Tags Posts tagged with "Four Harbors Audubon Society"

Four Harbors Audubon Society

Participants of the 2023 Stone Bridge Nighthawk Watch. Photo by Kathy Ishizuka

By John Turner and Patrice Domeischel

The 2023 season of the Stone Bridge Nighthawk Watch, run by the Four Harbors Audubon Society (4HAS) in cooperation with Frank Melville Memorial Park in Setauket, came to a close on Oct. 6 with 36 Common Nighthawks observed, many of which circled overhead as they actively fed on aerial insects above both ponds. We suspected the birds were feeding on a recent hatch of aquatic insects — midges, gnats, etc. — supplied by the nurturing waters of the ponds.

The Watch runs annually from 5:30 p.m. to dusk from Aug. 27 to Oct. 6, and is designed to count Common Nighthawks migrating from New England and eastern Canada during their southbound autumn migration. Many pass over Long Island on their journey to the Amazon region of South America so Long Island serves as a “migratory motel” for this species.  

The seasonal total was 1,022 nighthawks, by far the lowest total 4HAS has tallied in the seven years we’ve been conducting the count. Previous totals (year — number of common nighthawks seen) were: 2017 — 2,046; 2018 — 2,018; 2019 — 2,757; 2020 — 2,245; 2021 — 1,819, 2022 — 1,625; 2023 — 1,022. 

We don’t have a clear reason why the total was so much lower than in past years.  The numbers were “dampened” somewhat by three days in a row of rainy weather at the Watch, the first time this has ever happened. We speculate the fires that have raged for so long in eastern Canada, where some common nighthawks breed, also played a role in either affecting reproductive success or shifting their migrational movements away from smoke and Long Island. 

We thank the many dozens of people who visited the Watch this year including two individuals from California and one from New Zealand! It was fun to be able to tally nighthawks together and to marvel at their abilities in flight and their long distance migratory exploits. 

It was also rewarding to answer the questions posed by inquisitive visitors to the park as they walked by on the Stone Bridge, inquiring what the crowd of birders were doing. Hundreds of individuals now know a little bit more about nighthawk ecology and migration and the challenges these birds face as they head to overwinter in the Amazon. 

Visitors also learned about the current plight many migratory birds face and what they can do to help birds, such as putting decals on their windows, making their pet cat an indoor cat, drinking shade-grown coffee, and limiting the use of pesticides and other chemicals. 

See you next August! 

John Turner and Patrice Domeischel are members of the Four Harbors Audubon Society.

John Turner, center with participants from a previous Nighthawk Watch. Photo by Thomas Drysdale

On Aug. 27 at 5:30 p.m., the Four Harbors Audubon Society will begin its seventh “Common Nighthawk Watch” on the Stone Bridge located along the southern boundary of Frank Melville Memorial Park in Setauket. The watch will run through to Oct. 6. 

The Common Nighthawk, a bird quite adept in flight, passes through Long Island on its southbound migration in the autumn after leaving their breeding grounds across northern North America and heading to the Amazon region and beyond in South America. The nighthawks passing over the Watch are very likely birds that nested in eastern Canada and New England. 

The Audubon chapter began the Watch in 2017 in response to concerns about declining nighthawk numbers. Based on the last published NYS Breeding Bird Atlas, this species has experienced a 71% reduction in the number of birds that possibly or probably bred or were confirmed as breeders in New York State  from 1985 to 2005.  While continental figures paint a slightly better picture, the trend in nighthawk numbers is still a downward one. 

Common Nighthawk. Photo by Dennis Whittam 2021

“Anyone who witnesses the daily evening migration of Common Nighthawks at the Stone Bridge is hooked; the spectacle is no less than addicting. Yet the bigger picture is disheartening, as we know nighthawks are in steep decline, and the numbers we see are but a small percentage of their historic population levels,” notes Patrice Domeischel, a chapter board member and a co-founder of the Watch. “Hopefully in time our data collection will prove useful in determining ways to preserve this species.” 

