Life in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve

Nutrient-poor sandy soil and frequent wildland fire create challenging growing conditions in an inland pine barrens. Yet there are specially-adapted species that thrive in this ecosystem. Sand-burrowing amphibians, death-feigning snakes and nickel-sized blue butterflies are just a few of the extraordinary species that live here. Despite their resilience, many pine barrens species have become less common in recent years due to shrinking habitat. Explore the links below to learn more about the plants, animals and other life of the pine barrens.

Karner Blue Butterfly

A Karner blue butterfly perches on a hikers' fingertip. This endangered species is small in size but large in reputation!


Pitch pine

The pitch pine is the flagship tree of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.

Frosted Elfin

This tiny brown butterfly depends on wild blue lupine as its food source here in the Albany Pine Bush.

Wild blue lupine

Wild blue lupine is a beautiful spring wildflower and host plant for rare butterflies including the Karner blue butterfly.


Don’t Forget to Check!
Ticks are found throughout the Capital Region, including in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. Some ticks carry disease and can infect both people and their pets. Always remember to check for ticks after spending time outdoors.

New Jersey tea

This compact shrub supports a diversity of butterflies and moths.

Big bluestem

Look for this tall prairie grass in late summer; the arrangement of its seeds resembles a turkey's foot!

Dwarf chestnut oak

One of two species of "scrub oak" in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.

Bear (scrub) oak

One of two species of "scrub oak" in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.

Eastern coyote

The adaptability of the eastern coyote enables it to survive in a variety of habitats including inland pine barrens.

Inland barrens buckmoth

Watch for this bold and beautiful moth on sunny days in late September!

Eastern Towhee

Eastern Towhees are a common summer resident of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.

Eastern hognose snake

A beautiful snake, reknown for its acting abilities!

Prairie Warbler

These tiny migratory songbirds travel long distances to raise their young in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.

Eastern spadefoot

Because of its subterranean habits, this secretive toad-like amphibian can be hard to find.

Eastern box turtle

The Albany Pine Bush Preserve is at the northern end of the eastern box turtle's range. Once common, they are now a rare sight in the preserve.

Share your Pine Bush Observations

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One of the world’s most popular nature apps, iNaturalist helps you identify the plants and animals around you. iNaturalist is a joint initiative by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society.