Little Gull Newsletter
FAQs2022-09-14T13:50:16-04:00

Frequently Asked Questions

Bird identification

I need help with bird identification2022-08-24T15:57:05-04:00

Make careful notes about the bird. how big is it, what shape is it (robin, corvid, sparrow, finch, hawk, etc.), voice, behavior, habitat, and location. First try using a guide book to ID the bird. If you’re still  unsure, try to obtain a photograph of the bird (it doesn’t have to be a perfect photo) and post it on our Facebook page RBABIRDS. Many members of RBA are able and willing to help newbies. Or existing subscribers our local birding listserve may wish to post a link to the image there and ask for feedback.

Keep in mind there is some etiquette in asking for help with a bird ID. Since some birders, Facebook pages, and listserves get inundated with ID requests, birders are more willing to help when it’s clear you’ve done some homework on your own.

As a volunteer organization, RBA does not have the resources to accept images for bird identification at this time.

Baby birds

How can I find a wildlife rehabilitator?2022-10-11T17:13:51-04:00

If you find an injured bird (caught in fishing line, hook stuck in its mouth, etc.), contact one of the wildlife rehabilitates in the greater Rochester area.

From the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC):

List of Wildlife Rehabilitators in Western NY.

Alternately, you can contact the NYSDEC Hotline at 1-877-457-5680.

 

I found a baby bird, what do I do?2022-10-11T17:12:30-04:00

It’s best to leave the baby bird alone and try to ensure its safety. The parents are most likely caring for it, whether it is immediately evident or not. If you can gently and easily place the baby in a more hidden location (e.g. under a bush, in thick ground cover), do so. Do not try to put it back in the nest; it possibly fell out once already (or it fledged and was on its first flight). Most of all, keep your eyes out for wandering cats/other predators, including dogs and children that might accidentally harm the baby bird.

Do not try to feed the bird or give it water. This can cause more harm to the bird. There’s more information in our blog on this subject.

Injured birds

How can I find a wildlife rehabilitator?2022-10-11T16:52:40-04:00

If you find an injured bird (caught in fishing line, hook stuck in its mouth, etc.), contact one of the wildlife rehabilitates in the greater Rochester area.

From the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC):

List of Wildlife Rehabilitators in Western NY.

Alternately, you can contact the NYSDEC Hotline at 1-877-457-5680.

 

 

What can I do to prevent bird collisions at my windows?2022-10-11T17:06:56-04:00

Nearly half of all window strikes happen at houses. That’s why it’s so important that you do what you can to make your viewing area safe for birds. Your strike-proofing project need not break the bank—plenty of DIY solutions will make your windows safe.

  • Move bird feeders and birdbaths at least 30 feet away from windows, or up close to windows (less than 3 feet away).
  • Relocate large houseplants away from windows where birds often collide with the glass.
  • Apply decals to the outside of windows—but lots of them, no more than 4 inches apart.
  • Apply a window film with a pattern to the outside of the window. CollidEscape or Solyx offer some good solutions.
  • Apply netting, bird screens, hanging strips, or other products over the outside of the window.  Options include Acopian BirdSavers, Polly™Net bird netting, and others
  • Shades that roll down over the window also help reduce collisions, by making the window look solid to birds.

Member benefits

What publications does RBA produce?2022-10-11T16:37:37-04:00

RBA produces

  • The Little Gull, our flagship publication for members only
  • Blog – a public blog containing current news and announcements
  • RBA Area Bird Checklist
  • Birding 101 Bird Education materials. These are available to participants in our Birding School (offered periodically).

Rare, threatened, or endangered bird species

Which bird species should I report to birding authorities?2022-08-24T11:29:04-04:00

The New York State Avian Records Committee maintains a list of Species to be Reported to the committee. Please see this page for an updated list plus reporting instructions, and please remember to notify us locally.  Take a photo if you can!

Which birds in New York are listed as Endangered, Threatened or Special Concern?2022-10-11T16:35:56-04:00

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation website maintains a list of Endangered, Threatened and Special Concern species, including bird, mollusks, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and mammals. This list is updated regularly, so visit the site to see the most recent status of each species.

