For the birds: State trail grows in Albany County

— Photo from the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy

The Noonan Preserve, which runs next to the Normans Kill and is accessible through the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail has been added to the New York State Birding Trail.

ALBANY COUNTY — At a time when bird populations worldwide are in decline, the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation is expanding its bird trail and encouraging residents to use the trail.

Four of the 13 new State Birding Trail locations announced this month are in Albany County.

These include the county’s Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail, which runs from Voorheesville to Albany’s South End; the Ann Lee Pond Nature and Historic Preserve in Colonie; Lawson Lake County Park; and the Noonan Preserve, which is accessed through the rail trail and abuts the Normans Kill.

The new locations bring the number of sites on the New York State Birding Trail to 325 statewide.

“Fall is one of the most beautiful and scenic times to experience the outdoors in New York and it’s a prime time to visit the new State Birding Trail sites,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos in a release from the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation announcing the new designations.

“Birdwatching is one of New York’s fastest-growing recreation and tourism activities and these areas are open for visitors of all ages, abilities, backgrounds, and experience levels to enjoy,” Seggos said.

“In pre-pandemic 2019, over 20 million Americans took a birding-specific trip and over $17 billion was spent on wildlife-watching trip-related expenses,” said Bob Provost, president of the New York State Tourism Industry Association, in the release. “Birding interest escalated during the pandemic, with young adults and families seeking eco-oriented travel and the outdoors.”

A study published this spring in the journal Annual Review of Environment and Resources, “State of the World’s Birds,” showed climate change as a driver of avian population declines along with threats to habitat and overexploitation.

The study determined that nearly half — 48 percent — of existing bird species worldwide are known or suspected to be undergoing population declines and echoed a 2019 study that showed nearly 3 billion breeding birds have been lost during the past 50 years across the United States and Canada.

The New York State Birding Trail map, available at, provides information on each site such as location, available amenities, and species likely to be seen. 

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.

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