A Dream Fulfilled…Part 1

Friends, it finally happened. Last weekend Dave and I went on vacation to Ithaca, New York to visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you know that this is a big deal for me. I love the Lab and everything it stands for. I’ve been wanting to visit the Lab for the past few years, so we decided it was finally time.

We arrived at the Lab in the early afternoon on Thursday and were blessed with beautiful warm weather. The Lab was just as pretty as it looks from the bird cams and website. We only briefly entered the Lab because there was a seminar of sorts taking place, but we planned on spending more time inside the follow day. The Lab’s Feeder Cam is right outside the visitor’s entrance, but blocked off by pieces of wood so people don’t disturb the feeders. You can see the cam well from the inside of the building. I’ve spent many hours watching the live Feeder Cam on the internet, so it was cool to see it in person. After checking out the feeders we started our walk through Sapsucker Woods.

We made it! (Image by BirdNation)

I already had an idea of what Sapsucker Woods Bird Sanctuary looked like from watching Pond Cam on the Lab’s website. It was beautiful experiencing it in person. Sapsucker Woods is 230 acres and comprised of ponds, forests, and ferny swamps. One of the first things we noticed was tons of woodpecker holes. There were woodpecker holes of every size and many of them were made by Pileated Woodpeckers (unfortunately we did not see any Pileated Woodpeckers this trip). We recorded 30 birds on our walk and hiked almost all of the trails. Most of the birds were the usual suspects we would see at home, but seeing them in a new place was exciting. We did add a few new birds to our life list: Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Black-capped Chickadee (we get Carolinas here), and Wood Thrush.

Some of my favorite moments included:

  • Watching a Gray Catbird grab an insect right out of the air
  • Yellow-bellied Flycatcher sighting
  • Chipmunks everywhere! Dave and I call them “Chippies”. They were literally everywhere. I think we spent most of the day happily exclaiming, “Look! Another chippie! They are so cute!”. They were not phased by us one bit.
  • Walking through the swamp and seeing a variety of woodpeckers, holes, and sapwells
  • Finding somebody’s nest with 3 eggs on a ledge
  • Gray Catbirds everywhere (but I enjoy that at any location I’m at haha!)
  • Red-bellied Woodpeckers chasing each other through the forest
Red-bellied Woodpecker on the go (Image by BirdNation)
Chippie! (Image by BirdNation)
Wood Thrush (Image by BirdNation)
Eastern Phoebe (Image by BirdNation)

mystery nest

Me being an extremely happy bird nerd 🙂 (Image by David Horowitz)

We spent most of the afternoon at the Lab before heading into the city to check into our hotel. After dinner we found Cascadilla Gorge. Ithaca is known for having around 150 waterfalls. Their slogan is “Ithaca is Gorges!” (get it? I love the play on words). Cascadilla Gorge Trail is a 400-foot climb that leads to the Cornell University campus. We didn’t hike the trail on our first night, but planned to the following day. We did watch a cute Mallard couple dabbled on the edge on the waterfall.

cascadilla gorge
Cascadilla Gorge (Image by BirdNation)

The following video was taken on my iPhone so its not the best quality ever, but they were just so cute dabbling I couldn’t resist sharing. This video is posted on the BirdNation Youtube page.

Day 1 of our vacation was fabulous. I was elated that we were finally in Ithaca enjoying  all the natural beauty this town had to offer. Check back tomorrow for Part 2, where we return to the Lab and experience some other natural wonders.

Author: BirdNation

I am an avid birder, teacher, and nature lover. I primarily go birding in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but love to travel. I am currently a biology student with interests in conservation biology, ornithology, and environmental sciences. My dream is to go birding in all 50 states.

5 thoughts on “A Dream Fulfilled…Part 1”

      1. Aw thank you! Yes the recovery was harder than I thought life has been ridiculous but I will be starting to post again as of tomorrow! I have a ton of fun things to share (seriously I kept notes to remember all the things)


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