(Tim ) Peter Wisbey commutes 75 miles
to and from work every day, traveling over anhour and a half
on the New York State thruway each way. Sometimes his commute takes a tranquil turn,
especially when he ventures into the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge-
a remarkable sanctuary for wildlife off the interstate.
(Peter Wisbey) l live in Rochester and work in Auburn,
so l drive the route that takes me right past the wildlife refuge.
Sometimes l like to just pull in at different times of the year.
lt’s kind of like a peaceful interlude to travel the route.
You see something new almost every time that l’m here,
lots of geese and blue herons, it’s a very peaceful stopover for me.
(Tim) Situated in an active flight lane which bird watchers call the Atlantic Flyway,
Montezuma is a perfect stopover for migratory birds.
The refuge sits at the north end of Cayuga Lake
in central New York. lt’s part of a larger wetlands complex with
over 18,000 acres of marshes, wooded swamps, small ponds and
streams– all perfect habitat for many different kinds
of waterfowl and other migratory birds.
(Tim) ln fact, after standing for just a few moments next
to one of the many observation pools in the complex,
the diversity of species is remarkable. Those black ducks in the foreground are American
coots with their characteristic bobbing heads.
A group of shoveler ducks, marked by the distinctive spoon-shaped bills,
playfully court in the pool. Two beautiful chestnut-colored canvasbacks
land in the middle of a group of ringneck ducks.
And a lone bufflehead stands out among the rest with a large white
patch on the back of his black head. The haystack houses you see dotting the water
belong to the dozens of muskrats who live here.
This one is a mere few feet from the side of the road–
apparently human activity is not a problem for these guys.
And across the road we spot some great blue heron,
this one on the verge of capturing his dinner. (Dave Odell) All the things kind of fit together.
There are many things going on at one time. A heron eating a fish.
The muskrat building a house in the middle of the cattail marsh
that’s used by the goose to nest on. So the whole thing functions together as a…
an ecosystem that’s got a lot of stuff going on
and a lot of things that you may have to look a little closer at
to recognize and then understand. (Tim) One of the things that helps make this
ecosystem work is the amount of farmland located in the wetlands
complex. Geese and ducks eat grain leftover from harvested
corn and soybean crops.
Because grain is an important food source for many of the birds as they travel through,
farming is encouraged throughout the complex. As are visitors.
The signature wildlife drive allows you to see
wildlife fairly close at hand. And overlooks situated throughout the grounds
provide a better look at the refuge. (David) This is a handicapped accessible viewing
platform here on one of our marshes.
This has been paid for by the”Friends of Montezuma Complex”.
And it helps make the marsh and the wildlife accessible to everybody.
(Tim ) Viewing platforms make it easy to spot birds of prey
like this osprey flying overhead. The distinctive hook in its wing and white
underbelly distinguish the osprey from the bald eagle–
which can also be seen here at Montezuma. (David) This is a spot where there’s often
people that stop along the side of the road here and they’re
watching. lt’s a great spot to see them because they’re
so close. And this time of they year before
the leaves are on the trees, the nest really stands out.
(Tim) Not far from his nest, a bald eagle soars over Montezuma.
Off in the distance, a flock of snow geese feed on leftover grain.
And in still another part of the complex you can spot the most recent discovery at
Montezuma, nearly blending into the wheat-colored background.
(David) For the first time in the history of New York,
we’ve confirmed the successful nesting of a pair of sandhill cranes which are very unique,
not only to this are about also to New York. (Tim) These cranes are not only unique,
but like the rest of the wildlife found at Montezuma,
they’re precious. And their existence depends on the protection
of their wetland habitat. (David) We’ve lost a lot of our wetlands in
New York State and across the country since the first settlers
came over here. We used to think that they were places that
just were good for mosquitoes and so we’d drain them
or we’d fill them in or we’d do whatever to get rid of them.
And then we found out that these places are where a lot of the wildlife
that we enjoy live at least some portion of their life.
So it’s very important for these places to be preserved
and managed so that they continue to produce the types of wildlife and things that we enjoy,