Photo: Bill Hecht

Salmon Creek Bird Sanctuary

The 33-acre Salmon Creek Bird Sanctuary is in the midst of one of New York State’s “Important Bird Areas” (IBA), so identified by the National Audubon Society.

Natural History

In 1998, 48 pairs of Cerulean Warblers were found near and in the preserve, along with Scarlet Tanagers, Hooded Warblers, Baltimore Orioles, and a host of other birds.  Two of the known pairs of Acadian Flycatchers in Tompkins County also live in the woods near or in the preserve.

While the causes of the decline of Cerulean Warblers and other forest bird species are not completely understood, ornithologists believe that forest fragmentation by clear-cutting and development plays a major role.  Large tracts of uninterrupted forest are crucial for the protection of this and other neotropical migrants.

The Bird Sanctuary’s forest of tall cottonwood, sycamore, willow and locust has a dense understory of shrubs and herbaceous vegetation, including many non-native invasive species.  While these are a concern to humans, most birds are more influenced by the structure of the habitat than with whether or not the plants are native—provided, of course, that the plants can fulfill their needs for food, shelter, and nesting sites.

Salmon Creek and several tributaries meander through the preserve, frequently changing course during floods or following tree-falls and logjams.  Cerulean Warblers are found both in the forest along the flood plain and on the forested slopes of the valley.

To help protect the Sanctuary’s birds, there are no trails on the preserve.  However, Salmon Creek Road is lightly traveled (especially early on Sunday mornings!), and many of the birds can be seen and heard easily while walking slowly along the road.


The 33-acre Salmon Creek Bird Sanctuary is in the midst of one of New York State’s 127 “Important Bird Areas” (IBA), so identified by the National Audubon Society.  Thanks to an anonymous donor and a collaboration between the Finger Lakes Land Trust and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, the Land Trust has purchased the land for the preserve—one parcel in 1998, two more in 2000.  The Land Trust is hoping to protect additional lands in this IBA in the coming years.

Public Use

Please see our public use policies for recreational activities on nature preserves.


From Ithaca, take Rt. 34 north, turn left onto 34B in Lansing. Turn right onto Ludlowville Road, just after Lansing High School. At T intersection, turn left and almost immediately right on Salmon Creek Rd. Go about 4 miles to Brooks Hill Road. Park off the road, opposite Brooks Hill Rd.