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Greater Hartford Area News

For the health and safety of visitors and staff, all Connecticut Audubon buildings except the Fairfield Nature Store (click here for info) are closed to visitors until further notice.

To reach our Greater Hartford Area program staff, call 860-633-8402 or email kreamer@ctaudubon.org.

 

State of the Birds 2020: The first in-depth look at how the pandemic is affecting conservation

state of the birds report coverRead the report here.

Watch the video of the release event

December 3, 2020 — Bird conservation and research didn’t stop when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March. But they were affected in ways big and small, usually for the worse but in some cases creating opportunities for conservationists to adapt and make the best of a bad situation.

That’s the main finding of Connecticut Audubon’s 2020 State of the Birds report, released today. Titled “Pandemic: Conservationists scramble in the field, the lab, and the legislature,” the report is the first in-depth look at how COVID-19 and the lockdown are affecting conservation in Connecticut.

The report describes a tough year for the federally-threatened Piping Plovers that nest on Connecticut’s beaches.

It details a legislative session in Connecticut during which conservation was stuck in neutral; and one in Washington D.C. where conservationists were mostly on defense against the dismantling of the country’s most important bird protection law.

It includes articles by scientists who explain how they were forced to curtail conservation research and field work, and how they tried to adapt.

And yet the news was not all bleak. Two vulnerable species — American Oystercatchers and Black Skimmers — did unusually well in 2020, perhaps because some beach-nesting areas were less crowded. And the organizers of an important citizen science project, the Connecticut Bird Atlas, used the lockdown to extend data collection for an extra year, resulting in a “huge success” for the project.

“Pandemic” is the 15th annual State of the Birds report published by the Connecticut Audubon Society. Read the Recommendations here.

Even when Piping Plovers were protected by exclosures, people crowded around. Photo by Scott Kruitbosch.

The Audubon Alliance is Essential
This year’s authors are University of Connecticut Ph.D. candidates Sam Apgar and Eliza Grames; Tykee James, National Audubon Society’s coordinator of government affairs; Amy Blaymore Paterson, executive director of the Connecticut Land Conservation Council; UConn Professor Chris S. Elphick; Scott Kruitbosch, manager of Connecticut programs for the Roger Tory Peterson Institute; and Jim Arrigoni, land manager for the Connecticut Audubon Society.

The report confirms the importance of the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds in protecting the state’s Piping Plover population.

The Alliance, of which Connecticut Audubon is a member, has been organizing teams of volunteers and coordinating staff to protect beach-nesting birds since 2012. In recent years, Connecticut’s Piping Plovers have successfully fledged enough chicks to make the population self-sustaining if carried out over a wide enough area — on average more than 1.5 chick per nest.

But that changed in 2020. In his article, “For Beach-Nesting Birds, A Potential Disaster is Averted,” Scott Kruitbosch reported that full protection efforts by staff and volunteers had to wait until late June and July. Because Piping Plovers arrive in Connecticut in March, this meant that the birds remained unprotected for critical weeks of the nesting season. The result was a nesting success rate of only one chick per nest — far below the 1.5 of recent years.

Patrick Comins, Connecticut Audubon’s executive director, described this as a real-time experiment in the effectiveness of the Alliance.

“The results were stark. When the Alliance is out there working, Connecticut’s Piping Plovers do extraordinarily well,” he said. “But in 2020 the need to keep the staff and volunteers safe meant the Alliance couldn’t work at full-strength, and these birds didn’t do well. It’s a strong argument for making sure the Alliance is at its strongest in the future.”

UConn Ph.D. candidate Sam Apgar had to cancel her field work. She’s part of a team studying how tidal marssh birds, like these Saltmarsh Sparrows, are affected by rising sea levels.

Gutting the Migratory Bird Treaty Act
In “The Dismantling of a Key Bird Protection Law Proceeded as Work to Replace It Stalled,” Tykee James, described how the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which has been protecting birds since 1918, is being gutted in Washington.