Why so many nighthawks appear over the Stone Bridge is not fully clear but two aspects appear to contribute: the geographic position of Setauket along Long Island’s north shore is ideal for intercepting southbound nighthawks as they reach Long Island after crossing the Sound and the presence of the pond that regularly produces an insect hatch that provides a cafeteria for the birds. 

“Common Nighthawks are related to whip-poor-wills” said John Turner, Conservation co-chair of the chapter and a chapter board member, “but are distinctive with their bright white wing bars that flash as they dip and turn in pursuit of the aerial insects that form their diet.” 

The reduction in the abundance of aerial insects due to spraying and habitat loss appears to be the main driver of reduced nighthawk numbers. “These birds serve as bellwethers for the quality of the environment and their decline should be a concern to us all,” Turner added.     

The totals for the number of common nighthawks counted as they zip, bob, and weave erratically overhead for the past six years is as follows: 2,046 nighthawks in 2017, 2,018 nighthawks in 2018, 2,757 nighthawks in 2019, 2,245 nighthawks in 2020, 1,819 nighthawks in 2021, and 1,625 nighthawks in 2022. The single best day observers have had was on Sept. 8, 2017 when 573 nighthawks passed overhead. Last year the best day was the first— Aug. 27 — when 243 birds moved through. 

Many other bird species are observed at the Watch including Bald Eagles and Ospreys, Double-crested Cormorants, Barn and Tree Swallows and Chimney Swifts, several duck species including the beautiful Wood Duck, Belted Kingfisher, wading birds such as Great Egrets, and many species of songbirds. Toward dusk, several species of bats often emerge to feed over the pond and if any planets are visible in the sky a birding scope is set up to look at them (the ring of Saturn can be seen with a high powered bird scope).     

For more information, visit www.4has.org.

By Julianne Mosher

On June 17 and 18, visitors from across Long Island headed to Old Field Farm in Setauket for Gallery North’s 19th annual Wet Paint Festival, a fun-filled weekend to not only admire local artists practicing their craft en plein air, but to see the excitement of a derby. According to Sally Lynch, owner and farm operator, the festival couldn’t have come during a better weekend.

The 2023 Seaside Hunter Derby took place on June 18 on the campus and as the riders competed, over 40 artists took to their canvases to paint and sketch the local scenery and content. 

“All the horse people are thrilled to see their horses painted,” said Lynch. “There’s a reason why the horse remains a constant subject of the arts.”

She added that the day before, the farm hosted vintage riders (ones who ride side saddle) in full old-school costume who also modeled for the artists on-site. 

The two-day festival also featured nature walks courtesy of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, live music by Tom Killourhy and the Keenan Zach Trio, plein air art tours with Jim Molloy and Nancy Bueti-Randall, a history tour with Margo Arceri of Tri-Spy Tours and an animal presentation by Sweetbriar Nature Center.

The event was sponsored by bld Architecture, Jefferson’s Ferry and Suffolk County’s Department of Economic Development and Planning.

All of the artwork created at the festival will be on display at the Reboli Center for Art and History, 64 Main St., Stony Brook on July 5 through August 27. The public is invited to an opening reception on July 21 from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

A gray catbird with band.

The Four Harbors Audubon Society kicks off spring with a lecture on bird banding at the Bates House, One Bates Road, Setauket on Tuesday, April 25 at 6:30 p.m.

What have we learned from bird banding? How do you band a bird?  Guest speaker Darlene J. McNeil will answer these questions and more.

McNeil got her start birding in 2004 after taking a master birder course in GA. She got her first camera in 2007 and became a “birder who holds a camera” to document her rare bird sightings. In September of  2011 she began volunteering at a bird banding station in TX and attended several bird banding courses to learn banding skills for her sub permit at Powdermill in PA, Braddock Bay in Rochester, NY, Appledore Island in NH and Belize.

Currently she holds a subpermit  to band birds only in CT. To date she has handled over 1,500 birds in the banding process and has had the unique opportunity to hold every eastern warbler. Although Darlene does not band birds in New York, she is an avid birdwatcher and can be seen in the field often. Currently she works as a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, and is a mom to 2 adorable Siberian Huskies, one whom is a certified Pet Therapy Dog.

All are welcome.  There is no fee to attend this lecture.  Masks are recommended.

Email [email protected] to register.

 

Screenshot from portjeff.com/opentodayvideo/

Over a decade since disbanding, the Port Jefferson Civic Association was back in action Monday, Jan. 9.

Eighteen village residents filled the Meeting Room of the Port Jefferson Free Library, discussing several pressing local issues and establishing their priorities as a body.

Michael Mart was a member of PJCA under its previous configuration. He shared a history of the organization and why village residents have banded together in the past.

“The history and importance of the Port Jefferson Civic Association, as I recall it, was to serve as a vehicle by which individuals come together,” Mart said. “Its concerns are essentially local in nature: streets, safety, recreation, parks and open government.”

He added the civic association “acts to represent opinions, concerns and agendas of its members to the local governing body.”

Mart said PJCA has functioned in various capacities in the past. At one time, it had produced a regular newsletter, held meet-the-candidates events, offered scholarships to local students and even took the village government to court.

PJCA was “a very active group,” Mart said. “It starts small here, like in this room, and makes itself known to other residents, offering to give voice to their concerns.”

The members of the newly formed civic gave introductions, outlined their reasons for joining and discussed their priorities. 

Ana Hozyainova, a 2022 candidate for village trustee, organized the event. She stated her goals for the civic body.

“I hope that we can have a group that can be a force for discussion and greater transparency in the village,” she said. 

Myrna Gordon discussed communications between the village and residents and other environmental themes. “I would love to see better transparency or communication and more of our village residents getting involved in the important issues that we face,” she said.

Other residents echoed the call for greater transparency within the village government. 

Among them, a 2022 trustee candidate for the Port Jefferson school board, Paul Ryan, identified a supposed divide between the public will and the decisions made by elected officials.

“Since I ran for the BOE last year, I’ve noticed a lot of disconnect between what people want and think is important and what is happening, the decisions that are being made,” he said. “I hope as a civic association, we can channel that voice more strongly and more effectively to make positive change.”

Suzanne Velazquez, candidate for village trustee in 2021, spoke of the “sense of apathy that has crept in” among residents. She also considered the civic association as fulfilling a necessary community end. 

“I have had a lot of good conversations about the need to revitalize the civic association,” the former trustee candidate said.

Holly Fils-Aime, president of the local environmental group EcoLeague, described continual development within the village as among her priorities. 

“We really have to consider how overdeveloped Long Island is,” she said, adding that residents must be vigilant about looking out for their forests, wildlife and the natural environment.

Steve Velazquez echoed this sentiment. He criticized the alleged overdevelopment of Upper Port, arguing that plans for the property that formerly accommodated PJ Lobster House are “not in character with this village.” Velazquez expressed a desire to see a “true historic district” within Port Jeff village.

In common, those in attendance voiced similar concerns over the perceived lack of transparency, environmental issues and the implementation of projects without resident input. Bluff stabilization at East Beach, according to Mart, encompasses each of these themes.

Referencing the $3.75 million the village recently received to construct an upper wall between the East Beach bluff and the Port Jefferson Country Club clubhouse, Mart said the money “is not the issue — the issue is that we didn’t get to vote on it.”

Also in attendance was guest speaker John Turner, conservation chair of the Four Harbors Audubon Society. He advocated for a villagewide open-space program along with a sustainability plan.

Turner pinpointed specific examples on Long Island of progress concerning the environment. He cited the novel irrigation system at Indian Island Golf Course in Riverhead, which uses wastewater from a sewage treatment plant to irrigate the golf course. 

“That wastewater is no longer dumped in the river and the bay,” Turner said. “The nitrogen is all taken up by the grass,” averting contamination of local surface waters. He suggested the village could explore comparable wastewater reuse opportunities.

He added, “The other beauty about this water reuse, from a water quantity perspective, is that we have water quantity challenges on the Island. … Using that water for the golf course means that 66 million gallons of water stay in the ground.”

