Albany Pine Bush News

As school is starting next week, our last time monitoring the pond was today. It has been a fabulous experience guiding other volunteers and discovering the diversity there. Today a second year green heron stopped by, a fitting way to end the season. The green heron is an uncommon, solitary bird that spends its time secretively moving around ponds and other water bodies looking for food. Look at its beak.  Do you see the yellow lower mandible?  That is how we were able to tell its age, a second year.  An after second year bird will have an entirely black beak.  I hope you enjoyed hearing about our explorations at the pond and hope to see you at the Discovery Center sometime!

-Jeremy Collison (Jr. Docent Volunteer)

Blake @ 9:44 am

Bird Banding Update

With great success the 2013 breeding season bird banding has come to a close. Between May 31 and August 5 we banded 542 birds (438 new birds & 104 recaptures) from 42 species on 7 mornings in high quality pitch pine-scrub oak barrens in both the King’s Road Barrens and Karner Barrens West regions of the Preserve.
Photo right: Indigo bunting by Jane Tatlock

For the season, the top 10 new captures were Gray catbird (103), Prairie warbler (32), American Robin (29), Field Sparrow (29), Baltimore Oriole (28), Eastern Towhee (24), Black-capped Chickadee (25), Common Yellowthroat (21), Cedar Waxwing (19), and Song Sparrow (13).

Since my last post we banded 4 times; below is a quick summary of each day.

July 26: 53 birds from 13 species. The 40 new birds included 9 Gray Catbird, 5 American Robin, 5 Baltimore Orioles, 5 Cedar Waxwing, 4 Field Sparrow, 3 Black-capped chickadee, 2 Common Yellowthroat, 2 Downy woodpecker, 2 Eastern pheobe, 1 Eastern Towhee, 1 Swamp Sparrow, and 1 Trails (most likely Alder) flycatcher. Recaptured birds included 4 Field Sparrow, 4 Gray Catbird, 2 Common Yellowthroat, 2 Norhtern Mockingbird, and 1 Baltimore Oriole.

July 29: 51 birds from 13 species. 42 new birds included 17 Gray catbird, 6 American Robin, 4 Cedar waxwing, 4 Field sparrow, 2 Baltimore oriole, 2 Common Yellowthroat, 2 Prairie Warbler, 1 Blue jay, 1 Eastern phoebe, 1 House wren, 1 Song sparrow, and 1 Tufted titmouse. Recaps included 4 Gray catbird, 3 Field Sparrow, 1 Chestnut-sided warbler, and 1 Prairie warbler.

August 2: 48 birds from 15 species. 42 new birds included 13 Gray catbird, 6 American Robin, 3 Black-capped chaickadee, 3 House wren, 2 Common Yellowthroat, 2 Downy woodpecker, 2 Eastern pheobe, 2 Indigo bunting, 2 Prairie warbler, 2 Trails flycatcher, 1 Eastern towhee, 1 Northern mockingbird, 1 Ruby-throated hummingbird, 1 Swamp sparrow, and 1 Song sparrow. Reacps included 3 Baltimore Oriole, 1 Eastern Towhee, 1 Gray catbird, and 1 Northern mockingbird.

August 5: 52 birds from 21 species. 47 new birds included 8 American robin, 8 black-capped chickadee, 7 Gray Catbird, 3 Common yellowthroat, 3 Eastern pheobe, 2 Cedar waxwing, 2 Eastern bluebird, 2 Prairie warbler, 2 Trails flycatcher, 1 Baltimore oriole, 1 Chestnut-sided warbler, 1 Eastern towhee, 1 Field sparrow, 1 House wren, 1 Mourning dove, 1 Northern mockingbird, 1 Northern waterthrush, and 1 Yellow-shafted flicker. Recaps included 1 each of Eastern towhee, Prairie warbler, Song sparrow and Tufted titmouse.

It was a tremendously successful season thanks to our staff and volunteers. Staff included myself, Field Ecologist and Educator, Amanda Dillon, Conservation Biologist, Steve Campbell, and seasonal Conservation Technicians Chris Standley, Molley Hasset, and Wayne Russell. Volunteers included Jane Tatlock, Brian Busby, Georgia Keene, Brianna Gary, Marsha Arland and Alison VanKuren. We were also occassionally assisted by NYS DEC biologists including Kate Yard, Kathy O’Brien, and Laura Sommers. Many thanks also to Jeremy Kirchman, NYS Museum Curator of Birds for getting us started, and to the Friends of the Pine Bush Community, Inc. and the Norcross Foundation for their financial support of our field ornithology.

Category: Conservation
Neil @ 11:18 am

The beautiful weather has continued, much to our relief. The bees have noticed this too and are out in storm gathering nectar from flowers around the pond. This female carpenter bee is out gathering pollen to be used as food for its babies. Carpenter bees are solitary and make holes in places like porches and branches. The bee lays eggs inside these holes with balls of pollen, seals the chamber and when the babies hatch they will survive off of the pollen balls. Male bees do not have pollen baskets or scopa, which is where the females gather pollen. This female’s scopa are almost full of pollen.  Hopefully, next time we go out there will be something new to see!

-Jeremy Collison (Jr. Docent Volunteer)

Blake @ 10:59 am

State Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk and the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission honored 16-year-old Natasha Permaul and other students and staff of Farnsworth Middle School. Natasha is the author of “Mister Karner Blue,” a children’s book that grew out of the school’s Pine Bush Project, created by Dr. Alan Fiero.

Recently published by the Commission, the book tells the story of the endangered Karner blue butterfly from the butterfly’s perspective. Natasha wrote it when she was just 12 years old and other students, teachers and Commission staff and volunteers contributed to the final product.

Dr. Fiero’s Pine Bush Project has involved middle-school students in scientific study in collaboration with the Commission for the past 15 years. Dr. Fiero was also honored at the event.


Category: Uncategorized
Wendy @ 10:11 am

Thankfully, the weather cooperated with clear skies and mild temperatures this week. With this nice weather the pond was buzzing with new life. Right after completing our wildlife survey, I nearly stepped on this fabulous dragonfly. It posed for us with its glittering wings and multicolored body. I hope you enjoy this picture of a common green darner and keep watch for next week’s post!


Jeremy Collison (Jr. Docent Volunteer)

Good news. We have confirmed breeding of red-headed woodpecker in the Preserve!

So why is this news you may ask? Red-headed woodpecker is listed in the New York State Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (#69 on our APB list) and listed as Special Concern on the NYS list of Threatened and Endangered Species.

I found one adult yesterday while scouting firebreaks for a pending burn plan. The bird was in the City of Albany’s restoration area where they had thinned the forest. Two adults were observed today carrying food, which can only mean one thing…nestlings!

Not only is this great news for the restoration work and further evidence that our efforts to restore the Preserve’s closed canopy forest to open canopied savannah and barrens (aka Young Forest) is on the right track, but it’s also great for the conservation of this bird.

This is one of the most strikingly beautiful woodpeckers I’ve ever seen.

This amazing photo was taken by Bruce C. Dudek

Thanks and have a great weekend!

Neil Gifford, Conservation Director


Wendy @ 1:41 pm