December 16, 2020  SOS Newsletter
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Birding in the Towns of Yates and Somerset 2020-2021


Save Ontario Shores again presents a list of bird counts, all conducted in our area and some with other related activities. You, your children or grandchildren can participate as citizen scientists by reporting the birds you see on the lake, at your feeder, or during one of a number of organized bird counts. 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. There is an additional reason, this year, to participate in the Audubon Christmas Bird Count. The count is included in the new draft siting procedure for the Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES). It will be used as part of the collection of information about wildlife near potential wind and solar project sites. Robust numbers of the variety and frequency of the birds in our region may help protect this area along Lake Ontario.


The Christmas Bird Count: Organized by the Audubon Society, this count takes place in specifically designated areas. Audubon's 121st Christmas Bird Count will be conducted between the dates of Monday, December 14, 2020 through Tuesday, January 5, 2021 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. Tens of thousands of bird-loving volunteers will participate in counts across the Western Hemisphere all while abiding by Audubon’s COVID-19 guidelines

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 12, 2021, through Monday, February 15. In addition to the count there is a photo contest; many of the pictures sent in are 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: There is also a link showing data compiled from the 2020 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

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. Great Backyard Bird Count results from 2020:

268,674 Estimated Participants

27,270,156 Total Birds Counted

6,942 Species of Birds Identified

194 Countries

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 2020–21 FeederWatch season begins on November 14, 2020, and ends on April 9, 2021. The last day to start a two-day count is April 8. FeederWatch count days are two consecutive days when you count the birds at your feeders. More information can be found here: If you are a beginner, you will find 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.

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). Birds tend to appear in their count site as an enticement is offered: 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. .The 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 2021, the dates are January 16-24 with a target date of Sunday, January 17.

The Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge: CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) NOTICE— Although most refuge lands and outdoor spaces have remained open for the public to enjoy, staff at the refuge encourage you to follow CDC Guidelines. Check local conditions on this website and call ahead for current information.

The refuge headquarters and visitor center is 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


Also, the Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey 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 in Forbes Magazine: Climate Plan Will Kill Endangered Species Environmentalists Fear.


SOS is 100% funded by generous local individuals. Please consider joining this work by giving what you can. SOS is a not for profit corporation and it is not a tax exempt organization, so donations are not deductible for tax purposes.

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Checks can be sent to:
Save Ontario Shores
PO Box 382
Lyndonville, NY 14098
Copyright © 2020 Save Ontario Shores, Inc., All rights reserved.

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