Harry Potter Fans Join Bird/Nature Enthusiasts in Search for Owls and Other Birds in Central Park

102nd Annual 'Christmas Bird Count in Central Park' Sponsored by National and New York City Audubon Society, Urban Park Rangers, Mag Rack's BirdSight Video Magazine

(New York, December 14, 2001) — Harry Potter fans and bird and nature enthusiasts alike join together in the search for owls, like Harry Potter's pet Hedwig, and other rare birds during the 102nd annual Christmas Bird Count, which takes place from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Sunday, December 16, in New York's Central Park. The event is sponsored by the National and New York City Audubon Society, Urban Park Rangers, Mag Rack's BirdSight and the Central Park Conservancy.

At the event, legendary birder and Mag Rack's BirdSight Chief Editorial Advisor Kenn Kaufman will be available for comment at 8:00 a.m. at the South Pump House, Central Park Reservoir (85th St. and Fifth Ave.) and 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the 3rd Floor in Arsenal Gallery, Central Park (64th St. and Fifth Ave.). Mag Rack is a new video-on-demand television service available now on Cablevision's iO digital cable service and launching nationally in 2002.

The Christmas Bird Count begins at 8 a.m. at the South Pump House of the Central Park Reservoir where birders and rangers organize into seven groups to cover different sections of the park. The count, which is the longest-running bird census in the United States, continues until noon when counters proceed to the Arsenal Gallery for the bird tally and a reception. Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern is among officials scheduled to speak at the reception, followed by a screening of Mag Rack's "BirdSight: Urban Birders," a program about Red-tailed Hawks in Central Park.

"Owls are incredible creatures; adults and children have been fascinated with their looks and habits for centuries," says Dick Gershon of the New York City Audubon Society. "While children can't own owls, this Christmas, they can go out with us on our annual Christmas Bird Count to see Screech Owls, which were re-introduced into the park this past summer, and other owls."

Screech Owls are also the topic of an article by Kenn Kaufman in the January 2002 issue of Audubon magazine. As Kaufman reports, families can construct Screech Owl boxes to attract the diminutive owls to their backyards.

"There are over 70 million U.S. adults who observe birds in parks, sanctuaries, refuges and backyards, each are connected by a common interest in birds and love for nature," said Matthew Strauss, executive vice president and general manager of Mag Rack. "Mag Rack's BirdSight is the only television programming for the truly passionate bird lover and is devoted exclusively to delivering serious coverage of birding in a video-on-demand format available through Cablevision's iO service. We are very pleased to be supporting this New York tradition. It is our goal to continue supporting the bird community and their interests, both inside and outside the home."

The Christmas Bird Count is a 102-year-old Audubon tradition. It is a count of winter birds that takes place in more than 1800 locations across North America, involving more than 50,000 counters. Last year, more than 54 million individual birds were counted from more than 600 species. This year, Audubon volunteers are holding counts from December 14, 2001 to January 5, 2002.

Kenn Kaufman, a legend among birders who has done extensive work to evangelize on behalf of birding, will be available for interviews at 8:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on December 16. Kaufman is a field editor for Audubon magazine, a regular contributor to every major birding magazine and author of Kaufman Focus Guide to Birds of North America. Kaufman is also the chief editorial advisor to Mag Rack's BirdSight, the world's first television service devoted exclusively to birds and bird watching.

Founded in 1905 and supported by 600,000 members in more than 500 chapters throughout the Americas, the National Audubon Society conserves and restores natural ecosystems, focusing on birds and other wildlife, and their habitats, for the benefit of humanity and the Earth's biological diversity. Visit www.Audubon.org for more information.

Mag Rack is Rainbow Media Holding Inc.'s unique video-on-demand service delivering special interest programming that explores in-depth a wide range of topics that are unavailable elsewhere on television. Just like at a newsstand, customers can choose from Mag Rack's ever-expanding selection of video "magazines" that offer authoritative content about subjects that are personally relevant. In addition to its BirdSight magazine, Mag Rack offers 17 other video magazines including American Catholic, Art of Basketry, The Bible and You, Bridal, Classic Cars, Club Vegetarian, Destination: Nature, History of Art, Living With, Mag Rack Showcase, Maximum Science, Mission Space, Motorcycle Freedom, Natural Health, Photography Close Up, Shakespeare and Wine World. By the end of 2002, Mag Rack expects to offer 40 to 50 video magazines touching on subjects such as Aviation, How-To Sports, Golf, Parenting, Dance, Skiing and Cooking.

The Urban Park Rangers are New York City's official environmental educators. Conducting school (The Natural Classroom), after-school (Ranger Conservation Corps), and weekend (Explorer) programs, the Rangers encourage active, wise-use of the City's parks via interactive environmental and recreation programming. The Rangers also run a network of 12 citywide nature centers, equipped with books, videos, exhibitry, maps, and other information about the natural environments of New York City's parklands.


Jessica Prah
office: 212-446-1874
cell: 917-376-0481