Integrated Waterbird Management and Monitoring Program

A stately American Bittern rose from the fog on the north side of Cayuga Pool - Photo: Sue Barth
A stately American Bittern rose from the fog on the north side of Cayuga Pool – Photo: Sue Barth

Since the pilot season of fall 2010, volunteer and Friends of Iroquois member Celeste Morien and several other volunteers have been conducting waterbird surveys of five marshes at Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge in both spring and fall under the direction of Biologist Paul Hess.

Sustaining healthy populations of waterbirds that migrate long distances (waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds) is a major challenge for land managers. Data collected through surveys will help to answer questions about managing conservation lands along the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways to support continental populations of wetland dependent waterbirds.

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At Iroquois, these bird counts are conducted beginning at just before sunrise (Rising early is a major challenge!) in random order at survey units Cayuga, Cayuga Sub-impoundment, Sutton’s, Ringneck and Mohawk North. Birds are recorded using their American Ornithological Union four letter Alpha codes on a Whole Area Count form for each unit and submitted to Paul Hess weekly. Observations are also submitted to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird database.

A secretive Nelson’s Sparrow migrating through the Cayuga unit - Photo: Sue Barth
A secretive Nelson’s Sparrow migrating through the Cayuga unit – Photo: Sue Barth

These photographs by volunteer Sue Barth of Orchard Park were taken during the survey conducted on October 2, 2014. A stately American Bittern (top) rose from the fog on the north side of Cayuga Pool while we were beginning our survey.

A secretive Nelson’s Sparrow (left) migrating through the Cayuga unit happened to pop up on our way to the Cayuga Sub-impoundment.

Lastly, a family of four Sandhill Cranes, (bottom) two adults and two colts, were seen using the sub- impoundment to start their day. Presumably these are the some of the first young cranes ever hatched at Iroquois NWR!

A family of four Sandhill Cranes, two adults and two colts - Photo: Sue Barth
A family of four Sandhill Cranes, two adults and two colts – Photo: Sue Barth