CHENANGO COUNTY — The Chenango Bird Club is kicking off their 40th year with their first meeting of the 2022 season on Wednesday, April 13 in the Visitor Center at Rogers Environmental Education Center in Sherburne. The meeting is open to the public, and club members invite anyone interested in nature or birding to attend.
The business portion of the meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. to discuss possible bird walks and field trips for the 2022 season. At 7 p.m. Dr. Charles Scheim will give a presentation on the 2020 NYS Breeding Bird Atlas III (BBA).
"The gentleman that’s doing the program is from the Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society, and he’s doing the program about the New York Breeding Bird Atlas, which is done every 20 years I believe," explained Chenango Bird Club Publicist Carol Smith. "It's a five year span that people are looking at where birds are breeding and how they’re breeding here in New York State."
Scheim's presentation will discuss how the atlas is organized, as well as the results of the first two years of the 2020 BBA efforts statewide and in Chenango and Madison counties, and what birders of all skill levels can do to participate in and help with the project. Hamilton birding group, the Ham Birders, will also be in attendance to learn about the 2020 BBA efforts.
The Chenango Bird Club holds meetings on the second Wednesday of each month, from April through December. The meetings always begin at 6:30 p.m., and are usually hosted at the Rogers Center. However, as the weather warms up, the club switches from indoor presentations to outdoor excursions and bird walks around the area.
"During the summer months we go for a bird walk generally fairly close to the area where we have the meetings, which is at the Rogers Center. So somewhere in Sherburne," said Chenango Bird Club President John Knapp. "Later in the year when it starts getting dark out when we have our meetings, which start at 6:30, we’ll do presentations. We’ll have guest speakers come."
Following the meetings, attendees will also have the opportunity to enjoy snacks and coffee, and mingle with other area birders.
Field trips are usually a part of the Chenango Bird Club's annual season as well. Smith said field trips usually occur during May, June, and July, and popular areas include the Rogers Center main property, as well as its Adams Farm and Cush Hill properties, Mill Brook Reservoir in New Berlin, and Woodman Pond near Hamilton.
"Normally we do three or four different field trips in addition to our monthly meeting bird walk," said Knapp. "For example, we might go to Montezuma, which is on the north shore of Cayuga Lake in the Finger Lakes, because they have a tremendous amount of birds there. Or we might go to Franklin Mountain, which is in Oneonta, in the fall when the birds are migrating because on any given day you can see hundreds of raptors flying over. Golden eagles or bald eagles. It’s a pretty fascinating thing."
The club also participates in the Audubon Christmas Bird Count each year, which covers a 7.5 mile radius around Sherburne.
"[We] just survey the whole area for what birds we might see, and that's reported through the Audubon Society. It’s originally coordinated through them," said Smith. "That Christmas Bird Count program is over 100 years old, but of course our bird club, we’ve been doing it since sometime in the 80s."
Similar to the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, the Chenango Bird Club will be hosting their first ever Big Bird Day on Saturday, May 14. According to Smith, participants will go to the same 7.5 mile area around Sherburne to catch a glimpse of local birds.
"We’re going to spread out all among it, and that day we’re going to see how many different species of birds we can tally. And that’s the height of the migratory season, so we’re hoping for a big number," said Knapp.
"It’s not as regulated as the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, so we can introduce people who want to learn something about birding. They can go with people who do it every year," he continued. "We’re going to have that all day, but we’re going to meet at lunch back at Rogers Center and have a little picnic, a little get together."
All meetings and events hosted by the club are open to the public, and membership is not a requirement. Smith said they "just want people to who are interested to come and see what they can learn, and see if they're interested."
Those who would like to get more involved and become a member of the Chenango Bird Club can join for a small fee. Membership is $5 for students, $8 for individuals, and $12 for a family. Becoming a member provides the opportunity to learn from seasoned birders, and learn more about birds in the area.
Another perk of becoming a member is access to the quarterly Chenango Bird Club newsletter, The Goldfinch, which can be delivered via postal mail or email. The Goldfinch features information about the local bird population, recaps of meetings, bird walks, and field trips, and information from members on unusual bird sightings in the area.
Overall, the group's main goal is to encourage an interest and appreciation of nature.
"This is our 40th year, and like every other year we are always looking to welcome anybody who has any interest not only in birds, but in nature itself," said Knapp. "Besides looking at the birds, we try to foster an appreciation of nature as a whole."
For more information on the Chenango Bird Club, contact Club President John Knapp at 607-372-1242. To learn more about area birds or share bird sightings, join the Chenango Bird Club Facebook page.