325 Sites on Statewide Trail Provides Birding Opportunities for All New Yorkers, Regardless of Age, Ability, Identity, or Background
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the addition of 13 new locations to the New York State Birding Trail. These new locations bring the total number of birding trail locations across the state to 325, providing a variety of quality birding experiences for New Yorkers and visitors to enjoy.
“Fall is one of the most beautiful and scenic times to experience the outdoors in New York and it's a prime time to visit the new State Birding Trail sites,” said Commissioner Seggos. "Birdwatching is one of New York's fastest-growing recreation and tourism activities and these areas are open for visitors of all ages, abilities, backgrounds, and experience levels to enjoy. I encourage New Yorkers and visitors to take the opportunity to explore these new locations and experience the state's world-class birding opportunities.”
DEC manages the New York State Birding Trail in collaboration with partners that include the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The statewide trail network includes promoted birding locations that can be accessed by car or public transportation, providing an inclusive experience for all visitors to enjoy birds amid beautiful natural settings with little or no cost or investment in equipment.
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “Exploring the New York State Birding Trail is a great way to for people to see and learn about our state's fascinating species of birds in their native habitats. These new additions to the trail offer even more places to enjoy and appreciate the natural world – and we encourage all to visit."
Empire State Development Vice President and Executive Director of Tourism Ross D. Levi said, “The New York State Birding Trail offers residents and visitors alike new opportunities to explore the state's great outdoors, and observe the feathered friends that call these majestic Empire State settings 'home.' I LOVE NY looks forward to inviting everyone to come be a part of it and experience these new trail locations as the perfect complement to a weekend getaway or an extended trip.”
The newly added locations are on a mix of public and private lands across the state:
- Capital Region: Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail;
- Capital Region: Ann Lee Pond Nature and Historic Preserve;
- Capital Region: Lawson Lake County Park;
- Capital Region: Noonan Preserve;
- Catskills: Landis Arboretum;
- Central – Finger Lakes: Rice Creek Field Station;
- Central – Finger Lakes: Sterling Nature Center;
- Hudson Valley: Hudson Highlands Nature Museum;
- Hudson Valley: 6½ Station Road Sanctuary;
- Long Island: Smithtown Historical Society;
- NYC: Battery Park City;
- NYC: Madison Square Park; and
- Southern Tier: College Lodge Forest.
In addition to State-owned and managed locations for the Birding Trail, publicly and privately managed sites can complete a simple self-nomination process to be considered for inclusion on the trail. Sites all meet criteria to help ensure a positive experience for visitors throughout the state. Additionally, each site will post signage noting it as an official location on the birding trail. For information on the nomination process, see www.ibirdny.org.
New segments of the Birding Trail were opened in a phased approach from October 2021 through August 2022. DEC continues to solicit input from a wide range of New Yorkers and organizations that represent Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities and is making trail information available in both English and Spanish. Bird walks will be held in collaboration with organizations working with BIPOC communities.
The New York State Birding Trail map is available at www.ibirdny.org and provides valuable information on each site such as location, available amenities, species likely to be seen, directions, and more. Digital information on the Birding Trail will be updated periodically, so budding outdoor enthusiasts are encouraged to check back often.
DEC encourages birding enthusiasts to visit I Bird NY for more information on where and how to observe birds, upcoming bird walks, a downloadable Beginner's Guide to Birding (available in Spanish), and additional resources.
DEC manages and oversees nearly five million acres of public lands and conservation easements and plays a vital role in both protecting New York's natural resources and providing opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors. From fishing on scenic streams, hiking and rock climbing, swimming and boating, birding, and nature study, or simply relaxing in a tent under the stars, there are endless adventures to be found. Visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/
President and CEO of the New York State Tourism Industry Association Bob Provost said, "Birding is a largely untapped asset from both the economic development and quality of life perspective in New York State. In pre-pandemic 2019, over 20 million Americans took a birding-specific trip and over $17 billion was spent on wildlife-watching trip-related expenses. Birding interest escalated during the pandemic, with young adults and families seeking eco-oriented travel and the outdoors. We are profoundly grateful to our colleagues at DEC and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for creating and now enriching the New York State Birding Trail. It is a treasure to be appreciated by residents and will also attract a whole new visitor segment to the Empire State."
New York Outdoor Recreation Coalition Co-Chair Melissa Abramson said, “The New York Outdoor Recreation Coalition is excited about the addition of the new locations to the New York State Birding Trail. We are pleased to see the continued expansion of birding opportunities, so that more people have opportunities for outdoor recreation. Throughout the process of creating the Birding Trail, DEC has incorporated input from diverse community members, to ensure that the Birding Trail serves the needs of all who wish to explore the outdoors. We encourage everyone to check out the expanded birding trail and to enjoy all the resources this great program provides.”
Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy said, “I'm proud that Albany County owns some of the best parks and open spaces in New York, which should be judged not only by their pristine conditions and amenities, but also by the countless bird species that can be seen by individuals of all ages and abilities. The pandemic has made bird watching even more popular, and I encourage everyone to come explore the County Rail Trail, Lawson Lake and the Ann Lee Pond Preserve to enjoy all that nature has to offer. I want to thank the State Department of Environmental Conservation for adding these locations to the growing system of State Birding Trails.”
New York City Audubon Executive Director Jessica Wilson said, “As NYC Audubon works to engage New Yorkers in enjoying the city's incredible bird life and taking action to protect urban biodiversity, we are thrilled that two new accessible and inclusive sites in New York City have been added to the New York State Birding Trail. More people than ever are seeking out nature and birds in our city, and NYC Audubon encourages all to explore Battery Park City and Madison Square Park, as well as the hundreds of other spectacular birding hotspots highlighted by the Trail throughout the City and State.”
Orange County Audubon Society said, “Fostering appreciation and conservation of birds and wildlife habitat is an integral part of the Orange County Audubon Society's mission. We are happy to be a part of this effort on a state level and add 6½ Station Road Sanctuary to the State Birding Trail.”
Battery Park City Authority President and CEO B.J. Jones said, “With more than 100 species of migratory and resident bird species identified throughout Battery Park City, our public parks are a biodiversity haven. I thank Commissioner Seggos and the DEC team for adding us to the New York State Birding Trail, and we look forward to welcoming bird watchers far and wide to our world-class public spaces.”
Outdoor Afro Leader for Albany and Upstate NY Benita Law-Diao said, “Given that the 2022 U.S. State of the Bird Report shows plummeting bird populations across essentially all habitats in the past five decades, these birding trails inspire an awareness of birds and help us demonstrate how climate change is affecting the ecology of communities, while connecting people to the natural environment which is close to home. As an Outdoor Afro Volunteer Leader, I've found DEC educational birding resources, staff and iBird invaluable when planning hiking, bicycling, kayaking and first-time camping events for children and adults.”
Manager of the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum's Wildlife Education Center Taylor Ouellette said, “Birdwatching allows us to discover the beauty and wonder of so many incredible species and creates even more opportunities to form meaningful connections to the natural world. Birds are also wonderful indicators of environmental health, so we are excited to see that our habitats and plant communities are supporting great biodiversity as more than 60 species of birds have been observed on our 177 acres.”
Executive Director of the Western New York Land Conservancy (WNYLC) Nancy Smith said, “We are so pleased that the College Lodge Forest will now join our other nature preserves as part of the New York State Birding Trail. The College Lodge Forest is home to old-growth trees and a pristine wetland. I am always amazed to find singing hermit thrushes in the canopy and bald eagles fishing in the pond. Connecting people to nature through birding is a great way to inspire people to conserve our incredible natural places.”
Assistant Director of SUNY Oswego's Rice Creek Field Station Dr. Kristen Haynes said, "Birding is a wonderful gateway for people to start -- or continue -- building connections with nature, learning natural history, and contributing to citizen science that supports avian research and conservation. As an institution dedicated to supporting research and education, SUNY Oswego's Rice Creek Field Station is delighted to join the New York State Birding Trail and help promote birding as a connecting point for enjoyable and meaningful engagement with the natural world."
Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy Stewardship Coordinator Marshall B. Lefebvre said, "We are absolutely thrilled to see the expansion of the State Birding Trail in the Capital Region! In broad strokes, the MHLC mission is to Connect and Conserve, and the Birding Trail helps us take that even further. By bringing the state's precious birding areas into one network, the Trail helps people bridge the gap between the numerous conservation agencies all working toward this one goal of reacquainting communities with natural spaces."
Smithtown Historical Society Executive Director Priya Kapoor said, “We are honored and excited to be among the new locations to the New York State Birding Trail. The Smithtown Historical Society is home to multiple historic resources and two barns. We are situated on 22 acres of property in the historic Village of the Branch. Every year, over 20,000 visitors walk through our grounds. The Birding Trail will provide a variety of quality birding experiences for our visitors and long islanders to enjoy. We thank DEC for their consideration and hope that we can continue the partnership to encourage tourism in our area.”
Senior Sustainability Manager for the Madison Square Park Conservancy Emily Dickinson said, “Madison Square Park is the home of 113 unique residential and migratory bird species. Inclusion on the NYS Birding Trail provides an excellent opportunity to bring birders of all ages and backgrounds together in our urban green space.”
Note: Photos Attached: Lawson Lake, Courtesy of Albany County; Great Blue Heron, Courtesy of Sterling Nature Center; College Lodge, Courtesy of Abby Songin (WNYLC)