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For Release: Thursday, September 21, 2017

DEC Announces Success of I Bird NY

Fall Bird Migration Kicks Off with New Signage Added to 38 Bird Conservation Areas

I Bird NY Challenge Engages Young People in Beginning Birding

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the progress of I BIRD NY, launched in May to build on the State's efforts to increase access to New York's vast natural resources and promote low-cost opportunities to explore the great outdoors and connect with nature.

The Spring 2017 I BIRD NY program launch encouraged New Yorkers to engage in birding all summer. New, improved signage has been added to 38 priority Bird Conservation areas across the state near urban and suburban areas to better identify opportunities for the public to bird watch.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Birding is a sport that can be enjoyed by New Yorkers of any age and ability, no matter where they live. Under the new I BIRD NY program, these improvements and new signage make it easier than ever to get outside and enjoy birdwatching. I encourage residents and visitors alike to take a trip and connect with nature and experience some of the prime bird watching areas that are true natural treasures to the state."

From Montauk to Buffalo, New York is home to a vast array of habitat that supports more than 450 different bird species. Bird watching is one of the fastest growing outdoor recreational activities that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and experiences in any community.

New York State is part of the Atlantic Flyway, which runs along the Eastern coast of the U.S. Each Fall, migrating birds can be seen flying south to their wintering grounds. This is the ideal time of year for New York residents and visitors to head to Bird Conservation Areas (BCAs) across the state for great bird watching opportunities. Visitors can search fields and forests for warblers, sparrows, and other songbirds and explore lakes, ponds, and beaches to see waterfowl and shorebirds. While exploring, visitors can hawk watch (http://www.hmana.org/) to witness the amazing spectacle of raptor migration.

DEC also held a beginning birding challenge for young people, primarily geared for ages 12-18 to find common birds. More than 100 young people completed the challenge and became I Bird NYers. Three lucky winners picked at random won a prize, including two winners of binoculars and the grand prize of a spotting scope to continue birding. All participants that completed the challenge received a certificate of completion.

Accessible state lands, parks, and facilities can promote physical activity, an important element of overall wellness. These assets provide low-cost opportunities to explore the great outdoors and connect with nature. Announced in Governor Cuomo's 2017 State of the State address, I BIRD NY is one of several initiatives aimed at ensuring New Yorkers have access to green spaces, including focus on unique opportunities close to urban and suburban areas.

"Bird watching is not only one of the fastest growing outdoor recreational activities in America, it's also an important gateway for teaching young people about conserving birds, wildlife and New York's natural resources," said Claudette Thornton, director of strategic communications at Audubon New York. "We greatly appreciate DEC's commitment to increasing awareness and visibility of these critical habitat areas that so many priority species depend on throughout their life-cycle and look forward to continuing to work with DEC on future opportunities for expanding the I BIRD NY program."

"New York is an important place for migratory birds, including birds of conservation concern such as Bicknell's Thrush, Piping Plover, and Cerulean Warbler," said Steve Holmer, Vice President of Policy for the American Bird Conservancy. "When it comes to bird conservation, the key is awareness of birds and their amazing diversity. We're thrilled that New York is working to boost citizen's involvement in birding as a step toward enjoying and ultimately conserving birds and their habitats."

"Watching birds in their natural environment is a wonderful way to learn about and connect with nature," said Laurie LaFond Executive Director for Friends of the Washington County Grasslands IBA. "You get to see how the birds interact with each other and their habitat. It's fun to watch them forage for food, delightful to hear them sing and call to each other and exciting to discover a species you've never previously encountered. I've had people hug me after encountering a hawk or an owl on one of FIBA's field trips!"

In addition, the state launched a website portal, I Bird NY, with information on where and how to bird watch, including upcoming bird walks and additional resources. I BIRD NY also provides a I BIRD NY kids booklet available at DEC Environmental Education Centers and official I BIRD NY bird walks and other events. The website provides user-friendly information for New Yorkers and visitors to find information about how to get started in birding, links to events and walks, and information on bird species.

More information on I BIRD NY, including upcoming events, can be found on DEC's website.

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