Our Community Science Program is an opportunity for local residents to assist us in the collection of environmental data. The data contribute to our understanding of the ecology of the preserve and help inform our research and management decisions. We have a variety of opportunities, each of which has been carefully selected because of its relevance to the ecology of inland pine barrens and environmental conservation at the preserve.
American woodcock survey
The American Woodcock is one of the first birds to return back to the Albany Pine Bush in the spring and it starts singing and displaying just as quickly. Unfortunately, this intriguing species has also been declining in number since the 1960s. For this reason, the American Woodcock is a species of interest in the preserve and one the Commission monitors with the help of citizen scientists. Join us for a training in April to learn how to help us monitor American Woodcock in the preserve.
Bumble bees, like many other bees, have been experiencing range and abundance declines due to pesticide use, spread of diseases by commercial pollinators, habitat destruction and climate change. Measuring that decline is difficult to do on a large scale, which is where you come in! Join us for a spring hike where we will look for bumble bees in the preserve and learn how you can participate in Bumble Bee Watch, a collaborative effort to track and conserve North America’s bumble bees.
Common nighthawk watch
With a 2-foot wingspan and a habit of feeding in the air near the ground, common nighthawks are easy to spot. Dozens to hundreds of the birds are seen each evening before sunset during migration as they feed over the preserve. A New York State designated Species of Greatest Conservation Need, the common nighthawk is neither common (outside of migration) nor a hawk, and is experiencing declines throughout many parts of its breeding range including New York. We invite you to join us in the Discovery Center parking lot to count common nighthawks flying over the APBP as they continue on their over 6,000-mile southward migration.
Although it once kept people up at night, now the song of the Whip-poor-will is a rare sound in the Pine Bush. A nocturnal bird that is classified in the family of Nightjars, the Eastern whip-poor-will has been in decline in New York for the past two decades. We hope to see it return as we restore its habitat but we need your help to monitor for this now-rare species. Join us for evening training session in May to learn how you can become a Citizen Scientist and help us monitor Whip-poor-wills in the preserve.
For over 15 years, citizen scientists have been reporting data on calling frogs and toads to Frog Watch, a citizen science program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Join us for spring and summer training sessions to learn about this amazing program and how you can participate by listening to the frogs and toads calling in your own backyard.
National butterfly count training
The North American Butterfly Association has run the Butterfly Count Program in the United States, Canada, and Mexico since 1993. The data collected provide a tremendous amount of information about the geographical distribution and relative population sizes of the species counted. Comparisons of the results across years can be used to monitor changes in butterfly populations and study the effects of weather and habitat change on North American butterflies.
Pine Bush Big Birding Day
For our Big Birding Day, teams will register and bird together for 24 hours from 7:00pm Friday to 7:00pm Saturday, trying to observe as many bird species as possible. The information gathered will tell us which bird species are present during the breeding season and tell us about their distribution. Each team will be self-guided and participants must provide their own transportation. All ages are welcome to participate but all teams must have at least one member who can identify birds!
Regionally, human-caused climate change is altering seasonal weather patterns, especially temperature and precipitation, but little is known about specific changes in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. Preserve neighbors can help us track these effects by measuring the depth of snow in their own backyard. If you live within half a mile of the preserve, join us in October to learn how to collect and submit measurements that will help us explain how the flora and fauna of the Pine Bush survive the winter.
Striped emerald search
The Albany Pine Bush Preserve is home to many interesting Odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) but none as fascinating and elusive as the striped emeralds. To date, we have only identified one striped emerald species from the Pine Bush, the brush-tipped emerald. Join us for an afternoon of dragon hunting as we search some of the wetlands in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.
Tracking New York's Turkeys
Wild turkey populations have changed dramatically in New York, from their complete absence for almost 100 years, to historic highs in the early 2000s, to recent declines in some areas. Come learn how the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) monitors turkeys from DEC Wildlife Biologist Mike Schiavone. Schiavone will share information about on-going research projects aimed at improving our understanding of wild turkey populations, and how you can help collect turkey data for DEC’s Citizen Science project.