2018 | Year of the Bird

In 2018, you pledged to build a better world for birds!

The following article was printed in Star Gazette on December 28, 2017, to introduce the 2018 Year of the Bird. It is used with permission of the author and edited for use on our web page:

It was a year for the colorful feeder birds on a gray day, for the mystical snowy owl that had irrupted into Upstate New York, and for the raptors that had recovered from DDT exposure to soar above the Chemung River.

I was excited that National Audubon Society, National Geographic Society, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology had teamed up on behalf of the birds. As novelist and birdwatcher Jonathan Franzen observed, birds "are our last, best connection to a natural world that is otherwise receding."

Year of the Bird launched on New Year's Day. The 118th Audubon Christmas Bird Count occurred on January 1, 2018, in the Elmira area, with help from plenty of new participants. When participating in a bird count, you can count birds in an assigned area or in your yard.

New York State Parks had First Day Hikes throughout the state to launch the new year. Nature lovers went trekking together on January 1, 2018, at Taughannock Falls State Park near Trumansburg, at Two Rivers State Park in Waverly, and on the Catharine Valley Trail in Watkins Glen.

As you fulfilled your annual New Year's resolutions, we advised you to tweak them to include nature. Here were a few suggestions for improving your own health and having a positive impact on the environment:

  1. When a bird crosses your path, pause to think or learn about that bird and its life in nature. Each bird is a reminder that we are part of a magnificent and fragile ecosystem.
  2. Improving one's health is one of our most common resolutions. Schedule moments with nature into your calendar by making "appointments" for stress release at various outdoor locations. Scientists and physicians from around the world have documented the benefits of being outside in nature to fill yourself with its sounds, sights, and smells.
  3. Think about your food choices. Emphasize plant-based foods in your diet—especially locally sourced food from you-pick stands and farmers' markets.
  4. Help pollinators. Diminishing populations of pollinators threaten the future food supply for every creature. Plant native plants, minimize pesticide use, and help with projects that improve habitats.
  5. Support nature with a membership in the Chemung Valley Audubon Society and National Audubon Society. Our local Audubon group is active in education and habitat restoration, and because it is a National Audubon chapter, it contributes to a wide-ranging impact on national and international issues. Check out this website for updates about Year of the Bird activities, background on environmental issues, and beautiful photos and articles.

During 2018's Year of the Bird, I hope that many of you increased your enjoyment of nature and became more knowledgeable about environmental issues. And, I hope that you shared your experiences and knowledge with others. When we take action and talk about those actions, we have a huge impact. Our birds and our environment need each of us.

Mary Anne Perks
Member | Chemung Valley Audubon Society

2018's Monthly Actions

Learn More

Why Birds Matter in 2018 | Audio program hosted by Jonathan Franzen with guest host Jane Clayson.
Why Birds Matter and Are Worth Protecting | Article by Jonathan Franzen.
Migratory Bird Treaty Act | U.S. Fish and Wildlife article explaining this important law, passed in 1918.
Jonathan Franzen on How to Get People to Care About the Environment: Show Them Birds | Audio from NPR show On Point.


Gleason Bird Walk and Trail Work

Members of the Chemung Valley Audubon Society chapter met on Saturday, October 13, 2018, for a walk and work party at the Gleason Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary. Our morning started with a pleasant bird walk along existing trails and a break for coffee and donuts at the cabin, followed by some trail work.

After a hearty picnic lunch, the group explored the new trails being mapped on the property, performing light trail work along the way. We all agreed that the highlight of the day was the variety and quantity of mushrooms and fungi found throughout the property. The unusually wet conditions this late summer and early fall have resulted in an extraordinary show of fungus this year.

© Don Hall

© Don Hall

© Martin van der Grinten

© Martin van der Grinten

© Martin van der Grinten

© Martin van der Grinten

© Martin van der Grinten

© Martin van der Grinten

I Love My Park Day

They were busier than bees and as chattery as a garden full of goldfinches. On the first Saturday in May, 2018, scores of volunteers flocked to Mark Twain State Park in Horseheads to celebrate spring and participate in the seventh annual I Love My Park Day. The statewide event is coordinated jointly by Parks & Trails New York and New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Thanks to a generous grant from National Audubon Society's Coleman and Susan Burke Center for Native Plants, Chemung Valley Audubon Society purchased native plants to enhance the beauty of the park and provide habitat for native birds, butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects. Volunteers created a pollinator garden and sowed a milkweed patch, pulled invasive honeysuckle and autumn olive, and planted understory trees and shrubs that will attract birds with their late-season berries.

Bouquets of thanks went to:

The first Saturday in June, 2018, was National Trails Day, and in honor of the event, two volunteer Finger Lakes Trail Stewards working for the Finger Lakes Trail Crew and three volunteers from the Chemung Valley Audubon Society met to complete the installation of a 26' long boardwalk across a muddy section of the birding trail at Mark Twain State Park. Now hikers have a nice boardwalk to safely cross the intermittent stream to enjoy the outer loop of nature trail. For more information about this project and to view the photo gallery, please click here.