As of October 2022, the birds on the list in New York State include the following:

Endangered:

  1. Spruce Grouse
  2. Golden Eagle
  3. Peregrine Falcon
  4. Black Rail
  5. Piping Plover
  6. Eskimo Curlew (extinct)
  7. Roseate Tern
  8. Black Tern
  9. Short-eared Owl
  10. Loggerhead Shrike

Threatened:

  1. Pied-billed Grebe
  2. Least Bittern
  3. Bald Eagle
  4. Northern Harrier
  5. King Rail
  6. Upland Sandpiper
  7. Common Tern
  8. Least Tern
  9. Red Knot
  10. Sedge Wren
  11. Henslow’s Sparrow

Special Concern:

  1. Common Loon
  2. American Bittern
  3. Osprey
  4. Sharp-shinned hawk
  5. Cooper’s Hawk
  6. Northern Goshawk
  7. Red-shouldered Hawk
  8. Black Skimmer
  9. Common Nighthawk
  10. Whip-poor-will
  11. Red-headed Woodpecker
  12. Horned Lark
  13. Bicknell’s Thrush
  14. Golden-winged Warbler
  15. Cerulean Warbler
  16. Yellow-breasted Chat
  17. Vesper Sparrow
  18. Grasshopper Sparrow
  19. Seaside Sparrow

RBA membership status

How do I give a GIFT membership?2022-10-11T16:22:27-04:00

Thanks for thinking of RBA – it’s a very special gift!

Click here for a PDF of our membership form and submit your form and check via mail (sorry, we cannot take gift memberships online).

Contact our membership coordinator, Jo Taylor, at jhtaylor  [at ] frontiernet.net, if you have any questions.

Can I add my partner’s name to my membership?2022-10-11T16:25:24-04:00

Yes. As long as your partner lives at the same address, we can add their name and e-mail to the database. That way, letters will be addressed to each of you and you’ll both receive e-mail communications from us.

Please send your request via e-mail to our Membership Coordinator, Jo Taylor, at jhtaylor  [at ] frontiernet.net.

RBA programs and activities

My organization, school, club, scout troop, etc. would like to book a speaker or field trip leader from RBA. Is this possible?2022-10-11T16:21:41-04:00

Yes, please contact the current RBA President at info@rochesterbirding.org to discuss your needs. RBA will make every effort to accommodate you.

Or use the contact us form.

Local birding opportunities

Where to bird: October2022-09-06T15:58:20-04:00

This is the prime time for sparrows, for watching the lake, for picking up the first birds of winter.  It is also a good month for wandering rarities. On average, 205 species are seen this month.

Ruby- and Golden-crowned KingletHermit ThrushWinter Wren, and Fox Sparrow replace warblers and vireos as the predominant woodland migrants.  However, this can be the best time of the year to find Orange-crowned Warbler; watch for them feeding in the tops of goldenrod and other tall weeds.

By the end of the month, the first Red and White-winged Crossbill and Evening and Pine Grosbeak may be spotted. Durand Eastman Park, with its abundance of cone-bearing trees, orchard and other food supplies, is a prime fall and winter birding spot.  Webster Park also has good stands of conifers and a good view of the lake.

There is no better time than October to see sparrows, which gather in large flocks in open areas, along hedgerows and at wood edgings.  White-throatedWhite-crownedSongLincoln’sSwamp and Field Sparrow will be most numerous, but other species may be mixed in. Beatty and Hogan points in Greece are outstanding areas to find sparrows; migrating Nelson’s Sparrow, a rarity here, have been found at both locations in early to mid October.  The west lakeshore in Parma, Hamlin and farther west is good for other newly arriving winter species.

The first Northern ShrikeShort-eared OwlRough-legged HawkSnow BuntingLapland Longspur and American Tree Sparrow – traditional winter residents here – usually arrive by month’s end.

October is also synonymous with waterfowl on the lake.  Common and Red-throated LoonHorned GrebeBrant, all three scoters, Common GoldeneyeBufflehead, and mergansers will be migrating through the area or arriving for winter. At least one or two Pomarine or Parasitic Jaeger are almost certain to be spotted this month; rare gulls are possible.

October signals the end of the major southbound migration, most observations are waterfowl on Lake Ontario.  This is a time to sharpen your skill in identifying ducks in flight on the lakeshore.  The bluffs overlooking the lake at Parking Lot 4 in Hamlin Beach State Park offer fine viewing of a protected cove where waterfowl gather.  Other good vantage points are the piers and jetties at Charlotte and Irondequoit Bay outlet, and the spits at Braddock Bay.

On the ponds, when hunters aren’t blasting away, migrating ducks can be observed.  Canvasback and Hooded Merganser are among the later arrivals.  Eurasian Wigeon, a rarity, could show up as well.  Glossy Ibis occasionally turn up this time of year, too; they have been seen in the marshes off Hincher Road.  Look in any of the lakeshore ponds and borrow pits, Braddock and Irondequoit Bays, and Montezuma and Iroquois National Wildlife Refuges.

