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08/06/2018 eNews
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DEC Acquires 180 Acres in IBA!

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the state’s purchase of 180 acres of important grassland habitat last week.  The $326,000 acquisition, located along Plum Road and County Route 46 in the town of Fort Edward, increases the amount of land protected by the Washington County Grasslands Wildlife Management Area (WMA) to 466 acres.
 
“This acquisition allows the Department of Environmental Conservation to protect and maintain grassland habitat and provide breeding and foraging grounds for grassland birds, many of which are experiencing steep population declines,” said DEC Commissioner Seggos.
 
FIBA provided vital assistance on this transaction. 
 
“This transaction wouldn’t have happened without the support of Friends of the IBA,” said landowner Merrilyn Pulver.  She said she and her children wanted to see the land preserved in memory of her husband, David, “as part of our family’s legacy to the town and future generations.”
 
“We applaud DEC’s commitment to preserving New York’s biodiversity,” said Friends of the IBA/ FIBA founder and Executive Director Laurie LaFond.  “We need to conserve critical grassland habitat for imperiled birds like Short-eared owls and Snowy owls now, so they’ll still be around for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.”
 
DEC plans to install two parking areas, a half-mile trail, and signage on the Pulver property this year.  Construction of an ADA-accessible viewing blind at the Blackhouse Road parking area has already begun. 
 
Click here for full DEC press release…

Wild About Winter Raptor Fest 2018!

Short-eared owls feel at home in FIBA's Winter Raptor Fest “Wild Encounter” exhibit
Rainy weather on both days did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of crowds who flocked to FIBA’s 8th annual Winter Raptor Fest. Our new Wild Encounter drew rave reviews while Live Bird programs filled to capacity. 

“Awesome!” “Fabulous!” “Fantastic!” exclaimed Wild Encounter visitors thrilled to meet dozens of native owls, hawks and falcons in the "natural" grassland or woodland habitats they depend on for their survival. A Bald eagle, porcupine and other mammals dropped in throughout the weekend.
(courtesy of Adirondack Wildlife Refuge).

The Wild Encounter was made possible by grants from the New York State Conservation Partnership Program (NYSCPP)* and International Paper Foundation.  Thanks to Brookside Nursery and Mead's Nursery for providing live plants and NYS DEC and Pember Museum for providing mounted birds to help create and populate the habitats! 

This year’s Winter Raptor Fest raised over $40,000 for FIBA's work!

Special Thanks: Washington County Fair, Stewart's Shops, Odd Duck Farm, Glens Falls.com, WRF Honorary Committee, NYS DEC and all of our WRF Sponsors, Live Bird of Prey educators, volunteers, local businesses and supporters who helped make this the best Winter Raptor Fest ever!

Visit www.winterraptorfest.com for photo galleries and more information.
Photo at right courtesy M. LaFond

Audubon Chapter Donates $2,000 to Land Campaign!

FIBA received a generous donation of $2,000 from the Southern Adirondack Audubon Society (SAAS) for our “Acres for Owls” campaign this year. Our current land campaign is raising funds for the purchase of 64 acres of critical habitat near our AZS Viewing Area. 
 
“We want to support preservation of critical bird habitats,” said chapter president John Loz. He said SAAS supports FIBA’s work to acquire critical grassland habitat for “long-term bird and wildlife preservation.”
 

Birding with the "Brits" - by Laurie LaFond

Adrian, Gerry and John check their Bobolink photos while Peter looks on.
Three male Bobolinks flashed past us, hot in pursuit of a female. 

They wore their finest breeding plumage - white on their backs and shoulders and a yellow cap on their heads over glossy black feathers. The streaky brown and buff female blended in with the tall grasses. Her drab coloring provided perfect camouflage for this ground nesting species of open fields. 

I was guiding a birding group from the United Kingdom on a private tour of the 64 acres in the Washington County Grasslands FIBA is working to purchase. It was mid-May of this year and breeding season had begun. We were literally surrounded by dozens of Bobolinks! Their cheerful burbling filled the air as the courtship rituals continued around us. 

“They’re really quite brilliant, aren’t they!” exclaimed Peter, the group's co-leader. His enthusiasm was shared by others in the group.  

 “I’ve birded all over the world,” said Gerry, Avian Adventures owner and tour co- leader, “and I’ve never seen anything like it!”  

“You might see one or two Bobolinks in other places,” agreed Hilary and Ken, “but never anything like this.”

We heard and saw plenty of other breeding birds, including American kestrels, Savannah sparrows, Eastern kingbirds and Alder flycatchers, but the Bobolinks were the highlight of the day.
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