NYC Audubon on Governors Island 2017

Through October 29, visit NYC Audubon at our seasonal education center on Governors Island, Nolan Park House #17, right in the heart of New York Harbor.

Activities at Nolan Park House #17 Include: [b]Nolan Park House #17 on Governors Island [/b]

♦    Family-friendly Activities and Book Nook for Kids

♦    Binoculars to Borrow

♦    Opportunities to Meet Avian-inspired Artists at Work

♦    Information on Birds and Habitats throughout NYC's Five Boroughs


[b]Click on Map to Enlarge[/b]Schedule

Open Thursday–Sunday 11am-5pm
and Monday, September 4 (Labor Day)

Open Friday–Sunday, 11am-5pm
and Monday, October 9 (Columbus Day), 11am-4pm


Governors Island Bird Walks[b]Common Tern, Listed as a Threatened Species in New York State, on Pier on Governors Island[/b]

Saturdays and Sundays, 2pm
Guide: NYC Audubon
NOTE: There will be no bird walks on Saturday, October 21st or Sunday October 22nd we apologize for the inconvenience.

Meet at Nolan Park house #17. Join us for a bird walk around beautiful and historic Governors Island, which boasts over 175 species recorded on Learn about the island’s fascinating history and search for waterbirds, raptors, waterfowl, and more. Binoculars are available. No registration necessary. No limit. Free

Artist Installations

Autumn Kioti, artist-in-residence, offers Flight Patterns: illusions of free will; open studio and performative installation. Using scavenged and homemade items, inks, and drawing materials, the artist creates images, installations, interventions, and performances based in ornithology, biology, myth, folklore, social justice, and the ecology of Governors Island. Visit her open studio every weekend, now through October.

Marna Chester presents Paper Ecologies. The artist uses paper and other natural materials to create sculptures that explore the landscape of our natural and psychological worlds. October 7 and 8, October 21 and 22.

Jeff Mertz creates a two-panel video installation exploring the relationship between threatened bird species in NYC and their urban environment. September 30 and October 1, October 7 and 8

Sabine Meyer, photography director for National Audubon Society, has curated an immersive show based on the summer issue of Audubon Magazine with images projected on walls and a complementary bird-call soundtrack featuring Bird Blinds: gorgeous black and white photos of bird blinds by National Audubon Society photographer Tristan Spinski, who spent a year traveling to 30+ locations across the USA; and Baby Birds: photographer and Wild Bird Fund volunteer Andrew Garn's series of baby bird color portraits in a classical “studio” setting. September and October.


Saturday, October 14, 10am–5pm
Instructors: Esther Horvath and Camilla Cerea

The use of photography in the conservation world can change the way people perceive themes like climate change, habitat loss, or the protection of endangered species. If you have a little knowledge of photography and are interested in using this visual tool to raise awareness on such topics, this workshop is a great place to start. Camilla Cerea, staff photographer at the National Audubon Society, and Esther Horvath, fellow at the International League of Conservation Photographers, will guide you on how to produce a conservation photography essay. Free and open to the public. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more info.

Sunday, October 8, 2–4pm
Instructor: Marna Chester

We surround ourselves with it daily, yet, have you considered all the possibilities in a single sheet of paper? In this workshop we will explore unconventional ways to think about paper in both 2D and 3D. Let’s have fun as we curl, fold, pinch, crumple, roll, poke, tear, and cut paper to explore shapes and create dramatic effects. No experience necessary. Free and open to the public (children must be accompanied by an adult). Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more info.

Film Review: Flight of The Butterflies

By Glenn Phillips

Monarchs in the Sierra Madre.

Flight of the Butterflies is a remarkable film. Even without the awe-inspiring footage presented in IMAX format, the film would be worth watching for its in-depth and vivid portrayal of monarch butterflies and their extraordinary migrations. This film uses a dramatization of Fred Urquhart’s efforts to understand the migratory behavior of monarch butterflies as a frame for telling the life story of one monarch, hatched among the wildflowers of Texas, and her offspring. Along the way, you’ll learn about one of the most amazing citizen science projects ever conducted--and witness the development of a monarch from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to adult through advanced MRI and micro CT scans. It is nothing less than magical.

