sapsucker Woods/Ithaca and Francesca’s/Syracuse”


Maybe it’s because I am old enough to aspire to be a birder or maybe it’s that I never realized what a cool place an ornithology lab can be, but I was pleasantly surprised by my visit yesterday to The Cornell Ornithology lab at Sapsucker Woods. I arrived as a free lab tour was starting and it was great, about 18 visitors from all over (including a guy from Wales who mentioned living for a few years in Ottumwa, Iowa and loving it) and a very engaging guide who led us into the areas normally off bounds for visitors. We saw some very interesting stuffed birds, bird feet and bird wings in the specimens lab (or some such) and learned all kinds of interesting tidbits about the life and study of birds. (See Notes below) I also walked on one of the sawdust paths in the woods around the attractive modern lab building with a borrowed pair of binoculars (which an 8 year old girl tried to show me how to use) to try to find some noteworthy birds. Next trip I’d like to go on one of their early morning free guided bird walks on Saturday or Sunday.

Sapsucker Woods birding

We had another nice late afternoon by the lake, dinner at the picnic table and a last trip to Cream at the Top for Ice cream (bittersweet symphony and dark chocolate chip!) . Myra and I took a last (for me, this year) morning walk along the lake with her nice neighbor Heather and then it was time to say goodbye. No tears this time. Loved being with some of my favorite people in one of my favorite places and I’ll be back!

My friend Tom picked me up for a pleasant 1 hour 10 minute drive to a good restaurant in Syracuse called Francesca’s where I had lunch with my friend Cynthia. Great time catching up after two years of not seeing each other and good food too (antipasto salad, Italian wedding soup). Now at the Syracuse airport with what I hope is only a briefly delayed flight to DC.

Notes from Lab Tour:
ebirds, merlyn bird id
How to draw blood of a bird- from under wing
How to trap raptors (put live prey in trap)
If you heard the bird you saw it (ID by song/sound)
Mallard duck teeth (skull) to tear meat
Red tail hawk foot. Intense grip.
Grey hound hawk eats 30 rodents/rabbits per night…more during mating season?
Owls fly silently so rodent prey can’t hear them.
Other birds have amazing eyes to detect fish in water.
Sheer water hawk spends 90 percent of Time soaring in air. Land to eat and sit on water. Migrating birds sleep while flying.
Reynolds game farm In Ithaca breeds pheasants (game farm rd)
Can bring bird found hit by car on road to lab.
Bird net app to try to Id sounds. In beta. Hear bird sounds in wild and Id by phone. Swift recording box and record sounds and then grad students ID.
Ebird to crowd source population studies.
Technology to record bird sounds. First done at Stewart park. Hollywood. Macaulay library – crazy equipment to record rare bird songs and old field journals
Humans can make Pshishimg noise to communicate and lure curious birds 
lab motto: keep common birds common
Bird of prey movie

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