December 6th, 2019  SOS Newsletter
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To All of our Supporters, May you have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season!

Birding in the Towns of Yates and Somerset 2020


SOS once again presents an updated list of bird counts conducted in our area and other related activities. You, your children or grandchildren can participate as citizen scientists by reporting what you see on the lake, at your feeder, or during one of a number of organized bird counts this year. It is a simple way to enjoy the variety of birds that pass our way and help to determine both numbers and species that are part of the natural beauty we enjoy and hope to preserve.

The Great Backyard Bird Count: The Great Backyard Bird Count is a popular event where people collect information on bird populations all over the world. It’s free and easy to participate. The 23st GBBC will be held Friday, February 14, through Monday, February 17, 2020. In addition to the count there is a photo contest with many of the pictures sent in displayed on their website. The eBird mobile app is available and allows you to enter eBird observations from anywhere in the world. You can upload both photos and sound recordings. Sightings of owls, eagles, other rarities can be added to e-Bird at any time: This link shows data compiled from the 2019 count: Using the Explore tab on the eBird website, you can see counts from specific areas. For example, Golden Hill State Park is considered a Hotspot for birds with hundreds of different species sighted, .

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society started the Great Backyard Bird Count in 1998. Back then, most of the counts were done in the United States and Canada. In 2013, the event went global and many counts were done in countries such as India, Europe, Mexico, and Australia. The 2019 Great Backyard Bird Count set new records, for Species: 6,699 Checklists: 204,921 Estimated Participants: 224,781. Birding classes are available at different levels, see the Cornell Bird Academy at The course on using eBird is offered free of charge.

Project FeederWatch: The Cornell Lab also sponsors Project FeederWatch, a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders in backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North America. Feeder Watchers periodically count the birds they see at their feeders from November through early April and send their counts to Project FeederWatch. The FeederWatch season always begins the second Saturday in November and runs for 21 weeks, ending on a Friday. The 2019–20 FeederWatch season begins on November 9 and ends on April 3. The last day to start a two-day count is April 2. If you are a beginner, they provides a list of common birds to get you started and an interactive page about birds, what they like to eat and where they like to eat it at

FeederWatch data help scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance. FeederWatch is conducted by people of all skill levels and backgrounds, including children, families, individuals, classrooms, retired persons, youth groups, nature centers, and bird clubs. Participants watch their feeders as much or as little as they want over two consecutive days as often as every week (less often is fine). They count birds that appear in their count site because of something that they provided (plantings, food, or water). New participants are sent a Research Kit with complete instructions for participating, as well as a bird identification poster and more. There is a downloadable research guide as well. The annual participation fee is $18 for U.S. residents ($15 for Cornell Lab members). You provide the feeder(s) and seed.

Buffalo Ornithological Society: The Buffalo Ornithological Society was established in 1929 to promote the study of the birds of the Niagara Frontier Region. The BOS coverage area includes Western New York and parts of nearby Ontario, Canada. This region is rich in bird life with over 380 species and 25 recognizable subspecies of birds recorded. Explore the site to learn more about where to report and find birds, both regional specialties and rare visitors, and find upcoming events on their calendar page. Society is affiliated with the Buffalo Museum of Science and is a member of the New York State Ornithological Association

Lakeshore Waterfowl: Each January, members visit lakes, rivers and shorelines to count waterfowl (ducks, geese, swans, loons, grebes, etc.).  New York State Ornithological Association has conducted this survey annually since 1955. In most years, more than a quarter of a million birds are tallied.  In addition to being an enjoyable outing, DEC has acknowledged this to be a useful survey for long-term monitoring of waterfowl populations wintering in New York.  The count will always begin the Saturday just before Martin Luther King Day, which is the third week in January. For 2020, it is January 18-26 (target date - Sunday, January 19)

The Christmas Bird Count: Organized by the Audubon Society, this count takes place in specifically designated areas. Audubon's 120th Christmas Bird Count will be conducted between the dates of Saturday, December 14, 2019 through Sunday, January 5, 2020, with designated areas for the count. You can participate in as many counts as you like, or choose the one that works best for you. See the map on the website to find the contact information for the Compilers. They should be contacted in advance of the count day.


The Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge

From the Refuge website:

Two pair of bald eagles have established nest sites on the refuge. Eagles start nesting behavior in January and continue until eaglets fledge in July. Eagles stay on or near the refuge for most of the year, leaving only to find open water in winter or in times of drought. When visiting Cayuga Overlook, the eagles are likely to be observed flying above. Osprey also nest on the refuge preferring similar habitat as the eagles, and are found near open water, or nesting on raised platforms. Other raptors that visitors often see include red-tailed hawks and cooper’s hawks.

The refuge headquarters and visitor center are located at 1101 Casey Road, one mile north and west of the Alabama traffic light, which is at the intersection of Highway 63 and Highway 77 in Alabama. The phone number is (585) 948-5445. The refuge has a number of programs throughout the year for youth and adults as well as self-guided activities. The Wildlife Observation handout included below gives instruction on using their lookout points.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service monitors bird and bat migration using a number of different of different tools around the Great Lakes. The site below includes a number of maps.

Department of Environmental Conservation Bald Eagle Program: The NY Department of Environmental Conservation was responsible for returning the Bald Eagle to the state. Learn about the process on their website

There is also the Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey, which takes place during the first two weeks of January each year. Coordinated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the purpose is to monitor the status of Bald Eagle wintering populations in the contiguous United States by estimating national and regional count trends. Most participants are employees of state or federal conservation agencies but some private volunteers also participate. The website has aggregate data from past surveys. Annual Bald Eagle Survey Celebrates 40 Years

Braddock Bay Bird Observatory: located in Hilton, NY near Rochester on Lake Ontario. The Observatory focuses on ornithological research, education, and conservation. Bird counts, banding and classes are held on site.


Lastly, we thought you might be interested in the following article published last year in Forbes Magazine.  The question remains...

If Renewables Are So Great for the Environment, Why Do They Keep Destroying It?



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