Simon de Granville, 3D Stereographer, observes the monarch butterflies surrounding the crew.No need for a spoiler alert, as we all know that Dr. Urquhart eventually discovered that the remote Sierra Madre mountains of Michoacán, Mexico serve as the principal wintering refuge for eastern monarchs. The details of how Dr. Urquhart finally discovered the proof seems like a fictional, Hollywood ending, but the filmmakers tell us that Catalina Aguado, the last surviving member of the discovery team, was present during the filming to ensure that it was portrayed accurately.

It is a shame that none of the local venues (Liberty Science Center and American Museum of Natural History) are showing the film in 3D. The added sense of immersion from the 3D version, almost perfectly captures what it feels like to be physically present in a monarch hibernation colony, without any risk of disturbance to these extraordinary flyers.

Crew in action filming monarchs in a field of bluebonnets in Texas.I left the theater amazed, with a newfound sense of respect for these extraordinary creatures, and grateful that a portion of the movies proceeds will support monarch butterfly conservation so that my children and grandchildren can continue to enjoy the flight of these butterflies. -GP







All images courtesy of Flight of the Butterflies.

Puffins, Warblers, and Lobster Boats

The Enchanting Coast of Maine

With Gabriel Willow
Saturday, May 26 – Saturday, June 2, 2018

[b]Atlantic Puffins[/b][br]© Steve Nanz[b]Blackburnian Warbler[/b][br]© David Speiser[b]Monhegan Island[/b][br]© Matt Pettengill


"How difficult will this tour be? What should I be prepared for?  This trip will be relaxed and comfortable. We will be staying at beautiful B&Bs and Inns, and traveling in a van. There will be short hikes, some over rough terrain, but most of which are optional. Maine in the spring is still chilly and can have inclement weather, and we will be taking a few boat trips—so participants should pack for varying weather conditions and temperatures (it can be quite cold on the water in Maine, so bring gloves and a scarf). If you are prone to seasickness, bring medication accordingly. 

The Monhegan House Inn is unheated, but has warm comforters and hot coffee! Also, please note that the Monhegan House Inn has bathrooms in the hall, but none in the rooms."

What are the meal arrangements?Complimentary breakfast will be included on all days at the inns and hotels where the group will be staying.  A lobster dinner will be included in our stay on Monhegan Island, with lobsters caught that day nearby.  (If participants do not eat lobster for any reason, please inform us and other arrangements will be made)

What will the weather be like?Maine in the spring is generally beautiful but cool.  Typically it is colder along the coast, especially when on the water.  Temperatures are typically in the 60s during the day and the 40s at night, but on a foggy or rainy day at the coast it can feel quite cold.  

How should I dress?Dress is very informal. While some people will change for dinner, it usually is just to a drier or cleaner version of what they wore during the day.  Bring layers, and plan for a variety of temperatures and weather.  Maine in spring can range from cold and rainy to hot and sunny.  Bring T-shirts, a long-sleeved shirt or turtleneck, sweaters or a fleece, and a raincoat or even a winter jacket.  Also a hat and gloves are a good idea for those chilliest moments (Maine is a couple months behind NYC temperature-wise).  A sun-hat or baseball cap is a good idea too. Bring comfortable, sturdy shoes as well, suitable for light hiking.

What else should I bring?We recommend bringing a small day pack, insect repellant, a flashlight with fresh batteries, sunglasses, sun screen, chapstick, a canteen or water bottle, a rain coat, poncho, or small travel umbrella, an alarm clock, a wash cloth, your camera with fresh batteries, and (of course!) binoculars.

How should I pack?Remember: Less is more! A standard, medium-size bag should be ample. Particularly if you are flying, be sure it has your address on the inside of the bag, as well as a luggage tag on the handle.

If you are traveling by air:

Be sure to pack sufficient quantities of any personal medications, as well as airline tickets, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. Remember that your carry-on bag must fit in the overhead compartment or under the airplane seat.

***Liquids or gels in carry-on luggage must be in 3.4-ounce (100ml) or smaller containers, in 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag.  Larger containers of liquid may be packed in your checked bag.

***No sharp items, including nail clippers, manicure scissors, or pocket knives, may be carried in carry-on luggage.  Such items may be packed in your checked bag.

