Birding in the Ashokan Watershed

Posted on: June 17th, 2020 by Leslie_Zucker
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)

Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)

 

Are you looking for a fun, safe activity to try now that the weather is nicer and reopening is ramping-up? If so, consider streamside birding in the Ashokan Watershed. In the Ashokan Watershed there are many opportunities to hang out near streams while you are picnicking, hiking, or just relaxing.  While you are there, you can spot many types of wildlife, especially birds. Also, you can look for birds while obeying social distancing recommendations.

Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)

Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)

 

Some common bird species you are likely to encounter are the red-winged blackbird, belted king fisher, great blue heron, Canada geese, and several species of ducks such as mallards, wood ducks, and the common merganser.  In addition to those common aquatic birds, there are many songbirds that rely on the riparian areas for their habitats.  The riparian zone is the area along the sides of streams. If you are spending time on the Esopus Creek, you might catch a glimpse of bald eagles, who work their way upstream from the reservoir in search of food.

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)

 

To go birding, you do not need to be an expert on ornithology (the study of birds) or have any fancy equipment. However, if you want some help getting started and learning more about birding, there are many smartphone apps that can help you. Birding apps offer a wide variety of features such as identifying birds, identifying bird songs, tracking which bird species you find, or viewing other bird sightings that have been logged near you.

A female and male pair of Mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos)

A female and male pair of Mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos)

 

If you are looking for more information on identifying streamside birds, check out the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Some more resources on birding are the Young Birders Network through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Audubon Guide to North American Birds, or this Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program Newsletter from 2014 that has more bird species to look for and suggestions of where to look for them.

If you would like to learn more about a common watershed and backyard bird species, the American Robin, you can view Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program’s new video on our YouTube channel.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

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