Tuesday, January 28, 2020

D&R Greenway "State of Regional Birds" Lecture by Sharyn Magee, Hannah Suthers Feb. 4

State of Regional Birds

WHEN: Tuesday, February 4. Doors open for light refreshments at 6:30. Presentation begins at 7pm.
: D&R Greenway’s Johnson Education Center, One Preservation Place, Princeton.
TICKETS: free and open to the public
To attend, call 609-924-4646 or email

D&R Greenway Land Trust, which has preserved nearly 21,000 acres of wild habitat in central New Jersey, will host an important lecture on the State of Birds in our region. Cornell Ornithology Lab has recently released a report estimating that North America has lost an estimated 2.9 billion birds since the 1970’s. A major factor in this reality is habitat loss.

Key birders, Sharyn Magee (left) and Hannah Suthers, of Washington Crossing Audubon have monitored local bird populations for decades, particularly on D&R Greenway’s 400-acre St. Michaels Farm Preserve in Hopewell. Their reports impact the larger database upon which the Cornell study is based. Participants will learn of trends observed locally. Magee and Suthers will identify birds most at risk in our area. A major driver in their own birding experiences is the importance of expanding habitat protection, protecting native species, especially bird life.

The new study on the dramatic decline of bird populations was led by the Cornell Ornithology Lab and published in the journal Science in October. The study found more than 1 in 4 birds have disappeared. Particularly startling is the realization that most impacted seem to be historically common species, such as sparrows, blackbirds, warblers, and finches. (Right: Alder Flycatcher)

“We are seeing these declines in local bird populations,” reveals D&R Greenway President & CEO Linda Mead. “This lecture is a rare opportunity to hear from the front-lines of wildlife conservation. The Cornell study is a wake-up call for everyone who cares about wildlife. One solution is joining our 31-year mission to preserve natural habitats. There are important but simple steps individuals can take in daily life to protect birds.” Mead reveals that “Sharyn and Hannah are special people who have devoted many years and profound expertise to helping citizens understand and protect bird life.”

Hannah Suthers will be sharing a lifetime’s work. In addition to visual counts, Suthers has faithfully collected data through “bird misting”—a practice that involves setting up a net on two poles, much like volleyball, to catch and release birds. This allows the ornithologist an up-close look to assess characteristics, including size and health.  This technique used by trained scientists provides significant, detailed data.  Suthers has conducted this time-intensive research weekly, throughout most of the year, in the same spot in the Sourlands for 40 years. This provides unique data that can’t be found elsewhere. (Left: Ruby-crowned kinglet)

The results of the birders’ lifetime work are used by D&R Greenway to inform its management activities on preserves. In addition to preserving land, D&R Greenway’s staff promotes healthy wild animal and plant life through careful land stewardship. The staff plants and protects native plants that support bird populations such as oak, hickory, black cherry, arrowwood viburnum, lowbush blueberry, black chokeberry, and bayberry. D&R Greenway’s stewardship team ensures plantings are protected from deer browse with individual fences while the plants are getting established.