What about bugs?Though Maine does have an enthusiastic population of mosquitoes and black-flies, fortunately coastal areas are breezier and relatively bug-free, and islands such as Monhegan have very few. Nevertheless, some of the wetland areas that have the most birds have the most mosquitoes as well, so make sure to bring insect repellant.  Deer Ticks have also been found in Maine, and Lyme disease has been reported, so common-sense measures in addition to using repellant, such as tucking pants into socks and checking for ticks after a walk, are recommended.

Should I get travel insurance?  We strongly recommend traveler's insurance for all of our national or international trips, in case of illness or other mishaps that prevent you from attending the tour.  We cannot guarantee a refund if you are unable to attend.  We will email you links to suggested companies and recommend that you purchase a policy.

Smoking: Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or during group activities.

Puffins, Warblers, and Lobster Boats

The Enchanting Coast of Maine

With Gabriel Willow
Saturday, May 26 – Saturday, June 2, 2017

[b]Atlantic Puffins[/b][br]© Steve Nanz[b]Blackburnian Warbler[/b][br]© David Speiser[b]Monhegan Island[/b][br]© Matt Pettengill





Tour Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in the early afternoon at the Portland International Jetport (or by Amtrak, bus, or car if you prefer). Spend the evening in the historic Portland Old Port on Casco Bay and dine at your leisure, either with the group or going solo if you prefer, at one of numerous acclaimed local restaurants (Portland was recently called the "best place to eat in the Northeast" by the Times, and leads the local food movement). Overnight in Portland at the luxurious Portland Regency, a boutique hotel located in the heart of the historic Old Port district on Portland's restored waterfront.

Day 2: Our first stop will be Portland's Back Cove to search for ducks and other waterfowl. From there we will head to Scarborough Marsh, a wonderful example of cord-grass salt marsh habitat, which is home to several hard-to-find species (such as salt-marsh sparrow and Nelson's sparrow) as well as herons and egrets, gulls, terns, willets, and other shorebirds. We will take a guided canoe trip through the marsh with naturalists from Maine Audubon. Time permitting (and if participants are so inclined), we may stop by the famous L.L. Bean outlet store in Freeport on our way east. We will then visit Popham Beach State Park, one of the last sandy beaches before the coast turns rocky, which is home to endangered piping plovers and least terns. We will end the day in the bucolic harbor town of Camden, at the lovely Inns at Blackberry Common.

Day 3: We will spend this day exploring various facets of mid-coast Maine ecology and birdlife, starting at Weskeag Marsh, which is home to rails, shorebirds, osprey, and possibly bald eagles. We will also visit Clary Hill, a blueberry barren. This is a typical habitat in downeast Maine, where rocky soil provides a good habitat for wild blueberries. Clary Hill is home to red-shouldered hawk, upland sandpiper, vesper sparrow, and other hard-to-find species. We will also visit a local peat bog, home to unique birds and carnivorous plants such as the sundew. Overnight in Camden at Inns at Blackberry Common.

Days 4-7: We head down to Port Clyde and catch a ferry to Monhegan Island. On the ferry ride out we may spot bald eagles, gannet, shearwaters, and other pelagic species, as well as dolphins, seals, and whales. We will stay in a tiny fishing village at Monhegan House Inn, where we will be treated to delicious breakfasts and a home-cooked lobster dinner, with lobster caught that day near the island's working waterfront.

We will spend three days and three nights on this enchanted island, a birder's paradise and legendary muse to artists including Edward Hopper, the Wyeths, and dozens of others. Painters, photographers, and of course birders still flock to this beautiful island, and so do birds; seeing 25 to 30 species of warbler in one day is not uncommon. Though the island is small, it has an astonishing range of habitats, from towering cliffs and primeval spruce forests to a freshwater pond, marsh, and sandy beach. While there are very few roads or vehicles, the island is crisscrossed with numerous trails and footpaths. We will explore the island at a leisurely pace tailored to the desires of the group. Not up for much walking? Stroll the boardwalk by Ice Pond and see dozens of species of migratory songbirds. Want something more challenging? Hike through the mossy spruce forests of Cathedral Woods to towering Burnthead Cliff on the far side of the island. The village where we'll stay also features several art galleries, a museum, and a historic lighthouse.

