Connecting with Nature: February Programs

by Feb 1, 2021News0 comments

It’s cold out there but we WARMLY welcome you to join us this month – inside or out.

It’s our mission to connect people to nature. That’s why we filled February with in-person and virtual events. There is something for everyone. Our events do fill up, so don’t wait to register!


Science-in-Action: EagleWatch
Naturalist Tait Johansson and his team from Bedford Audubon and Saw Mill River Audubon will monitor roosting Bald Eagles within the Lower Hudson Valley Important Bird Area (IBA). Family friendly—a fun way to introduce ecology to your kids!
Thursdays in February, 1.5 hours before sunset. If you’re interested in this citizen science project, call 914-232-1999 or email Tait at

Pick up “a stunning book that urges us to reconsider our relationship with the natural world, and fight to preserve it.” (NPR Book Reviews).
Then join our next Bylane Book Club discussion of Vesper Flights, a new collection of essays from one of this century’s most important and insightful nature writers, Helen Macdonald. In it, McDonald brings together a collection of her best loved essays, along with new pieces on topics ranging from nostalgia for a vanishing countryside to the tribulations of farming ostriches to her own private vespers while trying to fall asleep. Meditating on notions of captivity and freedom, immigration and flight, Helen invites us into her most intimate experiences: observing songbirds from the Empire State Building as they migrate through the Tribute of Light, watching tens of thousands of cranes in Hungary, seeking the last golden orioles in Suffolk’s poplar forests. She writes with heart-tugging clarity about wild boar, swifts, mushroom hunting, migraines, the strangeness of birds’ nests, and the unexpected guidance and comfort we find when watching wildlife. By one of this century’s most important and insightful nature writers, Vesper Flights is a captivating and foundational book about observation, fascination, time, memory, love and loss and how we make sense of the world around us. This book is available to borrow from the Westchester Library System or is available to purchase across a variety of platforms in print, electronically and on audio.
Monday, February 1, 7:00pm. Registration required by emailing Susan at or by calling 914-302-9713. A Zoom link will be emailed to participants in advance of the meeting.

What do you know about the birds and the bees?
Find out in Mathew McDowell’s new Virtual Workshop: Birds, Bees, and Trees: Reproductive Biology in the Garden. An advantage of working with native plants is their capacity to feed wildlife with fruit and seeds, and even help regenerate the broader landscape. For some plants however, they have specific reproductive needs that must be met. Some plants can’t pollinate themselves or require very specific pollinators. Others like Hollies are female or male, and you have to make sure both are present. We’ll explore the reproductive strategies of plants and how to help ensure your garden is fruitful and multiplies. Topics covered include how to visually sex native plants like Spicebush.
Thursday, February 11, 6:00pm. Registration required by emailing Susan at or by calling 914-302-9713. A Zoom link will be emailed to participants in advance of the meeting.

Be a part of an event that had 268,000+ participants in 194 countries last year – without leaving your own house!
The Great Backyard Birdcount is fast-approaching, and it’s a way for the world to come together for the love of birds. This annual event is taking is taking place this February 12-15. To participate, just spend some time in your favorite place watching, counting, and reporting as many birds as you can see. Then share your sightings with us at our new Virtual Chat: Backyard Birdcount – What Did You See? In this informal meeting lead by naturalist Tait Johansson, you can share your numbers, photos, and ask questions. Visit the Great Backyard Birdcount website for complete details about participating.
Monday, February 15, 12:00pm. Registration required by CLICKING HERE. You will receive a Zoom link in advance of the Virtual Chat.

Who wants to watch a “dirty film” that has won 25+ awards?
If you care about the environment, you won’t want to miss the upcoming Virtual Film Screening and Q&A of Kiss the Ground. We’re proud to work in partnership with Bedford 2030 and the Bedford Playhouse to bring this inspiring film to you. Right now, soil might be the last thing on your mind. But in a moment when the future of our world is at stake, nothing may be more important than regenerating the ground beneath us. We’re in need of a kind of hope we’ve never felt before. Kiss the Ground unveils a game-changer to our climate crisis – earth’s own soil. It is about “restoring degraded land masses, regenerating their soil, and changing how they are farmed and grazed. Once returned to health, soil has the unique ability to “draw down” and sequester vast quantities of carbon dioxide, methane and other gases that are warming the planet.”
Tuesday, February 16, 7:30pm. CLICK HERE to register through Bedford Playhouse. A link to the film will be sent to all registrants in advance of the event.

