Albany Pine Bush News

Tuesday, April 5 at 7:00 pm, Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center

Come out to the Friends of the Pine Bush Community’s annual gathering of members. Meeting agenda items include:

  • Celebration of accomplishments – 2015 Annual Report
  • Board elections & introductions
  • Revision to by-laws
  • Activities planned and budget for 2016
  • Your ideas and suggestions for the Friends

Enjoy sandwiches and fruit as you meet other members. Please RSVP by email or call 519-690-2764.

Friends @ 12:19 pm

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


Today kicked off the 2015 Pond Monitoring Program! The weather was VERY cooperative and we were able to have a pleasant hike out to the pond. Leaders, Jeremy Collison and Unnas Hussain, had a great time teaching the new Jr Docents all about the Water Quality Tests and Animal Surveys. Something we really wanted to emphasize this year was WHY we do this. Our vernal pond is a part of a larger restoration area near the landfill that has been monitored by the Jr. Docent program since the first year it was filled. We have been able to track the recruitment of wildlife, the shifts in water quality and the general landscape change over the past few years. Today was a first for many in our group.  Read their reflections below!

“There was a surprising variety of birds and I learned quite a lot about the different species of birds that inhabit the Pine Bush. Site 3 of the Water Quality Testing was an outlier in the data and was somewhat different from the other 2 sites. I’m looking forward to seeing how the pond changes and develops”- Andreea

“We didn’t see the Karner Blue, but we saw some lupine [which is the KBB’s main source of food]. We saw butterflies and animals”-Pranav

“After the hike to the vernal pond, we took water samples and ran tests. The best part of the day was counting the animals. We walked around the pond, counting many birds and a few turtles. It was a great experience”-Sam

Our team really enjoyed the day out and we are looking forward to this summer of Pond Monitoring!

-Jeremy, Unnas, Andreea, Pranav, Sam and Leland

A silver-spotted skipper decided to take a break and pose on an old milkweed flower.

A silver-spotted skipper decided to take a break and pose on an old milkweed flower.


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)

Nocturnal singing ground surveys in the Preserve reveal that American wood cock, a.k.a. timberdoodle populations are high here. Eggs and hatchlings of these cryptic ground nesters, however, are anything but revealing. The keen eye of a trained biologist with a private consulting firm found 5 hatchlings this spring and snapped this photo.

Neil @ 2:02 pm

Frosted Elfin photo by A. DillonThe frosted elfin, (Callophrys irus)  a NYS Threatened species who like the Karner blue, feeds only on lupine as a caterpillar, are once again out and about in the Preserve. The elfin overwinter in their chrysalids and eclose as lupine emergences from its winter dormancy.  Frosted elfin are found at just about every lupine patch in the Preserve, so if you are visiting the Preserve and see lupine, keep you eyes peeled for this rare little brown butterfly; it is one of 45 wilidlife Species of Greatest Conservation Need that call the Preserve home.

Join us on 4/19 for an evening lecture on the biology, status and threats to the frosted elfin. Click here to sign up.

Neil Gifford, Conservation Director

Neil @ 9:47 am

“Regulation changes are needed to implement many of the strategies of the recently adopted Management Plan for White-tailed Deer,” Commissioner Martens said.  “The changes to the deer hunting seasons, mandatory antler restrictions, use of Deer Management Permits (DMPs), and development of Deer Management Focus Areas will increase opportunities for New York hunters, consistent with input we’ve received from the public and deer management goals.”

DEC adopted the five- year deer management plan in October 2011 following extensive public input and can be viewed at:

Comments previously submitted on the draft deer management plan were important in finalizing the deer plan and developing this rulemaking proposal.  DEC will accept public comments on this proposal through May 21, 2012.  Comments on this rule should be specific to the proposals herein and should not be resubmissions of previous comments submitted on the full deer management plan or previous regulatory proposals.

To see more detailed explanations of these proposals, including instructions for providing comments, visit the DEC website at .  The proposed rulemaking can also be viewed in detail in the April 4, 2012 publication of the New York State Register, which is available at


Neil @ 1:33 pm

For several days during the weeks of March 19 – April 15 all of the trails in Karner Barrens East will be temporarily CLOSED to all public use while 23 acres of pine barrens are mowed with a large mowing machine called a hydro-axe.  This work will require trail closure for approximately 3-5 days.  Mechanical treatments of this type are part of the necessary and important management that takes place
throughout the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.  For your own safety please obey all area CLOSED signs during this time.  You can call 518-456-0655 x1250 to ask about trail access on a particular day.
Thank You.

~Joel Hecht
Stewardship Director

Joel @ 2:23 pm

These structures were uncovered through our ongoing effort to identify the aquatic insects of the Pine Bush. Though strikingly reminiscent of Andy Goldsworthy’s natural sculptures, albeit on a miniature scale, these are the creations of creatures completely oblivious to any notion of art. They are the cases and parts of cases of caddisfly larvae. Most caddisfly larvae live in the water and build tubular homes out of plant material, stones, sand, and other substrate materials, which they cement together with silk excreted from their salivary glands. These cases are mobile and extremely functional. They camouflage the larvae, provide protection from predators, add stability, and even aid in respiration by enhancing a larva’s ability to circulate water around its gills. These insects don’t need artistic inspiration or a concept of beauty to motivate them to build, but, luckily for us, we get to enjoy both the aesthetic appeal and practical merits of their tiny creations.

~Grace Barber
Conservation Science Technician

Go to our Facebook page for more caddisfly case photos.



Wendy @ 11:41 am
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