Education

Chemung Valley Audubon Society 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. We want all of our members, their friends, their family members, and every one we meet to be active participants in promoting our mission and protecting our birds. One way we ensure our success is through FREE, fun, family-friendly programming.

Nature Strollers

Nature Strollers is our fun, free outdoor program for babies, toddlers, and young school children and their caregivers, that we do from late May thru early December. This program excels at developing school readiness skills, creating an awareness of the world around us, and providing the visual stimulation necessary for children to further develop the farsightedness needed for school success.

One of our expert nature guides leads you and your children on a leisurely walk through locations around Chemung County and encourages children and their families to interact with and enjoy our natural world. Literature related to the theme of the walk is provided, as well as binoculars. Snacks and drinks are provided for the children halfway through the one-hour walk.

This program cancels for thunder and lightning, but we love to walk any other time, including in the rain! Please visit our calendar for exact meeting locations or changes to our Nature Strollers program. We've received so many positive reviews from parents, and many report that our program has inspired their children to learn more about wildlife and spend more time outside. It's a great way for you and your children to experience new places and get new experiences in familiar places in our area!

The 2019 schedule is now available for download. This year, Tanglewood Nature Center, River Friends, and CVAS have teamed up to provide our local families with these fun, family-friendly walks.

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.

Public Outreach & Community Partnerships

Interested in learning more about Chemung Valley Audubon activities? Stop  by our information table at any one of a dozen public events we'll be attending in the months ahead.

In May 2018, CVAS member and current President Gail Norwood was approached by a friend that suggested it would be nice if an Osprey nesting platform could be installed at Chemung County’s Park Station. Gail’s inquiries led her to Boy Scout Troop 87 in Big Flats that meets at the Big Flats Presbyterian Church. It turned out that a scout in the organization, Noah M., was looking for an Eagle Scout project. 

Noah, CVAS members, and the manager at Park Station met in the Fall to outline the proposed project. Noah worked on constructing the platform through the winter months. On June 6, 2019, Noah, leaders and scouts of Troop 87, park staff, and CVAS members met and installed the platform. No equipment was used to install the pole. The platform was installed by the volunteer group using only ropes.

Congratulations, Noah! We look forward to seeing the first pair of Osprey nesting at the Park Station site.

BirdSleuth

BirdSleuth is a lively program for school-aged children that is taught by CVAS volunteers. BirdSleuth teaches key concepts, including diversity, adaptations, food webs, and more, through hands-on learning. Visit the BirdSleuth website to view resources like webinars, a guidebook, a curriculum, and more. Developed by Cornell Lab of Ornithology, BirdSleuth encourages kids to spend time in the outdoors, focusing on the sights, sounds, and behaviors of birds; to answer their own questions about nature by using the scientific process; and to engage in data collection through citizen science. We encourage you to make a donation to Chemung Valley Audubon Society to support this and other educational programs that CVAS offers in the Southern Finger Lakes region.

We encourage you to make a donation to Chemung Valley Audubon Society to support this and other educational programs that we offer in the Southern Finger Lakes region.

Boys Using BinocularsIn February 2020, the 5th and 6th graders of Twin Tiers Christian Academy learned how to use binoculars, purchased and donated by Bill and Mary Anne Perks, and how to bird (pictured, right). The children had such a fun time learning about diversity, migration, and more. Mrs. de Oliveira's class had students put together a powerpoint about some of their many favorite birds. Jaxson's powerpoint presentation can be viewed here.

Public Lectures

Every quarter, we host a series of public lectures featuring experts and engaging speakers on topics relevant to our mission, including conservation efforts, bird and wildlife identification, and more. Lectures are generally held one Thursday each month at seven in the evening, and are free and open to members and non-members.

Recent speakers include:

  • Dr. Warren Allmon, Director of the Paleontological Research Institute, who shared with our group an enlightening and thoughtful presentation that posed the question, "Can the study of ancient life help us understand climate change?"
  • Bill Ostrander and Gail Norwood, who gave an insightful presentation on identifying migrating raptors.
  • Jillian Liner, the Director of Bird Conservation for Audubon, NY, who discussed her work with New York's Important Bird Areas (IBA) program.
  • Ithaca-based photographer Sarah Blodgett, who discussed her journey into wildlife photography and shared her stunning photos of the natural world.
  • Rick Marsi, who gave a thought-provoking program about how Southern Tier flora and fauna constantly adapt to changes in climate, land use, and conservation practices.
  • Biologist John Confer, professor emeritus at Ithaca College, who described his work with saw-whet owls at his owl-banding station east of Ithaca. These seldom-seen owls are common in North American forests, the smallest owl species of our region, with a catlike face and bright yellow eyes.

Visit our calendar to see upcoming events.

