Albany Pine Bush News

Audubon New York Designates Albany Pine Bush Preserve as Important Bird Area

Albany, NY – May 3, 2014 – Audubon New York proudly celebrated International Migratory Bird Day by designating the Albany Pine Bush Preserve as an Important Bird Area (IBA) in New York State today. The Important Bird Area program is an international bird conservation initiative with the significant goal of identifying the most important places for birds and conserving them. IBAs are identified according to standardized, scientific criteria through a collaborative effort among state, national, and international non-governmental conservation organizations, state and federal government agencies, local conservation groups, academics, grassroots environmentalists, and birders.

New York’s IBA program began in 1996, and since then Audubon New York has designated additional sites as IBAs and evaluated existing IBAs to ensure they continue to meet the IBA criteria. New York’s network of IBAs has evolved over the years as more bird and habitat data have been collected, and the Albany Pine Bush Preserve is now the newest site to have been identified in New York.

“The IBA program serves as a catalyst for achieving bird conservation. At its most basic level, identifying an IBA is about determining the most important places for bird species vulnerable to habitat loss or disturbances,” said Audubon New York Executive Director Erin Crotty. “With more than 55 New York State-designated Species of Greatest Conservation Need calling it home, including a suite of birds classified as at-risk by Audubon, the Albany Pine Bush Preserve’s globally-rare ecosystem offers prime habitat. We all carry the responsibility of ensuring that migrating and overwintering birds have the habitat they need to thrive and survive.”

“We are proud to have the Preserve designated an Important Bird Area and we look forward to working with Audubon New York in protecting and celebrating the birds of New York State. Their efforts to work with us exemplify how diverse public – private partnerships have led to 25 years of successful Pine Bush conservation”, said Christopher Hawver, Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission Executive Director.

According to Neil Gifford, Commission Conservation Director, “The Albany Pine Bush Preserve was designated an IBA because this globally-rare ecosystem contains several at-risk birds, including the American Woodcock, Red-shouldered Hawk, Blue-winged Warbler and Prairie Warbler. The Preserve also provides essential breeding-season habitat for a large variety of declining young forest shrubland birds, and has proven to be an important staging area for many shrubland and forest birds during their long annual fall migration. The high abundance of regionally-declining young forest birds, documented by Commission scientists, is great for birds and bird watchers, and a strong indication that our land management effort to restore a healthy pitch pine – scrub oak barrens is on the right track”.

Crotty added, “We are grateful to Chris Hawver and the outstanding Albany Pine Bush staff for their efforts in actively managing this amazingly rich habitat. We’re proud to partner with them on this IBA designation.”

This IBA Designation Ceremony by Audubon New York took place as part of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission and the Audubon Society of the Capital Region’s Migration Celebration which featured some of the area’s premiere bird experts, a demonstration with live birds of prey, the Migration Challenge, crafts and lectures. Photos of the event are available upon request.

For more information on the Important Bird Area Program, visit the Audubon New York site at www.NY.Audubon.org

For more information on the Albany Pine Bush Preserve, visit their site at www.AlbanyPineBush.org

Audubon New York is the State program of the National Audubon Society representing 27 local Chapters and 50,000 members across the state. Our mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity.

Located within New York’s Capital District, the Albany Pine Bush Preserve is one of only twenty inland pine barrens left in the entire world and widely considered to be the best example. The 3,200-acre Preserve is predominantly defined by gently rolling sand dunes that support an extraordinary fire-dependent habitat. Home to more than 55 New York State-designated Species of Greatest Conservation Need, including the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly, this globally-rare ecosystem also offers visitors 20 miles of trails for an assortment of non-motorized recreational opportunities including hiking, jogging, nature study, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, mountain biking, hunting, fishing and canoeing.

The Discovery Center is a state-of-the-art interpretive center that introduces visitors to everything that makes the Preserve rare and adventurous. As the gateway to the Pine Bush, this LEED Gold-certified “green” building transforms a visit to our unique destination into an even more exciting exploration where learning comes naturally through interactive exhibits, the interpretive Discovery Trail, and numerous programs on the ecology, natural history and cultural history 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 10AM-4PM (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day). For more information, visit www.AlbanyPineBush.org or call 518-456-0655.

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