Let’s Get to Work!

Roll Up Your Sleeves and Let’s Get to Work!
by Jennifer Schlick

In 2013-2014, almost 9,000 people came to the Nature Center to attend a program or event. Another 1400+ came because of a rental. Our guestbook was signed by almost 3,400 people. We don’t know how many people came to walk or ski the trails without stopping inside to sign the guestbook. And 240 people visited the Nature Center specifically to volunteer. Some of these people may have come for one 3 hour shift. Others show up every Tuesday and Thursday, if they are able. Some like to volunteer only in spring. Others prefer the fall. Some like to be outside, others indoors. All told, these 240 people reported over 11,500 hours of labor.

2014-2014 Volunteer vs Staff Pie Chart

In 2014-2014, volunteers put in nearly as many hours as paid staff at the Nature Center!

Volunteers are needed throughout the year, but once a year, we hold a very special Volunteer Day. On Volunteer Day, it’s hard to tell staff from volunteers. Everyone rolls up their sleeves and gets to work on projects large and small. Because we work rain or shine, we get wet one way or another – from precipitation or perspiration! And after all the hard work, we sit down to lunch, relaxation, and team reports.

We try to pick a Saturday that is close to Earth Day. This year, the Nature Center’s Volunteer Day will fall on Saturday, April 18, 2015. We’ll gather at 8:30 for registration and team assignments.

Volunteer Day April 19, 2014

Volunteers get fed, and they get a small present on Volunteer Day. Last year it was a bandanna. What will it be this year? (Both prizes and food are courtesy of the Lakewood Cummins Engine Plant.)

If you enjoy the smell of garlic, you might pick the Garlic Mustard Team. Garlic Mustard is a non-native invasive weed that is edible, but also detrimental to our native plants. It spreads rapidly, grabbing up the nutrients, and leaving behind chemicals that our native plants can’t tolerate. Members of this team are welcome to take their harvest home, search the internet for a recipe, and gobble it up.

Those interested in wearing stylish orange safety vests can join the Roadside Cleanup Team. The Nature Center has adopted a section of Route 62 and we do a clean-up twice each year – one in spring on Volunteer Day and another in the fall.

Volunteer Day April 19, 2014

Some volunteers will get to wear stylish outfits, such as these members of the Roadside Cleanup Team.

Have you ever heard of a “Playscape”? We’ve been itching to build one for quite some time. Think playground – but all natural, with plenty of loose parts for building imaginative structures. One of the elements we would like to build is a willow tunnel. What? Yes! A tunnel made from living willow trees. The Playscape Team will be planting little saplings (pending acquisition) and clearing some of the undergrowth to make room for other structures.

I typically hear the most laughter coming from the Gardening Teams. Teams? Yep, teams. We have several gardens in front and another garden out back and all need a bunch of TLC as we head into spring. (Gardeners are needed throughout the summer! Could you spare an hour a week?)

Not all the details are worked out yet. There are rumors of a Trail Blazing Team… We’ll also need a Lunch Crew – a team to set up for lunch, prepare & serve food, and clean up after.

Volunteer Day April 19, 2014

The Garden Team always has a great time!

During lunch, teams will give reports. How many pounds of Garlic Mustard do you think we’ll pull? What is the weirdest trash item that will be found along the roadside? How many willows does it take to make a tunnel? Did any of the teams get muddier than the gardeners? To find out, you have to attend!

We are grateful to Cummins Engine for funding that not only covers the cost of supplies, but also allows us to provide lunch and small gifts for each participant.  It is a fun day that leaves everyone with a real sense of accomplishment. I hope you can join us.

Call the Center at (716) 569‑2345 or visit https://jasprograms.wordpress.com/apr/volunteer-day/ to register, so we know how much food to buy! If you can’t make it on April 18th but think it sounds fun to volunteer at the Nature Center, please call or stop down. We’d love to match your interests and skills with a rewarding volunteer job.

The Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road between Jamestown, New York and Warren, Pennsylvania. For more information call (716) 569‑2345, or visit http://jamestownaudubon.org,

Jennifer Schlick is program director at the Nature Center and will be visiting all teams to get photographs! So wear your best grungy clothes and your broadest smiles.

Posted in Article, Event, Jennifer Schlick, Volunteering

Catch and Observe Critters at the Nature Center – April 11, 2015

Catch and Observe Critters at the Nature Center

Jamestown, NY – Observing wild creatures is fascinating and often creates a life-long connection with nature.

If catching critters was a part of your childhood you’d like to revisit or share with a young person you know, you are invited to the Audubon Nature Center for “Catching & Observing Critters” on Saturday afternoon, April 11.

You can catch and observe some critters at the Audubon Nature Center on Saturday afternoon, April 11. In this program you can learn the basic needs of these creatures, how to build temporary observation homes for them, and the importance of letting them go back in their real homes.

You can catch and observe some critters at the Audubon Nature Center on Saturday afternoon, April 11. In this program you can learn the basic needs of these creatures, how to build temporary observation homes for them, and the importance of letting them go back in their real homes.

From 1:30-3:00p.m., you can learn how to safely catch some critters and create safe and ideal observation containers for common “catches” that you will make outside.

Whether using a mason jar or a bug box, the childhood rite of catching fireflies and crickets, toads and worms often meant caging the critters, at least for a bit. In this program you will learn the basic needs of these creatures, how to build temporary observation homes for them, and the importance of letting them go back in their real homes.

After taking a walk and doing some catching, the class will return to the Nature Center and build a habitat to keep the critters safe and happy. At the end they will be set free.

Come prepared for a hike outside. Bring your own bug box or catching container if you would like.

Fee for participation is $8, $6 for Friends of the Nature Center and children 3-15, free for children two and under.

Reservations are required by Thursday, April 9, 2015: call (716) 569-2345 or click through “Catching & Observing Critters” at http://www.jamestownaudubon.org to reserve online.

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 Audubon and its many programs, call (716) 569-2345 or visit http://www.jamestownaudubon.org.

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Posted in News Release, Program

“Digital Darkroom Demos” is Topic of Audubon Photo Club Meeting – April 6, 2015

 “Digital Darkroom Demos” is Topic of Audubon Photo Club Meeting

 Jamestown, NY – “Digital Darkroom Demos” is the topic at the next Jamestown Audubon Nature Photography Club meeting.

 On Thursday, April 9, at 6 p.m. member Bill Smith will demonstrate creating a panorama from several shots and explain why combining shots can be better than just using a wide-angle lens.

Bill Smith - Red House Lake

“Digital Darkroom Demos” is the subject at the Audubon Nature Photography Club meeting on Thursday, April 9, 2015. Shown here is a panorama from Red House Lake taken by presenter Bill Smith.

Smith will also demonstrate creating a greater depth macro flower picture by combining shots of a single flower where the focus point changes from shot to shot.

“The Color Pink” and “Georgia O’Keefe Flowers” are the topics for the image review that begins the meeting. The Color Pink is about using a pink subject and finding a vantage point to isolate and emphasize the subject and so encourages people to think about the relationship of objects. For Georgia O’Keefe Flowers, members use the tips from last month’s program about how Georgia O’Keefe painted flowers to create their own in the painter’s style.

 The 15 minute tech talk will be about combining two images, taking the best parts of both to create a better composite; the subject is a landscape with interesting sunset sky.

 A social time follows the program.

Visitors are asked to pay $5 that can be applied toward the annual membership of $30 if application is made by the next meeting. Among the benefits of membership are discounts on photography classes, field trips, and the right to show photos at Club exhibits.

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

Contact Club President Suzette Paduano at (716) 763-9492 or suzettepaduano@yahoo.com for more information, or visit the Club blog at http://jasphotoclub.wordpress.com.

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Posted in News Release, Photo Club

Fun Volunteer Opportunity! Training – Thursdays in April

It’s Trail Guide Training Time at Audubon

Jamestown, NY – The Audubon Nature Center is looking for volunteers with a love of nature to lead Discovery Walks with students from local schools.

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The Audubon Nature Center needs the help of many volunteer trail guides to welcome more than 3,000 schoolchildren on field trips in the spring. On four Thursdays in April the Nature Center’s education staff will offer training for these critically important volunteers.

“Our trail guides are so generous in sharing their time and themselves for the important work of connecting children to nature,” said Nature Center Program Director Jennifer Schlick. “Without these critically important volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to accommodate the more than 3,000 schoolchildren who visit every spring. And their impact lasts a LONG time!”

On four Thursday mornings in April, the Nature Center’s education staff is presenting a training series for seasoned and new trail guides to learn what the Audubon Nature Center does, how to lead Discovery Walks, and some natural history. Experience with children is helpful, but natural history knowledge is not.

The 10 a.m. to noon training schedule is:

April 9: Introduction – Learn more about what the Nature Center does in the community, what a Discovery Walk consists of and go for a short walk around the building to learn about the beaver, Eagle and other things near the building.

April 16: Going on the Trail – Learn what props are available for a Discovery Walk and go on a sample Discovery Walk to learn more about how they are led.

April 23: Rain Plans – It’s not often that rain forces the program to move inside, but there is a plan for when it happens. Learn how to lead indoor stations with students, then go on a sample Discovery Walk to learn other new techniques.