Preventing Bird Loss

As a member of the Audubon Society and a viewer of this web site, you are probably interested in not just birds, but in all wildlife and their habitats. Birds are good indicators of changes in their environment—the “canary in the coal mine.”

Recent reports describe the serious problem of bird loss. In a study issued on September 19, 2019, in the journal Science, Kenneth Rosenberg et al. report that there are nearly 3 billion fewer birds across North America today than there were in 1970, a loss of approximately 30%. Experts at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology were astonished by the numbers. Habitat loss seems to be a driving force, along with climate change.

© Michele Rosenbaum

Two more recent articles have come out. “Survival by Degrees,” an article published October 10, 2019, by Kenn Kaufman, a field editor for Audubon magazine, states that Audubon scientists have analyzed the current geographical range of 604 North American bird species and modeled how those ranges would change with different levels of warming. The second article is in the autumn issue of Living Bird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s quarterly magazine. It’s titled “Vanishing: More Than 1 in 4 Birds Has Disappeared in the Last 50 Years.”

Here are actions we can all take now to help birds:

  • Make windows safe from bird strikes. Install screens or specialized curtains, or attach stickers to break up the reflections.
  • Keep cats indoors. Speak out about the impacts of  feral cat colonies. Cats are a top source of bird loss.
  • Plant native plants as sources of nectar, seeds, berries, and insects for the birds.
  • Avoid pesticide use around your home, and buy organic food.
  • Drink shade-grown coffee with the Rainforest Alliance or Bird Friendly Smithsonian certification. The coffee is grown beneath trees that help migratory birds survive the winter.
  • Avoid single-use plastics. Recycle to keep plastics out of landfills and the ocean.
  • Watch birds and report what you see to eBird, Project Feeder Watch, or the Christmas Bird Count. Become that citizen scientist.

Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for more information on everyday steps to help the birds. Other helpful sources are Wild Birds Unlimited, Bird Watcher’s Digest, and Birds & Blooms.

In closing, get out there and enjoy the birds and the wildlife around them. Chemung Valley Audubon has programs and bird walks that are free and open to all.

Gail Norwood, President, Chemung Valley Audubon Society

New York State Ornithological Association, Inc. (NYSOA)

As stated on the NYSOA website, NYBirds.org: "The objectives of the New York State Ornithological Association are to document the ornithology of New York State; to foster interest in and appreciation of birds; and to protect birds adn their habitats. You can view the latest report (2019) here.

69th Annual NYSOA Meeting Hosted by CVAS

Chemung Valley Audubon Society hosted the 69th Annual Meeting of the New York State Ornithological Association (NYSOA) September 9-11, 2016. Birding opportunities along the Chemung River, which flows through the heart of Elmira, were just steps away from the weekend’s headquarters at the Holiday Inn-Elmira Riverview.

Historic reenactor Brian “Fox” Ellis twice treated his audience to skillful performances in the role of John James Audubon. He led a Friday afternoon river walk to an oversized bronze rendering of the extinct Labrador Duck (photo at right), one of the Lost Bird Project series by sculptor Todd McGrain. The bird is memorialized at Brand Park in Elmira, where the last known individual was shot on December 12, 1878, by a boy in search of wild game for the family table. Ellis once again took on the role of Audubon, as the early American artist and ornithologist, during the Friday evening buffet, interweaving historical events and people with his bird stories.

The guest speaker at the Saturday evening banquet, Dr. Rob Bierregaard, who is a research associate of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, presented “Tracking Ospreys in the Age of Silicon: Migration, Ecology, Conservation.” Since 2000, he has fitted satellite transmitters on 52 juvenile and 43 adult Ospreys. He shared his discoveries about the dispersal and migration of juveniles as well as the hunting behavior of adult males feeding their families.

Teresa Loomis, active in the NYS Young Birders Club, captured this image of a blue-winged warbler at Tanglewood Nature Center in Elmira during a NYSOA field trip. © Teresa Loomis

Field trips, the papers session, and of course, the delegates’ meeting filled out the weekend. Birders tallied 122 species, taking with them memorable checklists and a network of new friends.

The conference committee included Chemung Valley Audubon Society members Marty Borko, Brian and Mary Jane Dugan, Bill Ostrander (Chairman), Mary Anne Perks, and Linda and George Slobodnyak, all of whom worked diligently to plan and oversee the details of the weekend. Our thanks go to all of the volunteers and participants who contributed to the success of the conference.

We look forward to the 70th annual meeting in Fall 2017, hosted by the Buffalo Ornithological Society!

Get Involved

The Audubon Council of New York State had their Spring meeting at Saratoga Springs from March 22 - 24, 2019. You can download a summary of the report here.

NestWatch

NestWatch is a nationwide monitoring program of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in which volunteers find and monitor bird nests. The data we submit allows for more accurate reporting of the status of breeding birds. To learn more about NestWatch, click here.