“If efforts to dismantle the century-old Migratory Bird Treaty Act are successful, birds will suffer, and people will feel the effects too,” he wrote. “If instead, we find common ground and the [replacement] Migratory Bird Protection Act becomes law, the benefits for birds and people will be monumental.”

On the state level, Amy Paterson wrote that supporters of open space funding, which is one of the keys to habitat protection, will need to be especially active in 2021.

She wrote: “With an unprecedented number of people turning to the outdoors for refuge and recreation during COVID-19 against a backdrop of increasing threats from climate change, an alarming loss of biodiversity, and a roll-back of federal environmental protections for wildlife and humans, investing in land conservation is needed now more than ever.”

On the research front, Sam Apgar, who is part of a regional group studying birds that nest in tidal marshes, cancelled a season of fieldwork that she and her team had scheduled in Connecticut. Among other things, she is studying how Saltmarsh Sparrows, which have been described as being on a “trajectory to extinction” because of sea-level rise, are adapting to higher tides. Apgar concentrated on data analysis instead

Her colleague at UConn, Eliza Grames, was luckier. She had finished her fieldwork on Connecticut’s Ovenbirds before the lockdown and was able to proceed as planned with her data analysis.

On the lower Connecticut River, Connecticut Audubon’s Jim Arrigoni was expecting to work with six young college scientists on the fourth season of a five-year study of submerged vegetation in the rivers’ coves. Only two of the six were able to participate. The work has documented changes that might be affecting migrating waterfowl, which rely on the submerged plants for food. Arrigoni is hoping to fish the work with a full team in 2021.

What to do with “abandoned” or “orphaned” birds

The best advice is to leave baby birds, like this Purple Martin, when you found them. Photo by Stephanie Galea/The Connecticut Audubon Society

The CT DEEP has excellent advice for what to do if you find an “orphaned” bird. Click this link. Photo by Stephanie Galea/The Connecticut Audubon Society

May 6, 2020 — Have you found an abandoned bird?

Birds and other wildlife that seem to be abandoned or orphaned at this time of year often are not actually abandoned orphaned.

The Connecticut DEEP has advice about what to do if you find a bird that you think is abandoned. There are several alternatives.

Click here to learn about them.

Please do not bring injured or orphaned animals to any Connecticut Audubon Society facility. Connecticut Audubon is not authorized to accept injured or abandoned animals.

But if it is obviously injured, it may need help. The CT DEEP has more information here about dealing with distressed wildlife.

 

Letter from the Executive Director About the Closing of the Center at Glastonbury

March 20, 2020

Dear Friends,
The Connecticut Audubon Society has made the difficult decision to close the Center at Glastonbury permanently starting July 1, 2020.

The Center has received steadfast support and loyalty from many Connecticut Audubon members, but unfortunately it has been operating at a financial deficit that is no longer sustainable, a situation that has not been helped by the current COVID-19-related financial crisis.
 
We will start planning for a transition to a virtual center, which would allow us to continue to serve the community with conservation programming and activities in partnership with other conservation organizations in the region. We’re hopeful that it will allow us to maintain our presence in the greater Hartford region in a meaningful way.
 
Closing the center is not a decision we made lightly or quickly. We are all truly saddened at having to make the decision.
 
Summer camp will not be held as scheduled; we will refund camp fees to those who have registered.
 
Programming at the center has been curtailed because of COVID-19.
 
Plans are being made to relocate the center’s animals, either at other Connecticut Audubon facilities or elsewhere. 
 
Earle Park, the property adjacent to the Center, is a Glastonbury Town facility and is unaffected by our decision.
 
If you have any questions about this, please do not hesitate to contact me (pcomins@ctaudubon.org) or Kate Reamer, the director of the Center at Glastonbury (kreamer@ctaudubon.org).
 
Sincerely,

Patrick Comins
Executive Director

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General Information

The Connecticut Audubon Society and its Greater Hartford Area program is committed to serving the people of the Capitol region through ongoing bird walks, nature hikes, school programs, virtual programming, and more.

 

 

 

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