Believe it or not, Rochester, NY and Seabrook Island, SC are similarly located ……….. from a birder’s viewpoint.
The Genesee River flows North through the center of the City west of us and extensive creek system feeds Irondequcit Bay — seen from our porch — immediately to the east. Both of these water bodies feed into Lake Ontario — the most easterly of the Great Lakes — and all of that water eventually flows, via the St Lawrence River, into the Atlantic Ocean. The land areas, swamps, and numerous ponds south of the Lake Ontario shoreline are important landing, feeding, and nesting areas for a myriad of bird species. This includes residents, summer residents, and those who are, in Spring and early Summer, preparing to fly the 30 miles or so across the Lake to Canada and beyond — Hudson Bay and the Arctic. This is roughly similar to what surrounds Seabrook Island. The difference is the 800 to 900 miles difference in latitude.
The flocks of American Robins which munch on berries on Seabrook in February build their nests in the shrubs and on the bends of the downspouts here in May and June …… and harvest worms from our lawns. By mid-August the robins will have gathered their new family members and departed. Now, we do have robins which spend their winter in Rochester — we refer to them as the ones which summer in Canada. The American Goldfinches which visit SC feeders in March are attracted to the niger seed feeder in our yard here in June. I think we have had four pairs nesting nearby this year. The Baltimore Orioles are nesting in the oak trees in our rear yard and standing on their heads at the hummer feeders. Soon they will be chowing down on the ripe fruits of our Japanese dogwood.
There is a pair of Bald Eagles nesting on the other side of Irondequcit Bay. Their parenting pattern starts about the time we return from our winter digs in SC rather than the December/January start of nesting on Seabrook. The Bay is a permanent home to a growing flotilla of Mute Swans. It is interesting to see the young birds ride on the backs of the adult, but this invasive species is a boater’s nuisance. The variety of ducks which frequent the local waters is far greater than what we see on Seabrook. Some migrate, but many are year-round residents. Lake Ontario does not freeze over entirely as does the shallower Lake Erie to the west.
There is a very active flyway for various of the hawks west of Rochester. A group from the Rochester Birding Association (RBA) maintains a daily watch and count, from a station on the Ontario shoreline, from May through the summer. For many years, there has been a nest of Peregrine Falcons on a tall building in the center of Rochester. This year, I believe, there were four eggs laid in the box which has been provided for them and which can be viewed on a series of cams. These young birds are named and fitted with tracking devices when very young so their whereabouts are known. One of the winter attractions is the migration south from the Arctic of numerous Snowy Owls looking for better feeding opportunities.
Submitted by: George Haskins