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For Release: Thursday, March 10, 2022

DEC Announces Opening of Long Island Segment of Statewide Birding Trail

Trail Includes 20 Locations in Nassau and Suffolk Counties

New Opportunities for New Yorkers, Regardless of Age, Ability, Identity, or Background to Enjoy Birding

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the grand opening of the Long Island segment of the New York State Birding Trail to highlight the state's world-class and wide-ranging birding opportunities. The Long Island segment includes 20 locations throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties, providing a variety of quality birding experiences for New Yorkers and visitors to enjoy.

"Long Island is an important haven for resident and migratory bird species and this latest segment of the New York State Birding Trail brings our partners together to help more communities enjoy an accessible and affordable hobby," Commissioner Seggos said. "As the statewide Birding Trail continues to take shape, this latest segment will provide new opportunities for Long Islanders to learn about the diversity of birds in our backyards, fields, forests, and shores."

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "This newest segment of the Statewide Birding Trail offers an informative and helpful way to discover Long Island's rich natural habitats and fascinating bird life. I encourage New York residents and visitors to see for themselves the picturesque birding locations offered throughout state park lands on Long Island and take part in this wonderfully engaging activity."

Empire State Development Vice President and Executive Director of Tourism Ross D. Levi said, "Bird watching along this new segment of the New York State Birding Trail is a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the warming weather on scenic Long Island. Its 20 locations offer countless vantage points which, when paired with local attractions like award-winning wineries, pristine beaches and Gilded Age mansions, make for an amazing Long Island getaway. The birding trail is an exciting opportunity to come be a part of this growing pastime and experience the wonder and beauty of New York State."

Birdwatching has become one of New York's fastest-growing recreation and tourism activities. DEC manages the New York State Birding Trail in collaboration with partners including the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. The statewide trail includes a network of 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 Long Island segment of the birding trail includes 20 locations on a mix of State and Federal lands throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties. From Montauk Point State Park on the tip of Long Island to Hempstead Lake in Nassau County, visitors can experience birding at a variety of habitats. Visitors can enjoy birding at coastal locations like the barrier island ecosystem at Fire Island Lighthouse, where one-third of all North American species have been recorded. Inland sites like Edgewood Oak Brush Plains and Ridge Conservation Area offer multiple opportunities to observe migratory birds and other forest and grassland species. The sandy pine barrens of Rocky Point Pine Barrens State Forest are ideal habitat for woodpeckers, great horned owls, and orioles. Three National Wildlife Refuge properties with salt marshes and lagoons offer the chance to see waterfowl, raptors, waders, and songbirds. Visiting north shore sites such as Sunken Meadows State Park that has salt marshes where snowy and common egrets, black-crowned night herons, and great blue herons can be seen fishing in the waters of the marsh. Long Island is part of the Atlantic flyway and on the migratory path of a high diversity of bird species. A visit to these sites will have something for everyone.

Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin said, "As America's largest township, Hempstead Town is host to an immense amount of pristine parks, trails, and other protected environmental lands that are home to over 200 species of birds along with scores of other aquatic and land dwelling animals. Our hometown's diverse array of wildlife is truly a sight to behold, and we invite members of the public to come and view our avian neighbors at the Lido Beach Passive Nature Area. This preserved wetland space, maintained and protected by the Hempstead Town Department of Conservation and Waterways, is an ideal place to connect with nature just a stone's throw from Long Island's south shore beaches. Hempstead Town will continue working hard to ensure our community's wonderful ecosystems are preserved for the enjoyment of future generations."

Kathryn D'Amico, director of the National Audubon Society's Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center in Oyster Bay, said, "Long Island's coastlines and associated marshes, islands, and beaches are critical to the health of birds and people. Long Island also boasts an incredible variety of habitats, making it a globally significant home for birds - including threatened and endangered species like the Piping Plover and Least Tern. Audubon and our affiliated chapters on Long Island are thrilled to welcome bird-loving visitors to this newest segment of the New York State Birding Trail, where you are almost certain to spot a 'lifer' that you've never seen before!"

Ann Marie Chapman, Visitor Services Manager for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex, said, "Long Island National Wildlife Refuges are some of the best places on the island to go birding! We are excited to be included along the birding trail and look forward to welcoming new (and returning) visitors to our refuges."

As the weather warms, some species begin to travel north to move closer to breeding grounds, creating opportunities for birders to enjoy a wide variety of species. Many species will arrive mid-April and continue through early June. Many shorebirds will return in the summer.

In addition to the opening of the Long Island segment of the New York State Birding Trail, Commissioner Seggos announced the addition of Governors Island to the New York City segment, which was announced in October 2021. With the addition of Governors Island, the New York City segment includes 34 locations throughout the five boroughs. The Greater Niagara trail segment announced in February 2022, includes 36 locations in five Western New York counties. Once finished, the trail will provide birding opportunities for all visitors, regardless of age, ability, identity, or background, across New York State. New segments of the Birding Trail will continue to open in a phased approach.

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. More than half of the locations on Long Island are 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 are held in collaboration with organizations working with BIPOC communities.

The New York State Birding Trail map is available on the I Bird NY webpage and provides valuable information on each site such as location, available amenities, species likely to be seen, directions, and more. Additional information on birding, 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 I Bird NY 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 (PDF, 14 MB) (available in Spanish (PDF)), 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 DEC's website, connect with us on Facebook, or follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

View the map of the Long Island segment of the New York State Birding Trail (PDF).

large house on the water
Connetquot River State Park Preserve - courtesy of NYS ESD Darren McGee

white crane standing in water
Orient Harbor - courtesy of NYS ESD Darren McGee

view from observation area looking over water
Ridge Conservation Area - courtesy of NYSDEC

picturesque view of wetlands in birding area
Sunken Meadow State Park - courtesy of NYS Parks

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