New York State
Ornithological Association

For the birders and birds of the Empire State

People at NYSOA:  Andy Mason       Posted 3/18/16

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Andy Mason

Andy Mason has been a volunteer at NYSOA for more than thirty years, holding many positions including that of president. His passion for conservation has benefited NYSOA as he has provided strong leadership of the organization's efforts to advocate for wild birds and the habitats they require. In 2014, Andy was the recipient of NYSOA's Gordon M. Meade Distinguished Service Award.


How long have you been a NYSOA member?

I have been a NYSOA member since the early 1980's (when it was still the Federation of NY State Bird Clubs). My initial connection with the organization was the first NY State Breeding Bird Atlas. The first Atlas was a trial by fire for me. I entered it as not much more than a novice, but came out after five years as an accomplished birder.


What positions have you held in the organization?

I have served on the Conservation Committee for most of that period, and have been Chair for 12 years. I have also held the positions of Director, Vice-President, President, and presently Treasurer. I have written a handful of regional reports for The Kingbird.


What is it about NYSOA that keeps you involved?

I remain involved with NYSOA because it provides a way to work for the conservation of birds; I have always felt an obligation to repay for the great joy that birds bring all of us. Also, NYSOA is the broadest-based bird organization in the state, and being involved affords contact with birders across NY. The individuals in NYSOA, including its leadership, are concerned and committed to the well-being of birds. I admire and appreciate their efforts, and enjoy working with them.


Did you have a particular experience that hooked you on birding?

My "Aha" moment in birding came in 1977. My wife and I were on a VW bus adventure across the US and had picked up a pair of binoculars and a Golden Guide for something to do in campgrounds. We made a stop in Georgia's Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and serendipitously hooked up with an Audubon group taking a canoe tour. Deep in the dank swamp with its dark waters, gloomy Spanish moss, and weird cypress knees, a Prothonotary Warbler flew in and landed in a shaft of sunlight ten feet away. The burnished gold of that bird just stunned me, and I've been hooked ever since! My wife, Gray, remains a good casual birder.


What is your favorite place to go birding in NYS?

As for favorites, I think Sullivan County's Bashakill wetland is the best birding locale in the state. I don't get there enough, but always find good birds when I do.


Favorite species?

When asked, as we all are, what is my favorite species, I reply, "Red-winged Blackbird". It is often the earliest harbinger of spring, and I figure that if you are going to have a favorite bird, why not make it one that is abundant everywhere!


What do you do for a living?

I am a semi-retired housepainter, carpenter and landlord, and now manage to spend a couple of winter months in the south, enjoying the birds of Florida and Texas.

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