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

featured bird photo
Singing male Prairie Warbler photographed in the southerntier.

Scoping May

It's showtime! This is the month we have all been waiting for! The possibilities are endless. The beauty of May is that you can basically go birding anywhere and expect to see migrants. The birds arrive in pulses, usually accompanying a warm front. On the third Sunday of the month is the annual May Bird Census. Please join us by volunteering some of your time on this day! This year's compiler is Bob DeLeon, please contact him if you can assist with the count at rldeleon@yahoo.com.

There is an art to birding in May. Weather plays a huge part on when birds arrive and where they make landfall. Generally speaking, locations along the immediate lakeshores can sometimes be loaded with birds. This is most likely to happen after the passage of a warm front followed by a cold front resulting in rain. The precipitation can ground birds and produce fallout conditions. Of course the planets have to align in order for a fallout to occur, but when it does, it's magnificent!

The traditional migrant hotspots are the popular focus in May: Forest Lawn Cemetery, Tifft Nature Preserve, Reinstein Woods, Goat Island, Four Mile Creek State Park and Fort Niagara State Park. On years with cooler weather, leaf bud is delayed the closer you are to the lake shores. Inland locations will tend to leaf out earlier and therefore be more attractive to migrants. Forest Lawn Cemetery is widely acclaimed as a spring destination for Neotropical migrants. This is due to its inland location resulting in earlier leaf out as well as its oasis-like appeal to birds looking for a resting place after a long night of migration. The list of rarities located here is long. Unfortunately, migrants this time of year don't tend to linger. These birds are on a race to get back to their breeding grounds.

May still offers hawk flights at the Hamburg Hawkwatch. By this stage of the spring raptor migration, immature Broad-winged Hawks make up the bulk of the numbers as well as young Bald Eagles and Sharp-shinned Hawks. In the early mornings at the hawkwatch site, you can test your skills at identifying overhead passerines. These birds are dispersing inland away from the lakeshore to find suitable foraging habitat for the day.

WNY is not known as a great spring shorebird site, but they do pass through the region in May. The traditional locations are the best area to check: Woodlawn Beach SP, Batavia WWTP and Iroquois NWR. Also worth checking are the farm fields in Niagara and Orleans Counties - especially after a heavy rain. Not only does the rain create temporary mud puddles in agricultural fields for the shorebirds to forage in, but precip events will also ground the birds during their overhead passage. One of the most stunning sandpipers to cross paths with this time of year is the Dunlin. Species such as Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers can be found along creeks and pond edges at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Reinstein Woods and Delaware Park Lake.

Later migrants are still sifting through towards the end of the month, species such as Yellow-bellied and Olive-sided Flycatchers, Mourning and Blackpoll Warblers and Gray-cheeked Thrush.

Memorial Day weekend is the traditional time to look for migrant Whimbrel along the Fort Erie Lakeshore just west of the Peace Bridge. Most Whimbrel migrating through the region cross the fetch of Lake Ontario and there is a watch set up near Toronto to record the thousand-plus birds that pass through annually, all within a few short days. Every year a few birds end up along the rocky shoreline of Fort Erie. Check the end of Kraft Road, Windmill Point and Rock Point Provincial Park. The breakwalls along the Buffalo Outer Harbor would also be worth scoping.

The Buffalo Ornithological Society, Inc. (BOS) 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.

The Buffalo Ornithological Society 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!

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  Hamburg Hawk Watch, Meetings, & Field Trip UPDATES

Due to the COVID-19 virus, we are cancelling our BOS meetings and field trips through April and into May, following the guidelines given by the Erie County Department of Health.

HAMBURG HAWKWATCH: As of this afternoon, MAR 23rd, the Covid-19 guidelines from New York State Dep't of Health state, "All non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason are temporarily banned." Please enjoy spring migration but not by visiting the hawk watch. We will still try to count but we don't want to put anyone in jeopardy, either our counters or our visitors.

MAY EVENTS: All May field trips have been cancelled. The May Count, so far, is still on, however, border crossings are not allowed and Ontario birders should check local restrictions. We are waiting to hear about our May meeting; as of today, Apr 27, it is still on. Keep checking here for updates.

