Programs 2016 – 2017 Season

American Museum of Natural History © Sherry Felix
Peregrine Falcons at Riverside Church © Alan Messer

The Society meets on the second Tuesday of each month from September through May, except March, in the Linder Theater on the first floor of the American Museum of Natural History (enter at West 77th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue). This season, however, the Society will meet on the third Tuesday of November (November 15th, not the 8th).

At each monthly meeting there are two presentations, one starting at 6 pm and the other beginning after the Society’s business at 7:30 pm. All meetings are open to the public and without charge. The Society’s annual meeting and dinner is held on the second Tuesday in March in a private venue, and is open only to members of the Society and their guests.

Up-to-date information about the programs can be found here or at

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See all the dates on our interactive calendar.


Thanks to Sherry Felix, Megan Gavin, Alan Messer, and James Muchmore for the use of their artwork.


— Programs 2016–2017 —

September 13, 2016

Pectoral Sandpiper, Inwood Hill Park 9/22/2014 © Patrick Baglee
Pectoral Sandpiper, Inwood Hill Park
9/22/2014 © Patrick Baglee
6:00 pm — Chile, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands – Ardith Bondi

In pursuit of penguins, some of her favorite birds, Ardith Bondi has made several trips to South Georgia and the Falkland Islands, including an extension to Chile. Penguins are not always easy to access. Some require a few flights to out-of-the-way places; others require some pretty rough boat trips or climbing rocks. One always hopes that the weather cooperates. Bondi’s talk will include photos of seven species of penguins, some very unusual ducks, albatrosses and giant petrels, geese, pipits, wrens, plovers, an owl, other birds, and a few mammals. Her presentation includes some special captures of behaviors, the reward for spending hours observing bird colonies. An accomplished photographer and flutist, with a background in pharmacology and medical research, Bondi continues to travel and to photograph birds near her home in Manhattan and in many other interesting locales.

7:30 pm — Following Birds to the Heart of Brazil – Carlos Sanchez

In 2013, Carlos Sanchez quit his office job in the United States and traveled to the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso to follow his passion of being a birding guide. Even in a country well known for its staggering biodiversity, the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso is exceptional. Located in the heart of South America, it encompasses three major biomes (Pantanal, Cerrado, and Amazonia) that together make this one of the most biologically rich regions in all of Brazil. With its astonishing list of nearly 600 bird species, there are few better ways to explore the Amazonian biome than to become a birding guide at the famous Cristalino Lodge. Carlos Sanchez shares his knowledge of this vast eco-region, gained as a birding guide at this renowned lodge, as well as his personal experiences on this life-changing journey. Sanchez currently sits on the board of the Tropical Audubon Society, is a regular contributor to the birding blog 10,000 Birds, and leads local tours through his company, EcoAvian Tours.

October 11, 2016

Barn Owlets, Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge /9/2005 © Barbara Saunders
Barn Owlets, Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge
6/9/2005 © Barbara Saunders
6:00 pm — Comparative observations of the structure and functions of the avian and human lung – Dr. Edward Eden

Dr. Edward Eden, a specialist in lung diseases, has a strong interest in the comparative physiology of lung structure and function in animals. He grew up in England and as a child was always fascinated by birds. This interest has developed and flourished throughout his life. Currently director of the Pulmonary Physiology Laboratory at Mount Sinai Hospitals, Dr. Eden will review the principles of structure of mammalian and avian lungs and the relationship of this to the physiologic functions of ventilation, gas exchange and oxygen supply. Dr. Eden will highlight some variations in structure and physiology as adaptations to oxygen demand in some species of birds.

7:30 pm — Bermuda’s Birds: 390 Species in 21 Square Miles – Andrew Dobson

Bermuda lays claim to having one of the largest bird lists of any island in the region. For an area of only 21 square miles and 20 breeding species, it might seem surprising that about 390 species have been recorded. Andrew Dobson, president of the Bermuda Audubon Society, has been studying and photographing birds in Bermuda for more than 25 years and will offer explanations as to what have enabled a huge increase in the number of species recorded in the past 100 years. Human factors such as the publication of field guides, citizen science, and social media all play their part but the natural factors are key. Bermuda is isolated from other land areas and its situation in relation to the Gulf Stream, migratory routes, and weather patterns all lead to an impressive avifauna. Dobson will also provide the latest news of the Cahow (Bermuda Petrel) recovery program.