In the yard, watch for migrating Ruby- and Golden-crowned Kinglet working through trees and bushes.  Winter Wren might also poke around in your brush piles.  Arriving winter species, such as Evening Grosbeak, may be seen at feeders.

Where to bird: September2022-09-06T15:10:29-04:00

A bit like May in reverse, this is the height of fall migration.  The woods fill with songbirds, the ponds with ducks, the lake with waterfowl, and the mudflats with shorebirds – all headed south. On average, 218 species are seen this month.

September is the peak time to observe fall warblers and vireos, and most of the thrushes.  Blackpoll and Yellow-rumped Warbler are among the last to arrive.  With luck, skulking Connecticut Warblers may be found around the Braddock Bay Owl Woods or the Manitou Beach Preserve.  This is a particularly good time to look for Gray-cheeked Thrush, which seem more common now than in the spring.  By the end of the month, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, creepers, kinglets, Winter Wren and Hermit Thrush will also build in numbers.  White-throatedWhite-crowned, and Lincoln’s Sparrow can be seen along the wood edges.  Look in any wooded areas; Island Cottage Woods, Durand Eastman Park and the Braddock Bay area can be particularly good.

Hamlin Beach State Park, with its lakeside bluffs, is the best spot to watch the lake for jaegers and other migrating waterfowl.  By now, the water level is low enough to expose mudflats at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, which becomes a prime spot to observe shorebirds.  Mudflats at the south and northeast ends of Irondequoit Bay, at the east spit of Braddock Bay, along Salmon Creek, and at Northrup Creek Sanctuary at the south end of Long Pond, can also be excellent shorebird spots.  Continue to check the beach at Charlotte, too.

On the lake, shorebirds continue to move through; Dunlin are among the last to arrive on the beaches.  Pomarine and Parasitic Jaeger are probable offshore, usually harassing gulls.  By the end of the month, Common and Red-throated Loon and White-winged Scoter may be moving offshore; Greater Scaup may also arrive.

On the ponds, the fall duck migrations begin to pick up, as Green-winged TealNorthern PintailNorthern ShovelerGadwallAmerican WigeonRedheadRing-necked Duck, and Lesser Scaup crowd the area ponds.  Nesting Wood Duck, moorhens, Sora and Virginia Rail appear more and more on or near water or mudflats with immature birds in tow.  Rusty Blackbird arrive and can often be found feeding on mudflats.  Huge flocks of Tree Swallow will gather along marsh edges to alternately perch, and then swoop low over the water in search of insects.  Watch for other swallow species mixed in.

Any of the ponds in Greece (Round, Buck, Long and Cranberry Ponds) can produce good views of ducks, moorhens and perhaps a rail or bittern.  Braddock Bay, Salmon Creek, the south end of Irondequoit Bay, and Montezuma and Iroquois National Wildlife Refuges are also excellent spots for herons, ducks and other waterfowl. Montezuma, in particular May’s Point Pool, is a reliable place for numbers of Great Egret.

In the fields, the first half of the month is the best time to try to find Buff-breasted Sandpiper, which migrate through our area in small numbers in the fall.  Short grassy fields are best.  American Pipit will also begin moving through the area; look for them in the same plowed fields where you will be looking for Black-bellied and American Golden-Plover.  Look on the west lakeshore in Parma, Hamlin, and farther west.

Watch for spillover from the migration in your own yard.  Warblers will work through the trees and bushes; the first White-throated and White-crowned Sparrow will forage in ground litter.  Migrating hummingbirds benefit by keeping feeders filled with fresh nectar. Early September is a good time to start-up your winter seed feeders, too.  You can attract small numbers of migrants.  A careful watch should yield some unusual records.

Where to bird: August2022-09-06T15:58:10-04:00

Signs of fall migration accelerate this month.  Post-breeding dispersal is also evident, as young birds and their parents desert nesting grounds to feed and gather strength for the journey south.  On average, 196 species are seen.

In the air, an interesting dispersal of raptors occurs in August.  Hundreds, even thousands of Red-tailed Hawk and smaller numbers of Broad-winged Hawk and Northern Harrier fly over on west winds.  The hawk watch platform at Braddock Bay is a good place to look, or any vantage point along the parkway near the lakeshore.

On the lake, shorebird migration is in full swing.  White-rumped and Baird’s Sandpiper join the array of species.  A Whimbrel or two, or even a Willet, are often spotted each August along the lakeshore.  Look at the barrier island at Braddock Bay, Ontario Beach, and at Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge for shorebirds.  If water levels have dropped enough, the mudflats off Empire Boulevard at the south end of Irondequoit Bay, and at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, become shorebird hotspots worth frequent checks.

