Important Bird Areas

Black Creek Marsh

New York

This large wetland complex associated with the Black Creek and its
tributaries is surrounded by upland forest and agricultural fields.
Nearly half of the site (450 acres) is a Wildlife Management Area
managed by the NYS DEC; the rest is privately owned. The old
Delaware & Hudson Railroad line divides the marsh into northern and
southern sections.

Ornithological Summary

This site supports at-risk species including the American Black
Duck (possible breeder), Pied-billed Grebe (migrant), American
Bittern (breeds), Least Bittern (breeds), Northern Harrier (can been
seen year round, possible breeder), American Woodcock (breeds),
Short-eared Owl (rare winter visitor), Common Nighthawk
(possible migrant), Willow Flycatcher (probable breeder, potentially
supports 10 pairs), Blue-winged Warbler (probable breeder in low
numbers), Prairie Warbler (probable breeder in low numbers),
and Rusty Blackbird (migrant, 40-50 ind.). Additional wetland
associated species include the Great Blue Heron, Green Heron,
Virginia Rail, Sora, Common Moorhen, Wilson?s Snipe, Alder
Flycatcher (probable breeder), and Marsh Wren. A great diversity
of species occurs in the mix of habitats here, especially during the
spring migration, when 90-100 species can be identified in one day.
Concentrations of several hundred waterfowl can occur in spring
and fall, and Canada Geese, Wood Ducks, Mallards, Ruffed Grouse,
Wild Turkeys, and American Woodcocks are common breeders.American Kestrels, Brown Thrashers, Eastern Bluebirds, and
Bobolinks occur at the site and/or in adjoining fields. Reports from
1960s indicate that the Henslow?s Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow,
and Sedge Wren occurred here.

Conservation Issues

This site is listed in the 2002 Open Space Conservation Plan as a priority
site under the project name Black Creek Marsh/Vly Swamp. The NYS
DEC manages 450 acres for wildlife conservation, of which a 65-acre
field is being managed for grassland species. About 70 acres are owned
by the Town of Guilderland, and several hundred acres of the Indian
Ladder Farm (which adjoins the Black Creek Marsh to the south) has
recently been put under a conservation easement and will remain as a
working farm and orchard. However, loss of open space and uplands
adjoining the marsh are continually occurring and can be expected to
intensify. Much of the upland and farmland adjoining the marsh is
for sale and likely to be developed. Current local land use and zoning
is not adequate to protect the important wildlife habitats at the site.
Conversion of adjoining lands to housing would be detrimental to the
marsh habitat and wetland bird populations. Exploration of potential
ways to protect adjoining lands should be initiated as a partnership
between local groups and state agencies. Better monitoring of wetland
bird species at the site is needed.