Celebrating Black Birders Week: May 30th to June 5
Join us to celebrate Black Birders, Naturalists, Scientists, and everyone who advocates to make the outdoors a more inclusive space. With an abundance of nature trails and bird species, both permanent and migratory, there’s always something new to discover on your Fresh Air Adventure!
What is Black Birders Week?
Black Birders Week is a 7-day event series of online and in person events to highlight nature enthusiasts who are Black and increase the visibility of these people who face unique interpersonal challenges while outdoors. Check out #BirdingWhileBlack on Twitter.
Black Birders Week began in 2020 in a response to a racially-motivated incident at Central Park in NYC, where a white woman called 911 on a man peacefully birding and said he was threatening her and her dog. Black Birders Week is meant to normalize the fact that Black people are part of the birding and natural sciences community.
Best Places to Enjoy Birding:
Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge
With over 10,000 sprawling acres of land and four distinct habitats, the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is the largest wildlife refuge in New York State. Peak migration season can bring as many as 80,000 birds in at once. Due to its key location on the Atlantic Flyway (a major north-south migration route for North American bird species) The Refuge enjoys an abundance of birds throughout all seasons. 268 species of birds pass through or live here year-round. Spring and fall migrations are the best time for birding, but there’s always something nesting the forest, grasslands, marsh or swamps in Basom, NY.
Located at: 1101 Casey Rd, Basom, NY
Birds you may see: Our nation’s bird, The Bald Eagle, calls the refuge home year-round so keep an eye out for a once in a lifetime shot. Some migrations of waterfowl including Canadian Geese and ducks peak in early Spring; While shorebirds and warblers peak in May. Endangered species Black Terns and Least Bitterns nest here in the summer, while Great Egrets have been seen throughout the fall. (Bald Eagle Picture)
Letchworth State Park
Aside from spectacular vistas, waterfalls and trails, Letchworth State Park has a vast forest, pristine grasslands and sheer cliff faces provide the ideal habitat for a large variety of birds. Ground-nesting birds take advantage of the rolling grasslands, while the forest provides shelter to over 60 species of migratory birds in the Spring and Summer. Along the banks of The Genesee River Waterfowl and wading birds make their homes. Raptors, including the Northern Goshawk and Red Shouldered Hawk, spend their days high above the gorge circling for food.
Located at: 1 Letchworh State Park, NY
Birds you may see: Raptors take advantage of the wind tunnels created by the many cliff faces and will call the park home year-round. Songbirds, Woodpeckers, Turkeys and Warblers are a common sight as well and, in the Winter, a roost of Turkey Vultures inhabits the land. The grasslands are historical nesting sites for Northern Harriers, Upland Sandpipers and Henslow’s Sparrows. An exciting fact is that the park is home to an abundance of at-risk bird species, which makes birding here a true thrill! You may spot the American Black Duck, Bald Eagles, Wood Thrushes, Cooper’s Hawks or even have a chat with a Yellow-Breasted Chat.
Genesee County Park & Forest Interpretive Center
Genesee County Park is the oldest county forest in the state (with impeccably maintained trails we might add)! With over 430 acres of rolling hills, open green spaces, self-guided trails and picnic pavilions, this is the perfect place for the whole family to get a taste of birding. Start at the Interpretive Center to learn about the landscape and native animals. Pack a picnic lunch, let the kids burn off energy on the playgrounds, and head out on the trails to see who’s awaiting you in the trees!
Located at: 11095 Bethany Center Rd, East Bethany, NY
Birds you may see: This is Western NY birding at its best! You may see Ravens, Chickadees, Fox Sparrows, Nuthatches, Tufted Titmice, White Throated Sparrows, Golden-Crowned Kinglets, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Woodpeckers and Juncos (just to name a few…). While relaxing on the elevated rear porch of the Nature Center, you will often spy deer, rabbits, turkey and other wildlife; giving you and your family an all-encompassing nature experience!
Holley Canal Park & Holley Falls
Holley Canal Park/Holley Falls is a favorite stop for boaters and cyclists traveling down the historic Erie Canal, this little park is the perfect place to slip back into nature down one of their nature trails. Be sure to see the remnants of the village square, sandstone buildings, 1907 railroad depot and 1914 fountain- all cool pieces of history! There’s even a waterfall to find if you look hard enough. With plenty of benches and places to sit and enjoy nature, it’ll be easy to pull out the binoculars and spy on some of those withdrawn local bird species.
Located at: East Ave, Holley, NY
Birds you may see: Crows, Sparrows, Warbles, and a variety of songbirds like Blue Jays and Cardinals all call this area home. Raptors may be seen traveling overhead and of course waterfowl love the Erie Canal! Ducks and ducklings and Geese and goslings are a common and welcome site in the Spring and Summer months.
Lakeside Beach State Park
Along the Seaway Trail on the shores of Lake Ontario lays Lakeside Beach State Park. With four miles of hiking and biking trails, there is an abundance of birds to be found. Our recommendation is the wooded bluff near the pavilions on the west side of the park. It is a popular place for early morning bird watchers. In the spring and fall, migrating waterfowl and gulls pass through in their thousands, with up to 300,000 in the fall.
Located at: 1300 Route 18, Waterport, NY
Birds you may see: Waterfowl observed include Greater Scaup, Black Scoters, Red-breasted Mergansers, Red-throated Loons, Common Loons, and Bonaparte’s Gulls. Ducks and loons are a common site and Black Terns use this area to breed in the summer. In the winter, many finches can be seen including Red and White-winged Crossbills, Common Redpolls, Pine Siskins, and Pine Grosbeaks.
Bonus! While you’re birding, you can also enjoy a round of disco golf on the Shore Winds Disco Golf course, one of the most scenic disc golf courses in the country.
Mount Morris Dam
Located deep in the Genesee River gorge, the Mount Morris Dam provides a man-made scenic view with nature all around. The long smooth embankment sloping down to divide the mighty Genesee River provides a unique opportunity for wildlife, including “Dam Birds”. Very large dams are likely to provide the full range of habitat requirements for birds to breeds. Dams with good perching sites attract birds that prey on fish and frogs. The heavy vegetation surrounding the dam on either side will be more attractive to smaller forest birds as well.
Located at: 6103 Visitor Center Rd, Mount Morris, NY
Birds you may see: Honeyeaters, Finches, many different Raptor species, Red-Tailed Hawks, American Kestrel, Maybe an Osprey or Golden Eagle
Some Bird Identifying Tools:
The Audubon Bird Guide App: The Audubon Bird Guide is a free and complete field guide to over 800 species of North American birds, right in your pocket. Built for all experience levels, it will help you identify the birds around you, keep track of the birds you’ve seen, and get outside to find new birds near you.
AllAboutBirds.Org Dedicated to advancing the protection of the natural world, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s allaboutbirds.org is the perfect place to find a comprehensive guide on different types of bird species and to fulfill the life-changing thrill of observing birds and nature.