15th Annual Adirondack Birding Festival!

15th Annual Adirondack Birding Festival!

The Adirondack Birding Festival is celebrating its 15th anniversary! New this year is a bonus day. The festival has been extended to four days, from its usual three, to accommodate popular demand for field trips. In addition to four days of exciting field trips, the 2019 Adirondack Birding Festival will also feature a Friday speaker, a Saturday afternoon keynote speaker, and a social dinner at The Adirondack Hotel Saturday evening. The popular Friday night dinner cruise on the WW Durant will return next year!

Field trips

The fourteen free field trips include walks, hikes, and driving safaris, meaning there is something for everyone! Choose from half or full day field trips that span the wilderness of Hamilton County, southern Franklin, southeastern St. Lawrence, and western Essex counties. Habitats include boreal, mixed, and deciduous forests, plus wetlands including boreal bogs and their fascinating plant life (including the two largest bogs in New York, Massawepie Mire and Spring Pond Bog, respectively), marshes, rivers and brooks, ponds, and swamps. Many of the field trips are held in Audubon New York designated “Important Bird Areas” (IBAs).


Festival attendees on the Massawepie Mire boardwalk. Photo by Joan Collins


Massawepie Mire Trail. Photo by Joan Collins


Massawepie Mire boardwalk. Photo by Joan Collins


Spring Pond Bog. Photo by Joan Collins

June is the height of the breeding season for birds in the Adirondacks, and a great diversity of species can be found – including nest sites for many.

Philadelphia Vireo building a nest. Photo by Joan Collins


Black-capped Chickadee excavating a nest cavity. Photo by Joan Collins


Broad-winged Hawk in its nest. Photo by Joan Collins


Male Black-backed Woodpecker feeding young. Photo by Joan Collins

Approximately two hundred bird species breed in northern New York and over the course of the festival, we tally quite a few of them each year!

Pied-billed Grebe on Long Lake.  Photo by Joan Collins


American Bittern. Photo by Joan Collins


Ruffed Grouse along Sabattis Circle Road. Photo by Joan Collins


Ring-necked Duck. Photo by Joan Collins

Boreal species draw birders to the Adirondacks and many of the field trips include boreal habitat. Species such as Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied and Olive-sided Flycatchers, Philadelphia Vireo, Canada Jay, Boreal Chickadee, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Palm Warbler, and Lincoln’s Sparrow are just some of the nesting boreal birds which participants may see on festival outings.

Male Black-backed Woodpecker.  Photo by Joan Collins


Canada Jay at Sabattis Bog.  Photo by Joan Collins


Olive-sided Flycatcher.  Photo by Joan Collins


Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. Photo by Joan Collins

Northern New York is the best place in North America to find nesting warbler species: thirty species breed in the area due to a wide variety of habitat types from grasslands and shrublands in the St. Lawrence Valley to the west, to high elevation boreal habitat in the Adirondacks. Warbler species are the “butterflies of the bird world” with their brilliant colors. Their lovely songs fill the Adirondack landscape with beautiful sounds in the spring and summer. Particular favorites to see include Palm, Blackburnian, Mourning, and Canada Warblers.

Palm Warbler at Sabattis Bog. Photo by Joan Collins


Canada Warbler. Photo by Joan Collins


Nashville Warbler at Sabattis Bog. Photo by Joan Collins

There is a high rate of return for attendees of the Adirondack Birding Festival each year. One of the most enjoyed aspects of the festival for participants and field trip leaders is how everyone gets to know one another and friendships have formed among people who return each year. The birds and other wildlife are exciting, it is a fun social event, speakers are fascinating, and everyone has a wonderful time!

Festival attendees at Brown's Tract Inlet. Photo by Joan Collins

Speaker events: Held at Adirondack Experience’s auditorium in Blue Mountain Lake

Ed Kanze, Adirondack naturalist, guide, and writer, will present his “Biological Backyard Study” on Friday, June 7 at 5 p.m. Ed has been studying the flora, fauna, fungi, and all other living things on his family’s 18 acres along the Saranac River. Ed will share stories and photos of all he and his family have surveyed over the past couple decades on his riverfront property.

This year’s Keynote Speaker is Brian “Fox” Ellis, a storyteller who portrays John James Audubon. Ellis will take you back to the 1820s and 1830s in “Adventures with Audubon” on Saturday, June 8 at 4 p.m. In costume, Ellis transforms himself into Audubon! Using Audubon’s meticulous journals, Ellis will provide lessons for attendees on field ecology, art history, bird migration, and the scientific method. I have had the pleasure of seeing one of his performances, and it was both entertaining and educational! Ellis will also be joining festival attendees on Saturday’s Sabattis Circle Road field trip as a co-leader – we’ll have to wait to see if he shows up as John James Audubon or Brian Ellis for that event!

Brian "Fox" Ellis as John James Audubon

Social dinner at the Adirondack Hotel in Long Lake

After Brian Ellis’s keynote presentation on Saturday afternoon, there will be a social dinner for attendees held at the historic Adirondack Hotel in Long Lake at 6 p.m. The Adirondack Hotel was built in the 1850s and still maintains the charm of this bygone era. Adirondack Birding Festival participants will be seated in the lovely vintage dining room. The hotel is situated on Long Lake, across the street from the Long Lake Town Beach. Before and after dinner, participants can enjoy the huge, comfortable porch for socializing and drinks, and listen for the haunting calls of Common Loons on Long Lake. Before sunset, you may hear the loud, insistent calls of the Merlins, a medium sized falcon species, that nest in the White Pines behind the hotel!

Merlin.  Photo by Joan Collins

Registration for the Adirondack Birding Festival

To register for the Adirondack Birding Festival field trips and dinner, contact the Hamilton County Department of Tourism at (518) 548-3076 or (800) 648-5239. There are many comfortable lodging options and great places to eat in the area. The festival organizers can offer assistance in selecting lodging and restaurants close to your field trip choices. Register early as the field trips fill quickly! There are plans to keep adding events and expanding this popular birding festival each year, so stayed tuned!

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