Nature Center Presenters at Lake Erie Bird Club

Nature Center Presenters at Lake Erie Bird Club

Fredonia, NY – “Bird in Hand” is the program at the next Lake Erie Bird Club meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 27, at BOCES on the Fredonia-Stockton Road, Fredonia.

Terry LeBaron holds a Northern Flicker

Terry LeBaron holds a Northern Flicker

Jamestown Audubon Nature Center’s Jennifer Schlick and Terry LeBaron will give a presentation about the Center’s spring bird banding. On Saturday mornings from April 25 through May 16, the public can observe ornithologists (bird scientists) and possibly even participate in this age-old technique used to discover details about the lives of birds.

Scientists who have both federal and state permits – and a great deal of training and experience – capture the birds in “mist” nets, so-called because they are so fine they are almost like mist. Observers can watch how they capture migrating and resident birds, fit them with identification bands, measure, weigh, and then release them.

Also included in the presentation will be an overview of the Audubon Nature Center.

Jennifer Schlick with baby American Kestrel.

Jennifer Schlick with baby American Kestrel.

Schlick, the Nature Center’s Program Director, said she and LeBaron are looking forward to this opportunity to share information. “National Audubon recently assigned members from northern Chautauqua County to Jamestown Audubon as their local chapter,” Schlick explained. “We’re excited to welcome these folks and to let them know about our facility, our 600-acre wetland preserve, our non-releasable Bald Eagle, and our many festivals, classes, workshops and field trips.”

The Audubon Nature Center is at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York, and Warren, Pennsylvania. The Center’s building, with its live animals, exhibits and Blue Heron Gift Shop, and the Bald Eagle viewing, arboretum, picnic tables, gardens, and five miles of trails outdoors are open daily.

To learn more about the Nature Center, call (716) 569-2345 or visit http://www.jamestownaudubon.org.

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Posted in Birds, News Release, Program

Bird Banding at the Nature Center

Come Observe Bird Banding at the Nature Center

Jamestown, NY – On Saturday mornings from April 25 through May 16, you can experience a scientific study: you can observe, and possibly even participate in, the annual bird banding at the Audubon Nature Center.

White Throated Sparrow

Bring the kids with you or come on your own to observe scientists banding birds at the Audubon Nature Center any Saturday morning from April 25 through May 16. This White-Throated Sparrow has already been processed and is ready for release; it is most likely just passing through – on its way to northern breeding grounds. (Photo by Terry LeBaron)

The age-old technique of bird banding is used to discover details about the lives of birds. Scientists who have both federal and state permits – and a great deal of training and experience – capture the birds in “mist” nets, so-called because they are so fine they are almost like mist.

You can drop in any time between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. and learn from the researchers exactly how it is done. Come on your own or bring the kids with you to view this amazing process.

Dr. Scott Stoleson, Emily Thomas Perlock, and Don Watts will lead the bird banding.

Weather permitting, you can join these ornithologists and watch how they capture migrating and resident birds, fit them with identification bands, measure and weigh them, then release them to go on with their lives. You might even be selected to help release a bird.

Dr. Scott Stoleson from nearby Sugar Grove, Pennsylvania, is a professional ornithologist who has published over 60 scientific papers on ecology and conservation of birds. He has conducted avian research in the western United States, Central and South America and has led natural history tours to the Caribbean and Latin America. He is currently the Research Wildlife Biologist at the U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station lab in Irvine, Pennsylvania, and a Research Associate of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute. Stoleson holds a Master Banding permit and has 35 years of bird banding experience.

With a master’s degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Penn State, Emily Thomas Perlock was a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Forest Service and is currently employed as an Instructor in Wildlife Technology at Penn State DuBois. She learned how to band in 2005 and has banded over 4000 birds. She holds a Master bird banding permit and is a certified bird bander by the North American Banding Council. Perlock established a banding program at The Arboretum at Penn State and has participated in banding programs for Audubon and the Roger Tory Peterson Institute.

