ALBANY- The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission is seeking citizen scientists to help monitor bird populations in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. Volunteers who are ages 14 and up can join in on scientific data collection as Commission staff guide them in recording as many eastern whip-poor-wills as possible on the evenings of July 11, 2014 from 7:00pm- 9:30pm and August 11, 2014 from 8:00pm-10:30pm. Participants meet at the Discovery Center at 195 New Karner Road and then divide into groups to head out into the Preserve. For more information or to sign up, visit www.AlbanyPineBush.org or call 518-456-0655. Pre-registration is required for this event.
According to Education Program Director Erin Kinal, “This is a great opportunity for anyone who has an interest in the outdoors to contribute to our scientific research. It doesn’t require any previous experience and all skill levels are welcome. The phrase “citizen scientist” means just that – local citizens who contribute to scientific research.”
Conservation Director Neil Gifford said, “The whip-poor-will is a nocturnal bird that is classified in the family of nightjars (Caprimulgidae). They’re named for the continuous “whip-poor-will” song they sing on spring and summer evenings. During the day, these well-camouflaged birds are hard to see as their gray and brown speckled feathers blend in well with tree bark and leaf litter.”
Gifford continued, “Although eastern whip-poor-wills are still fairly common birds, their numbers have begun to decline and in some parts of their range they have disappeared altogether. Documenting the presence or absence is what makes this citizen science project so important. Local citizens can help us determine if whip-poor-wills are occupying habitat in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.”
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 18 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.
Photo by Michael Drummond