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The mission of the Bedford Audubon Society is to promote conservation and protection of wildlife habitats in northern Westchester and eastern Putnam counties through education, advocacy, nature study, and birdwatching.
Established on February 13, 1913 Bedford Audubon Society was integral in enacting early conservation laws in New York State. Bedford Audubon continues, nearly a century later, to promote environmental literacy and education, conduct critical conservation research and citizen science, and advocate for the preservation and protection of wildlife and habitat.
Our broad organizational goals are to:
- Manage our wildlife sanctuaries wisely.
- Conduct scientific research important to conservation issues.
- Provide high quality environmental education opportunities for adults and families.
- Be the recognized local authority and educator on birds, wildlife, and habitat.
- Demonstrate environmentally friendly practices indoors and out.
- Promote environmentally sound decisions on local conservation issues.
Services & Programs
Bedford Audubon owns and maintains four wildlife sanctuaries open to the public and seven miles of marked trails throughout the sanctuary network. In addition to the trail maintenance, we conduct invasive species control and restoration, provide educational programming, and conduct scientific research at the properties.
- The Palmer H. Lewis Memorial Sanctuary in the town of Bedford is our smallest sanctuary at just 24 acres. The sanctuary is characterized by mature mountain laurel and large oaks and hickories. Eastern Coyote, Barred Owl, and Wood Thrush are present in the woodlands, and a small field is maintained for butterflies and Bluebirds.
- The Ruth Walgreen Franklin and Winifred Fels Memorial Sanctuary consists of 204 acres in the town of North Salem. The sanctuary is mostly low deciduous woodlands, red maple swamp, and shrub swamp, which Barred Owls, Wild Turkeys, Chestnut-sided Warblers, Rose-breasted Grossbeaks, Great Crested Flycatcher, Pileated Woodpeckers, Louisiana Waterthrushes, and Worm-eating Warblers call home.
- The James Ramsay Hunt & Mary Welsh Parker Memorial Sanctuary covers 318 acres straddling the towns of Lewisboro and Bedford. This sanctuary is home to a small wet meadow and pond ecosystem that attracts hawks as well as Great Blue Herons, in addition to deciduous woodlands and a red maple swamp. Bedford Audubon’s headquarters, Bylane Farm, is located within the Hunt-Parker Sanctuary. Bylaneserves as our offices and housing for our Naturalist-in-Residence, seasonal research staff, and summer interns; and programming space. Bylane was generously donated to Bedford Audubon by the family of Mary Welsh Parker. Dating to the early 1700s, Bylane is a treasure that we’re restoring using water- and energy- efficient practices to reduce our ecological footprint, celebrate Bylane’s history, and demonstrate these practices to the public.
- The Henry Morgenthau Preserve’s 36 acres are located in the town of Pound Ridge. Nestled against Blue Heron Lake, the preserve consists of a small offshore island, wetlands, a small pond, vernal pools, and several small streams. The preserve is home to several wolf oaks, pink lady’s slipper, and rare rattlesnake plantain as well as Belted Kingfishers, Wood Ducks, Ovenbirds, and Pileated Woodpeckers.
Additionally, Bedford Audubon has conservation easements at three other locations. We are responsible for regular oversight of the Rose Preserve and the Pine Croft Meadow Preserve owned by the Westchester Land Trust and the O’Donohue Property owned by the North Salem Open Lands Foundation.
Bedford Audubon participates in two ongoing continent-wide research programs.
- The Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) Program is a North American research project led by the Institute for Bird Populations. Bedford Audubon’s banding data is submitted alongside more than 500 other study sites to provide critical information relating to the ecology, conservation, and management of North American landbird populations, and the factors responsible for changes in their populations. A core group of volunteers, interns, and local graduate students assist our Naturalist-in-Residence, Tait Johansson, with the research.
- The Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch collects data on migrating raptors using data protocols established by the Hawk Migration Association of North America. We partner with The Nature Conservancy to conduct the Hawkwatch at their Arthur W. Butler Sanctuary in Bedford Corners and Westmoreland Sanctuary to provide educational programming to the public. The Hawkwatch data serves as an ecological litmus test that reflects changes in the health of our environment and enables the Hawk Migration Association of North America and its partners to produce reliable analyses of raptor population trends that drive conservation research and legislation across the country and all of North America. We hire two seasonal research staff to carry out the annual four-month endeavor, now in its third decade.
In spring 2014, Bedford Audubon will be joining forces with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, National Audubon, and Forsyth Audubon to begin the Wood Thrush Project. The Wood Thrush is an iconic bird species that breeds in the forests of the northeast. A neotropical migrant, the Wood Thrush migrates each fall to Central America to overwinter, before returning north the following spring to breed again. Its haunting song heralds in spring, but each spring the song grows quieter--its population has plummeted by more than 50 percent in the past 40 years. This two-year project will band and outfit Wood Thrush with geolocators to will shed light on where Wood Thrush go, and how we can best protect them in our community and across the Flyway, preventing another silent spring.
Additionally, Bedford Audubon collaborates locally with EagleWatch, a roosting Bald Eagle survey. Bedford Audubon partners with the Sawmill River Audubon Society and 15 volunteers organized by Tait Johansson to monitor four roosts weekly in the winter. We also partner with Teatown Lake Reservation for their annual EagleFest each February. We share the data with Audubon New York for the purpose of monitoring and advocating for Important Bird Areas, and with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to supplement their eagle monitoring efforts and to facilitate informed decisions that impact the Lower Hudson River Important Bird Area.
Bedford Audubon also participates in smaller-scale research endeavors, including:
- North America Audubon Christmas Bird Count.
- Mentoring an Authentic Science Research high school student.
- Assisting local doctoral candidates with their research.
Bedford Audubon is locally well-known for the diversity of our educational offerings, particularly hands-on experiences.
- The Leon LevyNative Garden, located at Bylane Farm, showcases native alternatives to traditional non-native and invasive plant species for the homeowner and landscape professional. Native specimens provide critical shelter and food for birds, butterflies, dragonflies, and other insects and require less irrigation and tending than non-natives. Our Garden Committee and staff are working with the award-winning Larry Weaner Landscape Associates to expand the existing garden, improve its demonstration value, and incorporate innovative communications tools, such as Quick Response (QR) Codes. The Native Garden is part of our Audubon at Home program.
- Bedford Audubon hosts a free monthly lecture series from September to June each year. Our reputation for providing outstanding monthly lectures and public programs is rooted in history: some of the early notable visiting guest lecturers are conservation giants by today’s measure, including Dr. Arthur Allen, founder of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology; Edward Howe Forbush, Massachusetts State Ornithologist; Allen D. Cruikshank, noted ornithologist and author; Louis Aggazis Fuertes, world-renowned wildlife artist and illustrator; and ornithology pioneer Roger Tory Peterson. We engage speakers from all over the world on a wide range of natural history and environmental topics. The lectures are free and open to the public.
- Bedford Audubon’s Naturalist-in-Residence provides a full docket of local and regional field trips to give participants chances to see birds and other winged creatures, rare plants and fungi, and private gardens and collections that they may not otherwise have the opportunity to visit on their own.
- Bedford Audubon’s Naturalist-in-Residence also provides in-depth workshops such as Birds 101, the Butterfly Institute, Birding by Ear, and Dragonflies 101.
- Bylane is also home to our library collections, including the John L. Bull Collection. The Collection was donated to us by Mr. Bull’s widow, Edith Bull, and is free and open to the public to view ornithological books, journals, and paintings.