  Upcoming Field Trips and Events

For a full list of our upcoming field trips, meetings, and events, visit our calendar page. You don't have to be a member to join our field trips or meetings! (Note that meetings run from September through June.)

May 30, 2020   (Saturday)

Field Trip - Krull County Park for Clay-colored Sparrow - CANCELLED

Details: (click for more info)

Leader - Joel Strong (joelstrong78@yahoo.com, (727) 519-4043)

Join the BOS and Joel Strong for 'target birding' - a search for Clay-colored Sparrow on Saturday, May 30th. This field trip focuses on one bird, the Clay-colored Sparrow, a close cousin to the Chipping Sparrow. These birds are uncommon in the BOS study area but they have been breeding in the fields @ Krull County Park for several years and hopefully will be back again this year! The fields hold other birds like Bobolink, Willow Flycatcher & maybe even Orchard Oriole.

Meet @ 7:30 AM at the soccer fields (this is east of the main entrance where we met last year) on Lake Rd (Rte 18) in Olcott / Niagara County just east of Transit Rd (Rte. 78). We will be walking mowed paths in the fields. Plan on a half day trip. Ticks are present at this location.

Leader: Joel Strong
(727) 519-4043

Jun 06, 2020   (Saturday)

Field Trip - Letchworth SP for Nesting Warblers

Details: (click for more info)

Leader - Matt Nusstein (Matthew.Nusstein@parks.ny.gov; (716) 446-3376)

Location - Meet at 8am at the Humphrey Nature Center, 6773 Trailside Road, Castile, NY 14427 (see map link above).

Scenic Letchworth State Park, embracing the Genesee River, boasts incredible numbers of migratory birds in May and June. In addition, more than twenty species of warblers nest in the park annually making for an exciting birding destination. This list includes the local Louisiana Waterthrush as well as gems like Hooded, Blue-winged and Mourning Warblers. Acadian Flycatcher is another local species we hope to cross paths with during our outing. We will be birding along the gorge making various stops with short hikes as we go. The trip could last 4-5 hours and we will have lunch overlooking the river. Carpooling is suggested. Bring a lunch, snacks and beverages.

Jun 10, 2020   (Wednesday)

Meeting - Picnic & Walk at Tifft Nature Preserve

Details: (click for more info)

As usual, the annual June picnic will be held at Tifft Nature Preserve. The picnic will be followed by a short field trip at the preserve. Come and spend some time with your birding friends before the summer recess of regularly scheduled meetings! Bring your own vittles and we will eat at 6:00 pm at the picnic tables near the Visitor Center.

We have had good luck in the past at seeing Virginia Rails along Heritage Boardwalk at this time of year.

Jun 13, 2020   (Saturday)

Field Trip - Beaver Meadow Audubon Center

Details: (click for more info)

Leader - Tom Kerr, Audubon Staff Naturalist, tkerr.buffaloaudubon@gmail.com, (716) 310-0380

Meet at 8AM at the Visitor Center. This will be a 1/2 day trip wrapping up around noon.

This half-day trip takes us meandering the grounds of Beaver Meadow Audubon Center in Java Center, NY. Tom will guide our group using his superlative knowledge of the nesting birds of this preserve. Species we will be looking for include nesting Blue-winged, Hooded and Mourning Warblers and possibly Alder Flycatcher. Maintained trails offer us views of the glacial kettle ponds, meadows and marsh boardwalk where Virginia Rails have raised young in past years. The visitor center has a fantastic gift shop so please support this refuge with your purchase. It is recommended to bring water and a snack/lunch.

Jun 20, 2020   (Saturday)

Field Trip - Chestnut Ridge SP

Details: (click for more info)

Sunday, June 16th at 7:30 AM. This is a half-day field trip.

Meet at the Eternal Flame parking lot, just north of the junction of Chestnut Ridge Road and Boston Ridge Road

Leaders are Christopher Bertola and Joe Fell (jfell2000@gmail.com / 716-239-1508)

Christopher will be targeting park specialties such as Louisiana Waterthrush, Hooded Warbler and Acadian Flycatcher, while Joe will provide identification features of tree species and plant communities. Did you know that when looking for Acadian Flycatcher, you need to find Hemlock stands?

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