Springtime is the peak season for birding in the Hudson Valley. Whether you’re a novice or expert, or just looking for a morning walk, afternoon hike, or weekend excursion, Hudson Valley-based birding clubs and organizations have plenty of guided outdoor options available. You might even wind up adding your watch results to a national census.
Learn from local experts and birding enthusiasts about where to find these delicate, melodious, and colorful creatures in their natural habitats.
A “biodiversity hot spot” is how one of the birding program leaders—Michael P. Losito, PhD, Certified Wildlife Biologist—describes the Hudson Valley. “It’s a very special place in New York which harbors most of our biodiversity,” he says.
There are some 476 different species of birds in New York with about 300 varieties in Ulster and Dutchess counties. Now is the time to watch them migrate, mate, and nest in the Hudson Valley.
Owls, peregrine falcons, thrushes, herons, nighthawks, warblers, woodpeckers, merlins, vireos, bitterns, cuckoos, and sparrows are just a few of the sights and sounds of spring.
Many of the guided birdwatching events provided by clubs and organizations are free and open to the public. Try more than one. Who knows, you may decide to become a member.
JOHN BURROUGHS nATURAL hISTORY sOCIETY
From the Hudson River to the Catskill Mountains, you can experience birding with guidance from members of the John Burroughs Natural History Society. JBNHS offers field trips, lectures, and a newsletter called “The Chirp”.
“During March, April, and May, the males are the most vocal. You are certain to see birds in textbook plumage,” JBNHS President Mark DeDea says. Migratory birds like thrushes and warblers can be seen from May to early September. “They spend a portion of their life here and winter in the tropics,” Mark adds. “Take the kids outside. Absorb what you see, what you hear,” says Mark. “It’s a great time to learn and make friends with others who have a shared interest,” he adds. A list of spring birding events with JBNHS is below. For more information, visit: jbnhs.org.
RONDOUT SERIES: ROSENDALE TO HIGH FALLS
APRIL 7, 7:30AM–12PM
This field trip explores the Rondout Valley region. Meet at the Rosendale municipal parking lot (Hardenburgh Lane near Willow Kiln Park) at the base of Joppenbergh Mountain. We will explore this part of the valley and surrounding uplands, observing migrant birds and emerging vegetation. Contact trip leader Matt Corsaro (email@example.com) at least one week before the trip.
SPRING BIRDING WILDCARD
APRIL 14, 7AM–12PM
Please register with trip leader Peter Schoenberger (firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can make arrangements for our party’s travel and destination plans. The location for this outing will be determined that morning based on rare or unusual sightings somewhere in the Hudson Valley.
OPEN DISCOVERY AT OPPENBERGH MOUNTAIN
APRIL 15, 9AM–1PM
Join Lynn Bowdery on a walk up to the lookout point on Joppenbergh Mountain and search for spring ephemerals, early migrants and soaring raptors, emerging plant life, and all that points to spring’s arrival. Wear good shoes and bring hiking poles if you use them. We will meet in the parking area by Willow Kiln Park, behind Rosendale Theater, accessed by narrow Hardenburgh Lane, at 9am. Please tell Lynn (845-255-6690, email@example.com) if you will be coming.
OPEN DISCOVERY AT ISRAEL WITTMAN SANCTUARY
APRIL 21, 8AM–12PM
Located in the Zena Highwoods area, this Woodstock Land Conservancy’s 123-acre sanctuary offers a gentle grade, two-mile trail loop through a mixed hardwood and coniferous forest, with vernal pools, a seasonal stream, bluestone quarries, and rock walls. Meet trip leader Joe Bridges (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the former site of the Zena Elementary School at 1700 Sawkill Road in the Woodstock hamlet of Zena to carpool to the sanctuary.
KENNETH WILSON STATE PARK
APRIL 28, 7AM–12PM
This park offers a variety of habitats and all are easily accessible, with much of the walk on pavement. Join trip leader Peter Schoenberger (email@example.com) for the start of full-blown neotropical bird migration, and if we’re quiet, maybe a drumming grouse too! Meet at the state parking lot at 859 Wittenberg Road in the Town of Woodstock at 7am.