Migrating Black-bellied Plover and American Golden-Plover will appear in freshly plowed fields.  Buff-breasted Sandpiper are possible the last weekend of the month in fields and grassy areas.  Look on the west lakeshore in Parma, Hamlin, and points farther west; they are traditionally good places this time of year.

On the ponds, bitterns, herons, and rails will be more evident now, especially as water levels drop, exposing mudflats where parents and young feed.  Watch for southern heron species that may turn up on ponds in post-breeding wandering.  Montezuma and Iroquois National Wildlife refuges are great places to observe marsh birds this time of year, but also check any of the lakefront ponds and borrow pits, Braddock and Irondequoit Bays, and Salmon Creek.

Songbird activity can be hit-or-miss this month as many of our locally breeding birds hunker down as they undergo their annual molt.  By mid-to late-month the first warblers will be migrating south through our area.  Bay-breastedMagnoliaChestnut-sidedCanadaNorthern WaterthrushCape May, and Black-throated Blue Warbler are among the first to do so.  Many warblers in fall plumage are a mere shadow of their spring splendor or wear an entirely different plumage, which can be confusing.  However, with practice, most species can be readily identified.  Look in woodlots along the lakeshore.  Badgerow Park in Greece consistently attracts small numbers in August, particularly along sunlit wood edges in late afternoon and early evening.

Where to bird: July2022-09-06T15:58:16-04:00

Summer is at its peak, but the start of “fall migration” is at hand. Southbound shorebirds are already moving through our area, as other species finish raising their young in the fields, woods, and marshes, and begin dispersing. On average, 174 species are seen.

Migrating shorebirds begin to pass in increasing numbers, pausing on beaches, piers and mudflats before heading south.  Semipalmated PloverGreater and Lesser YellowlegsRuddy TurnstoneSanderlingShort-billed Dowitcher, and LeastSemipalmatedWesternPectoral and Stilt Sandpiper are usually spotted in July.  Whimbrel and Wilson’s Phalarope are also possible.  Caspian Tern will be seen in increasing numbers, peaking in August.

Mudflats are usually still in short supply, so Ontario Beach and the Charlotte and Summerville piers become the best spots in our immediate area.  However, Goose Pond and other mudflats at Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge usually attract the largest numbers of shorebirds this time of year.

On the ponds, with young birds fledged, herons, bitterns, rails and ducks become more noticeable now on bays, ponds, creeks and marshes.   Look in any of the lakefront ponds – Braddock and Irondequoit Bays and adjoining marshes.  Both Montezuma and Iroquois National Wildlife Refuges are outstanding areas for viewing pond and marsh birds, and both host small populations of Black Tern.

In the woods, take advantage of unique local habitats. Look at Letchworth State Park for warblers, Turkey Vulture, grouse and turkey, and Norway Road for more warblers, vireos and Veery.

The west lakeshore in Parma, Hamlin, and points farther west are great places to continue to search for Grasshopper and Henslow’s Sparrow and Upland Sandpiper in suitable grassy fields.

Huge flocks of Bank Swallow gather near ponds and the lakeshore prior to departure; their numbers peak in late July or very early August.

In the yard, American Goldfinch and Cedar Waxwing do not begin nesting until this time of year.  You can still attract Ruby-throated Hummingbird to coral bells, petunias and other plants that bloom through the summer.  Keep the bird bath full; mid-to-late summer dry spells can drastically reduce drinking supplies in the wild.

How can I see a map of all the birding hotspots in Rochester?2022-10-11T16:42:25-04:00

Birding Hotspots, our online guide to the best places to bird in the greater Rochester area, contains all of the information that RBA formerly included in its Birding Hotspots printed guide. Many thanks to all of the volunteers who made this guide come together—especially Norma Platt, who headed the project.

This map and guide was once behind a members-only paywall, but we now offer it free of charge to anyone who would like to know more about where to bird in our area. No password required!

 

You can view a map of Birding Hotspots here. In total, we have mapped 37 hotspots in the region.

Join RBA if you’d like to support efforts like this one to link birders with birding!

Where to bird: January2022-09-14T13:48:52-04:00

Lake Ontario across from the Van Lare Treatment Plant in Irondequoit is a good spot to look for Little Gull.

Charlotte Beach and the Genesee River outlet at Charlotte are good places for gulls, ducks, and mergansers and possibly a Snowy Owl.

