New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the grand opening of the Greater Niagara segment of the New York State Birding Trail. The route highlights the State’s world-class and wide-ranging birding opportunities.
The Greater Niagara segment includes 36 locations throughout Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans, and Wyoming counties, providing a variety of quality birding experiences.
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 including the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP, or State Parks). The statewide trail includes a network of 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.
The Greater Niagara segment of the trail includes the awe-inspiring Niagara River Corridor, which is part of a globally important migratory bird area designated by the National Audubon Society, and the Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve’s 292 acres of forests, ponds, and wetlands. Both offer multiple opportunities to observe migratory birds.
In the summer and fall, visitors can take the Discover Niagara shuttle to Fort Niagara State Park, Stella Niagara Preserve, ArtPark, and multiple locations along the Niagara River Corridor. Visit Tifft Nature Preserve and Buffalo Harbor State Park on the southern tip of the Niagara River to take in views of Lake Erie and observe more than 200 bird species. Knox Farm State Park is a premier destination for grassland birds and hosts a display of bluebird boxes.
Winter is a good time to observe certain bird species, including passerines, woodpeckers, owls, and eagles. Wintering eagles arrive in December with concentrations peaking in January and February. Bird colonies flock to the Niagara River when nearby lakes freeze, making these birds easier to observe. In addition, tundra swans can be seen along the river, as well as thousands of ducks and gulls.
New segments of the Birding Trail are opened in a phased approach. DEC announced the New York City trail segment in October 2021, which includes 33 locations throughout the five boroughs.
DEC and partners are working to select sites that are welcoming and accessible by public transportation. DEC also 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 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 online and provides valuable information on each site such as location, available amenities, species likely to be seen, directions, and more. Additional information on birding, 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, visit the I Bird NY website.
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 (available in Spanish), and additional resources.
Photo of Greater Niagara Birding Trail Region map provided.