DoNorth

Bird is the Word

(DoNorth/Jessica Blondell) Clinton County is a haven for wild feathered friends. Check out what to bring, where to go, species to look for and a few good references to bring on a birding adventure. What you’ll need: Binoculars William Krueger, birding enthusiast and author, suggests buying a nice pair of binoculars to have the best experience birding. “Don’t go cheap,” he says. “Spend at least $150 minimum or up to $250 for a good pair. Don’t go over the top though, like $2,000 on a pair, if you’re just starting out in case you don’t like it.” Notebook and pencil:…

(DoNorth/Jessica Blondell)

Clinton County is a haven for wild feathered friends. Check out what to bring, where to go, species to look for and a few good references to bring on a birding adventure.

What you’ll need:

Binoculars

William Krueger, birding enthusiast and author, suggests buying a nice pair of binoculars to have the best experience birding. “Don’t go cheap,” he says. “Spend at least $150 minimum or up to $250 for a good pair. Don’t go over the top though, like $2,000 on a pair, if you’re just starting out in case you don’t like it.”

Notebook and pencil:

Take notes of something that looks unfamiliar or unusual for the area in case it’s a rare bird sighting. Writing materials are also recommended for people who want to write down their experiences birding on the Adirondack Coast.

Camera

If someone spots an unusual bird, it’s best to have photos to back up the sighting. Not just that, but having photos of a good trip is an excellent way to teach others about birding or enjoy personally after the excursion is over.

Birding guide

Krueger suggests bringing “The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America” by David Allen Sibley, a Plattsburgh-born bird guide author.

Where to go locally:

Ausable Marsh

With 660 acres of land along the shores of Lake Champlain, Ausable Marsh provides birders near Peru, New York sights of songbirds and waterfowl who nest and feed in this delta. A wheelchair-accessible wildlife viewing platform also extends into the marsh and holds a wooden bench for those who can’t access other parts of the area.

Point Au Roche

Point Au Roche invites dozens of bird species every year. The various landscapes throughout the park – beaches, forests, marshes and fields – offer different elements birds love to visit. Catch the migratory waterfowl traveling along the Atlantic Flyway over Lake Champlain in the early winter.

Valcour Island

Valcour Island, in it’s 1,100 acres, supports the largest great blue heron rookery on Lake Champlain, the largest rookery in New York State, and the third largest rookery in the Great Lakes region. Valcour Island is the largest of the seven islands in the Champlain Islands Management Complex administered by the Department of Environmental Agency (DEC), and it has also been designated as an Audubon Important Bird Area, according the the New York State DEC. Visitors can access the island only by boat or paddling from launch sites such as the Peru Boat Launch.

Great Chazy and Little Chazy Rivers are hotspots for finding birds in the spring months, according to Krueger.

When to go:

Winter and spring often provide excellent views of various species, but what birders find depends on the time of year and where they go.

Common Loon:

Seen March-January near Lake Champlain at Ausable Point with fairly common sightings; confirmed breeding.

Great Blue Heron:

Seen March-February near Lake Champlain at Valcour Island with common sightings; confirmed breeding. The only known heronry in the county is on Valcour Island where nests are placed in the tops of tall trees.

Canada Goose:

Not usually seen year-round, but sightings have been recorded in all 12 months from Plattsburgh to Rouses Point and at Lake Alice; confirmed breeding. Flocks numbering in the thousands stop every spring and fall to feed in the fields from north of Plattsburgh to Rouses Point and often cover Lake Alice. Canada Geese were introduced to Lake Alice and bred there, so they return every year to raise their young. No recent attempt to supplement these birds.

Snow Goose:

These migrant birds are seen March-June and September-January with common sightings. Through the 70s and mid-80s, snow geese were uncommon in Clinton County, but the population has drastically increased in the last decade or so. These birds enjoy feeding on the harvested crops in nearby fields, which has had an impact on the population.

Mallard:

Year-round sightings in Clinton County near Lake Champlain (as long as open, shallow water is available); confirmed breeding. Many Mallards can be seen with young at the pond in front of The University of Vermont Health Network – Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital (CVPH) on Beekman Street.

Osprey:

Seen March-October near the Lake Champlain Basin at Ausable Marsh; confirmed breeding. Most nests located near bodies of water to supply the birds’ main diet of fish. Young have fledged from the nest platform at Ausable Marsh each of the last three years after being almost totally missing from the county for awhile. Nests are usually in high places, so bring binoculars.

How many local species:

Some 319 species have been recorded in Clinton County as of this year. Some have been seen only once, others are seen every year. 

Should we feed birds with birdseed?:

Mixed seeds as well as single-seed feed can be found in many stores around Clinton County with outdoor items, but Krueger says sunflower seeds are the best kind of food to feed birds and leave out for them because of the fat content. Krueger also warns people who want to feed birds to clean the feeders before they begin to harbor unhealthy bacteria and fungi.

Good references:

eBird.org

Birding.aba.org

Northern_NY_Birds@yahoogroups.com

iBird Pro: North America (app)

Newlandtrust.org

Champlainareatrails.com

Birds of Clinton County

High Peaks Audubon Society

Cornell’s “All About Birds”

Issue 8: Winter/Spring 2017

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