Important Bird Areas

Queen Catharine Marsh

New York

This site is a large cattail marsh at the southern end of Seneca Lake,
between Watkins Glen and Montour Falls. Portion of the marsh are
administered by the NYS DEC (Catharine Creek Marsh Wildlife
Management Area) and the remainder is privately owned. This is the
last remaining headwater marsh in the Finger Lakes and covers over
1,000 acres. The area, named for a past local Seneca Indian queen,
Catharine Montour, provides a haven for many wildlife species. Once
navigable to Montour Falls, the waters of Catharine Creek still feed
a remnant section of the Chemung Barge Canal, which runs through
the center of the marsh. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers? flood
control projects now funnel most of the water through a canal system.
A few hillside creeks and John?s Creek continue to feed the marsh.

Ornithological Summary

This area supports at-risk species, including the American Black Duck
(migrant), Common Loon (migrant), Pied-billed Grebe (confirmed
breeder), American Bittern, Least Bittern, Osprey (first nest seen in
2003), Bald Eagle (migrant), American Woodcock, Willow Flycatcher,
Sedge Wrens (sporadic), Wood Thrush, Blue-winged Warbler,
Prothonotary Warbler (attempted nesting), and Rusty Blackbird
(migrant). Other wetland-dependent species that breed here include
Virginia Rails, Soras, Marsh Wrens, and Swamp Sparrows.

Conservation Issues

This site is listed in the 2002 State Open Space Conservation Plan
as a priority site under the project name Catharine Valley Complex.
Potential development along Route 14/414 and Rock Cabin Road
threaten the site. Attempts to protect the road and riparian area
have been ineffective. Wildlife and avian activity and status are
monitored, with reports issued by the Kestrel Haven Avian Migration
Observatory.

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