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Home » Valentine's Day » DEC announces opening of Central-Finger Lakes segment of statewide birding trail

DEC announces opening of Central-Finger Lakes segment of statewide birding trail

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today 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.

“With the annual bird migration and the wide variety of species coming to the region, Spring is truly a perfect time of year to visit any of the 54 locations on the newest segment of the New York State Birding Trail,” Commissioner Seggos said. “The Central-Finger Lakes region brings together many partners to provide a curated birding experience for both expert birders and New Yorkers new to this fun and accessible activity.”

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.

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State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “With the opening of the Central-Finger Lakes segment of the New York State Birding Trail, our visitors can discover some of the prime bird watching areas of the state, allowing for a greater connection to nature and outdoor recreation. The trail includes 17 State Park facilities in the Central-Finger Lakes Region with nearly 30 different designated sites.”

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.

Lucienne Nicholson, Executive Director and founder of Inclusive Woods and Us, said, “Being the founder of Inclusive Woods and Us allows me the great privilege of leading children and adults on nature adventures where I witness again and again the wonder in their eyes and faces when hands meet binoculars, at last, for the first time. From these shared moments in the woods, I can see that birding is the gateway to the hearts of first-time hikers.”

Chris Lajewski, Director of the National Audubon Society’s Montezuma Audubon Center, said, “The Montezuma Wetlands Complex’s forests, wetlands, grasslands and waterways are critical to the health of birds and people. Nearly 300 bird species, including threatened and endangered species like the Black Tern, Pied-billed Grebe and Northern Harrier, are found across this unique mosaic of habitats. Audubon and our affiliated chapters in the region are thrilled to welcome visitors to this newest segment of the New York State Birding Trail, where you can paddle to search for secretive marsh birds and hike to experience the melodious tunes of songbirds.”

Lisa Kopp, Visitor Experience Manager for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, said, “After a tough two years we are so happy to be welcoming visitors back to the Lab of Ornithology! We have miles of easy hiking trails outside and exhibits inside the observatory that make this a must-visit stop on the New York State Birding Trail. We hope this new tool will help people get outside to learn about and enjoy the amazing birds found in the Finger Lakes region.”

Andrea Van Beusichem, Visitor Services Manager at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, said, “As a resident of Onondaga County whose work-life at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge centers around wildlife conservation and ecotourism around Cayuga Lake, I am excited to use the New York State Birding Trail in my personal life and am thrilled to share it as a resource for the tens of thousands of refuge visitors coming to the area to experience nature! Birding tops the list of visitor activities offered on national wildlife refuges because when people experience the nature-connection birding offers, they tend to take a stock in ensuring wildlife conservation.”

Andrea Patterson, Director of the Braddock Bay Bird Observatory, said, “Braddock Bay Bird Observatory and Genesee Land Trust are thrilled to be a part of the New York State Birding Trail, and we hope that our unique program – where guests can see birds in the hand as well as in the trees – will inspire people to care more deeply about habitat conservation.”

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 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 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 here.

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.

DEC manages and oversees nearly five million acres of public lands and conservation easements and plays a vital role in both protecting New York’s natural resources and providing opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors. From fishing on scenic streams, hiking and rock climbing, swimming and boating, birding, and nature study, or simply relaxing in a tent under the stars, there are endless adventures to be found. Visit the DEC website, connect with us on Facebook, or follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

NOTE: Photos of today’s event will be available on DEC’s social media channels, attributable to NYSDEC, or by contacting the Press Office.