Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary
|Description: This 230-acre mix of upland hardwood forest, a pond and wetlands is just northeast
of Cornell University. In 1909, four friends—including legendary bird artist
Louis Agassiz Fuertes and noted ornithologist Arthur Allen—found a yellowbellied
sapsucker’s nest here while birdwatching. Fuertes suggested they call the
area Sapsucker Woods, and the name stuck. Forty-eight years later, the Cornell
Lab of Ornithology was built here, realizing Allen’s dream of a permanent home
for bird research and collections. Perhaps you’ll see the yellow-bellied sapsucker
among the more than 225 bird species recorded in these world-famous woods.|
When you arrive, your first stop should be a visit to the architecturally striking
Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity, which houses the Lab of Ornithology.
After enjoying all the fascinating things the center has to offer, sit comfortably
indoors and gaze out the two-story observation windows overlooking the pond
and listening to the natural sounds “piped in” from outside. Later, take a walk on
the trails that thread through the woods.
Wildlife to Watch: Follow rhythmic tapping to find yellow-bellied sapsuckers, little downy and big
pileated woodpeckers. Look for kestrels, sharp-shinned hawks and Cooper’s
hawks that feed on large insects and smaller bird species, like American goldfinches,
scarlet tanagers and warbler varieties. Marvel at tiny ruby-throated
hummingbirds, back feathers glistening like emeralds as they hover from flower
to flower. Handsome blue jays noisily make their presence known, while the
cardinal’s swooping song and bright red feathers give it away.
Graceful great blue herons wade in the pond looking for fish and frogs to feast
on. Mallards, hooded mergansers, wood ducks and Canada geese are the most
common waterfowl to frequent the pond from spring through fall. Big snapping
turtles lurk below the surface looking for unsuspecting ducklings and goslings to
drag under with their vise-like jaws. Eastern painted turtles and common garter
snakes are other reptiles to look for.
White-tailed deer appear in the woods at dawn and dusk. Red squirrels can
be found chattering in the treetops, and chipmunks scurry around the forest
floor throughout the day. In the evening, you may see muskrats feeding on
water plants in the pond, while above, little brown and big brown bats swoop
Special Tips: Admission to the lab and woods is free. Trails are open seven days
a week from dawn to dusk. Check the website (see contact information
below) for visitors center hours.
This site has some accessible features, including the visitors center.
800-843-2473, 159 Sapsucker Woods Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850,
Ownership: Cornell University
Closest Town: Ithaca
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: