Birds Count at Pitney Meadows

Our Farm provides a wonderful habitat for birds to thrive. They do our crops a favor, too, offering biological pest control services for insects and vertebrate pests.

Taking stock of the variety of bird species and the number of birds we have at the Farm is Saratogian and longtime birder Jean Holcomb, who is currently participating in the NYS Breeding Bird Atlas Survey. The Survey, conducted every 20 years, is an inventory of all birds breeding in the state and is a four-year project under the auspices of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in conjunction with EBird, expert birders across the state, and members of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The resulting inventory will provide information on changing habitats, migration patterns, and how development and climate change have affected certain areas as well as offer guidance for the future.

Jean, who also is a member of the Hudson-Mohawk Bird Club and heads up Saratoga’s participation in the New York State Ornithological Association’s Christmas Bird Count, is responsible for inventorying a nine-square-mile area of Saratoga. She has already identified more than 70 species in her territory and considers Pitney Meadows a unique and valuable habitat. Because the Farm has several bluebird houses, she says, there is plenty of encouragement for Bluebirds to make their homes here, as well as Tree Swallows who may take up residence in the “spare” houses. Our meadows and spacious grasslands provide nesting grounds for species like the Bobolink (pictured), the Savannah Sparrow, and the Eastern Meadowlark, and our wooded areas invite Brown Thrashers and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, along with many other species. Because these kinds of habitats across the country grow smaller with the loss of farmland, existing vegetable farms become even more valuable for the health of our bird population. In our wetlands, which Jean will explore further when they are less dense with growth, Redwing Blackbirds and Yellow Warblers can be seen.

Jean is hoping that as the Survey progresses she’ll be able to share programs about birds with the community, especially local school students. And we hope that when we are able to fully open back up for visitors that we can invite Jean to the Farm to give a talk and that you and your families will join us to watch some of these fantastic birds in action.

Bobolinks in our farm fields

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