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Press Release

September 18, 2008

For Release: Immediate
Press Contact:
Eileen Larrabee
Dan Keefe
518.486.1868

State's 51st Bird Conservation Area Designated at Albany Pine Bush Preserve

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation designated 1514 acres of the Albany Pine Bush as a Bird Conservation Area – making it the 51st BCA established under a program designed to protect birds and enhance nearby bird habitats.

"In just over a decade, we've gone from no bird conservation areas in New York State to more than four dozen, a reflection not only of the importance of the program but also the public's interest," said DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis. "The Albany Pine Bush Preserve has always been a special place, made more so today. Adding it to the list of bird conservation areas will add to its appeal while improving safeguards for more than 40 species of migratory songbirds."

"Throughout New York, people can see and discover a diverse species of birds in their native habitats," said Carol Ash, Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. "Creating this bird conservation area will enhance the conservation work at the Albany Pine Bush Preserve and help these fascinating creatures – including several at-risk bird species – to thrive."

"We're honored to have the Albany Pine Bush Preserve be designated as a bird conservation area by both the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Department of Environmental Conservation," said Chris Hawver, Executive Director of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission. Hawver continued, "Our staff have worked closely with those in DEC and State Parks in recognizing the importance of the Preserve as breeding and migratory habitat for many shrubland birds, and we look forward to continuing our collaborative efforts to enhance the value of the Pine Bush as one of the state's bird conservation areas."

"The Pine Bush Preserve is a fantastic place to see many regionally declining birds, including American woodcock, red-shouldered hawks and prairie warblers," according to Neil Gifford, the Conservation Director for the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. "We were surprised to discover in our research that while 67% of Northeastern bird species that breed in shrubland habitats are seriously declining, the Preserve supports very strong populations of many of these birds," he added. "The BCA program recognizes the value of the Pine Bush to bird conservation, and helps increase the attention we give these species when managing the Preserve for all the recognized Species of Greatest Conservation Need."

"Audubon New York commends Commissioners Pete Grannis and Carol Ash for furthering their strong commitment to this one of a kind conservation program by designating the Albany Pine Bush Preserve as the State's 51st BCA," said Albert E. Caccese, Executive Director of Audubon New York. "The Albany Pine Bush Preserve is a stellar example of how proper habitat stewardship can enhance populations of at risk bird species, and this BCA designation will further advance the important efforts to conserve this unique habitat."

More than 40 species of migratory songbirds are supported at the Albany Pine Bush Preserve during spring and fall migrations, including at least 20 species of warblers. Birds associated with pitch pine-scrub oak barrens and pitch pine-oak forest – including the Whip-poor-will, a New York State Special Concern-listed bird, Brown Thrasher, Pine Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, Eastern Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, and Field Sparrow – are found there. All are confirmed or probable breeders.

In addition, the Red-shouldered Hawk, another New York State Special Concern listed-bird, is a confirmed breeder in the Pine Bush. Other species of Special Concern that have been observed include: American Bittern, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Northern Goshawk, Common Nighthawk, Golden-winged Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, and Vesper Sparrow.

The Albany Pine Bush Preserve represents one of the best remaining examples of an inland pitch pine–scrub oak barrens ecosystem in the world. DEC and OPRHP will continue to work with partners to protect and manage the unique and endangered natural communities and species of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve for ecological, recreational and educational benefits. Although not part of the BCA, cooperation with non-state landowners will continue so that the Preserve can be managed as a unit.

New York State's Bird Conservation Area Program, modeled after the National Audubon Society's Important Bird Areas Program, was enacted in 1997. The program is designed to safeguard and enhance bird populations and their habitats on selected state-owned lands and waters. Bird conservation area proposals are reviewed by an advisory committee of state and private wildlife experts based upon the site's ability to support an exceptional abundance or diversity of birds. The focus of the BCA program is to provide a model stewardship program and to develop interpretive and educational programs for bird conservation.

To see a the state's map of BCAs, visit: http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/32121.html

For frequently asked questions on BCAs, visit: http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/28834.html

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