The first pair of Piping Plovers to nest within the Chicago city limits since 1955 will “capture your imagination… and your heart.”
Meet these special but endangered birds by joining to watch us for a Virtual Film & Lecture of Monty and Rose: The Story of Chicago’s Piping Plovers. The documentary tells the story of a pair of endangered Piping Plovers that nested at Chicago’s Montrose Beach, taking up residence on one of the busiest stretches of busiest beaches in Chicago. The film made its debut on November 18, 2019, with a showing at the historic Music Box Theatre; and was an official selection of the One Earth Film Festival. Join us as we watch the film together and hear from the film creator Bob Dolgan.
Wednesday, February 17, 7:00-8:00pm. Registration required by emailing Susan at or by calling 914-302-9713. A Zoom link will be emailed to participants on prior virtual event.

Guess where four BALD EAGLES were spotted last month?
If Tait Johansson’s Third Thursday’s Bird Walk on Maple Avenue in Katonah came to mind, you’re right! This is a monthly field trip that rarely disappoints… also in January, a Great Blue Heron was kind enough to offer a close-up for the group to see. We hope you’ll take advantage of this local walk by joining us this month.
Thursday, February 18, 7:30-9:30am. Cost: Free. Level of Difficulty: Easy. Registration is limited and required by emailing Susan at or calling 914-302-9713.

There is an animal that secretes a vanilla-smelling goo that the FDA says is a “generally safe” food additive.
If that sounds intriguing, you won’t want to miss this month’s Virtual Lecture: The Fascinating Beaver with Dan Aitchison. The North American beaver, Castor canadensis, is a true ecosystem engineer, creating its own habitat through the construction of dams and wetlands. As beaver have begun reoccupying ancestral ranges in southern New York, it has brought with it both benefits and conflict. Often overlooked, beavers provide a number of ecological services including the improvement of stream systems, watershed restoration, habitat development and increased biodiversity. In this virtual presentation, we will explore some of the many benefits that beavers can bring to the local environment and touch on methods that have been developed to coexist with these truly fascinating semi-aquatic mammals.
About Dan Aitchison: Dan is the Senior Curator of Wildlife for the Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation, which is responsible for the preservation and maintenance of 18,000 acres of park lands, trails and open spaces. His work focuses on the study of target wildlife species and monitoring their impacts, creating and implementing adaptive management programs and strategies to mitigate human/wildlife conflicts, public education, developing working relationships with local research organizations, and acting as a liaison between Westchester County and state and federal wildlife agencies.
Wednesday, February 24, 7:00pm. Cost: Free. Registration is required by emailing Susan at or calling 914-302-9713. A Zoom link will be emailed to registrants prior to the virtual lecture.

We’re going on a field trip and you’re invited…
Our Field Trip to Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge, a 597 Ulster County refuge that supports grassland-dependent migratory birds and wintering raptors. Join Tait on this afternoon expedition to find Rough-legged Hawks, Northern Harriers, and Short-eared Owls. Family-friendly for children ages 12+ accompanied by an adult.
Saturday, February 27, 3:30-6:30pm. Cost: Free. Level of difficulty: Easy. Dress for the weather. Please register with Susan at or 914-302-9713.





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Can’t Make EagleWatch but want to help protect Bald Eagles? Here are some things you can do from home to help ensure Bald eagles continue to thrive in our area.


  • Protect eagle habitats – the most destructive human activity to eagle habitat is development of waterfront property. Petition elected officials and be an active participant in organizations to preserve open space and conserve eagle habitat.
  • Use fishing line recovery tubes – every year eagles and other birds of prey get tangled in discarded monofilament fishing line. Make sure your town and village installs fishing line recovery tubes to curtail this potentially deadly hazard.
  • Watch what you flush down the drain– pesticides, lead, mercury, and PCBs pose a danger to large predators such as eagles. Reducing these pollutants is key to maintaining long term reproductive success and health of breeding populations.
  • Don’t approach perched eagles too closely, be sure to social distance by at least 600 ft.