This will be our 10th year. Each of us will set the alarm for a ridiculously early time so that we can meet at the center at 6 a.m. We will sit at the back window and sip coffee noting any birds that visit the feeders. Before we hit the trails, we will already have Blue Jay, Robin, Chickadee, Mourning Dove, Red-winged Blackbird, Phoebe, Cardinal, Brown-headed Cowbird and Canada Goose, among others. We will cajole and tease the unfortunate scholarship winner who is required to work for his money by tagging along with the team. He will be struggling all day to find the birds on the checklist - a confusing tool to a new birder. Why does it have to be listed in taxonomic order? Why can't it just be in alphabetic order?
Once the whole team has arrived and we are fueled with breakfast snacks, we'll head out around the universal trail to pick up more species - Gray Catbird, Yellow Warbler, Tree Swallow and maybe a couple of ducks, herons and sandpipers. Eventually we'll make it around Big Pond where we'll pick up several forest-loving species. Even though it is technically against somebody's rules to list birds that have been captured, we will stop by at the bird banding demonstrations at the pavilion to see if they have seen anything unusual.
After lunch, we carpool to sites where we know we can pick up even more species. We don't travel far: On the way to Akeley Swamp where we hope to add more swallows, rails, ducks and maybe an Indigo Bunting, we usually see a Kestrel or two. Along Riverside Road we can usually find Meadowlarks and Bobolinks. A quick trip to Chautauqua Lake will often provide a Cormorant. And if we go by way of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute and JCC's College Park on Curtis Street, we can usually pick up a Barred Owl and a Red-Shouldered Hawk.
Sarah Hatfield listens for birds: You don’t have to see it to count it. It is permissible to identify a bird by its song.
We don't just do this because we are total bird nerds. We do this once a year to raise money for our annual scholarship. It's called Birdathon and it works like this: Now through May 5 we will solicit pledges from friends and supporters. Some will promise a set amount; others will pledge an amount per species. The money we raise will be given to a high school or Jamestown Community College student who intends to study in the environmental field.
Past recipients of this award are Eve Gaus, Ryan Exline, Rex Everett, Bill Langworthy, Karen Eckstrom, Tricia Bergstue, Alyssa D'Alessandro, Alexa Vasquez, Brenton Maille and Elyse Johnson.
Some of these recipients have gone on to do exactly what they dreamed of. Bill is working in the western United States doing surveys for Desert Tortoises and has worked his way there through studying in Delaware, Ohio and Nevada. Tricia completed her degree in Marine Mammal Science, working at a rescue facility in New York. She recently wrapped up a seasonal position right here at Audubon. Brenton Maille continues his studies and work in the snake lab at Malone University, learning more and more everyday. Elyse Johnson, a past intern at Audubon, is studying at Houghton and looks forward to doing research on a variety of species, most notably the reptiles and amphibians. Rex Everett graduated from SUNY ESF and is stationed in western Kentucky collecting data on the effects of prescribed burns on reptiles and amphibian species. In other words, they're doing well.
This year's recipient came to Audubon Day Camp as a child. He stated in his application that his experiences at Audubon piqued his interest in the environment and helped him to formulate criteria for finding the right college. Alex Kulakowski, a Jamestown High School senior, plans to attend SUNY College of Environmental Studies and Forestry in the fall to study aquatics and fisheries science where he looks forward to the opportunities for field work and independent research.
Audubon is located at 1600 Riverside Road in the town of Kiantone, one quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown and Warren. There's a form on our website where you can join our Birdathon team or make a pledge. Link to the form from our main website: jamestownaudubon.org.