September 21, 2012 - OSI has protected more than 110,000 acres in New York State, and there are a number of OSI-protected sites in the Hudson River Valley that offer excellent opportunities for bird watching this fall.
So, as you head out this season to catch the changing leaves at their peak, remember that every autumn, more than 5 billion birds migrate across North America. Much like humans, birds need food and water, and they tend to migrate along paths that offer those resources, which is why the Hudson River and its linear path and OSI’s conservation corridors make for such good bird watching.
In fact, the trick to finding a good spot to observe fall bird migration is land conservation—find an area with protected habitat for other wildlife and you’re likely to find birds there too.
Here in the Hudson Valley, part of the Atlantic flyway, our protected lands are prime bird-watching territory in October, as birds head south. The Shawangunk Ridge, where OSI has protected 27,000 acres over the last four decades, to the Kittatinny Ridge in New Jersey is a well-known migratory flyway. The Minnewaska State Park Preserve offers excellent perches to watch for Peregrine falcons and other migrating raptors.
And from September to November, the Mohonk Preserve, a frequent OSI conservation partner, has “hawk watches” where experts will help you identify the hawks, ospreys, and other birds that ride the thermal air currents above the Shawangunk Ridge.
In the fall, sparrows visit the Community Gardens in the Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary in New Paltz. On autumn nights, you may even hear Great Horned and Screech Owls in the Sanctuary.
On the east side of the Hudson, the Constitution Marsh Bird Conservation Area is another important waterfowl wintering and migratory stopover site. Species that use the site during migration season and winter include pied-billed grebe, osprey, bald eagle, northern harrier, and peregrine falcon. Fall swallow concentrations at the site typically number about 20,000 individuals, but can reach as high as 100,000.
Finally, Fahnestock State Park and Hudson Highlands State Park are exceptional sites to see changing leaves and birds such as scarlet tanagers, yellow-throated vireo and hermit thrushes on the move.
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