Expressing her vision for the civic, Gordon said the organization could prevail so long as its members stay persistent. “You have to stay the course,” she said. “We can’t get tired. We have to support each other, we have to ask questions, and we have to go in front of our village trustees and ask, ‘What is going on?’”

Birdlovers art sale to support local environmental groups

By Melissa Arnold

Birds have long fascinated nature enthusiasts of all ages, and it’s easy to understand why. Their wide variety, brilliant colors, seasonal travel and flight skills provide a lot to admire. Those same qualities have made birds a frequent subject in art for generations as well.

On the weekend of Nov. 11, the historic Bates House in Setauket will host a special 3-day art sale and silent auction entitled “Audubon and Friends.” All proceeds from the weekend will be split equally among four local organizations dedicated to protecting Long Island’s wildlife and environment: The Seatuck Environmental Association, the Four Harbors Audubon Society (4HAS), The Safina Center, and Frank Melville Memorial Park.

The idea for the event came from conservationist John Turner and his brother Craig, who shared a love for nature from their early years.

John, who is conservation chair at Seatuck and serves on the board of 4HAS, developed a passion for birding as he watched his father feed the birds as a young boy.

“I was pretty active in conservation even as a teen — when you fall in love with something, you want to see it protected and have the ability to flourish,” said the Setauket resident. “I was really affected by stories of pollution, fires and disasters on the news, and I wanted to do whatever I could to help.”

Craig Turner’s interest in birdwatching developed later, thanks to an old friend from his time in the Air Force.

“He fed all sorts of birds at his home, and whenever I would visit I would become completely captivated by watching them stop to eat,” Craig recalled. “It became a wonderful excuse for me to get outside and see what I could find, and it was a great window into exploring natural history as well.”

Craig would go on to befriend a man who lived near him in Maryland who ran an Audubon magazine and also collected an array of bird depictions, many of them made by early natural history artists. Craig found the prints beautiful and desired to start a collection of his own.

“I thought the prints would look great at home, and then eBay came along, which gave me the ability to acquire things that would otherwise be very expensive, like prints made by John James Audubon in the 1840s,” he said.

By 2012, he had amassed so many prints that he decided to open his own shop in Annapolis, Md. The Audubon and Friends Gallery sold a variety of natural history prints as well as glassware and wood carvings before its closing in 2015.

As much as he treasured each piece, it didn’t make sense for one person to have so many, Craig said to John some time afterward. Why not continue to find ways to share beautiful work with others?

And John had another thought: Why not make it for a good cause as well?

“I wanted to do whatever I could to support the hard work of environmental conservation and protection, and I thought it would be fun to explore the history of natural history art in a talk,” said Craig.

So the event took shape — the beautiful Bates House in Frank Melville Memorial Park would host more than 100 prints from some of the earliest natural history artists, including John James Audubon, Mark Catesby and Alexander Wilson. Depending on value, some pieces will be for sale, while other, rarer pieces will be available in a silent auction held throughout the weekend.

“Audubon wanted to catalogue all the North American birds in life-size prints, and his work became the pinnacle of bird engraving,” Craig explained. “The idea of owning an original natural history print appeals to a lot of people as an important part of Americana, regardless of whether or not they’re birders themselves.” 

Among the pieces included at the fundraiser are many first edition, hand-colored prints from John James Audubon’s Royal Octavo edition of “Birds of America,” a foundational work in the field. 

Visitors to the show will enjoy light refreshments throughout the weekend, and on Friday, Nov. 11, Craig Turner will offer a special presentation on the history of bird illustration.

It’s a win-win situation for natural history enthusiasts, art lovers and the organizations who will benefit.

“When John Turner approached us about the fundraiser, we thought it was a splendid idea. The art is exquisite and classic,” said Carl Safina, founder of the Safina Center in Setauket. “Birds make the world livable. They are the most beautifully obvious living things in our world and they connect everything, everywhere. It’s truly a tragedy that most people barely notice them, nor do they understand that nearly 200 species can be seen on and around Long Island in the course of a year.”

