DELEVAN, NY - You never know what you'll find at Gooseneck Hill Waterfowl Sanctuary in Delevan, NY, but you will definitely find birds, and lots of them!
This unique sanctuary, founded in 1983 by owners Milt and Rosemary Miner, began with just a couple of ducks and has now grown to over 500 birds representing 50 species! Rosemary Miner is one of the founders of the sanctuary, "Not many places in the world will you ever see all the birds we have here, and most of them eventually will become extinct, we have three already on the endangered species list, most of them are on the protected list, so there's not a lot of these birds in the world."
Rare species thrive here in abundance at Gooseneck Hill, birds so close to extinction there are only a few hundred left, such as the NeNe Goose, a native of Hawaii, and considered the world's rarest, says Rosemary, "There's only 600 in the world, and they came from six, so if we don't raise them, then eventually they'll become extinct."
Or you might see a Blue Ross Goose, another very rare bird that breeds in the Arctic. Milt Miner, Rosemary's husband and founder tells 2 The Outdoors, "We have three Ross' Geese, Blue Ross, and the chance of breeding them is one in a million, so we have three of those, so you figure out we have three of them, and you multiply one in a million by one in a million, by one in a million, that's the odds of us having three of them, which is very,very rare."
Then there's the Red Breasted Goose, striking native of the frozen North. "We also have the Red Breasted Geese, which are the prettiest goose in the world, and we have about a hundred of those altogether,but they're also endangered over in Russia, Siberia." The sanctuary boasts the two largest covered aviaries in the world... a safe haven for the birds, but also a great natural classroom for visitors both young and old, a place to interact with nature on a very intimate level, says Milt, "Last week we had a little kid, a year and a half old, he's standing there with a piece of lettuce, hand feeding them there, and all kinds of things...kids love it, adults love it, and so do seniors!"
Rosemary agrees, "You're right inside with the birds, no place will let you inside to feed the birds,walk among them, have them fly around you, I mean this is the only place in the world...no one would let you inside!"
For the Miners, the sanctuary is a labor of love, one that requires they overcome numerous obstacles, such as the devastating flood in 2009 that damaged a large part of the farm. Still, despite the challenges, the couple wouldn't have it any other way, says Rosemary, "They're like your family, so you just take care of them, you know it's just an obligation that you have, and since there's hardly any one in the entire world that's doing this anymore, if we don't do it future generations will never to see the beauty of these birds."
If you'd like a chance to help the Sanctuary, you'll get a chance on Sunday, April 22nd. The Taste Of The Southtowns will take place at the Springville Fire Hall from 11am-5pm that day, and the proceeds will go to Gooseneck Hill. There will be a lot of great food from several local restaurants, live music and a Chinese Auction. It's a great way to sample some delicious dishes and help a worthy cause at the same time! For more information, you can visit their website at www.gooseneckhillwaterfowlfarm.com