November 15, 2016

6:00 pm — Wildlife Rehabilitation in the Heart of New York City – Rita McMahon

Yellow-rumped Warbler © Alan Messer
Yellow-rumped Warbler © Alan Messer

355 bird species live in or migrate through New York City. Surrounded by water, with 50,000 acres of parks and open spaces, the city is both an oasis and an obstacle course. Hundreds of thousands of birds are hurt or killed simply by flying into our buildings. Others fall prey to cat and dog attacks, cars and bicycles, pollution and litter. Ninety percent of the cases seen by the Wild Bird Fund Center are directly or indirectly due to human activity. Prior to the Wild Bird Fund Center opening in 2012, New York was the only major city in the United States that did not have a hospital for wildlife. In the first year of operation the WBF center treated 1,500 birds and animals; in 2016 the number of WBF patients will rise to over 4,000. Over 100 different species are treated each year. Rita McMahon, co-founder and director of the Wild Bird Fund, will talk about the origins of New York City’s one and only wildlife rehabilitation and education center, as well as its day-to-day operations and mission. Some of the cases to be presented: Hedwig the Snowy Owl shot in the shoulder, Hamilton the juvenile Peregrine Falcon, Mouser the Great Blue Heron, and Darienne the Red-tailed Hawk.

7:30 pm — Drifters: A Guide to the Stray Tropical Fishes of New York – Todd Gardner

Off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, the Gulf Stream transports approximately 100 million cubic meters of seawater northward per second. Dwelling within this, the world’s most powerful ocean current, is a diverse ecosystem of resident, transient, and planktonic marine life. Among the plankton community of the Gulf Stream are eggs and larvae of marine animals that were spawned on distant coral reefs and continental shelf waters from the Caribbean Islands to the Carolinas. Many of these animals are destined to never encounter a suitable habitat, but for one poorly studied group of fishes, it means being deposited along a temperate shoreline during the summer, where water temperatures are high enough to support them for only a few months of each year. For 30 years, Todd Gardner has been collecting and cataloging tropical fish species in the waters around Long Island, New York. In that time he has recorded more than 100 species of tropical marine fish here and made some observations that demand further attention. Join Gardner, a professor of marine biology at Suffolk County Community College in Riverhead, and recipient of the prestigious Aquarist of the Year Award from the Marine Aquarium Society of North America, as he discusses collection and husbandry techniques as well as the fate and ecology of these tropical drifters.

December 13, 2016

Red-breasted Merganser decoys © Eric Kaiser
Red-breasted Merganser decoys © Eric Kaiser

6:00 pm — Birds of Wood: An American Art Form – Eric Kaiser

Through a legacy of sculptures that celebrate the magnificence of nature’s delicate grace, Eric Kaiser, an award-winning master carver, will offer a glimpse into his world with an exploration of the art of bird carving. European settlers adopted the innovation of the decoy from Native Americans. From the primitive abstract forms made of wood by the pioneers, bird carving as an art developed in America. Kaiser will take you on a trip from the early days of market gunning and the colorful characters and methods of the day, to the influence of some of our fledgling efforts at conservation legislation. The popularity of early decoy competitions has led to carvings being much more than hunting tools. Nowadays a number of artists take part in creating beautiful realistic pieces of avian art in the practice of this wonderful genre. Kaiser will follow this look into yesterday by illustrating the magic of contemporary bird carving today. He will share with you how he transforms a block of wood into a bird that seems alive. Prepare to be amazed!