Sodus Bay and Conesus Lake usually have good numbers of waterfowl as long as there is open water and not too many hunters.

Lake Ontario can also produce a King Eider or Harlequin Duck.  If you find some Goldeneye, look closely for a Barrow’s Goldeneye.

Where to bird: June2022-09-06T15:59:20-04:00

June is the height of nesting season–but spring migrants can still be found early in the month. In some years, you can catch both ends of the shorebird migration: the last northbound birds at the start of the month, the first southbound birds at the end. On average, 169 species are reported.

This is a good month to visit areas that feature unique habitats for nesting species that otherwise wouldn’t be found here. In the woods, Letchworth State Park is a must stop at this time of year. Nesting species include Hooded WarblerLouisiana Waterthrush, and Golden-crowned KingletAcadian FlycatcherWild Turkey, and Ruffed Grouse are other specialties. Norway Road, just north of Route 104, is a great spot to observe nesting Blue-winged and Cerulean WarblerScarlet Tanager, CuckoosVeery and other species. Keep to the road, however–the woods and fields are private property. Swallow Hollow at Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is also a great spot to find Cerulean Warbler, and the Onondaga Trail also has Acadian Flycatcher.

In the fields, the Nations Road area south of Avon has been consistently good for Grasshopper Sparrow and Orchard OrioleEastern Bluebird nest in the area, too.

On the lake, Franklin’s Gull are occasionally found in the first part of June. By the end of the month, Lesser Yellowlegs and Least and Semi-palmated Sandpiper are usually among the first to arrive. Since mudflats are usually in short supply this time of year for shorebirds, Ontario Beach and the piers at the mouth of the Genesee River are good places to watch. Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, however, has some of the best habitat for early shorebirds. Roadsides around Canadice Lake are hopping with Cliff Swallow, and Hemlock Lake Park has Cliff Swallow, too.

On the ponds, nesting rails and bitterns prove especially elusive this time of year, and are best seen by getting into the marshes by canoe. Look at any of the ponds or borrow pits along the west lakeshore, Braddock Bay, marshes at the south end of Irondequoit Bay, and Montezuma and Iroquois National Wildlife Refuges (nesting Prothonotary Warbler is a specialty at Iroquois).

In the air, migrating Turkey Vulture continue to pass through; early June is also a good time to spot Bald Eagle, usually immatures, moving along the lakeshore. A great vantage point is the hawk watch platform at Braddock Bay–or any vantage point near the west lakeshore. You can also look for Bald Eagle flying over southern ends of places like Irondequoit Bay and Conesus Lake.

Where to bird: May2022-09-06T15:59:30-04:00

It doesn’t get any better than this.  This is what Rochesterians live for!

In fact, more species are reported in May than any other month. On average 68 new species arrive, and 230 are seen overall this month.

The spring migration reaches its peak by the second weekend in May, nearly 30 species of warblers arrive in the woods, Bobolink arrive in the fields, and shorebirds continue to stop at wet spots in the fields.

The sheer volume of migrating songbirds means some are bound to spill over into your yard, especially if you have trees, shrubs and other natural cover. Watch for warblers, vireos, and thrushes—perhaps even a Lincoln’s Sparrow might be spotted picking through last year’s fallen leaves and litter.

The crown jewels of the spring—warblers—arrive in force. With them come vireos, thrushes, Scarlet TanagerRose-breasted GrosbeakYellow- and Black-billed CuckooLincoln’s Sparrow and, later in the month, empidonax flycatchers. Island Cottage Woods, Firehouse Woods and Church Trail are probably the premier spots for their volume of migrating songbirds. But both Durand Eastman Park and Cobb’s Hill/Washington Grove are also excellent.

Vultures, OspreyBald Eagle, and Sharp-shinned Hawk continue to fly over in good numbers. Migrating Common Nighthawk will be visible at dusk, especially along the lakeshore. A great vantage point is the hawk watch platform at Braddock Bay, or any other vantage point along the lakeshore.

The lake will hold Black-bellied Plover on the beaches, and Ruddy Turnstone on the piers. May can be a good month for gulls as well. Later in the month, look for Franklin’s and Laughing Gull. Jetties and piers at Charlotte and Irondequoit Bay, and also beaches are great places to look.

Least Bittern and Sora Rail will be seen in the marshes of Braddock Bay and Salmon Creek and Irondequoit Bay.

High Acres Nature Area (HANA) in Perinton is great for Rusty Blackbird, warblers, swallows, shorebirds, and bitterns —it’s tough to call! Go there expecting to find something cool and unusual and you usually will!