The Safina Center inspires awareness and action in the community through art, literature and other creative outlets. Safina said that their portion of the funds raised would likely benefit their fellowship program for young, up-and-coming creators.

“Henry David Thoreau said that in wilderness is the preservation of the world, and it’s never been more important to do the work of preservation,” John Turner said. “The biggest thing we can all do is think about the planet in our everyday choices. Some people don’t realize how much of an impact they can make in what they eat, what they buy, and what they reuse.”

The “Audubon and Friends” art sale and silent auction will be held at The Bates House, 1 Bates Road, Setauket on Friday, Nov. 11 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. with a special presentation from Craig Turner titled “A History of Bird Illustration” at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sunday, Nov. 13 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is free to attend. For more information, call the Bates House at 631-689-7054.

Audubon lecture

Join the Four Harbors Audubon Society for an autumn lecture via Zoom on Wednesday, September 28 from 8 to 9 p.m. Guest speaker and naturalist, artist, writer Julie Zickefoose will discuss her latest book, Saving Jemima: Life and Love With a Hard-luck Jay, the intimate story of how an orphaned bird can save a soul, which she wrote and illustrated after spending nearly a year healing, studying and raising a young blue jay for release.

From the press release:

Naturalist/artist/writer Julie Zickefoose thinks of herself as an unsung, minor, rather dirty superhero. Her superpower: saving small, economically worthless wildlife that would otherwise die. An orphaned jay named Jemima was one such foundling. Spending nearly a year healing, studying and raising the young blue jay for release opened the door to their world for Julie. She began writing and illustrating Saving Jemima: Life and Love With a Hard-luck Jay immediately upon becoming her foster mother. More than a wildlife rehab story, it’s the story of life, love and dealing with great loss; of finding grace and redemption in bonding with a wild bird.

Julie Zickefoose lives and works quietly on an 80-acre wildlife sanctuary in the back country of Whipple, Ohio. She is a prolific writer and painter and Advising Editor to BWD Magazine. Her heavily illustrated books include Natural Gardening for Birds, Letters from Eden, The Bluebird Effect, and Baby Birds: An Artist Looks Into the Nest. Saving Jemima: Life and Love With a Hard- Luck Jay, the intimate story of how an orphaned bird can save a soul, is her newest book.

———————————–

This special event is free and open to all. Reservations required. To join this Zoom presentation, you must register in advance by clicking on the link here. Afterwards you will receive an email with link and instructions on how to join the presentation. For more information, visit www.4has.org.

Bird lovers gather at the Stone Bridge at Frank Melville Memorial Park to witness the common nighthawk migration. Photo from Four Harbors Audubon Society

VOLUNTEERS WANTED

It’s that time of year again! Starting on August 27, the Four Harbors Audubon Society will be tallying migrating Common Nighthawks to better understand nighthawk population trends. Join them at the stone bridge at Frank Melville Memorial Park, One Old Field Road, Setauket to witness nighthawks as they pass over during their migratory journey to their wintering grounds in Brazil and Argentina. The watch dates are August 27 to October 6, 5:30 p.m. until dusk. Visit www.4has.org for further details.

This year's Wet Paint Festival will be held at the Sherwood-Jayne Farm in East Setauket. Photo courtesy of Preservation Long Island

By Melissa Arnold

Since 2004, Gallery North’s annual Wet Paint Festival has invited artists from far and wide to revel in nature’s beauty. For a week or a weekend, artists enjoy each other’s company and a healthy dose of plein air painting — the tricky, constantly changing art of working outdoors.

This year’s festival, scheduled for June 4 and 5, will be held at the historic and picturesque Sherwood-Jayne Farm on Old Post Road in East Setauket and seeks to build upon past events where visitors can watch the artists work and ask questions about their creative process. There will also be the opportunity to tour the Sherwood-Jayne House, go bird watching, enjoy live music and more.

An artist paints plein air at the Sherwood-Jayne Farm. Photo from Preservation Long Island

“The landscape of the show has changed in a variety of ways over the years, not just in location but in the way it’s structured,” said Ned Puchner, executive director of Gallery North. “During the pandemic, people could paint remotely for a two-week period. Last year, we had a few different locations to choose from. This year, we’re returning to the traditional style of having a specific site where everyone will come together and paint for a weekend, with some additional activities for the public to enjoy.”

The Sherwood-Jayne Farm was originally slated to host the Wet Paint Festival in 2020, and planning for the event was nearly complete when the pandemic shut things down.  

“Gallery North reached out to us a few years ago looking to change up the festival from the way it was done in the past,” said Elizabeth Abrams, Assistant Director of Operations and Programs for Preservation Long Island, which cares for the property. “We used to team up with the gallery for an apple festival, and considering we are just down the street from each other, it was natural for us to work together again.”

Preservation Long Island is a multifaceted not-for-profit organization dedicated to protecting Long Island’s history and culture. Founded in 1948, their focus is on education, advocacy, and the stewardship of historic buildings and artifacts.

Abrams explained that the Sherwood-Jayne House was built in 1730 as an early colonial, lean-to salt box dwelling. The house and surrounding farmland were cared for by the Jayne family for more than 150 years. In 1908, it was acquired by the founder of Preservation Long Island, Howard Sherwood, who lived in the home and displayed a variety of antiques there.

Throughout the weekend, the Sherwood-Jayne House will be open for tours with Preservation Long Island curator Lauren Brincat. Keep an eye out for the Tallmadge wall panels, and the incredibly beautiful wall mural in the parlor that’s meant to look like wallpaper — they are very rare to see, especially on Long Island, Abrams added.

“The house contains a large portion of Howard Sherwood’s personal antique collection and other bits of history from colonial Long Island. This area had a foundational role in American history — exploring the house and its collections are a unique way to learn more about that important time period,” she said.

There will be plenty of outdoor inspiration for the artists at the festival as well. The property is also home to a variety of outbuildings and trails, gorgeous old-growth walnut trees, an apple orchard, and all kinds of wildlife. 

The Four Harbors Audubon Society will lead tours exploring the wildlife and ecology of the area, with a particular focus on local birds. If the barn is open, you might be lucky enough to meet some goats, a few sheep, or an old, sweet white horse named Snowball.

Visitors are free to wander the grounds at their leisure, watch the artists work or ask questions, Puchner said. For those who are feeling shy or not sure what to ask, an artist will offer a guided tour and lead discussions once each day.

“The whole objective of the Wet Paint Festival is to help people understand what goes into the process of creating a painting, and to meet local artists. It’s a great way for someone who has no artistic experience to learn how it all works,” Puchner said.

Nancy Bueti-Randall, pictured in her studio, will join over 40 other artists at this year’s Gallery North Wet Paint Festival.
Photo by Heidi Sutton/TBR News Media

Over 40 artists will be participating this weekend including Nancy Bueti-Randall of Stony Brook who began to paint outdoors as a way to recharge while raising her three children. She’s spent more than 20 years creating and showing her work, which runs the gamut from pictorial to abstract, figures and landscapes. Most of the time, though, she’s painting in her garden or other familiar surroundings.

Sometimes, she’ll start a painting with the idea to focus on one thing, but something else in a landscape will catch her eye instead.

“There are a lot of challenges with plein air painting. It’s very fleeting — a landscape is always changing, even from day to day,” Bueti-Randall explained. “You have to be fast and responsive to what’s going on around you. It’s about becoming engaged with the thing you’re painting. I can get overwhelmed by beauty, and I try to capture the essence of what I’m seeing in a process of give and take.”

Marceil Kazickas of Sands Point considers herself an artistic late bloomer. She started drawing and painting to cope with a health crisis, and found that when she was being creative, she wasn’t in pain. Kazickas prefers to work in oil, which she loves for its luscious, sensual properties.

