Albany Pine Bush News

Pond Monitoring Week 9

This was the last week of Pond Monitoring for the summer as school is starting soon. It was a great year, the weather generally cooperated and we never had to cancel. We were all surprised discovering the sheer abundance and variety of life around the pond, which helped us understand more why the Pine Bush is a place we need to protect. Without the Pine Bush, none of these amazing plants and animals would have a place to live. We all learned a lot about the Pine Bush this year. We will see you next summer when pond monitoring starts up again.

-Jeremy, Unnas, Shenandoah, Elena, Leland

Blake @ 2:31 pm

BumbleCattail (Mobile) ticktrefoil (Mobile)

Week 5

This time I (Jeremy) went out with three junior docents to do the sampling, weather survey, and animal survey. It was not raining thankfully, but the overcast conditions made it seem like there would be a downpour. During the animal survey we saw many interesting organisms. Cassandra said, “There were lots of sparrows eating the bugs over the pond. A sandpiper flew over chased by two sparrows.” Shenandoah said, “We heard the territorial screech of crows.” We went over to investigate but we were unable to pick out what the crows were gathering for. Elena said, “On the animal survey along the pond’s edge we saw several interesting unidentified beetles as well as heard a beautiful chorus of birdsong.”

Jeremy, Shenandoah, Cassandra, & Elena

Week 6

This was week 6 of the pond monitoring program! It was a bright and sunny day thankfully; the rain passed through last night. Almost immediately we saw very interesting birds. There were many robins and sparrows, but the highlight was seeing two green herons flying away. Later on, we saw a Merlin being attacked by sparrows. The bees and wasps were up and about; there were so many that we couldn’t count all of them. We had to walk through masses of flowers full of bees and wasps. Somehow we weren’t stung although a few took a liking to our shirts. Herbicides were being used on invasive plants, primarily purple loosestrife and black locust, next to and near the pond. Hopefully this helps stop the spread of these invasive species, which could crowd out all the native plants and animals around the pond, including this cattail. A bee appeared to be pollinating it. See you next week!


Week 8   

This was week 8 of the pond monitoring program, and the second to last for the summer! It was a bright and sunny day thankfully. It hasn’t rained in a while, the water level seemed low at certain points. We saw five birds sitting on the stumps in the center of the pond. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a good look at them. There weren’t as many bees today, but definitely still hundreds. They seem to enjoy a yellow flower that has been blooming is large masses at the pond. We also saw a white flower that we have seen before, but today it seemed to be spreading. That’s something we’ll be looking into next week. See you next week, on our last day of summer of pond monitoring!


Blake @ 2:18 pm

Weekend Service Will Visit Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center

ALBANY, N.Y. (August 20, 2014) The Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) and the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission (APBPC) have teamed up to offer access to the Preserve’s Discovery Center on specific Saturday trips. Beginning Saturday, August 30, customers will be able to use Route #155 (Suburban Circulator) to access the Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center (195 New Karner Road) between 10:30am and 1:30pm.

“CDTA is pleased to bring this additional benefit to our customers,” said David M. Stackrow, CDTA Chairman of the Board. “People that use our service will have access to an exceptional site that exemplifies our country’s natural heritage.”

APBPC’s Executive Director, Christopher Hawver added, “Working closely with CDTA gives us an opportunity to open the Preserve to a wider audience including kids that may not have access to personal transportation. In addition to managing the globally-rare ecology here, we strive to educate the public and provide recreational opportunities as an important part of our mission.”

The Saturday trips are aligned with programming at the Discovery Center, offering visitors the chance to explore the Preserve and investigate the details of the Pine Bush. The educational programs at the Discovery Center are open to individuals, families and small groups and are led by expert Environmental Educators, volunteers, or special guests.

Hawver continued, “We believe that CDTA riders will find that the Preserve and Discovery Center offer an affordable experience with free admission to our trails and to our state-of-the-art facility, in addition to some of our programs.  For most programs there is only a small fee, and there is always a diversity of topics to choose from including, insect investigations, Family Fun Hikes, snowshoe explorations, historical tours and much more.”

The 3,200-acre Preserve protects one of the best remaining inland pitch-pine scrub oak barrens in the world. The fire-dependent habitat provides homes for many plants and animals and contains 55 New York State-designated wildlife Species of Greatest Conservation Need, including the federally-endangered Karner blue butterfly. The Preserve is a National Natural Landmark, a New York State Unique Area, Bird Conservation Area and a National Audubon Society Important Bird Area. Characterized by rolling sand dunes and miles of trails, the Preserve offers hiking, bird watching, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, mountain biking, hunting, fishing and canoeing. The APBPC is a public-private partnership created by the NYS Legislature in 1988 to protect and manage the APBP and provide educational and recreational opportunities.

As the gateway to the Pine Bush, the Discovery Center is a state-of-the-art “green” certified interpretive center where visitors come to understand why the Pine Bush is rare and special.   A visit to this unique destination is an exciting exploration where learning comes naturally through interactive exhibits, an outdoor Discovery Trail, and numerous programs on the ecology, natural history, cultural history and management of the Pine Bush.  Admission to the Discovery Center is free (there is a small fee for programs).  The Center is open daily weekdays 9am-4pm, weekends and most holidays 10am-4pm.  For more information, visit or call 518-456-0655.

