The Birds Of Otselic

Click here for Breeding Birds of Otselic

For a complete list of birds sighted in the Town of Otselic click here Otselic bird sightings
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From 1981 through 1986, the State of New York was divided into about 1300 blocks, 5 x5 km. in area, and each was surveyed for breeding species. This was the first breeding bird survey in New York history. The results were published in a book, The Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State. During that survey period, despite a lack of coverage in many remote areas of the town, Otselic emerged as one of the richest breeding bird areas in the state. In addition, many species found breeding here are outside their "normal" breeding areas. For example, the White-Winged Crossbill was never known to breed outside the Adirondacks in New York State until 1985-6 when young were found in Spruce forest on the Ridge Road.

Each bird species must nest in a particular habitat. While the requirements of some birds, such as the Robin, are very broad and they can nest almost anywhere, most have very narrow requirements. For example, the Louisiana Waterthrush, a Warbler that comes here from South America, can only breed in forested gorges with fast flowing mountain brooks. In Otselic, these birds breed at Buck's Brook, Thompson Brook, and Gorge Brook. They can't nest anywhere else. In most areas, these gorges and ravines have been filled, bulldozed, and cleared so the Louisiana Waterthrush is no longer found there. Here in Otselic, our natural habitats are intact and available for birdlife. It is the diversity of habitats that attracts the great numbers of nesting birds seen here every Spring.

If you have an interesting bird please send me an E mail so we can document and report it. If you have any questions, comments, or interest in birds Contact Us

Watch the Otselic River in May-June and again in September-October for Ospreys, fishing as they migrate, and be especially observant because Eagles are increasing .

Swallows---We named our farm Swallow Valley Farm for the hundreds of Swallows that share our little homestead for the warm seasons of the year. Thanks to the Swallows, we have almost no biting insects around our house, and we feel fortunate to have them. Six species of Swallow visit the Otselic Valley and five remain here to raise their young. The Barn Swallow, the Tree Swallow, the Cliff Swallow, the Bank Swallow, and the Rough Winged Swallow nest here. The Purple Martin, the largest Swallow, passes through. The Barn Swallow builds a mud nest inside a building. The Tree Swallow nests in a hollow tree, an old woodpecker hole, or a nest box. The Cliff Swallow (of Capistrano fame) builds a gourd shaped mud nest under the eaves on the outside of buildings. The Bank Swallow nests in large colonies in the banks of sand or gravel pits. The Rough Winged Swallow is a solitary nester which uses a hole in a bank or gravel pit. The Purple Martin likes large lakes or rivers, so has never been known to nest in the Otselic Valley. There is always one sad day in late summer when the silence tells me that the Swallows have gone back to their tropical homes.

Rare Birds found in Otselic
In recent years several rare and extremely rare birds have been sighted in Otselic.
Western Kingbird--This visitor was sighted on Miner Hill and was verified and accepted by the New York State Avian Records Committee. Inland records of this western bird are extremely rare. Atlantic coastal records are less rare.
Red Crossbill--This visitor from the northern forests of Canada and Alaska breeds here sporadically. In 1985-6 three subspecies were collected (road killed) at Perkins Pond. One subspecie was found nowhere else in the state that year. These specimens are now in the collection of the American Museum of Natural History in N.Y.C.
White-Winged Crossbill-- This circumpolar wanderer was never known to breed outside the Adirondacks in New York State. Breeding was proved here in Otselic in 1985-6. Museums and universities from the U.S. and Europe have written to me for information on this breeding occurrence.
Pine Siskin--Another northern nomad, the Siskin is known to breed in New York State. Few nests have been found, however. In 1985-6 a nest was found in a South Otselic backyard spruce tree. This nest is now at the American Museum of Natural History.
Saw-Whet Owl-- This tiny owl may breed but is seldom seen or heard. The call sounds like a saw being whet or sharpened with a file. One bird appeared at the Von Hassel farm during a winter period of deep snow and then apparently starved .
American Golden Plover--This bird, once adundant, was considered a great delicacy and was hunted relentlessly for the market until it almost disappeared. It remains at very low numbers today. One bird spent several days at the South Otselic Fish Hatchery, resting on its fall flight to South America.
Bald Eagle--An immature Eagle was perched along the Otselic River in November. In 2000, , an adult Eagle was walking on Route 26 and four others were seen for short periods in migration.

In 2001 a white Red Tailed Hawk took up residence and is apparently the male of a nesting pair.

A few of the interesting birds that have bred here include:
  • Swainsons Thrush
  • Northern Waterthrush
  • Louisiana Waterthrush
  • Northern Harrier
  • Goshawk
  • Prairie Warbler
  • White-Winged Crossbill
  • Red Crossbill
  • Pine Siskin
  • Hooded Merganser
  • Common Merganser
  • Blue Gray Gnatcatcher
  • Horned Lark

    The following birds are wanted. They have not been proven to breed currently in Otselic, but evidence suggests they could be or will be soon: