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CVAS Monthly Meetings Return!

Join us on September 17 at 7:00pm and break out from pandemic isolation to meet with your Audubon friends again, hear about Audubon news and projects, and find out about local birds. Following our member meeting we will hear about the Sister Bird Club Network that links birders in the Western Hemisphere. You can learn more about this meeting and how to join us on the calendar.

Changes Coming to eBird

In order to maintain a complete inventory of verifiable sightings of rare birds in the State, it has become apparent that the New York State Avian Records Committee (NYSARC) must take on the task of reviewing eBird records. For the all-volunteer group of seven voting members and a secretary, this is a daunting task. However, slowly but surely, NYSARC has developed a plan and started to wade into eBird review. They will be working with eBird reviewers to add eBird records to the NYSARC database. It is still a work in progress and is likely to continue to evolve in the next few years, but it is underway. What can eBirders expect and how will NYSARC impact their birding lists? Click here to find out.

Kid-Friendly Outdoor Spots in the Finger Lakes

If hiking, swimming, biking, paddling, or camping is your thing, the Finger Lakes region has plenty of options for getting your kids outside. From state parks to nature centers and more, there is something for everyone. Here are a few of our favorite spots.

Audubon for Kids!

Children with BirdsAudubon for Kids aims to bring together activities from across Audubon’s national network of environmental educators, including the classroom curriculum Audubon Adventures, plus related DIY activities and content from Audubon’s editors. These activities can be done at home or in a yard or park, sometimes with the help of a computer. The goal isn’t to teach a child how to name and identify bird species, but rather to give them space to explore and feel connected to the natural world. If you’re a parent or caretaker, that means you don’t need to worry about your own knowledge of birds or plants. All you need to be is a companion to your child’s curiosity.

Audubon's Birdy Care Package

Audubon knows that birds bring us joy, especially now. So, if you're looking for a joyful distraction, look no further than Audubon's Birdy Care Package: baby bird picture galleries, fun and funny bird news, and more. Check it out here.

The NYDEC encourages you to enjoy birdwatching while our state is on 'Pause.' Chemung Valley Audubon wildlife sanctuary trails continue to be open for visitors from dawn to dusk. While enjoying outdoor spaces, please continue to follow the CDC/NYSDOH guidelines for safe distancing. In a nutshell: stay home if you are sick or showing or feeling COVID-19 symptoms, stay local, and maintain social distancing.

One of the great things about birding is that you can do it in your own backyard. You can introduce your children to the joys of backyard birdwatching or practice your bird identification skills. You can make your property bird friendly and make your own bird feeders. We have all of the information you need right here on our website—check out our resources to learn more.

It's also a good time to enjoy some birding videos. Might we suggest The Secret Life of Bluebirds?


Picture of the Sanctuary

Chemung Valley Audubon Society invites you outdoors this summer. With many residents feeling a get-out-of-the-house eagerness after enduring months of isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CVAS urges you to consider the benefits of taking a hike. Over the past several years the local Audubon chapter has developed two properties in Steuben County (Northrup Hill & Gleason), as well as a trail at Mark Twain State Park in Chemung County, where you can enjoy outdoor experiences while still following social distancing guidelines.

A team of Audubon volunteers meets regularly at the three sites to clear out invasive species, plant native trees and pollinator gardens, and install ‘bee hotels’ to encourage valuable native bee species. These measures attract birds and other wildlife by offering the food and habitat they need to raise their young, fuel their migration during spring and autumn, and survive the winter. Boy Scouts have worked on trail maintenance, and a Cub Scout troop built and installed birdhouses. Eagle Scout construction projects include a kiosk and picnic tables.

Wynn YarrowA grant from the National Audubon Society allowed CVAS to commission local landscape artist Wynn Yarrow to create colorful and informative trail signs at the three locations. Trails are maintained for easy access and are open to the public during daylight hours for hiking and birding. Hunting, trapping, and motorized vehicles are prohibited. Pets must be leashed so as not to disturb wildlife, with no exceptions.

Hiking and wildlife watching are good for our bodies and our sense of well-being. CVAS invites people to use the trails and to enjoy the beauty and spectacle of wild nature in the Southern Tier. “Birding is an inexpensive, healthful, always entertaining outdoor activity that heightens one’s awareness and understanding of the environment and can be done anytime, anywhere,” noted Bill Ostrander. A lifelong birder and Chemung County resident, Ostrander leads Audubon walks that help people learn about and enjoy our area’s birds.

ButterflyNorthrup Hill Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary is a 24-acre preserve on Learn Road in the Town of Rathbone, Steuben County. The sanctuary’s wildlife habitats including grasslands, early-successional hardwoods, and a white pine–hemlock–hardwood forest that slopes downhill to a wetland. At an elevation of 1,700 feet, the property commands stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The land was given to CVAS as a gift from the Northrup family to be used as a nature preserve. The Northrup Hill Schoolhouse, a structure on the National Register of Historic Places, sits adjacent to the preserve.

The Gleason Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary covers 35-acres on Kelly Hill Road in the Steuben County Town of Caton. It is predominately forested, with a system of trails that passes through groves of hemlocks, pines, and northern hardwoods. A pond and small intermittent streams enhance the sanctuary’s value to plants and animals. The property was acquired with a bequest from the estate of long-time CVAS members Herbert and Virginia Gleason.

Ek Trail PostIn Chemung County, CVAS partnered with Mark Twain State Park and Friends of the Catharine Valley Trail to build the Ek Birding Trail. Named to honor Rick and Betty Ek, of Horseheads, the trail winds through deciduous forest, shrub land, and hemlock forest and is surrounded by a cattail marsh along Catharine Creek. The Eks had the vision for the project and laid the groundwork to create the new trail, thereby extending the long-established Catharine Valley Trail into Mark Twain State Park. The trail is accessible from parking areas at the Elmira College Murray Athletic Center (“The Domes”) located along Route 14 at 170 Huck Finn Road in Horseheads.

Why do Audubon volunteers invest their time and labor to create and maintain the trails? “When working at the properties, I keep in mind our chapter’s mission to promote the study, enjoyment, and protection of birds and other wildlife,” says Conservation Chairman Brian Dugan. CVAS President Gail Norwood sums it up this way: “Audubon has a passion for education and conservation. We want to invite you, the nature-loving public, to join us and enjoy the many opportunities that we offer.”

Driving directions and information about the trails are on our Northrup, Gleason, and Mark Twain State Park pages. Our trails and activities are open to all regardless of their age, race, religion, ability or gender identity.
Picture of Northrup Sanctuary

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.

Picture of Gleason Sanctuary

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.

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CVAS Monthly Meeting

Join us on Zoom for a lively discussion about birding and a presentation from one of our knowledgeable hosts. A bird identification workshop begins at 7:00pm, and the program begins at 7:30pm. All are welcome to these free events. CVAS is committed to increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in our conservation and education programs and to welcoming all who wish to work and learn with us. Any person, regardless of age, race, religion, ability, or gender identity, who is interested in wild life study, protection, and conservation, may be enrolled as a member upon receipt of the first payment of dues. To receive a link to the meeting, please e-mail Gail Norwood.

7:00pm | Thursday | September 17, 2020

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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.

CVAS is committed to increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in our conservation and education programs and to welcoming all who wish to work and learn with us.

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 by clicking the link below.

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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.