Montezuma Birding (and Nature) Trail

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Birding in the Montezuma Wetlands Complex of Central New York

Sightings Blog

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Short-ear's, 1/23/13

Posted by Dave Spier on January 25, 2013 at 7:55 AM Comments comments (0)

from Steve Benedict, via Eatonbirds [a members-only group]:

"Wed. evening was another raptor survey at the Montezuma Refuge. Of the 51 raptors seen, 17 were Short-eared Owls. I had 5 at Puddlers Marsh, 2 were seen off East Rd. by Knox Marcellus, and 5 were seen on Van Dyne Spoor Rd. (out towards the end and on the north side of the road), and 3 were out somewhere on Morgan Rd. (Last 2 were at Waugh on the west side.) So this general area is becoming a hot spot for the SEOW's.

"FYI, for those who would like to increase their familiarity with the refuge, since its hard to explain where all these places are, I highly recommend getting a copy of the map available from the Friends of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex (FOTMWC). ... Of course if you become a member of the Friends, it would be for a good cause!

"Also FYI, the deal that was pending for an additional 600 acres being added to the Refuge is final. North side of Armitage Rd. to give you a general idea of location. The farm that sold it gets to crop it for another 3 years as part of the deal, but then they'll be able to add another marsh habitat!"


Montezuma 8/26/12

Posted by Dave Spier on August 28, 2012 at 4:10 AM Comments comments (0)

from Bob McGuire on CayugaBirds: [8/26/12]

"...[Cayuga] Mud Lock. 3 OSPREYs and a single BALD EAGLE were perched on various snags along with a single BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD. A GREEN HERON occupied a low snag directly across from the parking lot, just downstream from a female GREATER SCAUP (the injured male scaup was not seen). In addition, we had 8 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS and at least 4 PIED-BILLED GREBES.

"The shallow pond at the visitor's center held some 40 CASPIAN TERNS, a few CANADA GEESE, numerous MALLARDS, at least one BLACK DUCK, a couple of GREEN WING TEAL, and 19 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS. I see that Tim Lenz reported 17 Long-billed Dowitchers there on Saturday. Judy, John, and I spent nearly an hour peering at those birds and discussing the ID. There was nothing about the birds that said "long-billed" to me. First of all, they all appeared to be molting adults. Several times a bird would stretch out a wing: no missing flight feathers. None of the birds appeared to have a significant humped back nor did they look any more like they had swallowed a grapefruit than any of the other dowtichers I've seen this summer. The bars on the tails (alternately black and white) all appeared to be the same width (so not a particularly "darker" tail, which would say "long-billed"). Those were the main features we were looking at. I'll have to speak with Tim to see why he feels his birds were Long-billed Dowitchers.

"LaRue's lagoon is newly-filled with water, but the only shorebirds were 3 KILLDEER. The "new shorebird area" along the drive was dry. No shorebirds. Not even a sparrow.

"Bennings Marsh had a lot of water. Only 2 Lesser Yellowlegs but a large group of some 65 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS and a carefully hidden SNIPE. While we were there a flock of some 200 LEAST SANDPIPERS, 30 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, and 2 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS flew in.

"Tschache Pool had an even smaller diversity of birds than last weekend: no Great Egrets, few GB Herons and Cormorants. We did pick out a single RUDDY DUCK (male, breeding plumage) and a cooperative AMERICAN BITTERN (foraging close-in). In addition, there were numerous Pied-billed Grebes (adults and young), COOTS, and COMMON GALLINULES.

"The pond at Marten's Tract was almost entirely covered with duckweed. Nevertheless, it held a couple of WOOD DUCKS, 6 GREEN-WINGED TEAL and several shorebirds: 5 LEAST SANDPIPERS, 2 SEMISANDPIPERS, and a single PECTORAL SANDPIPER. Two ESTERN KINGBIRDS were still present atop cattails at the back of the pond.

"The right-hand impoundment at Railroad Road has dried up considerably but was still deep enough for the family of 3 TRUMPETER SWANS, several dozen WOOD DUCKS, 4 BLUE-WINGED TEAL and 8 GREEN-WINGED TEAL. 5 WILSON'S SNIPE were hiding in plain view. The "swallow tree" at the back edge held a flock of Starlings.

