Welcome BOS members and all interested in birding Western New York and Niagara Peninsula of Ontario!

featured bird photo
Pine Siskin © Willie D'Anna

Scoping December

While overall species variety decreases through the fall, including December, this month is often very exciting. The Niagara River is the focal point for much of the birding activity. Climate change has pushed the gull peak on the river during some years from November to December. Nineteen species of gulls have been found on the river – birders scour the Bonaparte's and Herring Gulls for Little Gull, Sabine's Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, Black-headed Gull, the “white-winged” gulls (Thayer's, Iceland, and Glaucous) and hope for something ultra rare, like Slaty-backed Gull, California Gull, Mew Gull, or even a Ross’s Gull.

The goose migration is ongoing and December can produce Cackling Goose, Greater White-fronted Geese, or Ross’s Goose.

Diving Ducks continue to build on the Niagara River and the Great Lakes with often immense concentrations of Greater Scaup, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye and other ducks at the head of the Niagara River in Buffalo/Fort Erie. Canvasback finally starts to arrive in numbers on the Niagara River. Birders scope through the diving ducks on the river and the Great Lakes in search of rarities like Harlequin Duck (regular on the Niagara River), King Eider, Barrow’s Goldeneye, and the extremely rare Tufted Duck.

Dunkirk Harbor can be a great place for observing waterbirds on Lake Erie, with many of the same Niagara River rarities appearing there. The harbor has produced more Laughing Gulls than anywhere else in the Region.

A few Snowy Owls are found most winters and, in irruption years, they will appear in many places during this month. Look for them at airports, along the shores of the Great Lakes, and in wide open fields. Short-eared Owls settle in to their few favored wintering spots.

There are many Christmas Bird Counts conducted in the latter half of the month and they inevitably turn up some great rarities or unusual lingering species. Some examples include Varied Thrush, Harris’s Sparrow, Western Tanager, and Townsend’s Solitaire, as well as Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Yellow-throated Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Baltimore Oriole.

Expected, though sometimes local species, like Horned Lark, Snow Bunting, and Lapland Longspur, are found in manured fields. Rough-legged Hawks can be found in the same fields but these days, they seem somewhat more frequent in our southern tier. Feeder watchers enjoy the company of Dark-eyed Juncos and American Tree Sparrows and perhaps a White-throated Sparrow or two, along with the regular clientele of chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and American Goldfinch. Some years, Pine Siskins and Common Redpolls may appear with Evening Grosbeaks especially in our southern tier.


The Buffalo Ornithological Society (BOS) has something to offer to anyone passionate about birds: from the backyard feeder- watcher, the avid lister or the environmental activist, to the dedicated citizen scientist or the professional ornithologist. Society activities include regular programs, field trips, intensive long-term bird counts, checklist and date guide development, varied research activities, and involvement in local conservation efforts. We invite you to join in the activities of the society!

 BOS Membership  

The Buffalo Ornithological Society, Inc. was established in 1929 to promote the study of the birds of the Niagara Frontier Region. Annual grants are awarded by the BOS to fund member-sponsored avian research projects. We are proud of our extensive scientific research databases, our continuing involvement in environmental and conservation activities that impact birds, and our promotion of the enjoyment of ornithology.

The BOS coverage area includes Western New York and parts of nearby Ontario, Canada. This region is rich in bird life with over 380 species and 25 recognizable subspecies of birds recorded. Explore our site to learn more about where to report and find birds, both regional specialties and rare visitors.

  Upcoming Field Trips and Events

Several field trips, meetings, and events have recently been added to our calendar. Take a look and be sure to join us at a meeting or on one of our field trips!

Dec 12, 2018

Meeting - Annual Holiday Celebration with Elections

Details: (click for more info)

Annual Holiday Celebration at 7:00 PM in the Jaeger Room of the Buffalo Museum of Science. Please bring a treat to share and enjoy an evening of birding friendship. We will also elect officers for the year 2019.


Jan 19, 2019

Waterfowl Count and Bald Eagle Survey

Details: (click for more info)

The count window will be from Sunday, January 19th through Sunday, January 27th.

The preferred "Target Date" is Sunday, January 20th.

For more information, contact the compiler, Jim Landau, at: 716-941-3869 or landaujr@gmail.com.

See our Waterfowl Count page for more details: Waterfowl Count



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