Sapsucker Woods, Ithaca

March 21, 2010 at 4:33 pm 5 comments

Cornell's Sapsucker Woods

Melting ice on the pond at Sapsucker Woods

While approaching Ithaca from the East (Homer) we noticed a bird sanctuary just outside of town. Sapsucker Woods looked like a worthy detour. If we had done some research in advance — like visiting the website — we might have thought, “too academic, looks dull”. Good thing we make our decisions on-the-fly! Fly — don’t walk —  to Sapsucker Woods — quick! It’s a beautiful piece of land and the Visitor’s Center is really impressive.

Copy off of the web site:  “The Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary is home to dozens of bird species. It’s also headquarters for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which is housed in the Imogene Powers Johnson Visitors’ Center for Birds and Biodiversity.” This is a very quiet website, and incredibly understated as regards to how awesome this place is!

Charlie: This would be an appropriate thing to tweet, don’t you think? More upscale than Montezuma, especially this time of year, Sapsucker Woods is to Oak Hill Country Club as Montezuma is to the Elks Lodge in Henrietta, NY, not that there’s anything wrong with the BPOE. I made good money there when I was tween, checking coats. To be fair to Montezuma, I’ve not been inside their visitor center so can only use my imagination. Please feel free to debate. You’ll want to visit this website for the cool bird-related stuff: All About Birds.

Picture window in the Visitor's Center

The picture windows allow you to be close to the birds, provided you use a telescope.

Charlie and I are not birders —yet. This place could turn me into a bird nerd.

C: I’d say you’re at least half-way there, Barb.

The Visitor’s Center has a HUGE window on the left side as you enter. It is tucked right up against the pond, so water birds swim close with out being disturbed.

C: It was fun to look up the native birds on the Visitor Center Computer, listen to their songs, then walk the trails and identify the sounds. My favorite was the Barred Owl, “A large owl of extensive woodlands, the Barred Owl is familiar for its distinctive ‘who-cooks-for-you, who-cooks-for-you-all’ hooting.” Unfortunately, we were distracted by the ice on the trails, and heard few distinctive bird sounds, though the geese were in full territorial fury. It was fun to watch them skitter about the ice, like us. If only we’d brought our Yaktrax.

Charlie looking through the telescope

The Visitor's Center is equipped with high-powered telescopes.

There are Zeiss telescopes and wooden chairs — sit down and watch for a while. If you don’t see enough birds through the window, wander over to the wide-screen and watch breath-taking bird videos. If you’re not a hiker, the Visitor’s Center will keep you very happy.

C: I was pleased by the beaver that crashed the party. It ruffled a few goose feathers and the honking was pronounced.

We went outside to explore. The trails are well-marked and none are very long. However, I would have been happiest if we had hiked ALL the trails. It was a mix of snow, ice and mud on the trails, which made the hiking a bit treacherous. We took a shorter trail that wound around the pond and the back of the Visitor’s Center.

C: I enjoyed the photographer’s obsession with a dead frog, sunk to the bottom of the creek. Hey Barb, why didn’t you post that picture?

Ithaca, NY, Sapsucker Woods

Spring comes to the woods, or woods come to Spring.

boardwalk path

Nice boardwalks wind through the marshier areas.

leaf puddle at Sapsucker Woods

Leaves reflecting their tree.

Beavers live in the sanctuary as well

Junk food for beavers. Snack and run.

In about a month the woods will be filled with migrating birds coming to their summer homes in the Finger lakes. We still managed to see several different types of woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, phoebes, cedar waxwings, cardinals, jays, purple and gold finches, a beaver and some very loud geese.

C: In about a month there will be all sorts of odd birds wandering around the center, many with binoculars and cameras.

It was the perfect combination of mental and physical exertion to create a great thirst for local brew sampling! The rest of our journey went all downhill.

C: The view heading down to the lake, and Ithaca is stunning. More on that part of the trip later.


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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Beth  |  March 21, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    Loved reading about your adventures! 🙂

    • 2. fingerlakessummer  |  March 24, 2010 at 5:38 pm

      Thanks for participating! I am having fun exploring.

  • 3. Lindsay  |  March 24, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Great photography – the color of the melting ice looks like maple candy! (or maybe I’m just doing free association with the name “Sapsucker”!) Look forward to following your blog 🙂

  • 4. Sarah  |  March 26, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    You’ve sold me on this place, think I’ll plan a visit for sometime this spring. Thanks guys!

    • 5. fingerlakessummer  |  March 28, 2010 at 1:06 am

      Just think how awesome it will be when all the birds return!


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