August 29, 2006
Who will it be? The Tree Swallow? Osprey? Or the American Oystercatcher? While these three contestants will not be asked to sings, prior to voting, they represent the three choices presented by Presiding Officer Judy Jacobs (Woodbury) who is asking everyone to vote for their choice for Nassau County’s official bird. Voters can visit nassaucountny.gov. Just hours after the site was posted, more than 100 votes were cast!
“Why should American Idol judges have all the fun?” said Jacobs, “New York State has its blue bird, but we believe that since Nassau County deserves its own official bird. I am thrilled to be putting the decision into the hands of Nassau’s residents.”
Pictured from left holding pictures of the choices of birds for the Nassau County Bird Contest are; Rob Alvey, Founder of the Garden City Bird Sanctuary; Karl Brummert, Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary & Audubon Center; Presiding Officer Judy Jacobs; Aaron Virgin, Director of the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary & Audubon Center; June Fay, Garden City Bird Sanctuary board member and secretary.
Jacobs kicked off the contest today at the Garden City Bird Sanctuary, where she was joined by Robert Alvey, Founder of the Garden City Bird Sanctuary; Karl Brummert, Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary & Audubon Center; Aaron Virgin, Director of the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary & Audubon Center; and June Fay, Garden City Bird Sanctuary board member and secretary.
Only a few counties have “official” birds, according to Alvey. The three suggestions for the official bird came from the members of the Garden City Bird Sanctuary. Those interested in having their opinion count can vote on the County website, nassaucounty .ny.gov and look for the bird contest.
The first candidate is the TREE SWALLOW (Tachycineta bicolor). Tree swallows are medium-sized swallows with purer white underparts and slightly forked tails. Adults in breeding plumage have glossy metallic blue underparts tinged with green. They are distinctive and elegant looking and populate much of Nassau County.
The second candidate is the OSPREY. The Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) is a medium large raptor which is a specialist fish-eater with a world-wide distribution. It is also known as the fish hawk, sea hawk or fish eagle. The Osprey is 52-60 cm (20.5-23.6 inches) long with a 152-167 (5-5.5 feet) wingspan. It has white underparts and long, narrow wings with four “finger” feathers at the end of each. As fish eaters, they are more restricted to water sites, and have had a significant decline in population from DDT as well as a loss of nesting sites. Over the last decade, several nesting sites have been erected, and their population has slowly been rebounding.
The third candidate is the AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER (haematopus palliates), occasionally called the American Pied Oystercatcher, are large, conspicuous birds that were hunted to near extinction along the Atlantic coast. Given total protection, they have once again become numerous and now nest in numbers as far north as Massachusetts. Oystercatchers insert their long blade-like bills into mussels and other bivalves, severing the powerful adductor muscles before the shells can close. This is a large, stocky shorebird (17-21 “), boldly patterned in blackish brown and white. He bill is long and red; legs and feet pink.
“It is my hope that by putting a spotlight on the birds of Nassau County, we can educate residents regarding the variety of species we have here in the County and also generate an interest in protecting the birds and their habitats,” said Jacobs.
According to Mr. Alvey, there are 438 different species of birds on Long Island.
More about the Garden City Bird Sanctuary-The Garden City Bird Sanctuary at Nassau County Storm water Storage Basin #232 is located on Tanners Pond Road in the northwestern part of Garden City with an additional entrance from Nassau Haven Playground on Colonial Avenue. As a protected nature preserve, it is only open during limited hours, including Sundays from 1-5PM between March and October. For information write P.O. Box 7507, Garden City, NY 11530-7507 or call (516) 326-1720. From a neglected and trash filled storm water basin, a community nature preserve is flourishing. The Garden City Bird Sanctuary is the pilot for an innovative program to foster dual use of many of Nassau County’s 600 storm water storage basins. and several sports organizations are sponsoring conversion of basins into ball fields. The goal of the Garden City Bird Sanctuary is to establish a fully functioning nature refuge for song birds through the use of native plants and trees which provide food and cover.