For more information on CDTA services, please visit Customer service representatives are also available over the phone at (518) 482-8822 from 6am-7pm weekdays, 8am – 6pm on Saturdays and 8am-5pm on Sundays/holidays. To stay connected with CDTA’s latest initiatives, like us on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter (@CDTA).




ABOUT CDTA: The Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) was created in 1970 by the New York State Legislature as a public benefit corporation to provide regional transportation services by rail, bus, water and air. CDTA is the premier mobility provider in the Capital Region, providing local, express, commuter and bus rapid transit services. CDTA owns and operates the Rensselaer Rail and Saratoga Springs Train Stations. Today, nearly 650 people work to deliver a transit system that transports more than 55,000 customers each weekday.

Eastern Kingbird in Karner Barrens West

Eastern Kingbird in Karner Barrens West

USGS Licensed Bird Bander and APBPC Conservation Director, Neil Gifford, along with Field Ecologist & Environmental Educator, Amanda Dillon, Conservation Biologist, Steve Campbell, seasonal staff and volunteers Jane Tatlock, Brianna Gary and Alison VanKueren completed year 2 of our breeding season bird banding research. With only 7 mornings of effort in each of the two 20-acre sample areas, we captured and released 672 birds from 43 species, which includes 580 newly banded birds and 92 recaptures of birds previously banded.  Eighteen additional species were observed but not captured at each of the two MAPS stations.

The 2014 season was productive with 136 more birds captured than in 2013 and our first MAPS captures of three species: eastern kingbird, pine warbler and yellow-throated vireo.  We observed a large increase in American robin (29 in 2013 to 103 in 2014) and chipping sparrow (2 to 23), and notable increases in black-billed cuckoo (2 to 6), indigo bunting (3 to 7), field sparrow (26 to 42), and Baltimore oriole (28 to 40). Lastly, while it remained one of the top ten most captured birds in 2014, there was a notable decrease in the number of prairie warblers captured, from 31 in 2013 to 15 this year. Species captured in 2013(#) but absent from our nets this year included American woodcock (1), black and white warbler (1), mourning dove (1), orchard oriole (3), purple finch (1), tufted titmouse (3), Wilson’s warbler (1) and northern waterthrush (1). All but the 3 warblers (black and white, Wilson’s, and waterthrush) were routinely observed at the banding stations in 2014.

While one year cannot reveal trends, these differences are notable since a large portion of each banding site was treated with prescribed fire between the 2013 and 2014 sampling periods.  By maintaining permanent net locations at each station we will begin to understand how routine habitat management may be influencing bird population dynamics and can adjust our management when needed.

In order of the number captured, newly banded birds included: gray catbird (104); American robin (103); field sparrow (42); Baltimore oriole (40); song sparrow (35); common yellowthroat (28); black-capped chickadee (25); chipping sparrow (23); prairie warbler (15); northern mockingbird (15); cedar waxwing (13); eastern bluebird (13); house wren (13); eastern towhee (11);  house finch (10); eastern phoebe (8); indigo bunting (7); white-breasted nuthatch (7); black-billed cuckoo (6); blue jay (6); brown thrasher (6); common grackle (6); chestnut-sided warbler (5); pine warbler (4); veery (4); American goldfinch (3); ovenbird (3); red-breasted nuthatch (3); Trail’s flycatcher (likely alder flycatcher) (3); two (2) each of Carolina wren, downy woodpecker; eastern kingbird; northern cardinal; yellow-throated vireo; and one (1) each of brown-headed cowbird, eastern wood pewee, hairy woodpecker, Nashville warbler, northern flicker, rose-breasted grosbeak, ruby-throated hummingbird, wood thrush and yellow warbler.

The 92 recaptured birds belonged to 18 species including: field sparrow (24); gray catbird (16); common yellowthroat (14);  eastern towhee (5); northern mockingbird (5); black-capped chickadee (4); prairie warbler (4); American robin (3); chipping sparrow(3); song sparrow (3); chestnut-sided warbler (3); eastern phoebe (2);  and (1) each of Baltimore Oriole, black-billed cuckoo, brown-headed cowbird, brown thrasher, eastern bluebird, and indigo bunting.

MAPS is an international program of the Institute for Bird Populations and the US Geological Survey.  Please visit the Preserve and enjoy the birds of the Albany Pine Bush; a National Natural Landmark, a NYS Bird Conservation Area and a National Audubon Society Important Bird Area.

Category: Conservation
Neil @ 1:59 pm

Tyler BriggsWith much of the western USA in record setting drought, uncontrolled wildfires have sprung up in many western states.  With the financial support of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, APBPC Fire Management & GIS Specialist Tyler Briggs, and APBPC Fire Management Technicians Sam Griffis and Paul Gallery, joined a 20 person USFWS wildland firefighting team for a 14-day deployment in Oregon. Their crew includes state and federal agency staff from VT, ME, MA, PA, MD, NH and RI.  The Commission is pleased to be able to help our partners at the Fish and Wildlife Service and appreciate the valuable training opportunity they’ve provided.  The experience is sure to benefit fire management in the Preserve’s globally-rare, fire-dependent pitch pine scrub oak barrens.



Wendy @ 1:37 pm