American Folk Art Museum Logo

16 Mar 2022

Virtual Insights: Working Birds, Wildfowl Decoys, and Conservation

Have you ever wondered what exactly distinguishes a decoy? Join us for a program in partnership with NYC Audubon and explore the fascinating history of wildfowl decoys. 

Considered one of the oldest American folk art forms, decoys were originally created by Indigenous hunters as early as 400 BC to lure wild birds, and are now used by nature photographers, scientists, and conservationists to document and monitor endangered species. Recently digitized, the American Folk Art Museum’s wildfowl decoy collection is one of the Museum’s earliest and most extensive holdings.

Tracing historic decoy carvers, regions, styles, and species represented, Aimee Lusty, recent Project Coordinator for the American Folk Art Museum’s Wildfowl Decoy Project, will reveal new findings from the Museum’s 2020-21 collection survey, and Kaitlyn Parkins, Interim Director of Conservation and Science at NYC Audubon, will discuss current conservation projects involving decoys locally. This program will explore both the impact of early conservation efforts on decoy design and use, and NYC Audubon’s ongoing advocacy for the protection of New York City’s wild birds and their habitats. 

This program is inspired by the Museum’s MULTITUDES exhibition and designed for birders, naturalists, and folk art enthusiasts alike!

Space is limited; advance registration is required. Please consider making a donation when you register to support ongoing virtual programming.

Instructions for joining with a Zoom link and password will be provided by email upon registration confirmation under “Additional Information.” Closed captioning will be provided in English. For questions or to request accessibility accommodations, please email

Aimee Lusty is an art historian, archivist, and naturalist based out of Brooklyn, New York. Aimee served as Project Coordinator for the Wildfowl Cataloging and Digitizing Project at the American Folk Art Museum from January–October 2021. Aimee currently provides support to grant-funded projects at the Center for Brooklyn History and the National Audubon Society.

Kaitlyn Parkins is an urban wildlife biologist with a background in conservation biology and animal behavior. Kaitlyn holds an MS in Biology and an Advanced Certificate in conservation biology from Fordham University, where she studied NYC’s urban bat population for her thesis. Kaitlyn is currently Interim Director of Conservation and Science at NYC Audubon, where she leads research programs focused on many aspects of urban bird conservation, including bird migration and movement, bird-window collisions, and beach-nesting shorebird productivity.

Support for 2022 public programs is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Images: Bufflehead Hen, John Winsor, (dates unknown), Duxbury, Massachusetts, c. 1890, Paint on wood, 4 3/4 × 9 3/4 × 4 5/8″, Gift of Alastair B. Martin, 1969.1.65, American Folk Art Museum; Photo courtesy of NYC Audubon.

6:00 pm–7:30 pm

Online; free with registration