WCS North America

Boreal Birds in the Adirondacks

The Adirondacks are an important breeding and migratory habitat for hundreds of bird species.  The birds of our boreal habitats, at the southern extent of their breeding range here in the Adirondacks, are emblematic of the Adirondack landscape.  These species – including Lincoln’s sparrow, boreal chickadee, palm warbler, rusty blackbird, black-backed woodpecker, gray jay, and spruce grouse  – depend on the bogs and boreal forests of the Adirondacks for suitable habitat.  Vulnerable under a warming climate, these species, and these habitats, are not well documented in large scale monitoring programs like the North American Breeding Bird Survey.  Their status in the Adirondacks and elsewhere is therefore not well known but several are believed to be experiencing a declining population trend.   WCS is using field research and monitoring to provide information about boreal bird abundance, distribution, and habitat use to inform conservation management strategies.


  • Assess the status of boreal bird communities and their habitats.
  • Plan for long-term conservation of boreal birds in New York by identifying important habitats,  conservation strategies, and long-term monitoring approaches.
  • Understand the potential impacts of climate change on this vulnerable habitat and its characteristic species.


Field Surveys

WCS has been conducting surveys for a suite of boreal bird species since 2003.  Employing a point count methodology for the surveys and focusing on boreal habitats we have monitored more than 80 locations across the Adirondack Park to assess the distribution abundance and habitat associations of 12 target species.  This information has been used to examine the status of individual species and to understand those factors that most strongly influence boreal bird occupancy among our study sites.  These data are also helping us to understand and predict the likelihood of occupancy for these species in peatlands across the Adirondacks so that this information can be used to inform conservation and management decisions for the lowland boreal.


  • Information from WCS’ research has been incorporated into species management tools such as state heritage rankings. 
  • WCS research has provided important information for the NYSDEC on the current status and trends among this group of species and is being used to inform New York’s State Wildlife Action Plan and its associated goals for boreal birds.

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Adirondack Communities and Conservation Program
Wildlife Conservation Society 132 Bloomingdale Avenue, Suite 2, Saranac Lake, NY, 12983 USA
(518) 891-8872

Partners Include

New York Natural Heritage Program
Department of Environmental Conservation