JAMESTOWN – Passenger planes aren’t the only birds taking off and landing at Chautauqua County Airport in the Town of Ellicott. Local ornithologists have discovered an endangered species nesting there.
Twan Leenders and Jim Berry, the current and former president of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History in Jamestown, report that they found Henslow’s Sparrows in three sections of the airport last week and determined that they were successfully raising their young in at least one location.
Connie Adams, senior wildlife biologist for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, reports that this is the only active nest site for Henslow’s Sparrows remaining in Western New York. As recently as 1980, the New York Breeding Bird Atlas reported the sparrow in 30 locations in Chautauqua County.
The Roger Tory Peterson Institute, with help from County Legislator Tom Erlandson and airport manager Sam Arcadipane and his staff, has made arrangements to delay mowing near the birds to allow them to complete their nesting season.
Another rare bird, the Grasshopper Sparrow, designated a Species of Special Concern in New York, also was seen on airport property and has been known to breed there in small numbers. Leenders says that the institute “is coordinating conservation efforts that will hopefully lead to consistently suitable living conditions for a variety of rare grassland species.”