Barnacle Goose, Randall's Island 1/26/2014 © Patrick Baglee
Barnacle Goose, Randall's Island
1/26/2014 © Patrick Baglee

7:30 pm — Sea-level Rise: Causes, Effects, and Solutions – Mark Lowery

As the Earth’s system warms, New York City will experience the effects of several climatic hazards, including extreme heat, increased precipitation and riparian flooding, and sea-level rise. Sea-level rise greatly exacerbated the damage and destruction caused by Superstorm Sandy, and coastal flooding during all future storms, whether or not they are made more severe by a warmer atmosphere, will be launched from higher coastal waters. Mark Lowery will examine the global phenomena that cause the world’s ocean waters to rise and the local factors that mean New York’s tidal waters will rise even faster than the global average. Lowery will describe the implications of rising waters for public infrastructure, human health and safety, and natural systems, including wildlife, and he will describe regulatory and nonregulatory approaches New York State is taking to reduce the risks associated with sea-level rise. Mark Lowery is a climate policy analyst in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Office of Climate Change. He led the effort to adopt New York State’s sea-level rise projection regulation and is coordinating implementation of the State Community Risk and Resiliency Act.

January 10, 2017 — Change of Program

Thoreau's Wildflowers

6:00 pm — Thoreau’s Wildflowers

To mark the 200th anniversary this year of the birth of Henry David Thoreau, wildlife writer Geoff Wisner will offer a selection of and commentary on the renowned naturalist's journal writings about the flowering plants of his native Concord, Massachusetts.

7:30 pm — Bird Photo Identification Quiz

Legendary bird photographer (among his several talents) Phil Jeffrey will lead us through an avian ID quiz. Get your mental binoculars focused for the challenge!

8:15 pm — Celebrating Sarah Elliott

Join us as we take some loving looks at the life and work of Central Park naturalist Sarah Elliott. Participants include Neil Emond and Richard ZainEldeen.

February 14, 2017

Lark Sparrow, Great Hill, Central Park 12/10/2013 © Patrick Baglee
Lark Sparrow, Great Hill, Central Park
12/10/2013 © Patrick Baglee

6:00 pm — Making Music from the Sounds of Nature – Ben Mirin

Ben Mirin is a sound artist and television presenter who records wildlife and composes music from the sounds of nature. His talk will present music as a medium for celebrating biodiversity and engaging people from all walks of life with the natural world. Mirin will perform music made from wildlife sounds he has recorded with colleagues in the scientific community and local artists in India, Madagascar, and a wide range of ecosystems around the world. He will discuss the process behind his work, how it dovetails with scientific research, and how the music works to inspire conservation at a local level. To further understand their impact, we will experience the music alongside film and photography of Mirin’s ongoing efforts with National Geographic, The Safina Center, and other organizations to create anthems to our natural heritage around the world.

7:30 pm — Seeing sounds: New Ways to Identify Birds by Ear – Nathan Pieplow

The ability to identify birds by ear is crucially important to experienced birders. For years, gaining this ability has required a long, slow process of memorizing sounds. But the forthcoming Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds aims to change all that. In this talk, author Nathan Pieplow will introduce the concepts behind the field guide and teach expert skills in listening to bird sounds, reading spectrograms, and visualizing sounds. He will share some of the thousands of recordings he has made over more than a decade as a sound recordist, and the insights he has gained from his efforts to standardize the way we talk about, think about, and listen to bird sounds. Pieplow teaches writing and rhetoric at the University of Colorado, Boulder. An avid bird sound recordist, he is the author of the bird sound blog as well as the upcoming Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds. He is an author of the Colorado Birding Trail, former board member of the Colorado Field Ornithologists, and former editor of the journal Colorado Birds.

March 14, 2017

ANNUAL MEETING AND DINNER ~ 6:30 pm – open only to members and their guests [details will be in the invite]
Wilson's Storm-Petrel, Raritan Bay 7/30/2011 © Barbara Saunders
Wilson's Storm-Petrel, Raritan Bay
7/30/2011 © Barbara Saunders

Seven Years and Seven Continents – Peter Harrison

At the Annual Meeting and Dinner, Peter Harrison will receive the Eisenmann Medal, the Linnaean Society’s highest award, given for excellence in ornithology and encouragement of the amateur. Peter Harrison, a professional birder, artist, author, and screenwriter, is widely considered as one of the world’s foremost authorities on seabirds. Having seen all but one of the world’s 350 or so seabirds, Harrison has written and illustrated over a dozen books of which his Seabirds: An Identification Guide is considered to be the bible of seabird identification. Described as the best bird guide of any kind or of any generation when first published in 1983, it was awarded the “Best Bird Book of the Year” award by the prestigious journal British Birds. Even today, thirty-three years after its publication, it is regarded as the standard work on the seabirds of the world. More recently Harrison has been engaged as consultant and screenwriter in the production of such well-known BBC television series as Life in the Freezer and The Blue Planet. An ardent conservationist, Harrison has helped raise millions of dollars for such important conservation projects as the “Save the Albatross” campaign and rat and mouse eradication projects at South Georgia, Henderson Island, and Gough Island. We invite you to join Peter Harrison for his presentation: “Seven Years and Seven Continents.” Complemented by images from areas as diverse as the Antarctic with its penguins to the Tuareg warriors of the Sahara and the outback of Australia, Harrison’s talk unfolds as a series of adventures spanning seven years of fact-finding and research behind his award-winning Seabirds: An Identification Guide. Punctuated with humor and anecdotal stories and illustrated by superb original research images, his lecture begins with an overland journey from London to Cape Town and then on to Australia, New Zealand, and the Americas. This inspirational story is not about being the best, but simply doing your best.

April 11, 2017

6:00 pm — The American Redstart: A Birder’s View – Stephane Perreault

American Kestrel, Floyd Bennett Field 12/6/2009 © Barbara Saunders
American Kestrel, Floyd Bennett Field
12/6/2009 © Barbara Saunders

Stephane Perreault studied redstarts for six years at McGill University, including a DNA parentage study. Perreault’s presentation on the American Redstart will focus on features that will allow birders and bird watchers to further appreciate these marvelous birds. The recognition of sexual dimorphism, delayed plumage maturation, individual plumage pattern, and songs that can be recognized to the individual, can provide any of us with more meaningful encounters with this species. These will be discussed in the context of the fascinating breeding biology of the American Redstart. Perreault has co-authored papers on the breeding biology of Redstarts, Yellow Warblers, and also assisted in the field studies of Cattle Egrets and Red-breasted Mergansers. Although he has pursued a career in laboratories for the last 20 years, he has never ceased to remain an avid birder.

7:30 pm — The Who, How, What, and Where of Life as a Penguin: How Studying Both Captive and Wild Populations of Penguins is Redefining “Normal” – Heather Lynch

Over the last two centuries, our understanding of penguin biology has advanced considerably, from early reports claiming that penguins were actually fish, to modern times, with sophisticated networks of field studies tracking nearly every aspect of breeding behavior, ecology, and life history. However, captive populations of penguins have been largely overlooked as a source of information on penguin biology, despite the promise they hold as a window into penguin biology and natural history. Dr. Heather Lynch, Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolution at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, will focus on recent developments at the interface of wild and captive penguin research. She will also discuss work on behavioral acoustics and reproductive behavior that will permit a more nuanced understanding of how climate change and other threats are likely to affect penguin populations over the next century. Her research is focused on uncovering the population dynamics and biogeographic distribution of Antarctic wildlife, with a particular focus on combining high-resolution satellite imagery and old-fashioned field expeditions to track the abundance and distribution of penguins.

May 9, 2017

Phyllomedusa tomopterna, 2016 © James Muchmore
Phyllomedusa tomopterna, 2016 © James Muchmore

6:00 pm — Project: Save the Choco – James Muchmore

Wildlife enthusiast and design conservationist James Muchmore will talk about his journeys into the Chocó region of Ecuador and the Save the Chocó project, which leverages his design, branding, and photography skill set to support conservation efforts in the region. The Chocó region is made up of rain forests, mountains, and coastal areas, running from southwest Panama to northwest Ecuador. It is a biodiversity hotspot and the wettest region of the planet. It harbors 9,000 species of vascular plants and is the most floristically diverse region in the neotropics. In the Chocó there are about 270 species of mammals, 210 species of reptiles, 500 species of birds and 130 species of amphibians; many are endemic to the Chocó region. Join Muchmore to learn more about the wildlife found in this region and the efforts being taken to protect it.

