After 18 years of stepping out into the Albany Pine Bush, the experience doesn’t get old for Education Program Director Erin Kinal.
“This is a great place to work, we have a lot of fun, and you’re always picking up something new about the birds here or the wildlife,” said Kinal, a Voorheesville native and a graduate of Cornell University. “It’s a great opportunity for learning.”
Saturday from 8:30-10:30 a.m., Kinal will be in charge of the Kids’ New Year Bird Count at the Pine Bush Discovery Center on 195 New Karner Road in Albany. The program is free and aimed at children 7 and over. Participants must be accompanied by a parent.
“We’ll start indoors with a brief introductory talk, and then we’ll head outside to the eastern part of the Pine Bush that’s adjacent to the Discovery Center,” said Kilan. “The program is geared toward beginners, so this is a great program for people who don’t have any experience bird-watching. Everybody should be dressed warmly and we’ll have binoculars to loan to people. We’ll spend a little more than an hour outside, and then we’ll come back inside for some hot cocoa and tally up our numbers.”
‘Kids’ New Year Bird Count’
WHERE: Pine Bush Discovery Center, 195 New Karner Road, Albany
WHEN: 8:30-10:30 a.m. Saturday
HOW MUCH: Free
MORE INFO: Registration required; 456-0655, www.AlbanyPineBush.org
Participants will see a variety of birds, according to Kinal, and just how many different species there are may depend on the weather.
“We’ll be out on the trail looking and listening for birds,” she said. “We will document whatever we see, and we’re likely to run into our regular winter residents like black-capped chickadees, northern cardinals, perhaps some nuthatches, definitely some crows, and maybe a red-tailed hawk. If it’s a calm, warm day, then we’ll have a pretty good chance of seeing a greater diversity. About the only thing I can guarantee, though, is crows. We’ll definitely see some crows.”
Tufted titmice may also be part of the show, according to Kinal, and there may be a few robins in the offering. Don’t expect, she says, to see bluebirds or woodcocks.
“Occasionally you’ll see some flocks of robins that will be in the area, and while some male bluebirds may winter in the area, it would be a big surprise to see them. You won’t see any woodcocks. They have all gone South.”
This is the fifth year of the Pine Bush Kids’ New Year Bird Count. So far, all the data collected has stayed with the educators at the Discovery Center, but Kinal said her group may soon begin a working partnership with the Great Backyard Bird Count sponsored each year by Cornell University and the Audubon Society.
“We keep the information here so we can see how the numbers are each year,” said Kinal. “We like to keep track of what we’re seeing, and because of the habitat, it’s great for shrub land birds, the Pine Bush has been designated by the Audubon Society as both a conservation area and an important bird area. All this information we keep will help us learn more about the different species we see here.”
Kinal, who worked as a summit steward in the Adirondack High Peaks area before coming to the Discovery Center, has always had an interest in birds.
“The Pine Bush is such a unique place,” she said Kinal. “I loved working in the High Peaks, but it was great to come back home and have the chance to continue learning about birds. My family has always been interested in them, and so was I.”
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected]