BIRDS OF SCHODACK ISLAND
By Mary Theresa Julien
As the days grow warmer in early springtime, the mornings begin to burst into song! Schodack Island State Park is home to many songbirds on their way back from their wintering grounds in the south. The Cerulean Warbler is one of the migratory birds that can be found at the park. These little cuties hunt for insects high up in the tree canopies on the island. Although they are hard to catch a glimpse of, you may hear them actively chirping away during the spring mating season. The Cerulean Warbler is the most rapidly declining warbler population. They are threatened by the predatory behavior of brown-headed cowbirds and by the loss of their winter habitat on shade coffee plantations in the South America.
Areas of Schodack Island State Park are designated as a Hudson River Estuarine Sanctuary, as a Bird Conservation Area by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and as an Important Bird Area by The Audubon Society. As such, the park strikes an important balance between recreational access, conservation and environmental education. Schodack Island, which is actually a peninsula, supports rare freshwater intertidal mudflat and freshwater tidal marsh habitats on along its eastern side and in the extreme southern portion of the park. The habitats along the Schodack Creek and Muitzes Kill are particularly diverse. Some of the breeding bird populations that can be found in these areas are the marsh wren, swamp sparrow, red-winged blackbird and willow flycatcher. The western side of the park along the Hudson River is predominately floodplain forest. Bald Eagles like to roost along the shoreline, watching for their chance to snatch an unsuspecting fish from the river. Fish is a favorite entrée for eagles, yum! Ospreys are occasionally seen along the Hudson River shoreline as well. This freshwater tidal ecosystem is vital to the eagles and osprey during migration and wintering and it important that we do not disturb them during these times. The state park is also important because there is a Great Blue Heron breeding colony that supports about 50 nests each year. With its enormous six-foot wingspan, the Great Blue Heron is the largest heron in North America. Likewise, it is important not to disturb the heron rookery during their summer breeding season, so be sure to keep a polite distance.
Editor’s Note: This post initially appeared in the program for the 10th Annniversary Celebration of Schodack Island State Park