My Bird Blog: A blog about my birding discoveries, bird feeders, birds on my life lists, and all things bird related

Sue's Bird Blog Archives

White-faced and Glossy Ibises at Montezuma

Published October 20, 2013
Tags: Life List Happenings, Snow Goose, Canada Goose, American White Pelican, Glossy Ibis, White-faced Ibis, Sandhill Crane, Northern Pintail, American Wigeon, Gadwal, Northern Shoveler, Common Merganser, American Black Duck, Green-winged Teal, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Greater Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpiper, Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Northern Harrier, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Savannah Sparrow

Saturday's trip to Montezuma Wildlife Refuge was simply too short! One needs an entire day, if not two, to spend there to properly enjoy the 7,068 acres of wildlife habitat. The refuge is situated in 3 counties (Seneca, Cayuga, and Wayne) and is located at the northern end of Cayuga Lake.  It sits in the middle of one of the most active flight lanes in the Atlantic Flyway.  I'm really looking forward to returning there with more time to explore!

Back to yesterday...

Celeste Morien and I arrived at the refuge in the later afternoon hoping to see the reported Glossy and White-faced Ibis. After pulling up to the location, Celeste found them almost immediately. Wow!  Both Ibises were foraging in the tall grass fairly close to the road and didn't seem to mind the cars that pulled alongside the road to view them.  We had excellent looks and enjoyed watching as they pulled several long earthworms (night crawlers?) from the dark, wet earth and gulped them down.

The White-faced Ibis is more rare in our area than the Glossy and it was very, very nice to be able to see both birds side-by-side to see the differences in facial markings. The White-faced Ibis adult has a red eye, which was very visible and shows clearly in the photos below.  The Glossy Ibis has a dark eye and a pale blue line surrounding the facial skin.  The last time I saw a Glossy Ibis was in May of this year.  That bird was in breeding plumage so this was a very nice opportunity to see a Glossy in the opposite season.

After getting our fill of the ibises and watching the six Northern Harriers hunting in the adjoining field, Celeste and I visited another marsh to see the Snow Geese and American White Pelicans. I was awestruck at the numbers of geese that flew into the marsh. One group easily contained well over one thousand Canada and Snow Geese.  The long skeins of geese went on and on and the quiet of the crisp, autumn evening was broken by a cacophony of cackling that loudly announced their arrival.  After they landed and got situated, we scanned the Snow Geese and were very happy to find a dark phase, once a separate species called the Blue Goose!  We found two, in fact, along with a couple of "blue" juveniles.

image of arriving geese
Unfortunately, we were unable to find the reported Ross's Goose in all the Snow Geese nor the Hudsonian Godwits - but the ibises, the 2 American Pelicans, and the 14 Sandhill Cranes we counted made the long trek more than worthwhile.

Some of the other birds we saw included: great numbers of Northern Pintail, some American Wigeon, Gadwal, Northern Shovelers, Common Mergansers, American Black Ducks, Green-winged Teal, Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Greater Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpipers, Bald Eagles, a Peregrine Falcon, Northern Harriers, American Pipits, Horned Lark, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and Savannah Sparrows.
bird photo
White-faced Ibis (top) and Glossy Ibis
bird photo
The Glossy Ibis with a fresh worm!
bird photo
White-faced Ibis
bird photo
White-faced Ibis
bird photo
White-faced Ibis
bird photo
White-faced Ibis, note the debris on the bill - it obviously uses the full measure to probe the earth for insects, worms, small crustaceans, and small fish.
bird photo
White-faced Ibis preening
bird photo
Glossy Ibis
bird photo
Glossy Ibis
bird photo
Glossy Ibis showing the pale blue lining around the facial skin
bird photo
Digiscoped image of a portion of some of the Canada and Snow Geese arriving at the marsh
bird photo
Digiscoped photo showing dark morph (Blue) Snow Goose at the lower center (not the Great Black-backed Gull on its left)
Reply from: Tim on 10/20/2013 9:33 PM
 Awesome photos Sue! Been a busy bee I see
Reply from: Sue on 10/21/2013 6:16 AM
 Thanks, Tim - and yes, lots to see out there! :)