Trip Reports
Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Montezuma NWR - September 28-29, 2013

Note: Many thanks to NYSYBC alumna and founder (and now Adult Advisor) Hope Batcheller for organizing and running this fabulous weekend!. With the wide variety of birding and educational activities just for us, it was a mini-conference! We also extend special thanks to the Cornell Lab staff members and students who participated: Scott Haber (lab tour guide & bird skins); Mary Margaret Ferraro (skin prep room & museum tour); Matt Medler & Jay McGowan (Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds); Kathryn Grabenstein (presenter, Fairy Wrens in Australia); Shailee S. Shah (presenter, Gull Vocalizations on the Isle of Shoals); Benjamin Van Doren (presenter, Bird Migration Flight Calls); Eric Gulson, Teresa Pegan, and Jack Hruska (presenters, Exploratory Science with Birds in Borneo and Experimental Science with Tree Swallows); Andy Johnson (presenter, Geolocator Study: Whimbrels in Churchill, Manitoba); Hope Batcheller (presenter, Ant-following Birds and Young Birders Network). 

Skins of 3 extinct species: Passenger Pigeon, Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Carolina Parakeet - photo by Carena Pooth
Skins of 3 extinct species: Passenger Pigeon,
Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Carolina Parakeet
photo by Carena Pooth

On the weekend of September 28-29th, our Young Birders Club had the opportunity to take a field trip to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Montezuma NWR. On Saturday we met in front of the Lab for some birding in Sapsucker Woods. We left the entrance of the Lab and crossed a bridge in the woods. There we saw many different birds including Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers, Northern Flickers, Black-capped Chickadees and Downy Woodpeckers. My favorite part of this portion of the trip was when we saw a Great Blue Heron's nest. It was spotted up in the trees above the lake. It was very cool! 

After we were finished birding in this section of Sapsucker Woods, we went to another section that was even better! Here we saw a variety of ducks including Mallards and a few Wood Ducks. A few of the Warblers we saw were Common Yellowthroats, Magnolia Warblers, and Yellow-rumped Warblers. The best part about this part of the trip was seeing the Nashville Warbler at the very end. This was a lifer for most of our group including me!. 

After breaking for lunch, we had the great opportunity to tour the Cornell Ornithology Lab with Hope Batcheller, founder of our Young Birder's Club. A special thank you to Hope, for organizing and leading this great trip! There we learned about many of the ongoing projects that the students are working on including the Bioacoustics Research Program. The Bioacoustics Research Program develops and uses digital technology to record and analyze the sounds of wildlife around the globe. This helps us understand how animals communicate and monitor the health of wildlife populations. We got to hear whale sounds and a variety of bird sounds including a Willow Ptarmigan. We also got to go into the Macaulay Library where we were able to view bird videos and search the database for any bird. This is part of another project they work on at the Lab called the Citizen Science Program. Data is collected from the birding community, like us, and scientists analyze it to see how birds are affected by such things as habitat loss, pollution and disease. This was very exciting to me because this is something our Young Birder's Club can help to contribute to and, therefore, be able to assist in the ongoing research about birds.

Birding the Loop at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, photo by Carena Pooth
Birding the Loop at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge
photo by Carena Pooth

The next morning, many of us drove about an hour north of Cornell to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. Montezuma NWR was established on September 12, 1938 as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. When we first arrived, we birded on the Visitor's Center deck. Here we saw an American Bittern, a hunting Northern Harrier, a beautiful, female Merlin and a Wilson's Snipe among others. From there we continued by car down a path to do some more birding. One of the highlights for some of our young birders was getting to bird off the back of a pickup truck! Here we saw a lot of Northern Pintails, a few Green-winged Teals and some Gadwalls.

Next we traveled down Towpath Road. Here we saw a Snow Goose, two American White Pelicans, and several Sandhill Cranes. American White Pelican and Sandhill Crane were both lifers for many of us, including me!

In conclusion, this was a great weekend for the Young Birders Club. Not only did we learn about the Cornell Lab of Ornithology but we also saw a total of 68 species of birds! Not bad for a nice, late September weekend in New York!

                                           — Matthew Kokolus, age 11

         View photo gallery

             List of Birds Seen on this Trip 
             by Marc Katz (Sapsucker Woods) and Truth Muller ( Montezuma NWR)  

Snow Goose
Canada Goose
Wood Duck
American Black Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
American White Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
American Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk
Common Gallinule
Sandhill Crane
Black-bellied Plover
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Pectoral Sandpiper
Wilson's Snipe
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Mourning Dove
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Tree Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Carolina Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Nashville Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Magnolia Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch

Species Total: 68