April 30: Nature Hike – It’s always nice to learn a little natural history before leading students on a walk. Come learn some of what is happening outside on the trails at the beginning of the Discovery Walk season.

Participants are reminded to dress for the weather as most of the program will be outdoors.

To learn more about being a volunteer trail guide, visit http://www.trailguidetraining.wordpress.com.

Register is requested by the Monday before each session by calling (716) 569-2345 or use the online form by clicking through “Trail Guide Trainings” at http://www.jamestownaudubon.org. Walk-ins will also be accepted.

To learn more about Audubon field trips and how to schedule them, call (716) 569-2345 or visit http://www.audubonprograms.com/fieldtrips.

Discovery Walks are funded in part through fees and through a grant from the Thomas H. Brown Fund administered by Chautauqua Region Community Foundation.

The Audubon Nature Center is at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York, and Warren, Pennsylvania. The Nature Center building, with its collection of live animals, interactive exhibits and the Blue Heron Gift Shop, is open 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 1-4:30 p.m. Sundays.

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Posted in News Release, Program, Volunteering

Dan Anderson to Speak at First Friday – April 3, 2015

Invasive Species is Topic at Nature Center’s April First Friday

Jamestown, NY – If you would you like to know more about alien invaders, then you will want to participate in the Audubon Nature Center’s next First Friday Lunch Bunch.

IMG_0889 Dan Anderson

At the Audubon Nature Center’s First Friday Lunch Bunch on April 3, 2015, retired Jamestown Community College biology professor Dan Anderson will present “Invasive Species: Why the Concern?” Here Anderson holds non-native Multiflora Rose, which can be found at the Nature Center.

On Friday, April 3, at 11 a.m., retired Jamestown Community College biology professor Dan Anderson will present “Invasive Species: Why the Concern?”

You can learn what is meant by the term “invasive species,” how they affect the food web, and what makes them such a growing problem.

Anderson will share some surprising new findings about plants and animals now being found in our region that can be a real headache.

Anderson is the winner of a Chapter Service Award from the New York Forest Owners Association, a program that provides private forest owners with information and
encouragement to manage their forest holdings wisely. He has a long history of activity in forestry as a landowner and New York Master Forest Owner volunteer.
Following the program, coffee and tea will be provided for a BYO brown bag lunch. The fee for attending is $8 or $6 for Friends of the Nature Center. Reservations are not required.

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

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

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Posted in News Release, Program

Mr. Wormbreath Dances in the Dusk

Mr. Wormbreath Dances in the Dusk
by Jeff Tome

20110402_American_woodcock_WH_MG9999

Woodcocks are amazing little birds that dwell in the fields around the Southern Tier Brewing Company, where Audubon’s Woodcock Whirl is held. Photo by Wil Herschberger

How does a bird with worm breath attract a mate?  They do it with singing, awesome dance moves and a skydance of amazing proportions.  This is the life of the American Woodcock, one of the few local birds that eat worms and a bird many people go a lifetime without seeing.  At the Audubon Nature Center, we want to fix that and will offer two amazing events to do so.  (To learn what those are, skip to the end of this article.)

Woodcocks return to the area in early spring.  Ralph Simpson, an early naturalist in Warren County wrote that they returned to the area between March 19 and April 8 between the years 1894 and 1904, according to the book “Grass Flats” by William Hoover.  Back then, Simpson reported that he “thought nothing of flushing a Woodcock, as they were quite common” though later they were “hunted a great deal with trained dogs and . . . becoming rare.”

Woodcock Whirl Logo

Audubon’s Woodcock whirl is a mix of local beer, nature trivia and fun held at the Southern Tier Brewing Company.

Woodcocks are birds of field and brush.  Their habitat is increasingly hard to find in the area as old farm fields and pastures sprout into forests and housing developments.  According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, their numbers are stable or declining slightly, but may decrease drastically as a result of forest regrowth and development.

American Woodcocks are one of the few shorebirds that are hunted.  Over 1.5 million were killed yearly in the 1970s, compared with 300,000 a year today.  Hunting does not seem to affect the population much.  There is even a dog that was bred to hunt the woodcock, the Cocker Spaniel.  The breed started in Europe to hunt Eurasian Woodcocks and was bred to be slightly smaller in North America to hunt the smaller American Woodcock.

So, back to how Mr. Wormbreath Woodcock finds a mate.  I call the woodcocks will all respect, as they are one of the few birds that truly eat large numbers of worms.  Up to 90% of their diet consists of earthworms, and they may eat their weight in worms each night.  Most birds that are said to eat worms, including the Worm-eating Warbler, actually eat caterpillars, not true worms.

