New York Breeding Bird Atlas III Update

By Kathryn Schneider, Co-chair, NY BBA III Steering Committee

The Steering Committee for New York’s third Breeding Bird Atlas has been meeting since 2015 to fund, organize, and plan our next bird atlas.  This project will provide a five-year snapshot of the distribution and abundance of breeding birds in New York State. With field work set to begin in 2020, the committee is excited to announce that Julie Hart has been hired to fill the position of Atlas Project Coordinator. Julie beat out an outstanding field of nearly 80 applicants who sought this position. She impressed the Search Committee with her combination of scientific training, field work, large-scale citizen science, and project management experience.

Some New York birders will remember Julie from the years she spent in New York working on the Important Bird Areas program with Audubon New York. During this time, she was based at the Cornell Lab where she had the opportunity to work on eBird during its development. From 2007 to 2009 Julie was a Conservation Biologist for the Vermont Center for Ecostudies. In this position she recruited, trained, and organized more than 150 volunteers for Mountain Birdwatch, a project that monitors high-elevation birds in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Julie has participated in bird atlases in Vermont and Connecticut and she has trained volunteers to use eBird. Her most recent position as a Database Manager for Yale’s Map of Life project involved managing large datasets not unlike those generated by a bird atlas.

Julie hit the ground running and attended her first Steering Committee meeting after only four days on the job. She will work in DEC offices in Albany as a part of the staff of the New York Natural Heritage Program and she will be officially supervised by Matt Schlesinger, Co-chair of the NY BBA III Steering Committee.

Everyone on our committee is delighted to have an individual on the team whose sole responsibility is the management and coordination of the Atlas Project, but we all know that the success of a project as large, complex, collaborative, and long term as our state atlas depends first and foremost on large numbers of skilled volunteers to gather the data. In the coming year we will be asking birders to commit to field surveys using Atlas methodology. We are relying on you to get involved! We will want you to go places that you’ve never been before, and we will need you to watch and document the birds you see in new and different ways. Are you up to the challenge?


If you've ever had the pleasure of exploring our Northrup Hill or Gleason Sanctuaries, you may know that the Chemung Valley Audubon Society has a cabin in the Gleason Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary in Caton, NY, that has been used by the club for events over the years. The Ondura roof, installed over thirty years ago, was deteriorating, thereby allowing water to enter and damage the interior structure.

Recognizing the seriousness of this problem, the CVAS Board of Directors hired RJ Construction of Woodhull, NY, to re-roof the cabin with a 40-year-warranty metal roof. A green roof color was selected to blend in with the forest environment of the sanctuary. The roofing work was initiated on Wednesday, March 28, 2018, and completed on Saturday, March 31, 2018.

Once the old roofing material was removed, an inspection of the main structure found it to be in excellent condition. As part of the new roof, translucent panels were placed strategically in the roof, allowing sunlight to penetrate into the cabin and brighten up the room. The construction went very well, and CVAS members are very pleased with the work. It looks great!

The Board of Directors recognized that this project requires a substantial outlay of funds, but agreed the work is needed to protect the club's asset. The club would gratefully accept any donation to help assist with the funding of this project.

Visit our Gleason Sanctuary page to see the photo album highlighting the progression of work on the roof project. For the next phase of cabin improvements, club members will volunteer their time to repair the water-damaged interior sections of the cabin. Once completed, hopefully by this summer, the Audubon Chapter members can again utilize this facility and events can be planned.

Do stop up to Gleason for a nice spring walk on our trails and see the nice new green roof on our cabin!

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Two types of planting styles are currently used for trees at Northrup Hill Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary: boundary planting and group planting. Boundary planting consists of trees which are planted in a straight line, giving definition to the property by providing a visual separation between one property and another or a transitional area between grassland/shrub land and woodlot.  This transitional zone provides habitat for all wildlife.

