On August 25, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the grand opening of the final three regions of the New York State Birding Trail, highlighting the state’s world-class and wide-ranging birding opportunities. The Adirondacks-North Country, Catskills, and Southern Tier segments bring the total number of birding trail locations across the state to more than 300, providing a variety of quality birding experiences for New Yorkers and visitors to enjoy.
“Across the state, the New York State Birding Trail showcases the state’s diverse variety of habitats and landscapes and the more than 450 species of birds found here,” Commissioner Seggos said. “The completion of the trail map is just the beginning. We look forward to working with our many birding partners for years to come to help residents and visitors enjoy the unique and special opportunities for birding found only here in New York State.”
Birdwatching has become one of New York’s fastest-growing recreation and tourism activities. DEC manages the New York State Birding Trail in collaboration with partners that include the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. The statewide trail network includes promoted birding locations that can be accessed by car or public transportation, providing an inclusive experience for all visitors to enjoy birds amid beautiful natural settings with little or no cost or investment in equipment.
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “Avid bird watchers are rewarded with a variety of beautiful colors and calls in our state parks. Our trails are habitats that attract birds and bird watchers alike. This partnership will enable more New Yorkers to see and enjoy all that we have to offer.”
Empire State Development Vice President and Executive Director of Tourism Ross D. Levi said, “New York State’s network of Birding Trails offers great opportunities for families to get outside and explore our unparalleled natural settings and wildlife. Our picturesque birding trails complement any weekend getaway or extended vacation, and the new trails will encourage residents and visitors alike to plan a trip and come be a part of all the outdoor fun in New York State.”
The Adirondacks-North Country segment includes 41 locations on a mix of public and private lands throughout Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Montgomery, St. Lawrence, Jefferson, and Warren counties with species such as loons, boreal chickadees, and the Canada Jay. In addition to unique birding opportunities, this region offers breathtaking views of the Adirondack High Peaks.
Covering five counties, the Catskills segment includes 23 locations on public lands in Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan, and Ulster counties. From Forest Preserve lands and iconic State parks to a national wildlife refuge and the popular Ashokan Rail Trail, visitors can combine birding with other pursuits like hiking and biking. The Catskills Visitor Center is a great place to start a birding adventure in this region.
The Southern Tier segment includes 34 locations in Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, and Tioga counties. New York’s Southern Tier is full of breathtaking scenery, from the deep forests of Allegany State Park to the gorges and towering rock formations of Watkins Glen State Park, Rock City, and McCarty Hill state forests. With so much natural diversity, birders can enjoy unique opportunities to view a wide variety of wood warblers and other forest bird species.
New segments of the Birding Trail were opened in a phased approach. DEC announced the New York City trail segment in October 2021, Greater Niagara in February 2022, Long Island in March 2022, Hudson Valley in April 2022, and Central-Finger Lakes and the Capital Region in May. With 312 locations, the Statewide Birding Trail provides birding opportunities for everyone, regardless of age, ability, identity, or background, across New York State.
Scott van Laer, Director Paul Smith’s College Visitors Interpretive Center, said, “Paul Smith’s College is so pleased to have trails at our Visitors Interpretive Center (VIC) included in the New York State Birding Trail. Many of our trails are accessible, offering everyone an opportunity to enjoy birding. The VIC is home to some hard-to-find birds like the Black-backed woodpecker, Boreal chickadee and for the first time this summer, Sandhill Cranes. We regularly lead birding trips and host the Great Adirondack Birding Celebration every June, so we are so happy to see the DEC support and encourage birding as a recreational activity. I Bird NY is a great resource for birders of all levels.”
DEC continues to solicit input from a wide range of New Yorkers and organizations that represent Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities and is making trail information available in both English and Spanish. Bird walks will be held in collaboration with organizations working with BIPOC communities.
The New York State Birding Trail map is available at www.ibirdny.org and provides valuable information on each site such as location, available amenities, species likely to be seen, directions, and more. Digital information on the Birding Trail will be updated periodically, so budding outdoor enthusiasts are encouraged to check back often.
In addition to State-owned and managed locations for the Birding Trail, publicly and privately managed sites can complete a simple self-nomination process to be considered for inclusion on the trail. Sites all meet criteria to help ensure a positive experience for visitors throughout the state. Additionally, each site will post signage noting it as an official location on the birding trail. For information on the nomination process, see www.ibirdny.org.
DEC encourages birding enthusiasts to visit I Bird NY for more information on where and how to observe birds, upcoming bird walks, a downloadable Beginner’s Guide to Birding (PDF) (available in Spanish), additional resources, and information on the recently announced 2022 I Bird NY birding challenges.
DEC manages and oversees nearly five million acres of public lands and conservation easements and plays a vital role in both protecting New York’s natural resources and providing opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors. From fishing on scenic streams, hiking and rock climbing, swimming and boating, birding, and nature study, or simply relaxing in a tent under the stars, there are endless adventures to be found. Visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/
Photo at top: A young bird-watching enthusiast. DEC photo.
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