Southern Adirondack Audubon Society
Protecting the environment through the preservation of natural habitats
and the advancement of environmental education
In 2014, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation finalized its purchase of 286 acres of the Washington County Grasslands Important Bird Area. The lands were designated State Forest and hunting is allowed in season. That same year a half-mile long trail was developed and a kiosk built at the trailhead on Blackhouse Rd. More information can be found on the DEC website.
This vast birding area is comprised of the 13,000 acre Fort Edward Grasslands IBA, located east and south of the Villages of Hudson Falls and Fort Edward, and the agricultural areas in the towns of Argyle and Kingsbury contiguous to the IBA. Containing many working farms and grassland areas interspersed with cultivated fields, small woodlots, and wetlands, this is an important breeding ground for grassland species, and is also a wintering area for large numbers of raptors. Although most of this area is comprised of privately owned lands,¹ New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) unveiled a proposal in the fall of 2007 and will work to protect a large portion of the area—through outright purchase of land, as well as through the purchase of conservation easements from private landowners. As of this writing NYSDEC has purchased 286 acres and conducts raptor surveys each winter.
The birding information here will focus on the IBA lands, where birders have concentrated their efforts in the past. As more birders visit this area and report their findings we will update this page to reflect new information.
The sun sets over the open fields of the
Fort Edward Grasslands IBA.
||¹ Please respect all property owners' rights when birding in the IBA. Please do not tresspass, or block driveways or roadways with your vehicle. Our chapter has worked diligently toward good relations with those who are fortunate enough to live in the IBA, and we would like to maintain friendly relations.||
DirectionsFrom the traffic light at the intersection of Routes 197 and 4 in the village of Fort Edward, Routes 197 and Route 4 may be used to access various areas of the southern portion of the IBA; Route 196 out of the village of Hudson Falls will access northern sections. County routes 42 and 46, as well many other town roads intersect the IBA. See map below.
Scenes such as this are common in the
Fort Edward Grasslands
Open fields attract wintering raptors
Fitzpatrick Road is famous among local birders for its
population of Short-eared Owls.
Hay bales provide roost places for Short-eared Owls
Sheila Tuttle tracks owls on Plum Rd. in the
Fort Edward Grasslands IBA
Summer sunsets can be spectacular!
Birding in the Fort Edward Grasslands
Important Bird Area
grasslands in spring hosts many Killdeer - their
calls can be heard in every field, as can the
bubbly, gurgling song of the Bobolink, recently
arrived after a migration of over 5,000
miles. Another long-distance migrant,
the Upland Sandpiper, flies over 7,000 miles to
return to our area each spring. Also listed
as "Threatened" in New York state, loss of
grassland habitat is a major reason for the
decline of this species. Evidence of
breeding was found as recently as the summer of
Spring and fall are also the times to seek out the few wetlands in the IBA. Although there is little public access to Dead Creek, which intersects the IBA in a north-south direction, areas where this creek crosses the roads can be very productive. Songbirds can be concentrated in these wet areas during spring migration. Also during "spring melt," a small, marshy area on Town Line Road will hold large numbers of waterfowl, including Northern Pintail, Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, and Wood Duck. Check this area also as birds move south in the fall. Other interesting species recorded in the recent past are American Bittern, Osprey, and Cedar Waxwing.
development encroaches on this agricultural area,
traffic is increasing, making "roadside" birding
hazardous in some areas at certain times of
day. State routes 196, 197 and 4 are busy
roads with high-speed traffic; use caution when
birding these roads. The same is true for
Washington county routes 46 and 42.
IBA has long been an important summer breeding
area and winter home for bird species that are
rapidly declining in the eastern part of this
country. We in Southern Adirondack Audubon
hope that conservation efforts will slow the
habitat loss, and ensure that future generations
of birds will continue to nest and winter here.
listed as "Endangered" in New York state
listed as "Threatened" in New York state
A Northern Harrier hunts over the
Rough-legged Hawk takes advantage
and several others catch some rays in the evergreens!