Thursday, 13 April 2017 09:29

Fidler’s Passion For Birding Sends Him to Cuba

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Wayne Fidler recently back from Guatamino Bay, Cuba Wayne Fidler recently back from Guatamino Bay, Cuba Submitted photo

If you’re engaged in a conversation with Mexico’s Wayne Fidler, don’t be alarmed if you suddenly lose his attention. He probably hears the call of a Black Throated Green Warbler, or some other bird on his personal checklist.

That’s because he’s a passionate bird watcher who covers Oswego County, and whose exploits recently took him to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Fidler visited a friend at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base the two months of February and March and set a goal of documenting as many species of birds and butterflies as he could using Cornell University’s eBird app, from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. He even gave two or three bird watching tours for local residents while he was there.

During his time in Cuba, Fidler documented 94 different species of birds and 30 species of butterflies, in addition to snakes geckos, iguana, a Moray eel, triggerfish, and other wildlife. “I also saw a Desmarest’s Hutia (similar to a porcupine), also called a Banana Rat,” Fidler said. “They are about three feet long and weigh about 25 lbs. There’s also a large bat population there with many different species. The most interesting l animal I saw was a Cuban boa constrictor, and the prettiest specimen I saw was a Uranium Moth, which is metallic green and black.

“Every time you go birding, you set an individual goal and checklists. According to eBird, I’m the fourth highest birder in Cuba per checklist. Your checklist is what you saw and documented using the app during your day.”

Fidler said that Cuba has many of the same birds that are found in Oswego County. “Many birds come through our area in the summer months, and winter in Cuba. Among these are: Cape May Warblers, American Redstarts, and Oven Birds.”

Fidler explained that as long as there is daylight, he’s out birding. “I find a spot and start exploring it until I’ve mapped it all out,” he said. “ You check the trees and the ground, but your ears are your most valuable sense. You’ll hear them most often before you see them. After a while, you triangulate where the bird is.

“It takes a lot of practice. I can spend 10 hours a day or more outside: staking out, watching, listening, counting, and reporting in real-time while in the field.”

Fidler said that there are many “hot spots” to watch birds in Oswego County according to the eBird app.

“Oswego Harbor is a hot spot because you get all the waterfowl in there during the winter,” Fidler said. “Other hot spots for birding around Oswego, , include: West Bridge St., Ft. Ontario Park, Breitbeck Park, Oswego River Lock 6, SUNY Oswego lakeshore, Gray Rd. between 25 and First, Rice Creek, Sithe Energy Trails (near Novelis), Snake Creek on Lakeshore Rd, Oswego River in Minetto, Battle Island, Sunset Bay Park (near the Scriba boat launch), Sterling Nature Center, the Oswego County Airport, and many more! They nest there, breed there, or migrate there.

“You can also suggest hot spots for the app as well. For example, Bishop Rd. in Pulaski is kind of our makeshift hawk watching spot in the fall. They don’t tend to migrate as much along the lake in the fall, so you can go up there and see the hawks. Camp Zerbe was designated a hot spot recently.

Birders, of course, aren’t usually content just watching birds that come your yard. Fidler, however, gave some tips on attracting them to your home: “If you want to attract them to your yard, make sure you put out water. For your bird feeder, black oils sunflower seed is the most important seed, as is thistle seed and suet cakes. Suet give the birds energy and keeps them healthy.”

Fidler’s schedule affords him the time to pursue his passion. “I work all summer long at a seasonal job,” he said, and then I’m off from late November through early April to work as a citizen scientist.

“I also record butterflies and moths, and report them to Butterflies and Moths of North America, (BEMONA). In fact, I had the good fortune of being the first person to spot and record a White M Hairstreak butterfly in Oswego County.”

Fidler has been focused on biodiversity in the county for a long time. In fact, he’s in the process of going down every road in Oswego County and developing a checklist for eBird.

“I enjoy the thrill of the hunt,” Fidler said, “And my trophies are my pictures.

Wayne Fidler is a regular photo contributor on iHeartOswego and you can visit his Facebook page at

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