7:30 pm — Polyglottal Passerines: Mimicry Is Not Just for Mockingbirds – Richard Hoyer

While birding at Oregon’s Finley National Wildlife Refuge in his teens, Rich Hoyer heard the most amazing thing—a Purple Finch incorporating sounds of a California Scrub-Jay in its jumbled song—and thought he had discovered something new, since such behavior wasn’t mentioned in any field guide. Since then he’s been fascinated and intrigued by mimicry in birds, collecting personal observations and recordings of the phenomenon. In this audiovisual presentation, Hoyer will present examples of mimicry in songbirds from throughout the Americas and share his enthusiasm for this curious and often entertaining behavior. Hoyer currently leads tours to such exciting locations as Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Costa Rica, Mexico, Belize, and Jamaica, but also looks forward to his annual tours that explore the beauty and diversity of his home state of Oregon.

— Summer Programs 2017 —

Field sketch, Chuck-will's-widow, Central Park © Alan Messer
Field sketch, Chuck-will's-widow, Central Park © Alan Messer

These programs, led by experts in their field, are held in Central Park, with the meeting dates, times, and places as indicated. The programs will take place in drizzle but not in rain. Check the LSNY website as well as Facebook and Twitter for updates and changes. Insect repellent is advised. For evening walks please bring a flashlight. Please note that for summer 2017 there is no scheduled June program, and that there are two programs in August.
Also listed in Linnaean Society field trips.

Thursday July 27 Now Friday July 28, 2017 — Orienteering in Central Park – Sherry Felix


When you head into regions unknown in search of a special bird, you may expect to rely on your cell phone’s map and compass apps—but batteries die and GPS signals fade. This is why finding one’s way using a traditional compass and understanding how to read topographic maps is still vital. Join former urban park ranger and Audubon environmental educator Sherry Felix in the Ramble as she reviews map scales, symbols, and contours as well as basic compass bearings—plus a few ways to navigate without any aids at all.

If you can, bring a compass with a transparent plastic baseplate and download and print the map (PDF).

Meet at the northeast corner of 77st Street & Central Park West at 6:30 pm.
Also mentioned in Linnaean field trips.

Wednesday August 9, now August 23, 2017 — Central Park for Bats, Crickets, and Katydids – Paul Keim

White-breasted Nuthatch © James Muchmore
White-breasted Nuthatch © James Muchmore

Birdwatcher, watercolor artist, and naturalist, Paul Keim will lead us on a discovery of the creatures of the twilight and night sky from fireflies to flying mammals. Using an echolocator to hear the local species of bats by their otherwise inaudible high-frequency chirps, we will follow their movements with a flashlight as they zip by quickly hunting for insect food. We will also share Paul’s growing interest in crickets and katydids as we try to track the different species making the evening’s choral cacophony.

Meet at the northeast corner of 103th Street & Central Park West at 7:00 pm.

Saturday August 26, 2017 — Central Park Horticultural Walk – Regina Alvarez

Poppy (Papavaraceae), Wave Hill, Bronx 6/15/2016 © Sherry Felix
Poppy (Papavaraceae), Wave Hill, Bronx
6/15/2016 © Sherry Felix

Join botanist Regina Alvarez for a walk in the North Woods and the Wildflower Meadow for a late summer look at the flowering plants and shrubs of Central Park’s north end. Along with fellow botanist Daniel Atha, Regina has been collecting herbarium specimens of every species growing wild in the park. Already they have discovered new botanical records and have rediscovered plants not seen in the parks since the 1850s. Regina is a former director of horticulture and a woodland manager for the Central Park Conservancy. Currently she is adjunct professor of botany at the City University of New York.

Meet at the northeast corner of 77th Street & Central Park West now 103rd Street and CPW at 10:00 am.