The possibilities are endless for some great birding this month! Why not join us on one of the many RBA field trips?

Where to bird: April2022-09-06T16:01:51-04:00

Spring has arrived. On average 170 species are seen this month.

The hawk migration reaches its peak, songbirds begin to fill the woods, bitterns and herons arrive in the marshes. Yup, migration is in full swing! Some of the best action is along the lake after the passage of a warm front.

In the yard we can find White-crowned and White-throated Sparrow and perhaps some Chipping Sparrow as well. Near the middle of the month look for Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

Hermit Thrush and Ruby-crowned Kinglet will arrive in the woods in places like Island Cottage Woods.

The first warblers (Yellow-rumpedPinePalm and Black-throated Green) could show up there too.  A Sandhill Crane might be seen flying overhead.

The lake will hold Red-breasted MerganserBufflehead and other lingering waterfowl. Terns will show up too.

Bitterns, rails and herons will be seen in the marshes of Braddock Bay, Irondequoit Bay and Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.

Where to bird: March2022-09-06T16:00:44-04:00

Who knows what the weather will bring? We’ll see what March is like soon.  On average 120 species are seen this month.

Warm fronts will bring the best birding along the lakeshore’s fields and woodlots. The first shorebirds, Pectoral Sandpiper and both Yellowlegs, will show up this month in flooded fields. Killdeer will be seen too.

Spring migration will bring some new arrivals to your yard. Winter Wren, Fox Sparrow and Golden-crowned Kinglet could show up in your brush piles and shrubs.

Phoebes will arrive to catch the very first insects of the year. Red-winged Blackbird are a sure sign of spring.

The first spring hawk flights occur this month at Braddock Bay. Expect to see eagles, Rough-legged Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk among the clouds. Flocks of Canada Goose will fill the skies too and the fields along the lakeshore.

March is the peak month for migrating ducks. Green-winged Teal, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall and Ruddy Duck should be seen this month.

Where to bird: February2022-09-06T15:59:42-04:00

Who knows what this month will bring weather-wise? On average 90 species are seen in February.

There usually is open water for waterfowl along Lake Ontario.The Genesee River is usually open somewhat as is the Irondequoit Bay outlet. Long-tailed DuckCommon GoldeneyeBufflehead and Greater Scaup should be seen at these spots. Slater Creek now freezes but you may find mergansers near there.

Feeders could become the best spots for seeing birds this month. Harsh weather will make a food supply attractive and draw American GoldfinchCommon Redpoll and, of course, Black-capped Chickadee.

Snow Bunting may still be found along the edges of roads near fields where seeds may have gotten caught. Nations Road near Avon is a good place to look.

Mendon Ponds has produced Virginia Rail the past couple of years. If you really need a bird fix, grab some sunflower seed and walk the Nature Center trails to feed the Black-capped ChickadeeTufted Titmouse and nuthatches.

The first spring hawk flights may occur near the end of the month. Stay tuned to happenings at Braddock Bay Park.

Where to bird: December2022-09-06T15:59:51-04:00

In the woods, half the fun of winter birding is searching for lingering half-hardy species—birds that we usually expect to move south for the winter. A few will stay in the area. Check out any area with open water and food, such as berry-laden bushes and trees, or in areas of weeds and tall grasses. Gray CatbirdNorthern MockingbirdBrown Thrasher, Carolina WrenYellow-bellied SapsuckerCommon Yellowthroat and Yellow Warbler are just some of the possibilities. Even if it’s not a “finch winter”, at least a few Red- or White-winged Crossbill and Pine or Evening Grosbeak can be found. Keep checking flocks of Cedar Waxwing for Bohemian Waxwing. Both Durand Eastman and Mendon Ponds parks have a variety of habitat.

In the fields, watch for many of the same winter visitors—Northern ShrikeShort-eared OwlRough-legged HawkNorthern HarrierSnow Bunting, and Lapland Longspur—that began arriving earlier in the fall. A trip to Nations Road south of Avon, and to the fields around Retsof salt mines west of Geneseo will be particularly productive now. Chandler Road near the Retsof Salt Mine is a favorite wintering spot for Short-eared Owl; Nations Road is renowned for the owls, Rough-legged Hawk and Red-headed Woodpecker.

On the lake, Little Gull should be here by now. Watch for the sooty black underwings as they join flocks of Bonaparte’s Gull along the lake and adjacent ponds.

