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While I do enjoy visiting the warm glasshouses of our splendid botanical garden during the winter, the experience can pall. Though it’s lovely to view orchids, bromeliads, succulents, towering palms, and a wide variety of tropical oddities, it can get to be a bit routine. And you’re not getting much of a workout.

Fortunately, a non-skiing plant and wildlife lover has plenty of options in the winter—even in Buffalo. A few weeks back, I visited one of six Audubon Society sites that hug the southeastern edges of Western New York. The main site, Beaver Meadow, is in the wonderfully named North Java (pronounced Jaiva, OK?). It has a visitor’s center that is lined with windows in the back, all the better to catch the action around a large group of feeders. Beyond the feeders are wooded trails around a large pond. You can comfortably watch the birds from inside, or go outside and hang quietly—they come right back. Then you can take a walk around the pond and take in the undeniable beauty of the winter landscape.

Other winter go-tos here are Reinstein Woods, a refuge for wildlife and native plants surrounded by suburban developments, and Tifft Nature Preserve, which is designated an Important Bird Area (thanks to the Niagara River and the Great Lakes and our location on migration routes, this whole area is great for birds).

At Beaver Meadow, I saw cardinals, bluejays, goldfinches, downy and red-bellied woodpeckers, chickadees, and junkos. Not bad for a cold winter’s day. I don’t miss public gardens in the winter. As long as I am adequately clothed (and maybe equipped with a pair of snowshoes), winter walks offer a sense of adventure you might not get in summer.

Posted by

Elizabeth Licata
on February 16, 2016 at 10:01 am, in the category Public Gardens.


  1. Last year I lost 30 bluebirds because of the bitter winter. This occurred across the nation during the winter of 2015. The 2002 ice storm that hit the areas of bluebird migration was devastating to bird populations. My trail still has not completely recovered from that. I fledged over 500 birds in the summer of 2001 and only 100 the next year, 2002.

  2. It sure appears that this is one of the many cases that was most likely going to a 5-4 vote in favor of the Farm Bureau and against the EPA had Scalia been available. It takes the votes of four justices for the court to agree to take a case. With only eight justices remaining on the court for the foreseeable future, it’s possible that the court was reluctant to take on new cases that could split 4-4 along ideological lines.

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