Now some people have trouble bird watching in Cemetaries. I guess the thought of thousands of dead people, slowly decomposing beneath your feet, can give some people the willies. But, many Cemetary’s, especially in urban settings are oasis for birds.
Albany Rural Cemetary is located just north of the City of Albany in Menands, New York. There are actually 3 Cemetaries which make up the complex, Albany Rural, St. Agnes and the Jewish Cemetary. All 3 offer good birding, especially in Spring migration, but winter is also a good time to visit as well.
St. Agnes Cemetary, which is owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, is also an Audubon partner for conservation, and efforts are made to maintain the grounds in an environmentally friendly way. Albany Rural cemetary is more famous for the people who are buried there including at least 1 U.S. President (Chester A. Arthur if you are wondering). Interestingly scattered around the grounds are many bird feeders, and a drive around the plots in mid winter can easily yield some interesting birds, including flocks of Dark-Eyed Junco, Common Redpoll, American Goldfinch and Pine Siskin as well as more common suburban feeder birds. In some years, the ornamental evergreens are particularly attractive to species such as White-winged Crossbill. Red-tailed Hawk is a year round resident, and likely nests in the wooded areas of the Cemetaries. Accipiters and Merlin can often be seen flying by during migration.
But Spring is when the Cemetaries really shine. Look for Baltimore Oriole, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Scarlet Tanager flying around in all their glorious colors. Wood Thrush and Veery, and their flute like songs from the wooded patches. American Robins tending nests and Red-eyed and Warbling Vireos singing non-stop from almost every tree. Check the wood edges and brushier areas for migrant warblers.
Summer time can be slow, but in late August look for Common Nighthawks winging their way south. In fall, look for migrant sparrows along the edges of the plots.
(Birding at Albany Rural and other Cemetaries is actually quite good. The roads through the plots are paved and level. The grassy areas are also fairly level. There are some steep sections and small hills scattered about, but can be traversed by taking vehical to the lower and upper portions. At Albany Rural there are also many bird feeders scattered about, it is possible to stake out a feeder to watch. In the older sections, some of the plots are pretty narrow and you also run the risk of tripping over a partially sunken headstone, but none of these risks out weigh the birding potential of the place.)
*** Spring, * Summer, ** Fall, ** Winter