Southern Adirondack Audubon Society

Protecting the environment through the preservation of natural habitats
 and the advancement of environmental education

Birding the Hudson Falls Towpath 
in the Town of  Kingsbury, Washington County, NY

The Towpath Road is located along the old Champlain Canal in the town of Kingsbury.  The road is 4 miles long and with a variety of habitats it can fill an entire morning with interesting birding in any season.

The Towpath Bird Species List
Towpath sign


From the traffic circle in the center of Hudson Falls, head east on Maple St. (Rt. 196), and just prior to crossing the bridge over the canal, turn left on Crowley Rd.  Make an immediate right onto the Towpath Rd.  You can either travel the Towpath about 4 miles to the end, turn left, and return to Hudson Falls via Mud St. (County route 41) or turn right on New Swamp Rd. at about 2.5 miles, and bird that road to its end at  Rt. 196.  A right turn from there will bring you back to Maple St. in Hudson Falls.

Looking down the old canal
Water levels are highest in Spring and following periods of
 heavy rain. Wood Duck, Green Heron, Belted Kingfisher, and Yellow-throated Vireo are just a few of the species
 that can be found here with regularity.

Lush vegetation at roadside provides great cover for many species of songbirds.
Lush roadside vegetation provides great cover for many
 species of songbirds.

Open fields border the road in some places.
Open fields bordering the road in some places can offer views
 of hawks, harriers, bobolinks, and sparrows.

An extensive marsh supports Swamp Sparrow, Marsh Wren and Virginia Rail.
An extensive cattail marsh supports Swamp Sparrow,
Marsh Wren and Virginia Rail.

Birding the Towpath

The Towpath may be the best four-mile stretch of road birding in our chapter area.  With the exception of early morning commuters taking short-cuts, this unpaved road is usually quite devoid of traffic, and is far enough from town so it is also quiet enough to easily hear birds.  An abundance of native vegetation, such as viburnum, wild grape, dogwood, and sumac make this place a haven for both resident species and migrants.

Warblers, woodpeckers, sparrows, cuckoos, herons, ducks…140 species in all so far, and this is simply a dirt road in Washington county.  It's only five minutes from the traffic circle in Hudson Falls, however, once you bird this amazing road, we think you'll agree that it is four miles of birding bliss. 

In addition to the old canal which supports ducks, herons, and water-loving songbirds, there are several different habitats that border the road.  At the Hudson Falls end there is an open agricultural area, mid-way there is a huge cattail marsh, and wet woods border the Fort Ann end of the road.  The roadsides are edged by many species of shrubs and trees which offer important cover for nesting birds and food for migrants.  Simply driving the road can yield a good list, but to really appreciate all the road has to offer, park in a safe place and walk a bit in the different habitats.

Our local "six-pack" of woodpeckers can all be found here, both cuckoos have been seen, twelve sparrow species and eighteen warblers have been found so far.  American Bittern is seen regularly, as are Wilson's Snipe, both Alder and Willow Flycatcher, and Baltimore Orioles.  Breeding Orchard Orioles have been present for several years; Green Herons love this area, and can often be seen perched in trees as well as stalking prey near the water.  In May of 2012, three Black-crowned Night-Herons were seen - a first for this area - and have been seen intermittently since then.  Carolina, House, and Marsh Wrens can all be found.  The list can go on and on, but you get the idea!  There are so many diverse species here that birding is great in the heat of the summer when other areas have gone quiet and lost their appeal.

One word of caution:  Although the road is wide enough for two cars, be sure to park where another vehicle can safely see around you.  There are many curves in the road and there is no posted speed limit!  The only downside to the birding experience here is the large amount of trash that has been thrown in the canal.  The Town of Kingsbury cleans the roadsides annually, and hopefully, with a greater "people presence" there will be less littering.

Now, head out there and enjoy the Towpath!

We know this location hosts many species not yet observed, so if you have any
additions to this list, please send us the species name, your name,
 and the date the bird was observed.