girl with monarch butterfly on her hand in Jamestown NY

See free-flying butterflies & more at events by Audubon in Jamestown

Two events celebrating monarch butterflies will be held by the Audubon Community Nature Center, 1600 Riverside Rd., Jamestown. Butterflies and Brews Butterflies and Brews, an adults-only event, will be held from 6–9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25. Learn about the life cycle and migration of the monarch butterfly while enjoying great food and drinks. There will be free-flying butterflies and you can see some of the butterflies being tagged with tracking numbers to assist with national efforts to track the monarch migration….

bee on swamp milkweed flower

News from Master Gardeners: soil blocks, swamp milkweed & more

Check out these two publications from Master Gardeners in Western New York–they’re full of great information. Learn about soil blocks in the newest edition of The Optimistic Gardener, produced by the Master Gardeners in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties. You don’t need containers for seedlings when you have soil blocks, according to Mark Messinger, Master Gardener apprentice. “You can see the roots fill out the blockscompletely, and instead of swirling around and tangling themselves, each root just stopswhen it hits the…

bee on ironweed flower

Help the pollinators so they can help your plants in Western New York

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County’s Master Gardener Program is celebrating National Pollinator month by sharing information and resources to help create a garden for your favorite pollinators. by Shannon Rinow, Master Gardener Coordinator, Chautauqua County Butterflies and honeybees may come to mind when you think of pollinators, but pollinators also include wild native bees (there are 450 native species of bees in New York State), beetles, moths, bats, wasps, birds, specialized flies and other beneficial insects. They all play an important…

looking at mint plant in Amherst NY

Garden Talks begin in Batavia & on line

The Genesee County Master Gardeners will hold monthly Garden Talks starting in February. Garden Talk programs start at noon and can be 30 to 60 minutes long, depending on the topic. They will be held on Thursdays. This free series is open to all, but registration is required. You can attend in person at the Cornell Cooperative Extension office, 420 East Main St., Batavia, or online via Zoom. To attend in person, contact Mandy at 585-343-3040, ext. 101 or For a Zoom…

turkey vulture in Tonawanda NY

Join Audubon’s Christmas bird count to help scientists

You can help scientists learn how birds are faring in Western New York by volunteering for Audubon’s 123rd Christmas Bird Count. It’s one of the longest-running wildlife censuses in the world.  Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count will take place between Wednesday, Dec. 14 and Thursday, Jan. 5.   Each individual count takes place over the course of 24 hours, in a 15-mile-wide circle, and is led by a compiler responsible for organizing volunteers and submitting observations directly to Audubon. Participation is free. Within each circle, participants tally…

hummingbird at honeysuckle

When to hang hummingbird feeder in Western New York

by Connie Oswald Stofko Hang your hummingbird feeder two weeks before hummingbirds are expected in Western New York. Get more details below as well as tips on attracting hummingbirds to your garden and When to expect hummingbirds in Western New York Hummingbirds will return to Western New York in about mid-May, said Penny Durnin of North Tonawanda, who for many years was moderator of the Hummingbird Forum. (That forum is no longer online.) Hummingbirds could arrive earlier if they get a…

cardinal and sparrow in snow in Cheektowaga NY

Help researchers with Great Backyard Bird Count

The 25th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, which will be held Friday, Feb. 18 through Monday, Feb. 21, is a way for you to help researchers right from your own backyard. Anyone, from beginning bird watchers to experts, can take part. Participants are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the four-day event and report their sightings online at Each checklist submitted during the Great Backyard Bird…

monarch flying off swamp milkweed

Monarchs are in danger; how you can help in Western New York

by Connie Oswald Stofko Monarchs should be on the endangered species list, said Jay Burney, executive director of the Pollinator Conservation Association (PCA), based in Western New York. For years there has been a massive decline in monarch butterflies, but last year the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) declined to add the monarch to the endangered species list, Burney said. The FWS said there will be a yearly review and the monarch will stay in the running for…

banded wooly bear

Banded wooly bear: caterpillar that sticks around during winter

Legend has it that the banded woolly bear can predict the weather. The size of their middle band is supposed to tell us whether the winter will be harsh or mild. There are other versions of this folklore, too, though none of it stands up to scrutiny. But the banded wooly bear is a cool caterpillar. It is one of the few species of moth or butterfly that overwinters as a full-size caterpillar, according to the Butterflies & Moths of…

sparrow at birdfeeder in Western New York

Put your birdfeeders back up; birds no longer getting sick

by Connie Oswald Stofko Although the cause of the mysterious illness that was killing songbirds this summer is still a mystery, birds are no longer getting sick. You can put your birdfeeders and bird baths back up, according to an updated statement on All About Birds from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. To try to prevent the spread of the illness, home gardeners were asked to take down birdfeeders and bird baths so birds wouldn’t congregate there. The cause of…