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February 2024 Newsletter

Updated: Apr 10


Photo by Jeanne Wiebenga of Tundra Swans on Chautauqua Lake on February 26. The swans are making their way north, hopping along a path of unfrozen lakes.


Although not frozen, the lake is certainly not warm. So how do the swans stay warm, especially with those long skinny necks? Well, you know the answer to that—downy feathers. But how many does it take? According to David Allen Sibley in What It's Like to Be a Bird, "a Tundra Swan holds the record for the most feathers ever counted on an individual bird—just over twenty-five thousand in all, with 80% of those (about twenty thousand feathers) on the head and neck."


And did you know that the bill of a bird is covered in keratin like our fingernails? Sibley writes, "The keratin layer is constantly growing to heal nicks and scratches and to maintain the shape of the bill, including the sharp edges and hooked tip, which are worn down by use." The Tundra Swan's bill is mostly black and usually has a yellow spot at the base. But because keratin is living tissue, the color of the bill can gradually change color.


 


Tickets on Sale Now for

The 2024 House & Garden Tour - July 11, 2024


 This year will mark the 70th birthday of the BTG's House and Garden Tour. The 2024 Chautauqua BTG House and Garden Tour will be held on Thursday July 11th during Week 3 of the 2024 Chautauqua Season. 


Proceeds from the tour are used to pay for programming for the following two years. Please support the BTG by purchasing your ticket today! Tickets are available on the Chautauqua BTG website or by mail using the ticket order form.


Individual tickets are $55. If you are able, please consider an Individual Sponsorship at $155 by joining the 2024 Henrietta Ord Jones Society. Your membership includes a ticket to the Tour. If you are interested in a corporate sponsorship, please email us here. 


The 2024 House and Garden Tour will combine Chautauqua history, homes, and gardens.  Join us for docent-led House and Garden Tours.


Individual tickets are $55. If you are able, please consider an Individual Sponsorship at $155 by joining the 2024 Henrietta Ord Jones Society. Your membership includes a ticket to the Tour. If you are interested in a corporate sponsorship, please email us here


The 2024 House and Garden Tour will combine Chautauqua history, homes, and gardens.  Join us for docent-led House and Garden Tours.


Plan to enjoy a day at Chautauqua viewing beautiful homes and wonderful gardens while taking in all Chautauqua Institution has to offer.

 

Pre-Order your Commemorative Plates Today! Deadline is March 31

A limited number of plates will be available for sale during the House & Garden Tour for $50 each 

Pre-Orders ($35/plate) will be boxed and available for pick up during the House & Garden Tour


In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Smith Wilkes Hall and the 150th anniversary of Chautauqua Institution, the BTG is reissuing the Bird, Tree & Garden Club commemorative plates. 


The plate design was first issued in 1970 to commemorate Chautauqua Institution's centennial in 1974.  The design was issued again in 1983 to commemorate the BTG's 75th anniversary and in 1999 to commemorate Chautauqua Institution's 125th anniversary.


The 9 1/4" Dinner plates can be ordered in either blue or green until March 31st, 2024 with pick up available during the 2024 Chautauqua season. Plates will not be shipped.  Plates can be ordered for $35 each or for $375 a dozen.


While the design remains the same, please note the colors will vary somewhat from the plates produced years ago.


Pick up will be available at the Tuesday BTG Brown Bags at Smith Wilkes Hall and on Thursday July 11th during the 2024 House and Garden Tour.  More details of additional pick up locations and times to come.


Orders can be placed on the Chautauqua BTG website or by mail using the plate order form.  All orders must be received by March 31st to ensure pick up during the 2024 Chautauqua Institution Season.


A big thank you to Cesca Koron, Jenny Rappole and Karen Paul for volunteering their time for this special project.


The back of the plate will read:


Issued in 2024 in celebration

of the 100th anniversary of Smith Wilkes Hall

and the 150th anniversary of Chautauqua Institution. 

Smith Wilkes Hall was a gift from

Addie Mae Smith Wilkes in 1924 to her favorite

Chautauqua club, the Chautauqua Bird, Tree and Garden Club. 

The club was founded as the Bird and Tree Club in 1913.


Scenes depicted are

Top - Smith Wilkes Hall

Left - Hall of Christ

Right - Hall of Philosophy

Bottom - Athenaeum Hotel

 

The Housing Report


According to Twan Leenders of the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, the biggest bird news in Chautauqua County is the collapse of the known Bald Eagle nest on Hunt Road during the big wind storms in January. But to everyone's surprise, the pair started rebuilding. Many people have been going out to watch the process, with lots of great photographers out there. Lucky for us, our own Jeanne Wiebenga was one of them and shared these photos she took last week. The new nest is looking good!


Twan also reports that he drove to Erie last week and counted eight bald eagles along the way - pretty amazing!



 

The Hunt for the Woolly Booger:

(Your chance to become a Citizen Scientist!)

No, it's not actually called the Woolly Booger, it's really called the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid or HWA, but it's a real booger. The HWA is an aphid-like insect infecting and killing hemlocks. First detected in the US in the 1950s, it was thought not to be cold-hardy enough to reach Chautauqua. Unfortunately, it was detected in Chautauqua at the old hemlock by Alumni Hall on August 19, 2021, by Betsy's Garden Team. So it is here and now it's important to track its advance.  New York State and Cornell need data and you can help! 


First, go out and check your own hemlocks and report and treat them if you find egg masses.


If you have a little more time, here are two ways you can really help:


This from Erie Parks:


We will be hosting three Hemlock Woolly Adelgid surveying training events at Erie County Parks in the coming weeks. This training will consist of Cornell's NYS Hemlock Initiative's HWA Hunters volunteer surveying and reporting training protocol, to "...provide data about HWA presence/absence, density, and overall hemlock health in a given area. Help us (NYSHI) fill in critical survey gaps, detect emerging HWA infestations, and identify new biocontrol areas."

 

The trainings will be from 4:30 - 6:00 PM on:

  • March 8, at Emery Park, 2084 Emery Rd, South Wales, NY 14139

  • March 14, at Sprague Brook Park, 9674 Foote Rd, Glenwood, NY 14069

  • March 15, at Chestnut Ridge Park, 6121 Chestnut Ridge Rd, Orchard Park, NY 14127


And if you don't need training, you can jump right in and join the: 

 

2nd Annual Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) Winter Mapping Challenge


From February 1st – March 15th, the New York Natural Heritage Program in partnership with the NYS Hemlock Initiative is hosting a winter mapping challenge. Join the challenge to help map HWA along the “leading edge” of its current range and compete to win a prize! 


To participate: find some hemlock trees in your area, check for HWA egg masses (look for white fuzz balls on the undersides of twigs like in the photo above), and report your findings to NY iMapInvasives. The iMap users who survey the most sites for HWA will win the challenge! Double points are awarded for surveys in any of the survey gap counties along the "leading edge" of HWA's spread (see map on NY iMapInvasvies website – includes four western New York counties!)  Visit the NY iMapInvasives website to learn more about the challenge.

 

Photo by Jeanne Wiebenga of Tundra Swans in flight over Chautauqua Lake on February 24, 2024.


Just A Little More about Tundra Swans...


Cornell's All About Birds had this historical tidbit about Tundra Swans on their website:


Lewis and Clark provided the first written description of the Tundra Swan during their expedition to the West, where the birds’ whistle-like calls prompted Meriwether Lewis to dub them “whistling swans.”


And if you'd like to know a lot more about the Tundra Swan, click here.


 





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