Woodcocks like to attract a mate in the dim light of dusk and dawn.  On a full moon night when the light is right, they may skydance all night long.  It all starts with a nasal sounding “peent” on the ground, where they start a slow dance with their body rocking fast and their legs moving slowly.  They look almost like a stuffed rocking chair on stilts moving through the dusk.

After peenting for a little while, the male takes off into the sky.  The three outer feathers on the wing create a trilling whistle as the bird spirals higher and higher into the sky.  Once the bird is 250 to 350 feet in the air, it flies down in a zig-zag pattern, chirping all the way down.  To imagine how high that is, think about a football field set on end and the bird flying from one goal post to the other straight into the air.

On the ground, the male may find a female and mate.  The female then leaves and goes off to build a nest on the ground and sit on eggs.  The male goes back to skydancing.

The female sits on the eggs for about three weeks.  They can be incredibly loyal to the task and have reportedly let people stroke their backs while sitting on eggs.  The young follow their mother once they hatch, being fed for the first few days and then foraging with her after that.  The young can fly within two weeks of hatching.  They split up after they are a month old, when they are old enough to be on their own.

Woodcock - Interesting Beak

Woodcocks have long beaks to probe the soil for the worms. Their eyes are near the rear of their heads to see danger coming as their beaks are in the soil. Photo by Jennifer Schlick

It’s hard to appreciate how camouflaged the American Woodcock is without being scared by one in person.   They wait to fly until you are almost stepping on them, and then burst off the ground with a flutter of wings and zigzag flight that has never failed to startle me.  Ralph Simpson described watching a mother woodcock with four young in a line behind her and how hard the young were to find when scared.  “They were in a row and with their bills pointed downwards, a pretty sight.  Rushing at them, the young simply vanished, and I was unable to find a single one.”  When he sat still and waited, the young appeared “from apparently nowhere”.  These birds are masters at camouflage, which is why they are most often hunted with dogs.

And so, we celebrate the return of the seldom seen American Woodcock each spring as they dance in the twilight and quietly nest in plain sight.  We celebrate with an entertaining night of trivia, food and great beer at the Southern Tier Brewing Company for the annual Woodcock Whirl, held on April 9th from 6:00pm-8:00pm.  There will be a chance to win the woodcock dance contest and go up behind the brewery to watch the woodcocks dance.  Reservations are required, as there is limited space in the tent.

There will also be a field trip to watch the American Woodcocks on May 21st.  It will be a little later in the evening and a little warmer outside.  Visit https://jamestownaudubon.org for more information about programs about American Woodcocks and other birds, as well as wildflowers, wild edibles and other topics.

The Audubon Nature Center has trails over 120 acres of wetlands, fields and forests at 1600 Riverside Road near Jamestown, NY.  They are located between Jamestown and Warren.  For more information, call (716) 569-2345.

Jeff Tome is a naturalist at the Audubon Nature Center.

Posted in Article, Event, Fundraiser, Jeff Tome

2015 Photo Contest is Open – Deadline June 30, 2015

Photo Contest Announced by Audubon Nature Center
in Jamestown, New York

Jamestown, NY – The Audubon Nature Center is encouraging anyone who enjoys photography – from beginners to professionals – to enter their images for consideration in the 2015 Nature Photography Contest.

Youth Division - Plants/Fungi Category

The 2015 Nature Photography Contest presented by the Audubon Nature Center in Jamestown, New York, is now accepting entries. Anyone who enjoys photography – from beginners to professionals – is invited to enter their images for consideration. In 2014, Frewsburg, New York, photographer Taegan Smith’s “Makin’ Shade” won the Youth Plants category.

The deadline for this fifth annual competition is June 30, 2015.

“If you don’t have a photo you’ve already taken that you want to enter,” said Audubon Nature Center Program Director Jennifer Schlick, “there is plenty of time to get outdoors and do some shooting!”

“Part of our mission is to connect people with nature,” Schlick said. “The photo contest helps us fulfill that mission in two ways: The photographer connects with nature while making images, and the viewer becomes inspired to connect with nature by seeing the images.”

Schlick added that the contest gives photographers an outlet to share their work and have it judged, while at the same time inspiring others to connect with nature and raising funds to support the work of the Nature Center in Jamestown, New York.

Prizes are awarded in three categories and two divisions. The Youth Division is for ages 8-18 or still in high school; Adult is 18 and over or post-high school.

Youth and Adult winners in the categories of Landscapes, Plants, and Wildlife will each receive a $100 cash prize.

In 2014, adult photographers from 30 states and four foreign countries entered the competition. Youth entries came from 18 states and four foreign countries.

Images of winners and finalists from previous Nature Photography Contests can be viewed at http://www.jasphotocontest.com.

Full details for the competition can be found at http://www.jasphotocontest.com.

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Posted in News Release, Photo Contest