Warren County Pennsylvania native Don Watts has been biological technical assistant for the United States Forest Service in the Allegheny National Forest. A Master Bird Bander, he monitors the American Kestrel Nestbox trail in Warren County, was a participant in the first Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas and Regional coordinator in the second, and a participant in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service breeding bird surveys for more than 20 years. Watts is past president of Roger Tory Peterson Ornithological Club and Coordinator of the Warren Christmas Bird Count.

Participants are reminded to dress for the weather. While not necessary to enjoy the demonstrations, you may want to bring bird guides and binoculars if you have them. Plan to listen closely to the scientists and follow their instructions carefully, as safety of the birds is the priority.

Come to the picnic pavilion on the west side of the Audubon property at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile off of Route 62 between Jamestown and Warren. Look for the sign at the entrance closer to Route 62. Drive right in and park on the grass.

The Nature Center offers these demonstrations to the public free of charge, but donations are greatly appreciated.

Nature Center building and Blue Heron Gift Shop hours are 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily, Sundays 1-4:30 p.m. The trails and Bald Eagle viewing are open dawn to dusk. To learn more, call (716) 569-2345 or visit http://www.jamestownaudubon.org/.

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Posted in News Release, Program

Nature Center Seeking Wild 5K Run/Walk Sponsors and Volunteers

Nature Center Seeking Wild 5K Run/Walk Sponsors and Volunteers

Jamestown, NY – On Saturday, July 25, 2015, runners and walkers of all ages will again participate in the Audubon Nature Center’s annual Wild 5K Run/Walk. The 2015 event will raise money to support the on-going efforts to protect the Nature Center’s more than 600 acres of unique habitat.

Wild 5K logo-2015

The Audubon Nature Center is seeking volunteers as well as corporate and individual sponsors for its July 25, 2015, Wild 5K. This Run/Walk is for all ages and will raise money to support the on-going efforts to protect the Nature Center’s more than 600 acres of unique habitat.

The Nature Center is seeking community support to guarantee the event’s success.

Businesses and individuals can become Wild 5K sponsors by making financial or in-kind contributions or donating gift certificates. Sponsors will be recognized in a variety of ways, from listings in the program and on the website to receiving complimentary tickets to a Nature Center event of their choosing.

Volunteers will be needed on July 25 for multiple tasks, including parking, registration, staffing the refreshment table and water station, being trail cheerleaders/direction pointers, general helpers, clean-up team, and more.

Wild 5K Co-coordinator and Nature Center Seasonal Naturalist Corinne Frederickson said, “Our goal is to provide an opportunity to enjoy the distinctive beauty of our Sanctuary while posing a meaningful challenge. We’re looking forward to again bringing together nature-enthusiasts, athletes, businesses, families, friends and volunteers to discover common interests and values in the happenings on race day.”

Race participants who register by July 16 will enjoy a 20% discount on the $25 entry fee and receive an event t-shirt as well. Friends of the Nature Center receive an additional 10% discount.

Prizes will be awarded to the first three overall male and female finishers in the run category. Age group awards will be given to the top three finishers in each division for both the runners and walkers.

Details for all these opportunities are at http://www.wild5k.wordpress.com.

The Audubon Nature Center is at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York, and Warren, Pennsylvania. Hours for the Nature Center building and Blue Heron Gift Shop are 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and Sundays 1-4:30 p.m. The arboretum, gardens, more than five miles of trails, and Liberty, the non-releasable Bald Eagle, in her outdoor exhibit are open dawn to dusk daily.

To learn more about all Nature Center programs, call (716) 569-2345 or visit http://www.jamestownaudubon.org.

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Posted in Event, Fundraiser, News Release

May 2 is Nature Center Birdathon for Ryan Exline Memorial Scholarship

May 2 is Nature Center Birdathon for Ryan Exline Memorial Scholarship

Jamestown, NY – The Audubon Nature Center’s education staff and their friends and fans invite you to join them to see as many birds as possible on a one-day-only birdathon.

Brandon Allen - 2015 Exline Scholarship Recipient

Saturday, May 2, is the date of the annual Fledgling Birdathon fundraiser sponsored by the Education Staff of the Audubon Nature Center and their friends. The event raises money for the Ryan Exline Memorial Scholarship. This year’s recipient is Brandon Allen from the Southwestern School District. Brandon is pursuing a degree in Natural Resource Conservation: Law Enforcement at Finger Lakes Community College.

Since 2003 this group that calls themselves “The Fledglings” has been holding a birdathon to raise scholarship funds.

On Saturday, May 2, The Fledglings will raise money for the Ryan Exline Memorial Scholarship, awarded each year to a local student heading off to college with an interest in pursuing the natural sciences.

This year’s recipient is Brandon Allen from the Southwestern School District. Brandon is pursuing a degree in Natural Resource Conservation: Law Enforcement at Finger Lakes Community College. The scholarship supports Brandon’s efforts to help protect our natural resources by becoming a Department of Environmental Conservation officer.

In this 13th annual (almost) all-day event, participants try to find as many species of birds as possible. Generous supporters pledge an amount – either per species or in total – and the end result is a $500 scholarship.

The scholarship is named in memory of one of its very first recipients. Ryan Exline was a volunteer, intern, and nature-lover who donated countless hours of time and expertise to the Audubon Nature Center. He was attending graduate school at Duke University when he was killed in a car accident in 2008. Ryan’s love of nature and of nurturing future generations of “nature nerds” lives on in this scholarship.

The 2015 Fledgling Birdathon will begin at 6 a.m. at the Nature Center by counting birds at the backyard feeder through the window while charging up on coffee and breakfast foods.

There are several ways to participate. You can:
• Go birding with The Fledglings. Call the Nature Center at (716) 569-2345 and leave a message for the Education Staff that you want to go join them on May 2.
• Solicit pledges for The Fledglings. Download a form by clicking on “Participate in a Birdathon” under “Get Involved” at http://www.jamestownaudubon.org.
• Pledge or donate to The Fledglings. Pledges and donations can be made by calling (716) 569-2345, by clicking the “Donate” button on the right at http://www.jamestownaudubon.org, or by clicking through “Fledgling Birdathon” on the May Program Listing.
• Start your own Birdathon team. Call the Nature Center at (716) 569-2345 if you need help.

Participants are reminded to dress for the weather, as the event is held rain or shine, and to bring binoculars if you have them. The Nature Center will have field guides, but if you have a favorite, bring it, too, as well as a water bottle, snacks and lunch.

The Audubon Nature Center is at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quart mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York, and Warren, Pennsylvania. Center hours are 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily, Sundays 1-4:30 p.m. The trails, gardens, and Bald Eagle viewing are open dawn to dusk daily.

To learn more, call (716) 569-2345 or visit http://www.jamestownaudubon.org.

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Posted in Fundraiser, News Release, Program

Nature Center Taste of Nature Series: Edible Spring Greens

Nature Center Taste of Nature Series: Edible Spring Greens

Jamestown, NY – With a little bit of knowledge, nature can be your grocery store. You can acquire that knowledge at the Audubon Nature Center’s Taste of Nature series.

Garlic Mustard

On Saturday afternoon, May 9, at the Audubon Nature Center’s Taste of Nature class “Edible Early Spring Greens,” participants will discover how to identify edible plants and distinguish them from those that may look similar. The Garlic Mustard shown here is a common invasive plant, but it can also be harvested and eaten in a variety of ways.

On Saturday afternoon, May 9, you can learn to identify spring greens, flowers and other wild edibles at the first class in the series, “Edible Early Spring Greens.”

Some people forage for survival, others to save on the grocery bill. Foraging can also be a wonderful way to spend time outside, learn plant identification, try new foods, and strengthen your connection to the earth and the food it produces to nourish our bodies.

At the 1-3 p.m. workshop participants will discover how to recognize edible plants and distinguish them from those that may look similar.

The class will begin with some basic ground rules and safety considerations about harvesting wild edibles, then head outdoors to identify those available in the early spring. It will also cover some plants you definitely do not want to eat and some to look forward to later in the year. Back inside, participants will taste samples and discuss easy ways to make wild plants part of your meal.

Instructor Katie Finch is a naturalist at the Nature Center who has been enthusiastically eating “weeds” for several years.

This class has both an inside and outside portion, including a walk up to one mile on flat ground. Remember to dress for the weather.

Fee is $16 or $12 for Friends of the Nature Center, and class size is limited.
Reservations are required by Monday, May 4: call (716) 569-2345 or use the on-line form by clicking on “Taste of Nature: Edible Spring Greens” at http://www.jamestownaudubon.org.

This is the first of three wild edibles classes in the Taste of Nature series. There will be a class on Sunday, June 7, and another in the fall.

Nature Center education programs are funded with support from the Carnahan Jackson Foundation, Jessie Smith Darrah Fund, Holmberg Foundation, Hultquist Foundation, Johnson Foundation, and Lenna Foundation.

The Audubon Nature Center is at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York, and Warren, Pennsylvania.

To learn more about the Nature Center and its many programs, call (716) 569-2345 or visit http://www.jamestownaudubon.org.

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Posted in News Release, Program

Wildflower Connections

Wildflower Connections
by Jeff Tome

Red in a sea of white

Red Trilliums, also known as Purple Trilliums, are also called Stinking Benjamins for their noxious smell. Learn more about them at the Buckaloons Wildflower Walk on May 16. Photo by Jeff Tome.

Somebody famous once said “the earth laughs in flowers”, but who really cares about that? He should have said that the forest cannot function without flowers. Flowers form the heart of a tangled knot of stories about how the forest functions and how everything in that forest is connected as inextricably as I am to my family. Flowers are the heart and soul of the forest.

Most spring wildflowers bloom without fanfare on the forest floor, lasting a few days to a couple of weeks as they race to bloom before the trees leaf out and shade their tiny leaves. Some create tapestries of color across the forest floor, washes of reds, whites and purples. Others bloom in tiny stands, with a tiny yellow bell hanging here and there. Some flowers hide their beauty by dangling under functional green leaves.

Spring Beauty

Spring Beauties have a tasty potato-like root. Learn more about wild edibles at the Audubon Nature Center’s Edible Spring Greens program on May 9. Photo by Jeff Tome.

There are hundreds of wildflowers that bloom each spring and each one has a different story to tell. Some only grow in a special type of soil. Others may need certain insects. Spring wildflowers are a riot of crazy stories, full of unanticipated twists and turns that end up telling a bigger story, a story of how a forest is more than a forest. It is a collection of stories that overlap and twist around each other like roots underground, where one thing is hard to untangle from all the rest.

Flowers come in surprising shapes. Skunk Cabbage flowers look like small purple tents with a little ball inside. They don’t smell like a skunk so much as a dead animal rotting on the roadside, especially when they are stepped on. They have been blooming in wet areas for a month now. Their smell, offensive to many people, is heavenly to the flies that are attracted to pollinate them. They bloom at warm temperatures too, attracting bees to stop over for a warm up as they fly in the early, early spring.

Yellow Trout Lily

Trout Lily is also known as Adder’s Tongue. It starts blooming around the start of trout fishing. These will be one of many wildflowers seen during the Audubon Nature Center’s annual Mother’s Day Wildflower Walk on Mother’s Day, May 10 at the Bentley Preserve near Fluvanna Ave. Photo by Jeff Tome.

One of my favorite spring flowers is the Trout Lily, which is a small dangling flower that comes out early in the spring. It comes in two colors. The yellow Trout Lily is fairly common, found in almost every local forest. The White Trout Lily is much harder to find and a species of special concern in many areas. I’m leading a trip to Buckaloons Recreation Area in the Allegany National Forest on May 16 at 2:00pm to see them, along with a bunch of other great spring flowers.

Trout Lilies are intriguing for two reasons. First, they clone themselves readily. A patch of mottled leaves are often almost identical, each one a clone of their neighbor. They send little white arms, called stolons, arching across the ground to create a cloned neighbor next year. A walk through the forest shows patches of identical leaves, each one a clone of its neighbor. The second thing they do is use phosphorus from spring rains to grow. This trace mineral is essential for healthy forest soils. When the Trout Lily leaves rot in the late spring, the phosphorus stays in the forest soils instead of being washed away. These plants can be over 100 years old.

In my neighborhood, stands of Trout Lily remain from when the area was a forest around 100 years ago. The leaves pop up in yards and parks, never blooming, but still waiting for the forest of the past to return. They are a remnant of the past that is holding on in an area where you wouldn’t expect them to.

They are joined by Spring Beauties. These tiny pink and white wildflowers bloom across the forest floor, and in the park up the street from my house. If you didn’t know they were a woodland wildflower, they could easily be mistaken for one of the many tiny flowers that bloom across lawns in the spring.

There is a lot to learn from Spring Beauties. They have pink stripes leading to the center of the flower called nectar guides. Early bees use these to find the tasty nectar in the center of the flower. Spring Beauties also have a tasty, potato-like root called a corm that is eaten by chipmunks and mice.

One of the best known spring wildflowers is the trillium, with its three petals and three leaves. It can take six years for a trillium to grow from seed to flower, making most flowering trilliums older than a kindergartner. Red Trilliums are also known as Stinking Benjamin because they smell so foul. Their awful smell and red-purple color attract flies to pollinate them in the early spring when fewer bees are around. They need ants to spread. Their seeds are dry and tasteless, but have a yummy attachment called a stophiole on them. The ants carry the seeds to their nest to eat the stophiole. Later, they discard the seed with the trash to grow near the nest.

Garlic Mustard is a wildflower with attitude. It’s small and not very noticeable, but can cause huge amounts of damage to a forest. Garlic Mustard is the non-native bad boy that breaks the ties that bind the forest together. Under the ground, it sends out chemicals that destroy the fungus layer that helps feed wildflowers. Above the ground, it shades out wildflowers and steals their sunlight. It spreads across the forest like an invading army, creating a patch consisting only of garlic mustard and some hardy plants mixed in.

Wildflowers are a topic I could go on about for hours because there are so many stories behind their names, about their lives, and how people have used them. There’s not room for that here, but there are some great opportunities coming up if you are interested in learning more.

Learn what flowers and other plants you can eat at our Edible Spring Greens class on May 9 from 1:00pm-3:00pm, reservations are needed. Every year, there is a Mother’s Day Wildflower Walk at our Bentley Sanctuary on Bentley Avenue near Fluvanna in Jamestown on Mother’s Day, May 10 from 2:00pm-4:00pm with naturalist Jack Gulvin. This walk is free and needs no reservations. Join me to see the amazing wildflowers at Buckaloons on May 16 from 2:00pm-3:30pm, reservations are required.

The Audubon Nature Center primarily serves residents in Warren and Chautauqua County. It is located at 1600 Riverside Road, just off Route 62 between Warren and Jamestown. The Center is open from 10:00am until 4:30pm daily except Sundays when we open at 1:00pm. The trails are open from dawn until dusk. For more information, go to http://jamestownaudubon.org.

Jeff Tome is a naturalist at the Nature Center and will be leading a wildflower hike this spring.

Posted in Article, Jeff Tome

A Reason to Bird

A Reason to Bird
by Katie Finch

At Audubon Nature Center, people think we are all about birds. It is understandable. It was the outrage over the killing of millions of birds to decorate ladies’ hats that led to the foundation of the Massachusetts Audubon Society in 1896. Today, National Audubon Society does research, sets policy, and conserves habitat for birds and other wildlife.

IMG_2601

A Song Sparrow gets banded by ornithologists as onlookers watch.

If you have been to a program or just look at the other programs we offer, that myth is quickly dispelled. The Nature Center works to connect people to all of nature- mammals, insects, plants, the fascinating-yet-complicated systems to which they belong, and also birds.

However, it is difficult not to talk about birds this time of year. Familiar species are coming back after having been thousands of miles south this winter. Their songs accompany our waking and walking. And they are putting on the most beautiful displays of plumage in the hopes of attracting a mate.

I admit, at the start of a career in outdoor education looking for something small, moving, and most likely brown and far away with people who knew more than me was not on my list of exciting outdoor adventures. However, with more knowledge, maturity, and generous help from birders I’ve met here, I’ve grown to appreciate and want to know our feathered friends.

IMG_0421

Spotting something at Birdathon

Partly as an explanation for those unconverted friends and family members who observe my growing obsession I’ve starting to think about why people bird.

Birding is a very accessible recreational activity. According to the U.S. Census, 52 million people feed and observe birds. And there are multiple levels in which to participate. You can watch birds in the comfort of your house, appreciating their colors and their antics at the feeder. Or you can learn to identify them, large, distinct ones first, small, nondescript later. You can make a list, count them, learn their songs, understand behavior, look for nests . . .

Watching birds is another way to mark the changes of the seasons. The “conk-a-ree” of the Red-Winged Blackbird is a welcome sign of spring. “I saw my first bluebird” is the equivalent of saying “Spring is really here.”

Birds are everywhere. There are 914 species of birds in North America. They can be seen in all habitats- swamps, deserts, forests, backyards, and city streets. Walk through many urban areas (including Jamestown and Warren) and listen for the nasal “peent” of Common Nighthawks, which nest on top of city buildings and fly overhead at night hunting insects.

Yellow Warbler Singing - by Dave Cooney

A Yellow Warbler singing. Photo by Dave Cooney

And birds are just beautiful. Think of the bright red of the cardinal or the shining feathers of a hummingbird. Even the invasive European Starling is to be admired in its breeding plumage when caught in the sunlight.

Their stories are also amazing. How many of you have longed to fly like bird? Their endurance of the winter cold and ability to travel thousands of miles is sometimes beyond our ability and understanding. The Arctic Tern travels 25,000 miles from its Arctic breeding grounds to winter off Antarctica.

If you’d like to know more about birds, whether you are a beginner or an expert, the Nature Center has some opportunities coming up this spring.

Join ornithologists on Saturday mornings, weather permitting, beginning at the end of April. Watch how they capture migrating and resident birds, fit them with identification bands, measure and weigh them, then release them.

Bird banding is an age-old technique used to discover details about the lives of birds. You can drop in any time between 7:00am and 11:00am on four Saturdays from April 25 through May 16 to learn from the ornithologists exactly how it is done and why.

If you are a Boy Scout (or not!) working on a Bird Study badge, the Nature Center is the place for you on Saturday, April 25. Scouts who are just beginning their Bird Study Merit Badge can get a good start and those who have already begun can be tested. The morning includes walks with birding experts, stations to learn about or review bird anatomy and songs, field guides, and binoculars and a bird feeder building station. Scouts will also have the opportunity to visit a bird banding research demonstration. The general public is also welcome to register for the program. Through funding from the Rollin A. & Annie P. Fancher Fund administered by Chautauqua Region Community Foundation we are able to offer this half day event for a moderate fee.

Another option is to join or support birders on Saturday, May 2. This is an (almost) all-day event in which we try to find as many species of birds as possible. Join the Education staff and friends to see as many birds as we can on this one-day only Birdathon.

Or make a pledge to support the team. The Fledgling team raises money for the Ryan Exline Memorial Scholarship for a college student heading off to college with an interest in pursuing the natural sciences. Generous supporters pledge an amount – either per species or in total – and the end result is the $500 scholarship. This year’s recipient is Brandon Allen who is a senior at Southwestern High School and plans to attend Finger Lakes Community College in the fall.

This scholarship is named in memory of one of the very first recipients of the scholarship. Ryan Exline was a volunteer, intern, nature-lover, and was attending graduate school at Duke University. His love of nature and of nurturing future generations of “nature nerds” lives on in this scholarship.

So as we continue to teach- and learn- about birds and the rest of the amazing outside world, maybe we’ll see you out there.

Audubon Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road in the town of Kiantone, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York and Warren, Pennsylvania. Learn more about the Nature Center and the many programs and events by visiting http://jamestownaudubon.org.

Katie Finch is a naturalist at Jamestown Audubon.

Posted in Article, Birds, Katie Finch, Program