The margin of the northern field is a boundary planting with 20 Northern White Cedar, Thuja accidentalis, used for property definition in the upper field and a wind break.  A boundary planting was used along the walking path in the first woodlot consisting of ten Paper (or White) Birch, Betula papyrifera, to add definition to the path.  Along this path, notice fungi growing on stumps.

You will notice the second type of planting in the first woodlot.  Sugar (or Hard) Maple, Acer saccharum, were planted using the group planting method.  This experimental planting, which includes ten Sugar Maples, is copying Mother Nature’s dispersal method.  When Sugar Maples disperse their seeds, they appear to helicopter and land in a circular pattern adjacent the parent tree.  There are few Sugar Maples in this woodlot; accordingly, this experiment is meant to augment their numbers.  In the following years, more Sugar Maples are planned to be group planted.

Saplings are a favorite food for deer so most tree plantings are protected with a 5 foot tubular sleeve.  Trees, protective tubes and stakes were donated for this project by Chemung County Soil and Water and by CVAS chapter member.

Thank you to Brian Dugan for providing this overview of tree planting.

Northrup Hill Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary

In 2016, volunteers donated over 500 hours of their time for the restoration of our Northrup Hill Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary in Rathbone, Steuben County.

Gleason Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary

Our 30-acre preserve in the Town of Caton, NY, beckons to all nature-lovers with its dozens of tree species and hundreds of animal and flower species.

CVAS Monthly Meeting

Chemung Valley Audubon Society will host Bob McGuire at our next meeting. He spent two weeks in 2018 photographing and recording the birds of Iceland. Join him for a tour of this exotic land: the remote highlands, seabird cliffs, and offshore islands. Lots of puffins, too! We meet on the third Thursday of the month. A bird identification workshop precedes the program at 7:00 p.m.; the program begins at 7:30p.m. All are welcome to these free events.

7:00pm | Thursday | March 21, 2019
Appleridge Dining Room (Map)

Community Programs

Our free, family-friendly Nature Strollers program runs from May to December, and we hope you'll join us for this and our other popular programs throughout the year, including:

Bird Sleuth | A lively program for school-aged children that teaches key concepts, including diversity, adaptations, food webs, and more, through hands-on learning.

CVAS Book Club | The CVAS book club meets on Thursdays. For meeting information and a list of the books we'll be reading, please click here.

DIY Bird Treat Wreath

The holidays are usually a busy time in the kitchen—and birds will appreciate some home-cooked treats just as much as your friends and family. This suet bird seed wreath provides densely nutritious food for the birds that hang around in the winter. Cook one up and hang it outside (ideally either 3 feet from a window, or more than 30 feet from a window, to prevent collisions), and wait for your feathered fans to come snack. What birds should you expect? Suet is a particularly welcome feast for birds like wrens, chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers. 

Here's how to cook up this avian treat...

Native Plants for Your Home and Garden

Bring birds and pollinators to your home today by growing native plants. Find the best plants for the pollinators and birds for your yard. Growing bird-friendly plants will attract and protect the birds you love while making your space beautiful, easy to care for, and better for the environment. Explore native plant resources here.

DEC Launches I Bird NY

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has launched I BIRD NY, an initiative to build on increasing access to the state's vast natural resources and promote low-cost opportunities to explore the great outdoors and connect with nature. The program launch took place at the Utica Marsh Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Oneida County...

10 Things You Can Do for Birds

While any time of year is a good time to do something for the birds, it's finally spring, and therefore it's a great time to plant a garden, share your passion for birds with your family and friends, and make a difference for birds here, there, and everywhere. Visit Audubon and read about 10 Things You Can Do for Birds.

Lyme Disease

It's here, and it's spreading! Awareness and knowledge will take you far in avoiding ticks and Lyme Disease during your nature exploration.

National Audubon Society

Chemung Valley Audubon Society is a chapter of the National Audubon Society. The NAS is an invaluable resource for any Audubon enthusiast.