Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge
Waterfowl - Mid-September to freeze-up; Canada goose numbers peak (50,000) in mid-November; duck numbers peak (150,000) late November. Best viewing times are early morning and late afternoon.
Shorebirds/Wading Birds - Mid-August through mid-October; peak mid-September. Sandpipers can be seen on exposed mudflats, while herons and egrets use the shallow water areas throughout the day. Shorebird watching is best at May's Point Pool, where water levels are managed seasonally for their benefit.
The self-guided Auto Tour Route is generally closed to traffic (depending upon snow/ice/road conditions). Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on the Tour Route and Esker Brook Trail provide an excellent opportunity to see white-tailed deer, small mammals, and resident birds such as blue jays, woodpeckers, nuthatches, and black-capped chickadees. For naturalists interested in winter tracking, the huge impoundments, streams and marshes of the refuge, though frozen most of the winter, still attract foxes, raccoons and mink; the runs, latrines and feeding stations of muskrats can be found near open water.
Waterfowl - Late February through April - varies as to weather and thaw - 85,000 Canada geese, 12,000 snow geese (both color phases are present). Many species of ducks are present though not as numerous as in the fall. Best viewing times are in early morning and late afternoon.
Shorebirds - Shorebird migration is less spectacular than in the fall, but birds are common early May to mid-June.
Warblers - The peak of warbler migration is mid-May. Best viewing is on Esker Brook Trail from dawn until mid-morning.
Wildflowers - From April through June; peak is in May. Violets, trilliums, mayapples, vetches, mustards and others can be seen along Esker Brook Trail.
Waterfowl Nesting - Canada geese and several duck species nest on the Refuge beginning in early March. Broods first appear in early May and can be seen throughout the summer.
Heron Rookery - Great blue herons nest in the flooded timber area of Tschache Pool. Black-crowned night-herons may also be seen in Main Pool.
Flowering Plants - Throughout the summer flowering plants may be seen from the Auto Tour Route. Purple loosestrife, iris, mallow, and white water lily peak in late July.
White-tailed deer, rabbits, foxes, and other resident wildlife can be seen throughout the year. Best viewing times are early morning and late afternoon. You may wish to plan your trip accordingly.
With advance notice, educational programs are available to organized groups throughout the year. The Refuge provides area teachers and students with three outdoor classroom sites for environmental education. Teacher workshops are held at various times during the year, which enables teachers to effectively utilize the Refuge for scheduled field trips.
The Refuge provides an extensive assortment of 16mm wildlife films and videos (free of charge) to area educators. Films are also available for viewing in the Visitor Center.
From the New York State Thruway (I-90), exit 41 onto NY-414 south, left (east) on NY-318, and left (east) NY-5/US 20 for 1 mile to refuge entrance on the left.
The refuge is open every day during daylight hours. When snow and ice keep Wildlife Drive closed to vehicles during the winter, it is generally open for skiing and snowshoeing. Visitor Center hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. from March through November. However, those desiring to come to the Visitor Center on weekdays should call ahead to ensure that it will be open, as it is staffed by volunteers during the week. The center offers exhibits, leaflets and restrooms. The Observation Deck and Tower provide excellent opportunities to see wildlife.
Wildlife Drive is one way, starts at the Visitor Center, and ends at observation tower at Tschache Pool on NY-89. Brochures are available for the refuge, Wildlife Drive, the bald eagle program, and refuge birds.
The self-guided Auto Tour Route provides opportunities to observe and photograph wildlife. Visitors are asked to remain inside their vehicles, since cars serve as a "blind" and minimize disturbance to wildlife. Snow, ice and poor road conditions generally keep the road closed during the winter and early spring months.
Esker Brook Trail, a two-mile walking trail, is open year-round. The Trail and Auto Tour Route are open for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing during the winter. All hiking, skiing, etc. is limited to established trails.
Although fishing and boating are prohibited in Refuge waters, the Refuge maintains a boat launch providing access to the State-owned Barge Canal. Three public fishing sites provide bank fishing access to the canal.
Public hunting, primarily for waterfowl and deer, is permitted under special regulations on portions of the Refuge during the State seasons. Contact Refuge Manager for additional information.
3395 Routes 5 & 20 East
Seneca Falls, NY 13148
Potential visitors e-mailing for information should remember to provide their name, postal address and zip code when requesting brochures and information to be mailed.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication