Good morning everyone,

We've been beginning to get a lot of calls, emails, and Facebook messages 
asking about the return of the Snow Geese, and other migratory waterfowl! I 
will try to share updates this way, as well as on our Montezuma Audubon Center 
Facebook page<>. Feel free to 
reach out directly to me or our Center as well. I took a drive to most of the 
"hot spots" within the Montezuma Wetlands Complex yesterday to get a feel for 
what conditions are like, and where the birds are hanging out. The following 
are my observations:

  1.  Montezuma Audubon Center: the trails fluctuate between patchy ground and 
ice. We had a lot of snowshoeing happening this winter, and so its really 
packed down the trails. That'll all disappear after Sundays weather. The 
marshes are still frozen, except for small pockets. I haven't seen any water 
birds, just songbirds including Eastern Bluebirds, American Goldfinches, House 
Finches, American Tree Sparrows, Tufted Titmice, Blue Jays, Northern Cardinals, 
Song Sparrows (heard on singing!), Dark-eyed Juncos, Red-winged Blackbirds, and 
Common Grackles (who are both are now regulars at the feeders). Raptors like 
Bald Eagles, a male Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawks, and I saw a lone Turkey 
Vulture soaring yesterday. Crusoe Creek, which runs just along the south edge 
of the MAC property, and route 89 crosses, is open and very full of water. I 
saw a bunch of Canada Geese and a few Mallards in there.
  2.  Carncross Road/Van Dyne Spoor Road: both not maintained, both snowy and 
icy, I can tell there are ruts where others have driven. Even when the snow and 
ice melt, the roads will be VERY soft. Also, Carncross is flooded over I 
believe, I couldn't get too close but I've heard other recent reports that it 
is. Proceed with caution! Or better yet, just don't attempt to drive down 
either yet. I was hoping to look for Sandhill Cranes at both. Last year 2/28/21 
is when I saw Sandhills on Carncross. I saw cranes every month of 2021, but in 
February they disappeared because it got very cold and snowy. So even though I 
saw them in January, I call my "FOY" 2/28 because they had returned again.
  3.  Armitage Road: the flooded private ag fields are completely frozen over 
still. Between the flooded fields closer to the canal, and the fields closer to 
the route 89 intersection, the only birds I saw were American Crows (by the 
hundreds) as well as gulls (also by the hundreds). They were all flying around 
or landed on the ground, feeding on something but I'm not sure what. It was 
cool to see so many. I have seen the Bald Eagles that are known to nest on 
Armitage Road recently, and this morning  stopped to take a look. One adult was 
sitting in a nearby tree, and I believe I saw a white head poking up from the 
nest. It is baby eagle making season! Once the fields thaw, I expect that there 
will be a lot of waterfowl action here, as well as cranes in the drier fields.
  4.  Route 31 Muck: Again HUNDREDS of crows and gulls in the air, in the 
trees, on the ground. They were everywhere. I drove down to the old "potato 
barn" pull off spot in the middle of that stretch of 31 to take a look and to 
turn around. I saw a flock of Snow Buntings, Horned Larks, and maybe a lapspur 
or two flitting around that pull off, and the corn stubble. I love them, some 
of my favorites. There were hundreds of swans, mostly Tundra based off of their 
sounds. I'm sure a few Trumpeters could have been in there too, but the white 
birds on white snow and ice, on very sunny day, made it difficulty to pick them 
out. Most of the swans were on the north side of 31, closer to the 89 
intersection, but back from the road. Directly across 89 on the south side, 
there were more swans though not as many, Canadas, and ducks (Mallards and 
Pintails were the two I noticed while driving by). There are small pockets of 
water interspersed across the fields, and I think they were all just trying to 
fit in together. A lot in the air, but in hundreds maybe, and not thousands 
like are expected. A lot crows here too.
  5.  Knox Marsellus Marsh/East Road: The marsh is completely frozen over and I 
saw no signs of life except more crows!
  6.  May's Point: The canal/Clyde River is frozen in some spots, and open in 
others. The only water birds I saw were 4 Hooded Mergansers which were to the 
east of the lock on the canal. There is open water in front of the May's Point 
observation deck, but no birds. I did see 1 Rough-legged Hawk here though! I've 
seen them in this spot other times as well. There is a Bald Eagle nest viewable 
from that deck looking to the east, and there was 1 eagle on the nest, and 1 in 
the air soaring.
  7.  Wil-Goose on Route 89 just north of Montezuma Winery: Pretty quiet here 
as well, although a great spot to look for raptors. I saw another Rough-legged 
here as well as 2 Northern Harriers hunting the field.
  8.  Montezuma NWR visitor center pool: completely frozen, only saw 1 eagle 
soaring above. FYI: the refuge visitor center and wildlife drive are slated to 
both open April 1, which is dependent on weather conditions.
  9.  Mud Lock @ north end of Cayuga: it's pretty free of ice, many Canada 
Geese and mixed ducks along the opposite shore line looking west across from 
the boat launch. The sun glare was really bad, so I couldn't get a good look at 
the ducks, but I did see a lone Bufflehead, Mallards, and American Black Ducks. 
Hundreds of swans were hanging out on the ice shelf way across the water tucked 
along the western shore of the lake right near where the railroad trestle meets 
the land. Hard to see without a scope.
  10. Cayuga Lake State Park: the lake is still almost completely iced over 
from the south side of the trestle, down past where Lower Lake Road reconnects 
with 89. I didn't get over to the east side, but there is open water in front 
of the Cayuga Municipal building. I'm curious if anyone has stopped there 
recently and if any birds have been seen on the water. My experience is that 
most of the birds are either in the middle of the lake, or closer to the west 
side where it's typically calmer. There are still ice fisherman out there, but 
probably for not much longer.
  11. South of the state park: I drove the length of Lower Lake Road, and a 
pocket of open water that hugged the shoreline had a lot of waterfowl hanging 
out, but there are not very many places to stop and be safe while respecting 
private property. At the south end of Lower Lake Road, the shoulder is wider 
there, and I've stopped and gotten out here before, and this would give you 
some good looks at the open water to the south.

