With three designated “Important Bird Areas” there is no shortage of what you can experience birdwatching in Seneca County. These areas have been defined by The National Audubon Society, an organization focused on protecting birds and the places they need, as essential habitats for birds in breeding, wintering, or migration. Given that, it’s a wonderful way to spend a weekend experiencing the national wildlife in Finger Lakes.

Montezuma Wildlife Refuge

If you are looking for the best birding spots in the Finger Lakes region, look no further than Montezuma Wildlife Refuge. Established in 1938 as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory and other wildlife, Montezuma is ideally situated along one of the most active bird flight lanes in the Atlantic Flyway.

Capture breathtaking photos of diverse wildlife made possible by five different types of habitats, two restored freshwater marshes, two miles of hiking trails, and an all-access observation platform. Waterfowl and other migratory birds depend on the refuge as nesting, feeding, breeding and stopover grounds, while some make the refuge a home year-round. During every season of migration and nesting you are sure to spot some of the most sought-after birdwatching opportunities. Check out some of the ones that are most common during each season here.

If you like this, be sure to also visit the Montezuma Audubon Center, Audubon New York’s first education facility in central New York, an important part of the network of Audubon Centers, and a new resource for educating residents and tourists about one of New York’s greatest wildlife resources.

Seneca Meadows Wetlands Preserve

Open year-round, Seneca Meadows Wetlands Preserve is an environmental treasure, providing a diverse mix of wetlands that are home to countless species of wildlife. Previously used for agricultural purposes, the area was restored in 2007 to 576 acres of wetlands which can be enjoyed through over seven miles of breathtaking trails. Explore the diverse beauty, from forested land to lush prairies and along serene ponds. Wildlife can be seen in abundance from the paths, but to catch a better view you can also take advantage of the lookout stations.

Some of the most abundant bird species that rely on Seneca Meadows are American Black Duck (Spring, Fall), Mallard (Spring, Summer, Fall), Wood Duck (Spring, Summer, Fall), Great Blue Heron (Spring, Summer, Fall), Northern Shoveler (Spring, Fall), Bobolink (Summer), Savannah Sparrow (Summer), Short-eared Owl (Winter), Rough-legged Hawk (Winter), and the Northern Harrier (Winter).

Deer Haven Park

Formerly Seneca Army Depot, Deer Haven Park is most well-known for the unique and majestic Seneca white deer herd and the rich military history, and is also recognized as an incredible spot to see a wide array of wildlife. After over 70 years of locked gates and secrecy, nature has reclaimed the land that was previously used to supply military supplies across the Atlantic. For an ideal experience book your bus tour in advance or download the app and be guided through via an auto tour.

Where to Stay

The best way to experience all the birdwatching available in the Finger Lakes is to make a weekend out of it. There are plenty of places to stay that will allow you to connect with nature, some where you’re likely to spot a few birds soaring while you rest. These outdoor options are sure to provide you with fun ways to get moving and take in some fresh air to rejuvenate your mind and soul. We are confident you will leave feeling refreshed with blissful memories until your next trip to Seneca Lake.

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