Visit The Montezuma Wetlands Complex50,000-acres of wetlands and associated uplands located at the north end of Cayuga Lake, in the heart of the Finger Lakes Region of central New York
Recent Bird Reports from the MWC
Important reminder to refuge visitors
To protect wildlife and their habitat and to provide the best opportunities in wildlife observation and photography, it is important not to disturb, injure, or damage plants and animals on the refuge.
In fact, it is a prohibited act as stated in 50 CFR 27.51. This disturbance includes flushing birds (remember to stay in your car along the Wildlife Drive, unless you’re at a designated viewing area such as the photo blind, the Spillway and Benning Marsh) and other wildlife or using electronic calls (or called “taping”) to lure birds closer for observation or photography.
Please remember to take only memories and photographs and leave only footprints.
Northern Montezuma State Wildlife Management Area (NMWMA)
Over 7,700 acres of State-owned land managed by the NYS DEC.
Montezuma Audubon Center
Operated by Audubon New York, offering a variety of visitor services and trails.
Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge
Over 9,900 acres of protected lands. Part of the U.S. National Wildlife Refuge System.
What is the Montezuma Wetlands Complex? How is it different from the Wildlife Refuge or the State Wildlife Management Area?
The Complex is comprised of more than 50,000 acres that are being restored and enhanced by a group of Federal and State partners, conservation organizations, and private landowners. Stakeholders include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that manages the Refuge and the Visitors Center, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation that manages Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area (WMA), the Audubon Society that manages the Montezuma Audubon Center, The Nature Conservancy, and Ducks Unlimited.
The Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge refers specifically to more than 9,000 acres within the Montezuma Wetlands Complex. This area is federal land that is managed specifically by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide quality habitat for migratory birds, threatened and endangered species, and certain public uses. The Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area is 7,680 acres of public land owned and managed for wildlife and public use by the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation.
When and where do the eagles nest? When do they fledge?
There are several Bald Eagle nests in the Complex. As of spring of 2008, they are found on the Refuge by the lock at the top of Cayuga Lake (Mud Lock/Lock No. 1), on Tschache Pool, and on the northern part of the Refuge by Armitage Road. They are found on Northern Montezuma WMA at Martens Tract, which is west of Howland Island, and near Crusoe Lake. And, they are found on private lands within the Complex off Route 31 on the Savannah muck, and near Duck Lake. However, you are also likely to see these majestic birds sitting in one of the dead trees along the canal — just as you begin the Wildlife Drive — or flying over the Main Pool, Tschache Pool, May’s Point Pool — even the Visitor Center at the Refuge! Similar opportunities exist on Northern Montezuma WMA along the Seneca River at the west side of Howland Island, and at the end of Morgan Road.
Bald eagles generally hatch mid-April. The young birds leave the nest (fledge) at 10-12 weeks of age, but are not considered mature (or of mating age) until they are 4 or 5 years old. Our eagles usually stay year-round, as long as the canals remain unfrozen and the eagles can find food.
Remember to use caution when viewing nesting eagles. Human disturbance can result in nest abandonment.
What are the big nests on the highway coming in?
When do osprey hatch?
Where can I see cerulean warblers?
Why can't we bike or walk on the Refuge's Wildlife Drive?
Where can I take a walk at the Refuge?
The Seneca Trail is a one-mile loop that goes along the perimeter of the Refuge’s headquarters. It begins near the Visitor’s Center, goes out to the observation tower, crosses the wildlife drive, and leads back alongside the canal. Please note that the Seneca Trail is partially closed during osprey nesting season (May through July and possibly into August, depending on when the young leave the nest). The osprey begin nesting in April and the young will fledge in the summer. These powerful birds can be very sensitive during nesting season and our presence along the trail could cause them to leave the nest. When the adult leaves the nest, the eggs are left uncovered and may not reach the right temperatures for hatching. The closed portion of the trail will re-open this summer at the Refuge Manager’s discretion.
The Esker Brook Trails are open from January through October. You can get to this series of 3/4-mile trails from Lay Road, right on East Tyre Road. There is also a mile connecting trail from the South Spring Pool parking area on Route 89. This trail will take you along the southern edge of South Spring Pool and through a grass/shrub field. It joins the Esker Brook Trails’ Ridge Trail at the top of the ridge, a short distance later. If you hike the Esker Brook Trails, you can walk through the woods, along a brook, and around two ponds. You may see or hear songbirds, woodpeckers, great blue herons, ducks, white-tailed deer or small mammals along the way. A trail guide is available at the Visitor Center. Dogs are allowed on the Esker Brook Trails, but they must be kept on a short leash (no longer than 10 feet).
Northern Montezuma has walking trails at the Montezuma Audubon Center, Turtle Pond, and on Howland Island. The recreation trails in this area range from hard-packed gravel roads, and stone dust trails, to bark chip and grass-covered woodland paths.