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New York State Young Birders Club visits RTPI

Posted on Jul 22, 2014

This past Sunday, July 20, the New York State Young Birders Club visited us at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History. Thanks to the assistance of our friend and supreme naturalist Tim Baird we were able to arrange a visit of several young birders in order to target some of the fantastic and conservation concern grassland species that can be found here in Chautauqua County.

RTPI Affiliate Sean Graesser and I met up with the group at RTPI at 7:00AM to head to the Chautauqua County/Jamestown Airport. Unfortunately we have not recorded the New York State “Threatened” Henslow’s Sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii) or New York State “Special Concern” Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum) there in 2014 after we confirmed both as breeding species in 2013. Mowing and maintenance regimes have not been favorable for them as the airport staff has cut the grasslands in all areas, something we will be working on with the county in the future. This led to a discussion of best management practices and rare or imperiled species with the group while we watched for other birds.

New York State Young Birders Club airport

Thankfully despite a cool and cloudy morning we found many active and beautiful species such as the Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, American Kestrel and Savannah Sparrow. They were hunting, singing, and flying all around us while we birded by ear and picked up more birds from nearby woodlands. Here was our species list for the stop:

Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Downy Woodpecker (Eastern)
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)
American Kestrel
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
House Wren
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Common Yellowthroat
Yellow Warbler
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

From there we stopped at a nearby location to look for Merlins at what had been an active nest site a few weeks ago. I presume the young have fledged and they were out hunting with their parents as we came up empty. Another stop to find a life mammal for the group was successful as we found three Fox Squirrels (Sciurus niger), the largest tree squirrel species in North America.

We headed back to RTPI to meet Twan who would provide an excellent tour of the building and the current exhibit, Exquisite Miniatures, as well as many of the Roger Tory Peterson treasures on display from his art and plates to awards and honors.

New York State Young Birders Club video

We took the group through a behind the scenes tour highlighting more of Roger’s works in our archives including many originals and rarely seen pieces. Everyone also enjoyed the large avian collection featuring drawers like this one full of extinct species – Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Passenger Pigeon, Carolina Parakeet, Bachman’s Warbler and more.

New York State Young Birders Club birds

Our thanks to all the attendees from the New York State Young Birder’s Club for coming to visit us! And to Tim for once again being a great host as well. If you are interested in visiting RTPI with a group such as this one please contact me at skruitbosch@rtpi.org. We still have the rest of the gorgeous Chautauqua County summer and autumn to come and we always have a magnificent building full of wondrous art and an archive filled with precious and rare items and pieces from throughout Roger Tory Peterson’s life.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator