New Trail to Provide Birding Opportunities for All New Yorkers, Regardless of Age, Ability, Identity, or Background
Launch of First Segment of Statewide Trail in New York City Includes 33 Birdwatching Locations in Five Boroughs
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the grand opening of the first segment of the New York State Birding Trail at the Mount Loretto Unique Area on Staten Island. The Birding Trail is a new initiative to highlight the state's world-class and wide-ranging birding opportunities, as birdwatching has quickly become one of New York's fastest-growing recreation and tourism activities. The New York State Birding Trail is managed by DEC in collaboration with partners in each region of the state, including the National Park Service, State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and NYC Parks. The statewide Birding Trail, part of the State's Adventure NY initiative to connect more New Yorkers with nature, is expected to be complete in 2022. Today's announcement precedes World Migratory Bird Day and 'The Big Sit!,' two October events that bring awareness to bird conservation and birdwatching.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "From Brooklyn to Buffalo to Staten Island, New York's breathtaking natural beauty and abundant habitats make it the perfect place for birding. Given the explosion in popularity of birdwatching across the state, particularly during the pandemic, the New York State Birding Trail will make birding easier and more accessible for all New Yorkers. In addition, the State's new Birding Trail will provide resources and tools to promote equal access and opportunity for all to safely enjoy the wonders of nature without fear of discrimination."
The New York State Birding Trail will include a network of promoted birding locations that can be accessed by car or public transportation, providing an inclusive experience for all visitors to find birds amid beautiful natural settings with little or no cost or investment in equipment. DEC will open new segments of the Birding Trail as they are completed in a phased approach. Once finished, the Birding Trail will provide birding opportunities for everyone, regardless of age, ability, identity, or background, across New York State.
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "As birding programs and events have grown in popularity over the years, New York State has continued to protect and preserve amazing natural habitats for the public to explore interesting and unique birds. With the opening of the New York State Birding Trail, all residents and visitors alike will have greater opportunities to access, experience, and enjoy some of the prime bird watching areas of the state, allowing for a greater connection to nature and outdoor recreation."
DEC is coordinating the New York City segment of the trail in partnership with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the National Park Service, and NYC Parks, along with Empire State Development's Division of Tourism - I LOVE NY, and New York City Audubon.
Empire State Development Vice President and Executive Director of Tourism Ross D. Levi said, "The New York State Birding Trail is the latest in a series of offerings that will encourage residents and visitors alike to explore the unique outdoor experiences that can be found throughout the state. Now is a great time of year for an extended trip or a weekend getaway to observe our feathered friends amid the autumn colors, while enjoying popular seasonal food, beverages, and activities."
National Park Service Superintendent Jen Nersesian said, "Birding is an activity for everyone, everywhere, and New York State has some of the best places in the world to watch birds. Gateway National Recreation Area is thrilled to be a part of the network of extraordinary sites that comprise the New York State Birding Trail and we hope it will be a valuable tool for New Yorkers to discover wild and wonderful park lands throughout the state."
"We are excited to work in partnership with DEC on this amazing birding trail. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the City it is both calming and fascinating to discover all of the great parks where there are opportunities for birding," said NYC Parks Deputy Commissioner for Urban Park Service and Public Programs Margaret Nelson. "By creating this birding trail, novices and experts alike can take a peek at some of the most marvelous, winged creatures. We hope that people in the City will take time out to enjoy birding in Pelham Bay, Fort Greene Park, Inwood Hill Park, High Rock Park, Kissena Park, and beyond!"
The New York City segment of the trail includes 33 locations throughout the five boroughs, including Gateway National Recreation Area, where visitors can enjoy some of the best birding in the United States. Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge has more than 300 species of shorebirds, waterfowl, wading birds, songbirds, and raptors. NYC's Van Cortlandt Park offers abundant opportunities to view birds in a variety of habitats. Songbirds, raptors, and waterfowl are all commonly seen. In addition, DEC's Mount Loretto Unique Area on Staten Island is home to a wide array of habitats for bird species, including Osprey, Bald Eagles, and many shorebirds. Roberto Clemente State Park is home to songbirds, raptors, and many types of shorebirds and waterfowl.
To promote the trail as an inclusive experience for all, DEC selected sites that are accessible by public transportation. DEC also solicited input from a wide range of New Yorkers and organizations that represent Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities and is making 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 DEC's website and provides valuable information on each site such as location, available amenities, species likely to be seen, directions, and more. Additional information on birding, including the I Bird NY challenges and educational and interpretive information, is also available. 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 DEC's website.
DEC Encourages birding enthusiasts to visit I Bird NY for more information on where and how to watch birds, upcoming bird walks, a downloadable Beginner's Guide to Birding (PDF, 14 MB) (available in Spanish (PDF)), and additional resources.
World Migratory Bird Day on Oct. 9, is an annual awareness-raising campaign highlighting the need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats. The Big Sit! is a free, annual, international birding challenge to name the most species observed during a 24-hour period. This year, the Big Sit! Is being held on Oct. 9 and 10. Visit The Big Sit website. Additionally, #BirdabilityWeek, which is a celebration of birders with disabilities or other health concerns, runs from Monday, Oct. 18 - Sunday, Oct. 24. DEC Educators are hosting a guided, fully accessible Birdability walk at Mt. Loretto Unique Area on Saturday, Oct. 23 from 11:00 a.m. to 12 p.m.
DEC manages and oversees nearly five million acres of public lands and conservation easements and plays a vital role in both protecting our natural resources and providing opportunities for people to enjoy. From fishing on scenic streams, hiking and rock climbing, swimming and boating, birdwatching and nature study, or simply relaxing in a tent under the stars, there are endless adventures to be found. Plan your next outdoor adventure at DEC's website, connect with us on Facebook, or follow us on Instagram and Twitter.
"Birding can feel intimidating for those who don't know where to go, don't feel safe in remote areas, or can't easily access certain locations. The outdoors-and the joy of birds-should be safe and welcoming for all people, and the New York Birding Trail is a step in the right direction. Whether you spot a bird migrating through our area or settling in to nest and raise young, seeing or hearing them can be a thrilling experience. We're delighted that more New Yorkers will now have the opportunity to take part in this joyful activity," said Mike Burger, executive director of Audubon's Connecticut and New York state office.
Kathryn Heintz, Executive Director, New York City Audubon, said, "NYC Audubon welcomes the New York State Birding Trail, and the recognition it brings to the many excellent, accessible birding sites right here in New York City's five boroughs. We hope the Trail will encourage New Yorkers in communities across the City to explore their local hotspots. From warblers to herons to eagles, there's fantastic birding to be had!"
"It is an essential act of humanity to share the love and benefits of nature and greenspaces. I'm so excited by this announcement and I look forward to watching it grow!" said Tykee James, Co-Founder, Freedom Birders, Organizer, Black Birders Week, and Board Co-Chair, Amplify the Future.