Outdoors made easy at the Pine Bush

If you and yours are suffering from a nasty case of cabin fever due to chilly temperatures and bad weather, the Albany Pine Bush Preserve has the cure. The preserve has activities all year round to get you learning about and appreciating nature, whether it's outside tromping through the woods on a guided snowshoe tour (don't worry, you won't get lost), watching an educational film, or doing a hands-on activity the whole family can enjoy.

The Albany Pine Bush Preserve, located in Albany, offers an area people can visit for outdoor recreation, education and nature study. Located on an inland pine barrens ecosystem, it is home to an array of plants and animal life, including 20 rare species.

The Pine Bush Discovery Center offers a variety of educational programs to school groups, special interest groups, families and individuals. In the coming months, the Pine Bush Preserve Discovery Center is offering a number of activities for families.

We have a lot of snowshoeing programs if people want to come out, says Wendy Borden, the communications outreach director for the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.

If you're thinking, "I don't have snowshoes. This is going to be a big investment if my whole family is going to try it out," don't worry " the preserve has a whole stock of snowshoes for you and your family to romp around in.

"It's a good way for people to explore the preserve if they haven't been here before," says Broden.

The hikes are guided, eliminating the risk of getting lost. If there isn't any snow on a scheduled snowshoe day, guides are more than happy to lead walking tours of the preserve instead. The next session will be held Saturday, Jan. 26.

Other upcoming events include a wildlife-tracking program on Saturday, Feb. 2, led by Rowland Kayes, curator of mammals at the state museum. In honor of Valentine's Day, on Sunday, Feb. 10, a program about animal courtship will be held. The breeding season for barred owls, great-horned owls and screech owls, all residents of the Pine Bush Preserve, occurs during the mid-winter months. During the nighttime hours you're likely to hear territorial calls as male owls defend their territory. Join members from the Pine Bush Preserve for a night hike and learn more about the habits of these creatures and their mating calls.

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