SPRING BIRDS AND WILDFLOWERS IN SAUGERTIES
APRIL 29, 7:30AM–12PM
The Esopus Creek Conservancy and JBNHS are co-sponsoring a guided nature walk in the woodlands and wetlands of Saugerties. The first week in May is typically the peak migration period for neotropical birds at this latitude. Meet at 7:30am in the Saugerties Village Beach parking lot on Route 9W. Bring binoculars, field guides, and spotting scopes if you have them, and be prepared for wet, muddy trails, and early spring weather conditions. Children are welcome and encouraged, but please do not bring pets. Contact the field trip leader, Steve Chorvas (firstname.lastname@example.org) for additional information or directions.
SPRING MIGRATION AT HIGH BANKS
APRIL 30, 6AM–11AM
An early morning visit during spring migration to this new Scenic Hudson property in the Town of Esopus should provide a generous selection of neotropical migrants. Meet trip leader Jess Prockup (email@example.com) at the preserve parking lot at 132 River Road, Ulster Park. There is an initial climb of 200 feet on the trail but walking is easy after that and a panoramic view of the mid-Hudson Valley can be enjoyed while scanning the treetops for colorful songsters.
JBNHS WEEKEND TRIP
MAY 19–MAY 21
Field trips with JBNHS are free and open to the public, although they do sometimes visit sites that charge admission. Please email Wendy Tocci at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
WARBLER WALKS 1 and 2
MAY 1 AND 8, 7AM–12PM
Meet Carol Weber (email@example.com, 914-388-1569) and Gerhard Patsch (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the Village of New Paltz parking lot off Huguenot Street. The group will visit environs near town and travel towards Mohonk to search for neotropical migrants. Feel free to meet in the field or leave early for work.
BIRDING BY EAR
MAY 27, 7AM–10AM
Join Peter Schoenberger on his home turf to learn more about an important skill and various secrets to help you retain various vocalizations. Participants must register with Peter (email@example.com) to attend this special outing.
ULSTERULSTER COUNTY BIG SIT
Now in its third year, the Big Sit is a combination of friendly competition and a fun and creative way for JBNHS to raise a little money to help support local environmental and educational efforts. Participants should plan to spend up to 24 hours in one of three established 17-foot diameter circles: Lenape Trail at Kingston Point, Galeville (Shawangunk Grasslands), and The Great Vly on West Camp Road. Sitters record the number of bird species heard and/or seen from within your circle. Pledges can be made by participants and by non-participants and usually range from 25 cents to a dollar per species.
TAKING FLIGHT CATSKILLS BIRDING CONFERENCE
MAY 26–MAY 27
Scott Whittle and Tom Stephenson, co-authors of The Warbler Guide, will lead warbler hikes, warbler workshops (photographing warblers + warbler ID), and will give the Saturday night keynote address… about warblers. It will be a weekend in the Catskills you won’t want to miss. Visit the Taking Flight 2018 (http://catskillcenter.org/takingflight) website for more information on the schedule of events and how to register.
MOHONK MOUNTAIN HOUSE B BIRDING & SPRING NATURE WEEKEND
Turn birdwatching into a vacation at Mohonk Mountain House by reserving your stay during the Birding & Spring Nature Weekend in May. Relax in charming accommodations and enjoy guided bird walks, nature hikes, live birds of prey lectures, and an exploration of the natural world as it awakens on the mountaintop. Call 877.475.6365 for reservations or visit mohonk.com/events/nature-outdoors/birding.
RALPH T. WATERMAN BIRD CLUB
FOR BIRDING IN DUTCHESS COUNTY, TAKE A GUIDED WALK WITH THE RALPH T. WATERMAN BIRD CLUB.
“The Hudson Valley is a natural migratory pathway with a plethora of different habitats,” says RTWBC Co-Education Chair Alan Peterson. “On an average walk, you can see 40 to 60 birds during this time of year in one habitat,” Alan says. “Even if you don’t know how to bird, we accept all skill levels. You don’t have to be a member to go on the field trips,” he adds.
Field trips are held most Wednesdays and some weekends. All walks are open to the public and free of charge. Meeting times change throughout the year. In general, trips begin at 8:30am in April and 8am in May. Visit the RTWBC website at watermanbirdclub.org for details.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 8:30AM
Dennings Point, off Hudson Avenue, Beacon. Meet there at 8:30am.
