New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the grand opening of the Central-Finger Lakes segment of the New York State Birding Trail to highlight the state’s world-class and wide-ranging birding opportunities.
The Central-Finger Lakes segment includes 54 locations throughout 15 counties, providing a variety of quality birding experiences for New Yorkers and visitors to enjoy.
Birdwatching has quickly 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.
The Central-Finger Lakes segment of the trail includes 54 locations on a mix of public and private lands throughout Chenango, Oneida, Oswego, Madison, Onondaga, Otsego, Cortland, Cayuga, Seneca, Yates, Ontario, Wayne, Livingston, Monroe, and Tompkins counties. This large region is home to diverse habitats of woodlands, wetlands, grasslands, open lakes, and even coastal ecosystems that support a huge array of species and something for all visitors to experience and enjoy.
Each spring, hundreds of thousands of geese and ducks of some two dozen species migrate through this region on the Atlantic flyway. Visitors can check out the nationally recognized Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge’s wetlands to see where bald eagles make their home. Birds of prey can be observed at Derby Hill Bird Observatory, the location of a spring hawk watch with 40,000 to 90,000 raptors. Make a stop at Braddock Bay just west of Rochester on Lake Ontario to see migrating raptors, waterfowl, and songbirds at a designated Bird Conservation Area. High Tor Wildlife Management Area is also an Important Bird Area with ponds, waterfalls, rivers, gorges, forests, and open fields. Visitors can expect to observe sandhill cranes, osprey, and herons, as well as blue jays, crows, and belted kingfishers and a large variety of songbirds. Don’t miss the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary to watch birds, rain or shine, and explore four miles of trails. At Beaver Lake Nature Center, join a morning bird walk in search of spring migrants and summer residents along the hedgerows, meadows, lakeshore, at the forest’s edge, and across the bog.
New segments of the Birding Trail are 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, and Hudson Valley in April 2022, totaling more than 180 birding locations. Commissioner Seggos also announced the addition of Birdsong Park in the town of Orchard Park, Erie County, to the previously announced Greater Niagara segment. Once finished, the New York State Birding Trail will provide birding opportunities for everyone, regardless of age, ability, identity, or background, across the state.
To promote the trail as an inclusive experience for all, 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 on the DEC 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 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 the New York State Birding Trail webpage.
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, and additional resources.
Photo of bird watchers courtesy DEC.