Niagara Reservation State Park (Niagara Falls) Total acres: 435.281 Underwater: 296.28 Niagara Reservation State Park is the oldest state park in the United States. This international tourist attraction that provides tremendous views of the falls also supports productive habitats for plants and animals. Several prime natural areas are Goat Island, Green Island, Three Sister Islands, and unnamed islands above the falls (heron rookery). Many tourists visit Goat Island for its overlooks of the cataract, as well as the upper and lower Niagara River. It is also a wonderful natural area of ecological significance, especially for water birds. The park overlooks include the Buckhorn Island-Goat Islands Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat, which is one of the most important feeding and resting waterfowl wintering areas in the northeast United States, especially for diving ducks. Large rafts of waterfowl, sometimes as many as 1,000 ducks, feed and rest on the river upstream from Goat Island. The peak time for observing these birds is November and December. Large numbers of ducks also gather in shallow areas above the Horseshoe Falls. These are joined by large flocks of gulls that congregate above the falls. The best time to view gulls is in November and December when migrants and winter visitors, including some rare species (e.g., lesser black-back, etc), gather by the thousands. Purple sandpipers are regularly observed feeding in rocky areas off Three Sister Islands and other areas above the falls. Finally, a large colony of black-crowned night herons nests on unnamed islands above the falls. These herons can be easily seen from May through August flying at dusk from their nesting and roosting sites to feeding areas along the upper and lower river.
The interior portions of Goat Island also provide interesting areas for naturalists. The island is an excellent area to observe migrating songbirds, especially warblers, during May and September. Large numbers of warblers are observed there, including some rare species (e.g., Kentucky warbler, etc.). The wooded portions of the island also support a fair abundance and diversity of wildflowers.