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Crown Point Bird Conservation Area

General Site Information: The Crown Point BCA is part of the Crown Point State Historic Site in Essex County. It is located at the tip of Crown Point peninsula. Jutting northward into Lake Champlain and bordered on the west by Bulwagga Bay, the peninsula serves as a natural migrant trap, especially in spring. Crown Point State Historic Site is also an Audubon Important Bird Area (Burger and Liner, 2005; Wells, 1998).

Over 180 bird species have been observed at the Crown Point BCA. Many of these are spring migrants, with 47 species of Neotropical migratory songbirds and 18 species of forest dwelling Neotropical migrants having been observed in spring. A bird banding station has been operated at Crown Point since 1976. During that time 13,442 birds of 97 species have been banded.

Crown Point BCA Management Guidance Summary

Site Name: Crown Point BCA

State Ownership and Managing Agency: Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation

Location: Essex County, Town of Crown Point

Size of Area: ~ 234 acres

DEC Region: 5

OPRHP Region: Saratoga-Capital District

Vision Statement: Recreational/interpretive opportunities and access will continue in a manner consistent with conservation of the diverse assemblage of bird species using the area for breeding or during migration.

Key BCA Criteria: Migratory bird concentration site; diverse species concentration site; bird research site (ECL §11-2001, 3.e, f and i.). Over 180 species have been observed at the Crown Point BCA. Many of these are spring migrants with 47 species of Neotropical migratory songbirds and 18 species of forest dwelling Neotropical migrants having been observed in spring (NYS OPRHP 1996). A bird banding station has been operated at Crown Point since 1976 (Peterson, 2001a, b). During that time 13,442 birds of 97 species have been banded (Peterson pers. comm.).

Critical Habitat Types: The BCA is a mixture of bottomland deciduous forest, wooded swamps, meadows, cedar/juniper scrub and hawthorn groves (Burger and Liner, 2005; Wells 1998).

Operation and Management Considerations:

  • Identify habitat management activities needed to maintain site as a BCA.
    Management of the BCA will safeguard and enhance populations of wild birds and the habitats that the birds depend upon for breeding, migration, shelter, and sustenance.

    Natural succession is changing the shrub habitat which is an important contributing element to bird diversity. The annual emergence of caterpillars within the shrub habitat at Crown Point is a major food source for migratory songbirds including 25 species of warblers. Management of the shrub habitat is necessary to ensure the site will continue to support high numbers and diversity of migrants. Periodic maintenance of the shrub habitat in the area of the bird banding operation will be undertaken. Site staff will work with NYS Parks' Environmental Management Bureau, the Natural Heritage Program and NYS DEC's Division of Fish and Wildlife to develop a long term plan for enhancement of bird habitat in this area while respecting the historic resources and interpretation programming.

  • Identify seasonal sensitivities; adjust routine operations accordingly.
    Open fields at Crown Point are used by breeding grassland birds including bobolinks. Mowing should be deferred until August 1st in order to ensure nesting success of grassland breeders.
  • Identify state activities or operations that may pose a threat to the critical habitat types identified above; recommend alternatives to existing and future operations, which may pose threats to those habitats.
    There are no state activities that currently pose a threat to critical habitats. Any management activities at the site are done in accordance with the Master Plan for Crown Point State Historic Site and subject to review by the Department of Environmental Conservation per Forest Preserve regulations and the Memorandum of Understanding between OPRHP and DEC (OPRHP, 1985).
  • Identify any existing or potential use impacts; recommend new management strategies to address those impacts.
    Current levels of use by hikers, bikers and cross-country skiers are consistent with the conservation of birds and their habitats.

Education, Outreach, and Research Considerations:

  • Assess current access; recommend enhanced access, if feasible.
    Current access is adequate. Grounds are open year round. Trails are available for hiking and skiing. Biking is allowed on roadways.
  • Determine education and outreach needs; recommend strategies and materials.
    The banding station can serve as a significant educational resource. School groups, youth groups, home-schoolers, seniors, special interest groups and Breeding Bird Atlas observers are among the 200-300 people that visit the banding station each year. Crown Point will continue its partnership with the High Peaks Audubon Society and Breeding Bird Atlas observers.

    OPRHP's checklist: Birds of Crown Point State Historic Site was updated in 2005. A BCA kiosk has been designed and will be installed upon designation.

    Work with site staff, Natural Heritage scientists, DEC's Division of Fish and Wildlife and ornithological experts to identify the type and extent of shrub habitat to be maintained.

  • Identify research needs; prioritize and recommend specific projects or studies.
    Continue the bird banding station.

    Monitor for nesting grassland species especially savannah sparrow, bobolink and eastern meadowlark which were all probable nesters according to the interim Atlas 2000 data.

    Double-crested cormorants nested on the mainland at Crown Point for the first time in 2002. Monitor the site for increased use by breeding cormorants.

    An osprey platform, originally installed in 1991, had been overgrown, such that it was unlikely to be used for nesting. In 2005, habitat maintenance was undertaken to create conditions more conducive to osprey nesting. An osprey pair had taken up residence in 2006. The platform and osprey pair will be monitored to track nesting success.

While the site does not meet the BCA criterion for species at risk, the NYS threatened northern harrier and special concern osprey are probable breeders; species of special concern American bittern, red-shouldered hawk, whip-poor-will and golden-winged warbler are possible breeders. Other species at risk that are observed at least annually include the threatened bald eagle and special concern sharp-shinned hawk.

Thomas Hughes, OPRHP, Crown Point State Historic Site, 518-597-4666
Tom Lyons, OPRHP, Albany, phone: 518-474-0409
Ray Perry, OPRHP, Albany, phone: 518-474-0409

Burger, M. F. and J. M. Liner, 2005. Important Bird Areas of New York, 2nd Edition, Habitats Worth Protecting. Audubon New York, Albany, NY

NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, 1996. Birds of Crown Point State Historic Site

NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, 1985. Master Plan for Crown Point State Historic Site

Perry, R. W. 2003. BCA Worksheet and Evaluation for the Crown Point BCA, Environmental Management Bureau, OPRHP, Albany, NY

Peterson, J. M. P. 2004. Crown Point Banding Association

Wells, J. V. 1998. Important Bird Areas in New York State. National Audubon Society, Albany, New York.

Date Designated: 09/25/06