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Birds on the Niagara releases Virtual Schedule & Birding Checklist

The Birds on the Niagara virtual festival is coming up fast, and it’s got a lot of people excited. I spoke to one of the festival organizers, Jay Burney, who has a lot on his mind these days. Burney, who moved to Buffalo 50 years ago, grew up in New Hampshire, in what he calls an outdoors and nature loving family. Since he was young, he learned to appreciate the sky, the water, animals… and birds. He says that birds are magical because they have the ability to connect people throughout the world, via their migratory patterns – something that is very real, yet we don’t often think about.

These migratory birds are one of the reasons that Buffalo is such an important place when it comes to biodiversity. And because they are now threatened, the region is stepping up conservation efforts, many of which are being spelled out with the Birds on the Niagara festival.

“Over the last 4 years (since the festival started), we have identified obstacles that we are only beginning to learn about,” says Burney. “We’re working with a lot of organizations, people, and government agencies, including international partners, to design, plan, and build resiliency and conservation strategies. Our Niagara corridor is known throughout the world for its biodiversity. The festival is getting a lot of attention locally, and throughout the US and Canada. All birds are in decline and need our help. There’s global warming, but there are also threats from development pressures. Just look at the ecological goldmine that is Waverly Woods (on the Canadian side) – they’re putting up condos. As for Buffalo’s Outer Harbor, it should be a State Park, not run by a development agency. People need green space along the water, and a connection to the water. It makes Buffalo a better place to live… it’s [our duty] to protect and conserve. Expensive sprawl bankrupts communities. We’re not happy about the General Project Plan (GPP) – we’ve asked them to delay it, as there is not a proper Environmental Impact Assessment. We need to take more time to make sure that we get these things right (or we end up with Waverly Woods scenarios).”

During the virtual Birds on the Niagara festival, we will hear from speakers about developer’s enhanced conservation roles when it comes to the built environment. We will be hearing from speakers such as Dr. Timothy Beatley, who was just featured in an article on FastCompany – ‘Why cities should be designed for birds.’

“Singapore has always been known as The Garden City,” says Burney. “Now they are rebranding as The City in a Garden. Buffalo was once known as The City of Trees. We should be looking at how we can become The City in The Forest.

In order to differentiate from other cities, and to attract more people, citizens and governments are looking for ways to capitalize on greener, healthier, urban habitats that coexist with nature. If we had this mindset all along, we would be in a much better place. But we didn’t. And now we’re playing catchup. That said, we need to look at the broad pictures and the longterm plans, if we are going to successfully bounce back as a sustainable city of the future.

The 2021 programs are virtual. All programs are free to view at: ​and on Facebook at the time of the event. 

Friday, February 12, 2021
6:00 – 7:00 PM | 2021 Meet and Greet
7:00 – 8:00 PM | Justin Peter, “Moving Beyond Seagulls: An Introduction to Gulls”
8:00 – 8:30 PM | Buffalo Audubon Society, “Virtual Owl Prowl”

Saturday, February 13, 2021
1:00 – 2:00 PM | Tony Beck + Nina Stavlund, “Photographing Birds on the Niagara” 
2:00 – 3:00 PM | Tifft Nature Preserve, “Virtual Winter Backyard Birds”
3:00 – 4:00 PM | Jajean Rose-Burney + Jay Burney, “The Niagara River Globally Significant Important Bird Area and the Ramsar Wetlands of International Significance”
4:00 – 5:00 PM | Paloma Plant, “Your Pane is Their Pain”
5:00 – 6:00 PM | Dr. Timothy Beatley, “The Bird Friendly and Biophilic City: Integrating Safe natural Habitats into Urban Design and Planning”
6:00 – 7:00 PM | Dr. J. Drew Lanham, “Coloring the Conservation Conversation”

Sunday February 14, 2021
11:00 AM – Noon | Niagara River Greenway Commission, “Conservation of Bird Habitats on the Niagara River” ​
Noon – 1:00 PM | Marcie Jacklin + Jay Burney, “Conserving Critical Places in the Niagara Region: Saving Waverly Woods”
1:00 – 2:00 PM | Ann McCooey, “The Habitat Project” 
​2:00 – 3:00 PM | Buffalo Audubon Society, “Niagara Falls, North America’s Destination for Gulls”
3:00 – 4:00 PM | Amanda Bichel, “A Birds Eye View of the Niagara River”
4:00 – 5:00 PM | BON21 Closing Roundtable, an informative and lively roundtable discussion about what we have learned and what are our next steps to work on conservation strategies in the Niagara River Corridor. 

* Agenda is subject to change

Program Title: Coloring the Conservation Conversation

Presented by J. Drew Lanham

Dr. Lanham is Distinguished Alumni Professor of Wildlife Ecology at Clemson University, a National Audubon board member, and a contributor to BirdNote on NPR. His focus is on the ecology of songbirds and the intersections of race, place, and conservation, with wild birds as the conduit for understanding.

Social Justice and Race have been a fundamental focus of 2020. The Black Lives Matters Movement emerged as a reaction to both generations of racism, and the rise of American politics since 2016.  J. Drew Lanham is a leader in the social justice movement and has given voice to raising awareness and conscience as it relates to being an African American man and a profoundly important conservationist.  Dr. Lanham will discuss what it means to embrace the full breadth of his African American heritage and his deep kinship to nature and the adoration of birds. the convergence of ornithologist, college professor, poet, author and conservation activist blend to bring our awareness of the natural world and our moral responsibility to move it forward in new ways. Candid by nature, and because of it, Lanham will examine how conservation must be a rigorous science, and an evocative art, inviting diversity and race to play active roles in celebrating our natural world.

Image by Peter Frank Edwards/Redux, © All Rights Reserved.

Join us to artfully celebrate the birds that soar and swim along the Niagara River Corridor. Adults and Youth (ages 4-17) are invited to participate by submitting an original artwork to by Sunday February 28, 2021 to be eligible for donated draw prizes. More information and contest details.

will run through the Saturday, February 14, 2021.

Go to this link to see great items. 100% of all proceeds go to support Birds On The Niagara!

Autographed Books | Adventures | Tours | Experiences | Baskets | SnowShoes | Art | Games | And more…

February 12, 13, 14, 2021

Birds on the Niagara is an international partnership of organizations, agencies and individuals, dedicated to promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Niagara River Strait. Birds on the Niagara celebrates the magnificent winter presence of birds and the nature that sustains them, and endeavor to explore and activate conservation strategies.

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

Contact Newell Nussbaumer |

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