On Day Five we will take a chartered boat trip further offshore to Eastern Egg Rock, home to Maine's famed Atlantic puffins, the southernmost nesting population on the East Coast. We will circle the island and get wonderful views of these charming and colorful seabirds. Other species nesting on the island include the rare roseate tern, as well as common and arctic tern and several species of gulls. While on the water we will learn more about Audubon's Project Puffin seabird restoration project.

After our final morning on Monhegan, we will return to Portland for our final night at the Portland Regency.

Day 8: The tour concludes this morning in Portland with breakfast and a final stroll through the Old Port or birding along the beach, time permitting.


Return to the Maine Tour page


Trip Itinerary

****Please Note All specific outings as part of the festivals (eg days 3-5 & 8) Need to be confirmed, as these outings & activities may have changed****


Day One: Friday

Arrive at the Bangor International Airport (or by bus or car if you prefer).  After meeting the other participants and Gabriel, we’ll hop in the van and head to the nearby Orono Bog  Boardwalk to stretch our legs and look for our first sightings of boreal specialties and fascinating carnivorous plants in this unique peat bog habitat.  Nesting specialties include Palm Warbler and Lincoln’s Sparrow.   Then we’ll drive to beautiful Machias, Maine, about two hours to the Northeast and check into the Machias Motor Inn before having dinner at Helen’s Restaurant, home to delicious seafood and nationally famous pies!


Day Two: Saturday

After an early breakfast at Helen’s, we head further “downeast” towards Canada, to the bucolic fishing village of Lubec, the eastern-most town in the US.  There, we’ll check into the  Inn on the Wharf, an inn overlooking the harbor, built in a converted 100-year-old sardine cannery, and above a still-active wharf where lobstermen unload their catch.  There we will fall asleep to the sounds of the sea and wake up to the tranquility of a day beside the bay while a variety of coastal birds and playful seals swim nearby.  We’ll have an early supper and then join the Downeast Bird Festival from 6 pm 10 pm at the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge for an exciting Evening Hike in search of Owls, Rails, Wrens, Nighthawks, Woodcock, and Whip-poor-wills.


Day Three: Sunday

We will join the Downeast Bird Festival and expert Maine birder & guide Bob Duchesne (author of the Maine Birding Trail Guide) for a van outing around the beautiful Trescott region in search of local boreal specialties such as Boreal Chickadee, Gray Jay, Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, Crossbills, Pine Siskins, Lincoln’s Sparrows, and more.  Then we’ll join other bird festival participants for dinner and entertainment, followed by an optional evening van excursion to Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in search of nocturnal species, including the amazing mating display of the American Woodcock, an upland shorebird related to the snipe that has an incredible aerial display on Spring evenings in the Northeast.


Days Four: Monday

7 am — Noon: Blueberry Barrens and Addison Marsh with biologist Chris Bartlett.  We will explore the wild blueberry barrens of Washington County in search of nesting Upland Sandpipers, Vesper Sparrows, and other open-country specialties.  These large, sandy plains were created by retreating glaciers and are ideal for cultivating lowbush blueberries, a major agricultural crop in this part of the state.  We’ll be on the lookout for additional species that prefer these open and dramatic landscapes including Palm Warbler, Lincoln’s and Savannah Sparrows, Eastern Meadowlark, and Northern Harrier, to name a few. 

While we’re in the area, we’ll swing by Addison Marsh to look for migrating shorebirds and waterfowl such as Black-bellied Plover, Red Knot, and Green-winged Teal.  This large salt marsh attracts a variety of waders and dabblers, and offers good viewing opportunities from dry ground.

Monday afternoon we will explore the legendary Lubec mud-flats, home to huge flocks of migrating shorebirds such as Red Knot, Semipalmated Sandpiper, and more.


Day Five: Tuesday

We will take a special chartered boat trip far offshore, to Machias Seal Island, home to Maine's famed Atlantic Puffins, the largest nesting population in the Lower 48.  Every birder should visit Machias Seal Island at least once!  This is one of the very few breeding colonies where visitors are allowed to land on the island and get close to the birds.

We will, weather permitting, have the unique opportunity to land on the island, and join scientists who study these incredible birds in blinds to get unparalleled views of puffins cavorting and feeding their young.  Also present are breeding populations of Razorbills and Murres, the rare Roseate Tern, as well as Common and Arctic Tern and several species of gulls. If the weather is uncooperative, we will circle the island and get wonderful views of these charming and colorful seabirds.   The boat ride out and back will also afford us the opportunity to spot pelagic species such as gannets, phalaropes, kittiwakes, shearwaters, storm-petrels, and fulmars, as well as porpoises, seals, and whales.