“When you go outside, there’s an overwhelming amount of information to take in — the views are always changing, the clock is running, and you want to get your design done quickly because the light and shadows are constantly evolving,” she explained. 

“I’m not as focused on painting exactly what I see … People can get caught up in producing a finished, frameable piece of art, but for me it’s exciting to be outside and come up with whatever I can in the short time I’m out there, even if it’s nothing. It’s about the painting process.”

Puchner hopes that the variety of activities, including a scavenger hunt for kids and live music from the Keenan Paul Zach Trio and Tom Killourhy, will appeal to all kinds of people.

“These new additions will give the public the opportunity to enjoy nature, the arts and history all in one place, and our artists will have a fun new location to experiment and be creative in,” he said.

The 18th Annual Wet Paint Festival will be held June 4 and 5 at the Sherwood-Jayne Farm, 55 Old Post Road, East Setauket from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Rain date is June 18 and 19. The event is free and open to the public. 

All participating artists will have their festival work on display in an exhibit at Gallery North, 90 North Country Road, Setauket, from July 7 through Aug 7. A free opening reception will be held at the gallery from on July 7 from 6 to 8 p.m. 

For more information about the festival or to register to paint, visit www.gallerynorth.org or call 631-751-2676. Learn more about Sherwood-Jayne Farm at www.preservationlongisland.org.

Photo by Raina Angelier

By Tara Mae

Communities, both human and otherwise, thrive through connection. Four Harbors Audubon Society celebrates these relationships with a Tree Fest, a community event hosted at Three Village Historical Society, 93 North Country Road in Setauket, on Saturday, May 28, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Visitors will be able to partake in raffles, face painting, arts and crafts, educational exhibits by Avalon Nature Preserve and Living Lands Habitat Garden Design, a live bird presentation by Sweetbriar Nature Center of Smithtown, and other activities.  

During the event, Four Harbors Audubon Society will be giving away native tree and shrub whips procured from the Department of Conservation’s Saratoga Farm. These will include Black Cherry, Pussy Willow, Bare Oak, Beach Plum, Bayberry, Button Bush, and Red Osier Dogwood. In addition, a native plant sale will feature local flora such as shrubs, grasses, and spring/early summer flowering herbaceous plants. 

Board member Sue Avery said that the demand for native plants has increased in recent years as gardeners have become more cognizant of the benefits of growing them. Four Harbors promotes the national Audubon Society’s Plants for Birds initiative, which is an online resource that identifies the best plants for local birds. “We hope to raise awareness on the significance of trees and native plants for our ecosystem and how essential they are for birds,” Avery added.

Native plants are integral to the biosphere and local ecosystems. They provide fruits, berries, and nuts for birds as well as other animals and create a habitat for pollinators and other insects. 

The Tree Fest aligns with the national Audubon Society’s objective of restoring the wildlife and plants that have diminished or disappeared because of climate change, habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, pollution, and other environmental factors. 

“Basically, National Audubon and Audubon New York call this type of work bird-friendly communities work,” President of the Audubon Society Joy Cirigliano said.

Creating and supporting a stable environment for birds is incorporated into the Audubon Society’s mission, which recently launched the Bird Oasis Program that encourages residents to construct habitats in their yards to support bird life. 

“Part of the Audubon Society’s work is to restore as much habitat as possible because when birds thrive, people prosper. Everything in the natural world is connected and the health of one goes hand and with the health of the other,” Cirigliano said. 

Throughout the year, the Audubon Society organizes bird walks, installs native plant gardens in public places, and advocates for open spaces. Such a commitment to the local environment and its inhabitants is a trait Three Village Historical Society (TVHS) Director Mari Irizarry recognizes well. 

“Community is at the core of every program we run at TVHS and, we are absolutely thrilled to host Four Harbors Audubon Society on May 28th for their annual Tree Fest,” Irizarry said. “We support Four Harbors Audubon Society mission to protect and preserve birds, wildlife, and the places and resources needed, for today and tomorrow.”

Admission to the Tree Fest is free with a rain date of May 29. For more information, please visit https://4has.org or call 631-675-1803.