"We saved Knox-Marsellus for last, waiting for more favorable lighting. The marsh continues to dry up with most of the shorebirds moving farther and farther away to the east (closer to the dike but not much closer to Towpath Road). Gary Kohlenberg joined us, and we spent about an hour squinting at the distant specks. No Buff-breasted Sandpiper, no Curlew Sandpiper, no phalaropes. There were hundreds of yellowlegs, Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers, a good number of Semipalmated Plovers and Pectoral Sandpipers. Also several hundred Great Blue Herons and a dozen Great Egrets. There were no Peregrines, but a couple of Harriers stirred the birds up from time to time. And most notably, a crop dusting airplane flew low over the area several times, putting up all the birds with each pass. I find it ironic that the dike is off limits to visitors for fear that we might disturb the birds!! Highlights were: 4 BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS, 4 AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVERS, 1 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, 2 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, and 4 SANDHILL CRANES." -- Bob McGuire

Montezuma 8/18/12

Posted by Dave Spier on August 20, 2012 at 6:50 AM Comments comments (0)

from CayugaBirds:

At Montezuma NWR, the Visitor Center pond has water and a some shorebirds, including plenty of KILLDEER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS, a PECTORAL SANDPIPER, a SOLITARY SANDPIPER, a few LEAST SANDPIPERS, and four adult DOWITCHERS resting close together. Three of them were molting their back feathers, but the fourth seemed to be pretty much in breeding plumage still. As with most Dowitchers, I found them (and the field guide) confusing. The Wildlife Drive was pretty quiet: Larue's is plowed but dry, there is lots of empty water in the main pool just waiting for ducks to join the single WOOD DUCK, the shorebird area has lots of tall vegetation but a few LESSER YELLOWLEGS and KILLDEER in the more open areas, plus one lovely WILSON'S SNIPE which made Bob very happy as he and the snipe had been avoiding each other all year until now.

Benning's Marsh had BLUE-WINGED TEAL and NORTHERN SHOVELER, as well as all the other shorebirds listed above, plus SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER and SEMIPALMATED PLOVER. Tschache Pool had GREAT EGRETS, GREAT BLUE HERONS,

The bonanza was at Knox-Marsellus Marsh, but as is often the case, viewing was challenging due to distance and heat shimmer. Dave Nicosia who was there with a club from Binghamton, pointed out 3 AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS in various states of molt. We had 4 in view by the time I sent out a text, but eventually we saw a total of 6. There was also an immature BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON intermittently in view along witha some immature COMMON GALLINULES. A pair of SANDHILL CRANE strolled regally about and bugles occasionally. Ducks included GREEN-WINGED TEAL and doubtless others I wasn't paying attention to. Through intense study, Bob, Ann & I concluded that one juvenile DOWITCHER was a SHORT-BILLED and another was a LONG-BILLED. Although it was Bob who actually found a BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER walking around in the short, vivid green, new growth out on the mud, I would like to take some credit for suggesting that we look for them and for lending moral support by standing next to him and staring through my own scope the entire time he searched. Bob and Ann also saw 2 WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS when a NORTHERN HARRIER flushed many of the shorebirds, and a fellow I don't know with a possibly German accent, whom we helped see the Buff-breasted Sandpiper, returned the favor by finding us a WILSON'S PHALAROPE.

Between bouts of watching at Knox-Marsellus from various perspectives and hoping for the heat shimmer to calm down, we stopped by Muckrace Flats on Savannah-Spring Lake Road (KILLDEER, PECTORAL & LEAST SANDPIPER, GREATER & LESSER YELLOWLEGS, and we went to Carncross Road to monitor progress on changes to that access point to Howland Island. The gate by the Seneca River has been removed, and machines and materials are arrayed to replace the causeway with a bridge. The new end of the public road is in a parking area at the top of the hill on the island. While checking this out we also found an OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER which favored the top of a dead tree on the island just east of the trees along the river on the south side of the road.

With 16 species of shorebirds and 4 new species for the year for me and Ann - 5 for Bob, who was goofing off out west all spring - it was a great day of birding.

--Dave Nutter

Montezuma 7/7/12

Posted by Dave Spier on July 8, 2012 at 6:30 AM Comments comments (1)

Puddlers Marsh Saturday AM -- From: bob mcguire (CayugaBirds)

"I spent about an hour picking through the gulls, ducks, and shorebirds at Puddler's Marsh around 7:30 this morning. The light was perfect and it was a good thing. Much of the water has evaporated, and the mud/ water edge is far out to the north. I found nothing new to report, but birds of interest included:

16 American Wigeon

Green-winged Teal

2 Dowitchers (assumed Short-billed)

1 Stilt Sandpiper

2 Greater Yellowlegs

100+ Lesser Yellowlegs

10 Semiplamated Plovers

Least & Semipalmated Sandpipers

several Spotted Sandpipers

2 Bonaparte's Gulls

24 Caspian Terns

1 Black-billed Cuckoo calling from the woods to the south"

Bob McGuire

How to access recent sightings

Posted by Dave Spier on June 23, 2012 at 7:50 AM Comments comments (0)

The most recent Montezuma Complex sightings are usually posted first to the CayugaBirds list:

and its three archives:[email protected]/maillist.html


[Note that CayugaBirds covers the entire Cayuga Basin, so you'll need to search for Montezuma locations or target species.]

The Syracuse Rare Bird Alert widely distributes a weekly summary of sightings highlights to many lists in New York, including CayugaBirds.