piping plover and semipalmated sandpiper—and the challenges these species face during each of their monumental annual treks.
Unusual Visitors to Manhattan's Thompson Square Park
This adult black-crowned night-heron was spotted in the East Village's Thompson Square Park this July, along with a juvenile bird. The birds were most likely feeding there on rats and mice. Black-crowned night-herons nest on a number of islands right here in New York Harbor. Thank you to Dennis Edge for the photo. © Dennis Edge
Top and Sidebar Photos: great egret, greater shearwater, royal terns, bald eagle © Steve Nanz; semipalmated sandpipers © François Portmann; Andean cock of the rock © Bill Bouton*; surf scoters © Ómar Runólfsson*; Jamaican tody © David Speiser; keel-billed toucan © Brian Gratwicke*; lilac-breasted roller © Nen Riko*; resplendent quetzal © Richard Garrigues
* This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.