New York State
Ornithological Association

For the birders and birds of the Empire State

People at NYSOA:  Mary Beth Warburton

  Posted 10/16/17

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Mary Beth WarburtonMary Beth Warburton has been a NYSOA member for 15 years and has volunteered her time as a board member, recording secretary, and Conservation Committee member. Many birders have enjoyed the terrific NYSOA field trips she has organized over the last few years. Most people get hooked on birding when they see a particular bird or behavior. Mary Beth, on the other hand, was captivated when she heard the beautiful song of a Wood Thrush for the first time. Read on to learn more.


How long have you been a NYSOA member and what positions have you held in the organizations?
“I have not kept track of how long I have been a member, but I have served as a board member, recording secretary for one year, and I continue to serve on the Conservation Committee and help organize field trips.”


What is it about NYSOA that keeps you involved?
“NYSOA is an under-appreciated organization. When I first became aware of all the information about birds that NYSOA provides to the public I was surprised. The amazing aspect of the information that is collected, recorded, and disseminated, is that it is all done by members of NYSOA who are volunteers. All the editors and managers of The Kingbird deserve huge praise for their dedication to that publication. NYSOA’s response to conservation issues is another reason I support it. Andy Mason and others do a nice job speaking up for wildlife when certain threats present themselves and need to be addressed.”


How long have you been birding?
“30 years maybe.”


Did you have a particular experience that hooked you on birding?
“Yes, there were a couple of events that spurred my interest. My husband Bill and I moved to Earlton in Greene County in the late 70’s and it was there that I heard a bird song that I had never heard before. It turned out to be a Wood Thrush. After that I began to really pay more attention to bird song and enjoyed the challenge of finding the birds who were responsible for making those beautiful sounds. Around the same time, I read an article about Peter Nye who was is the process of reintroducing the Bald Eagle to NYS and I became hooked on following the process and progress of that endeavor. I still have a copy of that article that appeared in the Times Union. It is quite remarkable to me that I ended up working with him after Bill and I moved to the Adirondacks in 1995.”

What is your favorite place to go birding in NYS?
“I enjoy birding my property in Potsdam because I can see and hear a nice variety of birds year round, and Indian Creek Nature Center, in Rensselaer Falls. Indian Creek is great during migration. I do like boreal species, so I need to hit the Adirondacks when I can. Bill and I look forward to visiting Amherst Island during the winter.”

Favorite species?
“The Belted Kingfisher, raptors - especially the Northern Goshawk, Peregrine Falcon, Bald Eagle and Short-eared
owl, the female Cerulean Warbler, and the White Tern. I've been told by fellow birders that I like them all!”

Is anyone else in your family a birder as a result of your interest?
“Well, Bill has become an SOB, "Spouse of Birder." He has his limits but does enjoy certain day trips and is a good spotter and a patient driver. “Stop now!” Both our sons are good birders and encourage their children to listen and learn the birds. Our two oldest granddaughters like to report sightings to me. My brother Jim and one of his good friends now have birdbaths and report sightings to me too, which I love. My sister Nan, in New Hampshire, joined Audubon. I think birding is contagious. People just need that first encounter where the joy of identifying something they have always wondered about is revealed, after that they connect to the world in a deeper way and want to know more.”

What do you do for a living?
“Have fun! I had the privilege of working with DEC’s Endangered Species Unit monitoring Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons for about 16 years. I also helped with surveys for other species. Most of the sites I helped with were in the Adirondacks, where I worked for Peter Nye and Barbara Loucks. I also had a great job at the Mirror Lake Inn in Lake Placid taking guests snowshoeing, birding, and hiking. I worked for Greene County Soil and Water for a few years before we moved to Lake Placid. My best job was raising Bill and David.”

Any other information you would like to add?
“Kudos to everyone who helps NYSOA and I would like to thank Joan Collins for asking me to become a board member and getting me more involved with the organization than I had been. I am hopeful the young birders who are now part of NYSOA will stay involved and learn more about the organization. The next Breeding Bird Atlas will be challenging, fun, and another huge contribution by NYSOA. I hope I can assist with the project. Cheers!”

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