MONDAY, APRIL 9, 8:30AM
Sharpe Reservation, 436 Van Wyck Lake Road, Fishkill. Meet at parking lot at 8:30am.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 8:30AM
Buttercup Farm Audubon Sanctuary, Stanfordville. Meet at the parking lot south of Route 82 on Mountain Road via Stissing Road at 8:30am.
SATURDAY, APRIL 28
Jamaica Bay. Leader: Jim Clinton. Call 845-331-0749 for time and meeting place.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18, 8:30AM
Tamarack Preserve, Millbrook. Meet at the clubhouse parking lot on Turkey Hollow Road at 8:30am. Turn off Route 44 (address is 4754 Route 44). Plan to carry lunch.
EARTH DAY BIRD WALK
SUNDAY, APRIL 22, 8AM
Winnakee Nature Preserve, Hyde Park. RTWBC will partner with the Winnakee Land Trust to lead an Earth Day Bird Walk at the Winnakee Nature Preserve from 8 to 11am. The Preserve is located at 3 Van Dam Road in Hyde Park. Parking at: 4204 Albany Post Road (Route 9), in back of the Hyde Park Florist.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25, 8:30AM
Cary Institue of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook. Bird & tree ID. Meet at the Gifford House parking lot, Route 44 (Sharon Turnpike), Millbrook, at 8:30am.
SUNDAY, APRIL 29
Pond Gut, Pleasant Valley. Leader: Barbara Michelin. Call 845-242-2301 for time and meeting place.
FOR MAY AND JUNE SCHEDULES, VISIT: WATERMANBIRDCLUB.ORG
Mohonk Preserve offers a variety of bird programs throughout the year, including Citizen Science programs such as Hawk Watch and the Christmas Bird Count, along with public programs that include our early morning bird walks.
With more than 8,000 acres, the Mohonk Preserve is New York State’s largest non-profit nature preserve. From the end of February to June, volunteers and experts in Mohonk Preserve’s Citizen Science Program observe the breeding and nesting habits of the peregrine falcon, still considered endangered in New York State.
“The Citizen Science Program is contributing to legitimate scientific data collection nationally,” says Citizen Science Education Coordinator Christy Belardo. “This shared conservation science data is accessed by data researchers around the world,” she adds. From May to June, volunteers can take part in the annual Breeding Bird Census. Volunteers generate territory maps and note habitat preferences and changes in breeding species. “The first confirmed Acadian flycatcher record at Mohonk Preserve was documented on the Breeding Bird Census,” says Christy.
MOHONK BLUEBIRD TRAIL
Bluebird Trail is the newest Citizen Science program at the Mohonk Preserve, with the kick-off season starting in 2018. In 2017, with help from students from the San Miguel Academy of Newburgh and other volunteer groups, bluebird boxes were installed in grassland areas within the Preserve in efforts to promote the recovery of bluebirds and other native cavity-nesting bird species. The Bluebird Trail project seeks to monitor and record occupancy and productivity over time in relation to habitat quality. Volunteer citizen scientists will be trained in specific data collection and naturalist observation protocols and will conduct regular monitoring at assigned bluebird boxes located throughout the Preserve. Volunteer orientation and training for the Bluebird Trail program will be offered on Saturday, April 7 from 9 to 10:30am at the Mohonk Preserve Visitor Center.
For more information or to sign up, visit mohonkpreserve.org/training.
For a full list of Citizen Science Birding Programs, visit mohonkpreserve.org/bird-programs.
MOHONK MORNING BBIRD WALKS
Beginning in April and running through September, Mohonk Preserve offers monthly Early Morning Bird Walks led by Conservation Science staff on Saturdays from 7 to 9 am. No previous birding experience is necessary and beginners are welcome. Participants should bring binoculars, and a few pairs will be available for loan on a first-come-first-served basis. These programs generally include a 1- to 2-mile walk. Space is limited and registration is required.
The Early Morning Bird Walks are free for Mohonk Preserve members and non-members receive a complimentary day pass for their first walk, but will be required to purchase a day pass for subsequent walks. For more information or to register, visit