Greater Yellowlegs photo by Jburney
Greater Yellowlegs photo by Jburney

GreenWatch Sunday Morning TV- Redheaded and Greater Yellowlegs

by / May. 14, 2017 8am EST

Happy Mothers Day to all of you mothers out there, and to all of you that have mothers!

Among other things, for me, birds have a link to Mothers Day in that the celebration always falls during spring migration season.  I have spent countless Mother Days with my spouse looking at birds, almost always with our two now grown children. For instance yesterday we went to Presque Isle Park in Erie Pa to experience the wonderful spring warbler mgration. We cherish these kinds of family trips. After almost 40 years our relationships remain intact, so thats a good thing.

Todays video  ”Wild Hamburg” shot last week in Hamburg NY at the Lakeside Memorial Park,  takes a look at two interesting bird species that are both unusual and are in our area

The Red-headed Woodpecker is a delightful bird that is one of our most uncommon birds.  It is considered to be in decline across its range. In Canada, it is listed as threatened. The bird depicted in this video may already be a mother, and may be about to become a mother.

This bird is strikingly colored with a distinct darkish red head, and a black and white body. Adult males and females are identical in plumage.

The second bird focused on in this video is the Greater Yellowlegs. This spectacular shorebird is listed as common in our area, and it is one of my favorite shorebirds. During spring and fall it is common along shorelines including streams, and in shallow wetlands and exposed mudflats. It breeds to the north often in forests and muskegs.

Because of its breeding habitat, is not a bird that is especially easy to find. So the spring and fall migrations are the best times.  When you do find them during these seasons, they are often not alone. 

The shorebird migration brings these birds along with lots of other shorebirds including some seen in this video (Solitary Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpiper) which often migrate, socialize, and feed together.  One friend this week saw as many as 30 Greater Yellowlegs in a wet area near Eden.  Fun to watch and to listen to.

Please enjoy this short local video.  Next week we will have warblers!


More Links: 

Red-headed Woodpecker (Audubon) 

Greater Yellowlegs (Audubon)


Looking Back

On May 5, 2015 we posted this article at the Public.

Buffalo’s Dark Sky Begins

It was a hopeful look at what then was a new initiative by New York Governor Cuomo to promote darker corridors for nightime migrating birds.  Birds and buildings, especially night-lighted buildings often collide, resulting in bird deaths. I was even part of a group of concerned citizens that brought a law-suit against the inconsiderate plans to build a tall residential building on Buffalo’s Waterfront, adjacent to the Bell Slip. We brought the lawsuit against Queen City Landing and the City because we felt that the City of Buffalo as the lead  SEQRA agency on the project had not taken a hard look at the environmental impacts of this building on both birds and human well-being and health. It is not only located at the gateway to the Niagara River Globally Significant Important Bird area, but is being built on a costly publically funded brownfield remediation site. Your taxpayer dollars are being spent to potentially develop this bird deadly site.

Last week the Fourth Department (Appellate Division) of New Yorks Supreme Court denied our appeal saying that in essence, all environmental considerations had been properly evaluated.  While we are convinced of the oppposite, this shows how powerful development interests can be in overriding environmental and human health concerns under SEQRA.  Currently the emaciated state of SEQRA is being evaluated for futher reductions and diminishment.  In the age of Trump, the conservative business community that rules our local, state, and national political and judicial landscape continues to promote anti-environmental contexts in favor of developers.  The good news is that those of us that have filed this lawsuit have vowed this week to not give up. We are going to challenge the ruling. We are in it to win it.

Meanwhile the Buffalo News published a story on the most recent ruling that gives an overview of the case. 

Appeals Court Upholds Queen City Landing approvals

What is most disenheartening are some of the public comments to this article. While many are focused on important issues such as privatization and social segregation, many take on the bird issues with entreaties  focused on “evolution will let the smart birds that learn to fly around the building live”.  At least these commentors seem to believe in evolution. Yay!

While I do not fear the NIMBY comments to which I respond “I am such a tree-hugger that trees hug me” the seemingly factual representations in the expert opiniators shows a certain level of both ignorance, willful ignorance, and dangerous lack of intellect.  

There are some fully scientific observations that apply.  The shoreline of the Lake at this location is a migratory bird area. It is seasonal in that there are migrating birds in spring, summer, winter, and fall.  In the spring, a period that is covered by Governor Cuomo’s Lights Out New York policy, our local Lake Erie shoreline is often enshrouded with deep fog and other nasty weather conditions.  A bird is likely in the early morning hours to be drawn to light emitting through the fog. Birds will and do collide with tall buildings. And some birds eyesite and brains do not allow them to fully distinquish between a large window reflecting for instance a horizon that appears to be Lake Erie, and a solid surface.  Birds do fly fast, do collide, and do die.  This does not allow them to learn not to do it next time, even if they survive, which many do not.  Its a complicated story. The location of this building will have consequences as do other nearaby facilities including downtown buildings and nearby wind turbines.  While many of you have expressed vibrant and positive concerns about environmental impacts of development choice, if not you, people that you know, and and a wider culture seem not to care. But I do.  

Someones have to think about the birds and how decling populations and links to declining biodiversity and links to earths biological instability will effect future generations.  I welcome your comments, opinions, and support.

Nearly 400 Birds Migrate Hundreds of Miles only to fatally crash into Texas Building

Huffpost, 7 March 2017