Seneca Lake is the second largest of New York?s Finger Lakes. The lake
spans four counties, with the city of Geneva on its northern end and Watkins
Glen at its southern end. To the west lie Keuka and Canandaigua Lakes,
and to the east, Cayuga Lake. It is approximately 32 miles long from north
to south, but relatively narrow. Glacially carved in origin, it is the deepest
of the Finger Lakes (620 feet). Much of the lakeshore is developed or in
agriculture, but there are scattered marshes and wetlands. The lake itself is
owned by the state of New York, but the lakeshore includes mostly private
land, with some municipal and state-owned land.

Ornithological Summary

The lake is an important waterfowl wintering area; surveys
administered by the New York State Ornithological Association
(NYSOA) have documented thousands of individuals using the lake
each winter. During 2000-2004, the lake supported an average of
eight Pied-billed Grebes (6% of state wintering population), 1,686
Mallards (4% of state wintering population), 1,737 Redheads (11% of
state wintering population), 183 scaup, and 140 Common Goldeneyes. Counts of Canada Geese, American Black Duck, and Buffleheads
have sometimes numbered in the hundreds during fall and winter.Mixed species 8,162 ind. in 2004, 2,613 in 2003,
10,898 in 2002, 11,965 in 2001,6,504 in 2000.NYSOA winter
waterfowl count.

Conservation Issues

The introduction of zebra mussels and non-native fish may be having
a negative effect on the aquatic ecosystem and the prey base of certain
waterfowl species. However, some diving ducks feed extensively
on zebra mussels and may benefit from their increased presence.
Manipulation of water levels may impact waterfowl use of the lake.
More research is needed to understand how different species of
waterfowl are or will be impacted by changes in the lake ecosystem.
The site is heavily used from spring through fall for recreational
boating, fishing, and related activities. Disturbance does not seem to
be a major problem since the largest concentrations of waterfowl occur
before and after the peak of boating activity. Pollution from various
sources, including non-point source agricultural runoff and boating
activities, could impact the birds here and should be monitored.
Waterfowl numbers should continue to be monitored.
? Marie Read

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