Join the fun and participate in Rockland Audubon Society's annual fund raiser. During mid-May teams of birders will cover the county, recording each and every species of bird they can see or hear in a 24-hour period. For each different species located, sponsors support the teams' efforts with their pledges - usually 10, 25, or 50 cents per species or a set amount for the day - $15, $25, $50, etc.
A healthy environment is the key to survival - for birds, animals, and people. Our Birdathon serves a dual purpose. While counting, we are checking on the cleanliness of our air, land, and water by tracking the number of species returning to our area, and we are raising much needed money to make the environment better.
Your dollars will help by:
|Protecting wetlands here in the Hudson Valley, so vital to waterfowl, fish, and humans.|
|Contributing much needed funds to Constitution Marsh in Cold Spring to help with their educational programs for school children and the general public.|
|Supporting our monthly programs and field trips - all offered free to the public.|
|Sponsoring Audubon Adventures - our education activity program used by over 50 elementary school classes throughout the county.|
|Providing scholarships to attend Audubon camps throughout the country for interested adults and young people.|
What were you doing May 19 and 20 this year? Whatever it was, it could not have compared to participating in Big Bird Day! It was my first experience with this event and the famous quote describing the postal service kept popping into my head. . . "neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night can stay these (birders) from their appointed rounds. . . ."
It all started on the chilly Friday evening of May 19th. Three dedicated teams of birders (the Goony Birds, the Early Birds, and the Big Birds) gathered at three different locations in Rockland County with binoculars, spotting scopes, pencils, paper, and umbrellas in hand. The object was to find different birds, identify them, and, finally, to win the awesome title of "Big Bird Day Team That Identified the Most Species" at the birder banquet to be held the following evening. We had 24 hours to find as many different bird species as possible. Off we went into the chilly, damp night air. Back home - in their dry, comfortable kitchens, bedrooms, and living rooms - our coworkers, families, corporate sponsors, and neighbors were anxiously waiting to hear how many species we would identify and how much money they owed us as a result of their generous pledges!
Big Bird Day is the primary fund raiser for the Rockland Audubon Society. This year 122 species were identified. A total of 13 people participated on the teams, and $3000 was raised through the generous pledges of our friends.
I knew I would probably not meet Big Bird herself on this field trip. However, I was really pleased to see / hear the incredible diversity of feathered creatures that are in Rockland County. We found Yellow warblers, blue Indigo buntings, brightly colored orioles, Scarlet tanagers, raucous- sounding crows and gulls, the ever-present Canada goose (which my coworkers forbade me from including in my tally), and more.
When the light faded on Friday evening, I assumed we would all go home and try to sleep for a few hours before getting up and looking for more birds at the crack of dawn. I was wrong! Instead, someone pulled out a tape recorder and said, "We're going after the owls now." I went along, of course, but not before insisting on a stop for hot chocolate and coffee as fortification for the next trek through the dark and stormy woods. As luck would have it, the owls were nowhere to be found (not at Rockland Lake, that is). So - after tramping through wet grass in the dark, explaining to the ranger that we were not kids looking for the after-hours party in the woods, and playing owl call tapes with no response, we left Rockland Lake and headed for Kennedy Dells Park in New City. Here, our persistence paid off. Both a Barred owl and an Eastern screech-owl answered our taped calls. At 10:30 P.M. everyone said good-night and promised to meet again at dawn on lona Island.
It was not raining at 5:30 A.M. when I turned onto the lona Island causeway. Both the feathered birds and Early Birds were awake - the former singing loudly and the latter standing by the side of the road with their binoculars pointed toward the marsh. We saw/heard Virginia rail, Wood duck, loon (heading north to Minnesota, we surmised), Bald eagle, and many others before we decided to cross 9W and head up the hill to Doodletown.
Did we escape the rain? No way! In fact, it rained the rest of the morning and all afternoon, and still my dedicated colleagues and I pressed on - finding the warblers, the vireos, the grosbeaks, the robins, and both Goony and Big Bird team members (it seems all of us arrived at Doodletown at about the same time that day). We made a quick stop for lunch in Haverstraw, then headed for the banks of the Hudson River. Here we found the Great blue heron, more gulls, Rock doves, cormorants, egrets, and other water birds. Then it was on to Kakiat Park for the last few hours of our search.
Finally we put on dry clothes and headed for the banquet waiting for us at the Mandarin Gourmet restaurant. Everyone was tired, but happy to have seen so many birds and to have tucked away the memories of another successful Big Bird Day for the Rockland Audubon Society. Many thanks to the birds, the birders, and especially to the generous donors who helped make this fund raiser a success!
--- First-Time Birdathoner, Anita Gossett