Maps of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex are available for $1 at our center, but 
you can also access it digitally for free on the Friends of Montezuma 

I did not see a single Snow Goose yesterday either on the ground, in the air, 
or on the water. I know they are around in smaller numbers (hundreds to 
thousands), and many people think hundreds or thousands IS a lot of birds, but 
those of us who have witnessed 400,000+ Snow Geese plus another half million 
ducks, Canadas, and swans, a few thousand Snow Geese is a drop in the bucket. 
My prediction is that after this Sunday's mild temps (mid 60s), steady rain, 
and a south wind, the birds will get moving. Snow Geese are predictably 
unpredictable. We know they'll show up, we know it's going to be awesome, but 
unfortunately the specifics on arrival, duration of stay, and departure are not 
shared with us! I also have had my eyes looking for Sandhill Cranes as I 
mentioned earlier, and no sign yet.

I hope this information is helpful, and if you are interested in learning more 
about migration and waterfowl at Montezuma, I have 3 virtual presentations 
coming up:

  *   3/10/22: All About Snow 
Geese<> (this is the same 
presentation that was previously offered)
  *   3/18/22: Mute, Tundra, or Trumpeter? Swan 
  *   3/23/22: Montezuma 

Guided birding tours are also on the schedule. Below are the March dates, and 
the rest of spring 2022 coming soon!

  *   03/09/22 9:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. 
  *   03/12/22 1:30 - 4 p.m. 
  *   03/17/22 1:30 - 4 
  *   03/19/22 9:30 a.m. - 12 
  *   03/26/22 1 - 3:30 
  *   03/30/22 1 - 3:30 
  *   04/01/22 10 a.m. - 12:30 
*All tours depart from the Montezuma Audubon Center unless otherwise noted.

March kicks off a great time of year here, and it seems like almost daily new 
migrants can be seen or heard! Please be safe, respectful of private property, 
as well as closed areas on Refuge lands.

Have a great weekend!

Alyssa Johnson
Environmental Educator

Montezuma Audubon Center
PO Box 187
2295 State Route 89
Savannah, NY 13146
Click here to see upcoming programs and 
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers


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