Albany Pine Bush News

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe season for hot apple cider, cozy scarves, and innumerable pumpkin-flavored foods is upon us!

Here in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve, fall also signals the return of migrating birds and school groups to the Discovery Center and, importantly, opportunities for controlled burns.

Fire is an essential part of the globally-rare, pitch pine-scrub oak barrens that defines the Albany Pine Bush Preserve and supports 64 rare species of wildlife. Without fire, leaves, sticks, and other organic material would gradually accumulate and cover the sandy soils of the Pine Bush. As a result, sand-loving plants like pitch pines, scrub oaks, and wild blue lupine – and the animals that depend on them – would no longer be able to survive here. Accumulating organic matter also increases the risk of dangerous, unplanned wildfires.

At the Pine Bush Preserve, a team of trained fire managers use careful planning and special equipment to set controlled or prescribed fires. These fires expose the sandy soils, prevent dangerous fuel accumulation, release nutrients that stimulate new growth of fire-tolerant plants, and even cause seeds of certain plants to germinate. Since 1991 nearly 2,000 acres have been managed with prescribed fire; safely consuming wildland fuels, reducing wildfire risk and benefiting the conservation of this fire-dependent ecosystem.

Alley cat July 20 2006 009With wildfires devastating western parts of the country, and National Fire Prevention Week less than two weeks away, it’s an important time to reflect not only on the dangers out-of-control fires, but also on the role that fires can play in keeping us healthy and safe.

Come enjoy Smokey Bear Day at the Discovery Center on October 12th to participate in fire-themed activities and learn about fire safety with Smokey himself!


To learn more about controlled burns at the Preserve, follow the link below.

Grace Barber @ 12:54 pm

Your contributions matched up to $5,000 for the Friends.

A FRIENDS member and environmental education advocate, James Suozzo, has challenged the FRIENDS to grow its membership and “Ticket to Ride” school bus transportation fund. He will match up to $5,000 in new memberships and any donations received during all of 2015.

FRIENDS membership dues help support stewardship and education programs in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve and at the Discovery Center. The “Ticket to Ride” project helps schools and community organizations travel to educational programs at the Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center.

Friends of the Pine Bush Community Logo 2015Please help us reach our goal of securing the $5,000 match by becoming a new member and/or making a contribution to the FRIENDS.

If you’re already a FRIENDS member, thank you! Please consider a contribution and invite a friend to join. Or, remember that FRIENDS memberships are perfect gifts for the holidays, birthdays and special occasions! A contribution of any size counts, so you can make a difference in our ability to meet this generous giving challenge.

FRIENDS of the Pine Bush Community is a not-for-profit, 501(c )(3) charitable educational organization. Donations to the FRIENDS are tax exempt. Memberships and donations may be made online via PayPal at Click on “Become a Member” and click “Select Membership Level” or “Specify My Own Donation Amount.” Or, please make checks payable to Friends of the Pine Community, Inc. and mail to Friends of the Pine Bush Community, 195 New Karner Road, Albany, NY 12205.


Category: Pine Bush Friends
Friends @ 2:35 pm

Friends of the Pine Bush Community Logo 2015The 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Friends of the Pine Bush Community
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
6-8 pm

Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center
195 New Karner Road, Albany, NY

• Celebrate 10 years of the Friends’ work with Commission staff to further conservation and education within the Preserve
• Tour the Discovery Center exhibits
• Attend a special guest presentation at 7 pm by Historian and former NYS Assemblyman Jack McEneny on History of the Albany Pine Bush
• Enjoy snacks, cider, baked delights, and anniversary cake from Yonder Farms

Come celebrate. RSVP to 518-456-0655 or visit or email by October 22nd. Dress is casual.

Category: Pine Bush Friends
Wendy @ 1:05 pm

Fall Bird Banding

blackpoll warbler (Medium) Fall bird banding has begun in the Preserve with our science staff out before dawn to capture and band migrating songbirds.

Already, with only a couple mornings of effort we’ve banded Canada warbler, magnolia warbler, northern parula warbler and blackpoll warbler. Migration is an extremely costly endeavor for birds, with over half the population made up of hatch-year birds that are making the journey for the first time. Some like the blackpoll travel over 2,200 miles from Alaska to Brazil, making stop-over habitats like our globally-rare pitch pine-scrub oak barrens critical places for birds to rest and fuel-up for the next leg of their epic journey.

Category: Conservation
Wendy @ 11:24 am

Pond Monitoring 2015



We decided to hike out today, although we brought extra water due to the heat. At the pond we did our usual routine, finding many interesting things. A domestic duck was hanging out with a large group of mallards. We could see that the eye was dark, indicating that it was an escapee rather than an albino, which would have pink eyes. There was also some purple loosestrife blooming, an invasive species that could take over the habitat. We saw some last year, but thankfully there doesn’t seem to be more this year. We also found a new fungus today called bird’s nest fungus, which is called that because it looks like three eggs in a bird’s nest.

The annual bloom of Partridge Pea at the pond was in full swing. Andreea noticed that it, “seemed to attract many bees.”

There was a low hum audible when we walked around for the animal survey. We saw in previous years that lots of bees and wasps drink the nectar from the small, yellow flowers. Last year, the dramatic increase in the number of bees and wasps started at the beginning of August, but today was the first day we noticed a large number. It will be interesting to see if the bees are just late or their population is down.

Signing off,

Unnas, Jeremy, Andreea, Pranav, Valerie, and Harun



Despite the fall approaching, we were still going strong as our second to last week of Pond Monitoring took off.

The pond always knows how to throw a loop in our data. Valerie knew that “this year has had more fluctuations as compared to other years [at the pond]”. This week, the depth of the water was at its lowest, (1 inch at Point 3!) and due to this, the turbidity was 100 JTU for all points. Pranav pointed out that “turbidity can affect the life of plants and animals” But the water wasn’t the only thing that changed. As Sam observed, “There was a definite drop in animal count”.

Signing off,

Unnas, Pranav, Valerie, and Sam



Today was the finale of Pond Monitoring 2015! A foggy start left us with yet another sunny day. We were very glad that it didn’t rain once this year, giving the pond what Valerie described as a “cheery feel.”

Pranav noticed that, “The pond was very dry.” The water level had been dropping all summer and some open mud became host to small grasses because they hadn’t been washed over in so long. Maybe our pond, “will become a vernal pond,” as Valerie speculated.

We saw lots of cool animals on our wildlife survey. Andreea said, “We saw an adorable tiny tree frog.” The gray tree frog was about the size of a quarter, sitting on a blade of grass for us to observe. We also saw many ducks, Spotted Sandpipers, and a Green Heron. We did notice that there were far fewer bees around than we expected, but there were tons of grasshoppers.

This year was a great success. We got lots of interesting data that we will look through to compare with previous years. Lots of trends are popping up and it will be great to see how they are related. We look forward to seeing the changes that we find next year as the pond continues to develop.

Signing off,

Jeremy, Andreea, Valerie, Pranav

Blake @ 4:42 pm