Fish, birds, and mammals have been following seasonal migration routes through the Upper Hudson and lower Champlain Valley for thousands of years. As early as 11,000 years ago, the first humans in the landscape closely followed these migrations, hunting to extinction the mastodon (mastodont), at the edge of the receding Laurentide glacier.
The Hudson-Champlain corridor is an important route within the Atlantic Flyway, one of the four major bird migration pathways of Central and North America. Migratory waterfowl—Arctic Brants, Mergansers, Golden Eyes, Canvas Backs, Snow geese, Canada geese and many others, make their annual migrations through the Upper Hudson, as do many species of songbirds and raptors. Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles, once on the brink of extinction in New York, can be spotted soaring over the Upper Hudson and the Batten Kill in the winter months. The corridor contains important bird habitat, such as the grasslands in Fort Edward and Argyle, the marshy drowned lands of southern Lake Champlain, many marshes and wetlands near rivers and streams, and the Hudson itself.
Shad, herring, eel and salmon were major food sources on the Upper Hudson before pollution and damming destroyed spawning grounds or made them inaccessible. The dams built to make the Upper Hudson navigable for boats have diminished the ability of fish to continue their seasonal migrations above Troy. Some fish make it through the locks on the canal; others have received a helping hand. Residents of Victory Mills in the 1920s recall transporting eel above the Fish Creek falls by specially designed “eel cars.” Fish Creek eels were also caught, processed and shipped to New York City by canal boat or train.