Photo: Betsy Darlington

Get Outside for Spring Bird Quest!

Mark Chao, Land Trust volunteer, Ithaca birder and creator of Spring Bird Quest, will lead five walks on FLLT preserves  during Memorial Day weekend! Come experience the dazzling spectacle of migrant and breeding birds, learn about their behavior and ecology, and help support the Land Trust!

About Mark Chao and Spring Bird Quest

In 1993, far from Ithaca, before ornithologist and writer Miyoko Chu married Mark Chao, she gave him a set of binoculars. They proved to be an investment of compound interest for the Land Trust, eventually leading to Mark’s becoming one of the most capable, passionate and vigorous volunteers the Land Trust has ever had. Despite an urban Boston childhood devoid of experience or interest in the natural world, with those new binoculars Mark took to birding like a goldfinch to a field of thistles. His first time out he was hooked.

Photo: Betsy Darlington

Photo: Betsy Darlington

Mark and Miyoko settled in Ithaca in 2001. Shortly after, he heard from local birders about the Land Trust’s preserves, which surprised and delighted him in their size, beauty and variety of wildlife. “It’s no accident that these lands have been saved from development,” he said. “It’s the result of great vision and work of the Land Trust, as well as Cornell and other community institutions, and the generosity of everyone who has supported these groups.”

Mark began to think about how to form a link between the Land Trust and the birding community he had grown to love. In 2006 he decided to do a solo bird-count fund-raiser and brought in more than $2000. In 2007 he invited others to join him. With those 25 participants he raised $6000. And in every following year, Mark has continued to lead Spring Bird Quest while raising funds for the conservation of critical bird habitat.  The main thing, Mark said, is to join the “great fun of … seeing lots of different species of birds at their most active, behaviorally-fascinating time of year, and sharing the sightings with others.”

Join us for Spring Bird Quest at one or more of the following events:

May 27 at 8:00 am- Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve 

May 28 at 8:00 am – Bock-Harvey Forest Preserve

May 28 at 10:00 am – Stevenson Forest Preserve

May 29 at 6:30 am – Goetchius Wetland Preserve

May 29 at 8:30 am – Roy H. Park Preserve

The walks are free but donations are heartily welcomed.  We will be keeping a tally of bird species found.  Please let us know if you would like to make a pledge per species and we will let you know the total count once the numbers are in. Contact us at or call (607) 275-9487. General donations are welcome too.  Gifts can be made online – please click the box that says “This gift is in honor or memory of someone” and type in: Spring Bird Quest.