Grassland Bird Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit land trust conserving critical habitat for endangered, threatened and at-risk grassland birds.Conservation Initiatives
Our MissionConserving critical habitat for endangered, threatened and rapidly declining grassland birds
Mitigating Climate Change
Grassland Birds need us – and we need them.
Your support will help save our world!Donate Now
Raptor Fest Returns!
Celebrate spring with Grassland Bird Trust (GBT) on Saturday, May 20th by joining us for Raptor Fest at Hicks Orchard in Granville NY!
Hicks Orchard is spectacular in May and the 2023 Raptor Fest will be memorable for both novice and experienced birders. Start with an 8 or 9:00 a.m. guided bird walk, then attend a lecture by an expert guest speaker. Enjoy a delicious complimentary lunch and end with a live raptor demo featuring owls and other birds of prey.
Tickets are $100. Proceeds will help GBT protect the Audubon-designated Important Bird Area (IBA) and the birds that depend on these grasslands for survival.
Sign up today! Participation is limited and all attendees will need a ticket.
Read our Trips and Events Release then register.Join Us at Raptor Fest
After enjoying hot coffee, apple cider, and donuts, we will divide into small groups for guided bird walks in either the apple orchard or through the fields and along a wooded ridge. Exploring through sight and sound, we expect to see a variety of warblers, vireos, thrushes, thrashers, swallows, and of course Eastern Bluebirds. Our guides are hoping we also spot Scarlet Tanagers, Cooper’s Hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks, Black Vultures, Screech Owls, and American Kestrels. What a great way to start the day!
Following your walk, you may have time for a tasting at the cidery before attending your choice of one of three lectures:
- “What Makes a Birder a Birder?” by Jody W. Enck, Ph.D., Conservation Social Scientist and Founder of the Sister Bird Club Network. Jody is a social scientist who has identified 14 personality types that gain a variety of meanings from their relationships with birds.
- “A Meadow for Bobolinks” by Martha Molnar, a freelance writer and former NY Times reporter. As told in her new book, Playing God in the Meadow: How I Learned to Admire My Weeds, Martha and her husband turned a dying apple orchard into a beautiful meadow. Bobolinks, Eastern Meadowlarks, and other ground nesters moved in – along with invasive weeds that threatened the birds’ habitat. Martha describes their struggles and triumphs.
- “Inner Bird Beauty” by Michael Blust, Retired Biology Professor and Avid Birder. Michael explains the marvelous evolutionary anatomical and physiological adaptations that help birds fly, swim, migrate, and survive in almost every habitat on Earth.
After a “bowl” lunch by Shift Wood Fired, Trish Marki, Wildlife Educator at The Wildlife Institute of Eastern NY, will hold a live raptor demo. Trish is a licensed wildlife rehabilitator; we are in awe of her work and what we can learn from these incredible birds.
Bring your binoculars, appropriate layers, water, suitable walking shoes, and a camera.
Read our Trips and Events Release before registering and then follow the link to select either the 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. bird walk and your preferred lecture choice. For those interested in photography, Deb Bryk, a nature photographer, will join one of the 9:00 walks. Due to limited space, it’s first come, first served when choosing walks and speakers.Join Us at Raptor Fest
Thank you to our host, Hicks Orchard and our caterer, Shift Wood Fired.
Thank you to our generous Raptor Fest sponsors!
THE SANDY HILL FOUNDATION
Fri, Feb 24, 2023 2:30 pm - Sun, Feb 26, 2023 2:30 pm
Winter Raptor Tour in the Washington County Grassland of New York
Join us for a tour of the Washington County Grasslands for an opportunity to see and photograph Short-eared Owls, Snowy Owls, Northern Harriers, American Kestrels and more! Bring your camera and binoculars.
You’ll be “introduced” to the birds by the passionate folks who are devoted to protecting the grassland birds and their habitat. The raptors will only be here a short time before they return to their Arctic breeding grounds.
Our small footprint (one vehicle and a maximum of 6 guests) allows us to go to the areas the birds love best. The guide is a Grassland Bird Trust board member who is intimately involved with preserving this biodiverse habitat.
We will have four excursions, two in the early morning and two in the late afternoon as these are the times that the raptors hunt and is the best time for photography. After we return in the evening, we will gather to review our bird lists and exchange ideas for capturing the best images (although this is not a photo workshop).
Almost all the raptors that winter here are in decline across their ranges. Some, like the endangered Short-eared Owl and the threatened Northern Harrier, are in serious danger of becoming extinct here. The Washington County grasslands in the Important Bird Area (IBA) are their best chance for survival.
The birds are wild and free and we don’t know who will arrive and stay. As of this writing we have already seen Northern Harrier Hawks and Cooper’s Hawks. We have also spotted Short-eared Owls and our first Snowy Owl of the season. The American Kestrels are here, as is the photogenic Barred Owl. The gentler Arctic migrants, like Horned Larks and Snow Buntings, have also arrived. And then there are our resident birds, including Eastern Bluebirds, Dark-eyed Juncos, a variety of woodpeckers, and the ubiquitous but beautiful Blue Jays and Cardinals. We may see Bald Eagles, which have made a fantastic recovery since the end of the DDT era.
Meals are at locally owned establishments; most are farm to table. Your accommodation will be at a locally owned hotel, the Queensbury, in Glens Falls, NY. The Queensbury is on the National Historic Register. For questions on the tour itinerary contact Roberta Kravette at (908) 656-4016 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The cost is $1,409 for the Feb 21-23 tour and $1,544 for Feb 24-26. Included in the cost is a $250 donation to Grassland Bird Trust, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit land trust. Participants are responsible for their transportation to Glens Falls.
Pictured: Short-eared Owl
Picture Credit: Ryan Van Meter
By registering for the tour you agree to the terms of our Trips and Events Release.Register for Feb 21-23 Register for Feb 24-26
What’s Your Favorite Spring Bird? GBT Volunteers Weigh In.
We have lift-off! The siren call of a growing, brighter light has launched thousands, nay, millions of long-haul flights. And although triggered by the sun, most of these journeys are flown in darkness, guided by the moon and stars. These are the eco-friendliest of all eco-friendly flights, powered by insects, seeds, and fruit, and some […]Read More
Winter Secrets of the New York Grasslands
Read Roberta Kravette’s notes on the birds that winter in the Fort Edward, NY grasslands. She provides a great description of the birds that winter here, where to find them, and the best time to spot them. In addition, there are some incredible photos by bird and wildlife photographer Gordon Ellmers of Northern Harriers, American Kestrels, Barred […]Read More
GBT in the news due to latest threat to grassland birds
Solar panels threaten the endangered Short-eared Owl and other grassland birds and their habitat: Hill Country Observer (Dec 2022/Jan 2023): Threatened and endangered Washington County grassland birds collide with renewable energy Times Union (Dec 27, 2022): Solar arrays threaten vanishing grassland birds in Washington County Look Media Resource (Dec 26, 2022): Grassland Bird Trust chairman […]Read More
This grassland has tremendous ecological value, protecting an important habitat. And there’s a tourism value as well…”
– New York State Senator Elizabeth (Betty) Little