- Associated Press - Monday, May 5, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Audubon New York has designated the rare inland pine barrens habitat of western Albany as an Important Bird Area.

The designation is an international bird conservation initiative that identifies the most important places for birds and recommends protection.

The Pine Bush was named an Important Bird Area because the globally rare ecosystem contains several at-risk birds, including American woodcock, red-shouldered hawk, blue-winged warbler and prairie warbler.

The sandy region of pitch pines and shrub oaks also provides breeding habitat for a large variety of forest shrub land birds that face declining habitat.

The state Thruway passes through the Pine Bush just west of Albany.

Important Bird Areas are identified according to standardized scientific criteria. State and national agencies, conservation groups, academics and environmentalists collaborate to make the designation.

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