Tuesday Afternoon, if we’re not too tired from our boat trip we will visit stunning Quoddy Head, the eastern-most point in the USA and home to Quoddy Head Lighthouse Museum, stunning trails, and a bog boardwalk.


Day Six: Wednesday

Wednesday, after a leisurely breakfast at the Inn On The Wharf, we will pack up and head to Bar Harbor and legendary Acadia National Park.  We will check into the Acacia Inn Bed & Breakfast in downtown Bar Harbor, and then have the afternoon free to explore this scenic seaside town and enjoy dinner at one of its many fine taverns or restaurants.  A recommended activity is a visit to the Wendell Gilley Bird Art Museum in Southwest Harbor.


Day Seven: Thursday

If everyone is up for a very early morning (4AM), we can catch the first rays of the sun from Cadillac Mountain, the tallest mountain on the East Coast of the US, and the first place to see the sunrise in the country!  Then we will return to our B&B for their famous full breakfast (and maybe a nap!).  We will then go to the delightful waterfront village of Northeast Harbor to join the Acadia Bird Festival and explore the famous Asticou Azalea Gardens, which in addition to being in full bloom this time of year, are home to many migratory warblers and other songbirds.  Thursday evening we will join the Acadia Birding Festival for appetizers, drinks, and a keynote talk from Bill Thompson III, Editor and Publisher of Birdwatcher’s Digest.


Day Eight: Friday

Friday we will have a busy and exciting day: we will take a ferry across from Bar Harbor to Schoodic Peninsula, a rugged and beautiful spit of land with primeval spruce-fir forests and rocky headlands.  There we will join Seth Benz, former Director of the National Audubon Society Camp at Hog Island, for a special look at the bird-banding station at the Schoodic Bird Ecology Lab. Nestled near the southernmost end of Schoodic Peninsula, the Lab is well-situated to provide easy access to a variety of habitats, including alder thickets, beaver-altered birch swales, small ponds, a salt marsh, intertidal areas, world-class rocky shores, and an extensive coniferous forest. This morning field trip will feature a visit to an active bird-banding site, where we will be able to observe and assist scientists and they catch and band songbirds.  Good numbers of migrant land birds can be expected (around the banding station) and a wide variety of water birds are found all along the scenic auto loop. Breeding Pine Siskins and both species of Crossbills have been numerous in previous years.   Friday afternoon, upon returning to Bar Harbor by boat, we will go Canoeing in Northeast Creek and Fresh MeadowNortheast Creek estuary is the largest freshwater outflow off the Mount Desert Range flowing north. Known locally as "Fresh Meadow", this tidal bog ecosystem has raised portions and tidal creeks which can be explored at our leisure while paddling these quiet waters. This trip will allow us an opportunity to become familiar with a variety of marsh species such as Yellow Warbler, and Alder and Great-crested Flycatchers. There is extensive edge habitat throughout the three-mile paddle with diverse wetlands offering opportunities to observe American and Least Bittern, Marsh Wrens, and Nelson’s, Song, and Savannah Sparrows. Peregrine Falcon stealthily forage on migratory birds while Northern Harriers nesting in the upper reaches can be regularly seen gliding over the sedge marsh meadow seeking tidal mammals. Freshwater and tidal waterfowl utilize the variety of salinities found in this watershed, including Red-breasted and Hooded Merganser, American Black Duck, and Bufflehead. Great Blue Heron, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, and Belted Kingfisher all search for feasts of fish and small invertebrates in the creek.  For the last 20 years, Bald Eagles have nested at the mouth of this great estuary, which provides a year-round source of prey.

Finally, Friday evening we will once again enjoy cocktails and appetizers and a keynote talk with Marshall Iliff, Director of The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird project, about Bird Migration: patterns, strategies, & changes as revealed by eBird.  Then we will return to Bar Harbor for dinner.


Day Nine: Saturday

The tour concludes this morning in Bar Harbor with breakfast and one final outing (time permitting) to beautiful Acadia National Park, after which we will return to Bangor to catch our flights (or buses) back to NYC.

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