Glaucous and Iceland Gull may also be found in congregations of Ring-billedHerring, and Great Black-backed GullBuffleheadLong-tailed Duck, scaup, Red-breasted MerganserWhite-winged Scoter, and Common Goldeneye will be easy to spot on the lake, but also keep watch for such rare visitors as King Eider and Harlequin DuckCommon and Red-throated Loon and Horned Grebe can still be found. And look closely at Goldeneyes; Barrow’s Goldeneye have been found here from time to time.

Purple Sandpiper is possible through the end of the month on the same rock jetties where you looked for them last month.

Snowy Owls are possible in the area. Charlotte Pier and Braddock Bay are good for them.

The usual lake vantage points at Irondequoit Bay, Charlotte, Braddock Bay, and Hamlin Beach can be productive. The lake off Van Lare Treatment Plant near Durand Eastman Park is one of the best spots to find Little Gull; they also are found from time to time along any of the lakeshore ponds and bays where there is open water. It is also a good time of year to take an extended trip to Sodus Bay or Conesus Lake.

On the ponds, open water is the crucial factor. Several species of ducks will stay right through the winter if open spots remain. So will Great Blue HeronBelted Kingfisher, and American Coot.

Gulls will congregate at the edge of the ice, and feed on the water’s surface. Watch for Little Gull. Late Pectoral and White-rumped SandpiperSnipe, and Dunlin are possible on mudflats. Irondequoit Bay and Braddock Bay, which usually have at least some open water, are good for winter birding. Round, Buck, Long, and Cranberry Ponds in Greece can also be good.

In the yard, as snow cover begins to accumulate, natural food supplies are harder to find. That makes your feeder all the more attractive this time of year. Do not be distraught if a Sharp-shinned or Cooper’s Hawk also shows up to prey on your favorite songbirds. Take advantage of this opportunity to watch raptors fulfilling their natural role. Save your Christmas tree, and those discarded by neighbors, and pile them up in a corner of the yard. They can provide much-needed cover and shelter.

Where to bird: November2022-09-06T16:00:00-04:00

Will it be a finch winter? A Snowy Owl winter? November usually provides the clues. The first wintry weather arrives, and with it the birds of the season. Ducks, swans, late shorebirds and other migrants continue to move through the area.

If it is a finch winter, Red and White-winged CrossbillPine and Evening GrosbeakPine Siskin, and redpolls will begin to appear. Check cone-bearing conifers and the catkins of birch and alder – favorite food sources for winter finches.

Look over wandering flocks of Cedar Waxwing for the occasional Bohemian Waxwing, which has a rusty undertail. Watch for late songbird migrants and lingering half-hardy species. Warblers, Blue-headed Vireo, thrushes, sapsuckers, Carolina Wren, and Fox Sparrow are all possible.

Durand Eastman Park and Hamlin Beach State Park often have good cone crops that attract finches; the orchard at Durand Eastman draws waxwings.

In the fields, Northern Shrike will be more numerous now, along with Short-eared Owl and Rough-legged Hawk. Wintering kestrels will arrive to bolster the number of resident birds.Hawk-watching in general becomes much easier now with the foliage gone. Drive along the west lakeshore, and you will find raptors perched along treelines.

If it’s a Snowy Owl winter, they’ll be showing up in open fields, at the airport, along the lakeshore and on piers.

Flocks of Snow Bunting, with occasional Lapland Longspur mixed in, will join Horned Lark in the fields, and along roadsides. Parking lot #4 in Hamlin Beach State Park is a good place to find Snow Bunting. In addition, drive along North Hamlin, Chase, Moscow, Church and other roads near the west lakeshore in Parma and Hamlin.

On the lakeshore, this is the time to see migrating Purple Sandpiper. A few usually show up each November into December on piers and rock jetties, especially after east or north winds. November is also a prime time for gulls.Bonaparte’s Gull will continue to congregate and move along the lakeshore. The first Little Gull may arrive; Sabine’sFranklin’s, and Black-legged Kittiwake are possible. So are tardy Common and Forster’s Tern.

Jaeger – both Pomarine and Parasitic – are likely during the first part of the month. Watch for birds harassing gulls.That’s a jaeger trademark. Migrating Common and Red-throated Loon and Horned Grebe will still be visible from shore; Eared Grebe are rare but possible. Flocks of BuffleheadCommon GoldeneyeBlackWhite-winged, and Surf Scoter, and Common and Red-breasted Merganser will also be migrating or settling in for the winter. Keep an eye out for King Eider and Harlequin Duck, which are rarities here.

Look at jetties and piers at the Irondequoit Bay Outlet, Charlotte, the east spit of Braddock Bay, and at Hamlin Beach State Park. The bluffs at Parking Lot #4 at Hamlin Beach provide an excellent observation point for passing jaegers, gulls, and waterfowl. The Niagara River becomes a key staging area for thousands of gulls, including rarities, and is definitely worth a visit.

On the ponds, ducks will still be moving through in good numbers. American WigeonRing-necked DuckNorthern ShovelerGreen-winged TealCanvasbackMallard and American Black Duck will be most numerous.

Watch also for Hooded MerganserNorthern Pintail, and Ruddy DuckDunlinPectoral Sandpiper, and White-rumped Sandpiper are the most likely shorebirds. Look in Irondequoit Bay, Braddock Bay, and any of the lakeshore ponds in Greece for ducks and waterfowl in general; mudflats at the south end of Irondequoit Bay (off the north side of Empire Boulevard), in the Salmon Creek area, at the east spit of Braddock Bay, and at Northrup Creek Sanctuary for shorebirds. Be sure to take a trip to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.Tundra SwanSnow Goose, and a wide array of ducks and other waterfowl are sure to be seen.

In the yard, it’s time to stock the feeders once again for winter. Remember, the greater variety of feed, the greater variety of visitors. Black oil sunflower seed is the best all-purpose bird seed, but cracked corn, suet, peanuts and thistle seed will expand the number of species. Have a supply of water. That can be as important as food when creeks and ponds freeze over. A heating element will keep the water from freezing. It is also helpful to have plenty of bushes and trees in your yard to provide shelter and cover.

I know that October is prime time for sparrows and wandering migrants. Where can I find them?2022-10-11T16:47:31-04:00

October is the prime time for sparrows, for watching the lake, for picking up the first birds of winter. It is also a good month for wandering rarities.

Durand Eastman Park, with its abundance of cone-bearing trees, orchard, and other food supplies, is a prime fall and winter birding spot. Webster Park also has good stands of conifers and a good view of the lake.

Ruby- and Golden-crowned KingletHermit ThrushWinter Wren, and Fox Sparrow replace warblers and vireos as the predominant woodland migrants. However, this can be the best time of the year to find Orange-crowned Warbler. By the end of the month, the first Red and White-winged Crossbills and Evening and Pine Grosbeaks may be spotted, if we are having a “finch winter” with many far northern birds coming south to find abundant food.

There is no better time than October to see sparrows, which gather in large flocks in open areas, along hedgerows and at wood edgings. White-throatedWhite-crownedSongLincoln’sSwamp and Field Sparrow will be most numerous, but other species may be mixed in.

Watch for Orange-crowned Warbler feeding in the tops of goldenrod and other tall weeds. The first Northern ShrikeShort-eared OwlRough-legged HawkSnow BuntingLapland Longspur and American Tree Sparrow – traditional winter residents here – usually arrive by month’s end.

Beatty and Hogan points in Greece are outstanding areas to find sparrows; migrating Nelson’s Sparrow, a rarity here, have been found at both locations in early to mid October. The west lakeshore in Parma, Hamlin and farther west is good for other newly arriving winter species.

October is also synonymous with waterfowl on the lake. Common and Red-throated LoonHorned GrebeBrant, all three scoters, Common GoldeneyeBufflehead, and mergansers will be migrating through the area or arriving for winter. At least one or two Pomarine or Parasitic Jaegers are almost certain to be spotted this month; rare gulls are possible. The bluffs overlooking the lake at Parking Lot 4 in Hamlin Beach State Park offers fine viewing of a protected cove where waterfowl gather. Other good vantage points are the piers and jetties at Charlotte and Irondequoit Bay outlet, and the East and West Spits at Braddock Bay.

On the ponds, when hunters aren’t blasting away, migrating ducks can be observed. Canvasback and Hooded Merganser are among the later arrivals. Eurasian Wigeon, a rarity, could show up as well. Glossy Ibis occasionally turns up this time of year, too; they have been seen in the marshes off Hincher Road. Look in any of the lakeshore ponds and borrow pits, Braddock and Irondequoit Bays, and Montezuma and Iroquois National Wildlife Refuges.

October signals the end of the major southbound migration; most observations are waterfowl on Lake Ontario. This is a time to sharpen your skill in identifying ducks in flight on the lakeshore. Hamlin Beach is one of the best locations.

In the yard, watch for migrating Ruby- and Golden-crowned Kinglets working through trees and bushes. Winter Wren might also poke around in your brush piles. Arriving winter species, such as Evening Grosbeak, may be seen at feeders.

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