Pruyn Sanctuary is the headquarters of Saw Mill River Audubon. Located in the Town of New Castle on Route 133-Millwood Road, three miles east of Millwood, Pruyn Sanctuary protects 92-acres of open space and offers over two-miles of hiking trails through diverse habitats including a system of boardwalks through Gedney Swamp.
Gedney Swamp is a 57-acre state-designated wetland protected by Pruyn Sanctuary. Pruyn Sanctuary drains to the New Croton Reservoir. As dedicated open space, Pruyn Sanctuary also protects the drinking water quality of the New York City watershed.
One of the most popular sanctuary features is a small butterfly and hummingbird garden open to the public and first established in 2001. A demonstration meadow garden featuring plants attractive for birds and other wildlife was added in 2018. [More about the Pruyn gardens.] The best time to view butterflies and hummingbirds is warm, sunny summer days around noon.
Pruyn Sanctuary was established through the generosity of Dr. F. Morgan and Agnes Pruyn. [pronounced Prine].
All of our sanctuaries are open to visitors free of charge, seven days a week, dawn to dusk. Please contact our office if you want to bring a group to one of our sanctuaries.
With advance notice, we may be able to provide your group with a guided tour. Even if your group wishes to visit without a guide, please contact us in advance. For the best possible experience for your group, we want to ensure that your visit does not coincide with another group's visit.
Our sanctuaries are maintained by a part-time caretaker and by volunteers on trail maintenance days. We are also grateful for the continuing oversight of our sanctuary neighbors to let us know about sanctuary concerns and observations. Volunteer Trail Walkers also monitor our sanctuaries.
The roof of the bird blind was replaced by a volunteer team. We have established three deer exclosures at Pruyn Sanctuary to monitor the impact of deer overbrowsing on the understory. The Pruyn Arboretum and Garden is maintained by a group of volunteers and your help would be welcomed! We continue to add new trail features including foot bridges over wet areas and trail side benches.
Pruyn Sanctuary was first established in 1966 by Agnes K. and Dr. F. Morgan Pruyn, long-time residents of Chappaqua, through a gift of 16 acres to Saw Mill River Audubon. Small parcels of two and four acres each were added by the Benedict and Allison families, respectively, from their nearby properties.
In 1978, Dr. Pruyn purchased 31 acres of the valley and donated them to Saw Mill River Audubon. Agnes Pruyn passed away in April, 1975 and Morgan Pruyn continued to maintain and improve their land adjoining the sanctuary and take an active role in supporting Saw Mill River Audubon until his death in May, 1988.
From the Pruyns, Saw Mill River Audubon received a bequest of the remaining acreage of their property and their residence, which now houses the office of Saw Mill River Audubon. Pruyn Sanctuary, originally Gedney Brook Sanctuary, was renamed in honor of the Pruyns in April 1990.
An additional 14 acres, the Crystal Spring parcel, was added to the sanctuary in 1997 as a donation from Alok Aggarwal, a local developer. Nestlé was a previous owner of this property during the 60s when spring water was piped and bottled from this area.
Saw Mill River Audubon is committed to protecting and restoring the native habitats at Pruyn Sanctuary for the benefit of birds, other wildlife and people.
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Wood thrush return each spring to Pruyn Sanctuary from their wintering grounds in lowland tropical forests in Central America. While they are with us, wood thrush help to maintain forest health by eating many of the insects that feed on trees and shrubs. Without understory shrubs and young trees for cover, wood thrush nests will fail because predators will find the nest and eat the eggs or young birds. Excess deer browsing of forest understory impacts both the survival of wood thrush and the long-term health of our forests.