A 50-acre black spruce bog, stream, and bog pond surrounded
by 50 acres of boreal forest with a representative bird community including
...Three-toed Woodpecker, Black-backed Woodpecker, Olive-sided Flycatcher,
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee, and Lincoln's Sparrows.
Bird Areas in New York State)
After a number of years of persistent effort on the part of Federation
member Dorothy Crumb and NYSDEC Ranger Gary Lee, a boardwalk was completed
in November 1998. Birders can use the boardwalk to get into the
heart of the bog without damaging it. Following her first trip
on the boardwalk, Dorothy described it in a post to NYSBirds listserve
The boardwalk is perfect. I was so afraid that the boardwalk would
mar the beauty of the bog. Instead, it is preserving it in a very unobtrusive
way. It is not a straight line out to the bog, but has many easy curves
that wind through the trees. Naturally, when you are standing on it, you
are looking at your surroundings, not your feet. You walk the 500
feet (I think) of the boardwalk and come to a platform where you can set
up a telescope and view the surrounding area for birds.
Ferd's Bog will be dedicated as an Important Bird Area on Saturday, September
25th at 11am.
Dorothy's latest directions
to Ferd's Bog ----
To get there: Locate Old Forge on a Herkimer County map. On Route 28,
on the northeast side of Old Forge (all the way through the village) you
will see a huge amusement park called Water Safari or Enchanted Forest.
Measure from this arch 9.4 miles to the Hamilton County sign on the right
and Uncas Road on the left. I don't think there is a sign for Uncas Road,
but it is the paved road directly opposite the Hamilton County sign.
START MEASURING where you enter this paved road. It turns to a rough dirt
road within a few feet. Drive 3.6 miles up this road from route 28.
Watch carefully because everything looks alike with woods and camps all
along the road. Just before you get to the trailhead, there is a huge
rock on the left that has an orange "happy" sign painted on
it. (As you go out, there is an elephant on the other side of this same
rock.) Look for the Ferd's Bog trailhead sign There
is an area cleared out on the left just about big enough for 3 cars.
As you park there and start to walk in, there is a book to sign in and
OUT. You can't miss the trail anywhere. It is chipped for a ways and even
the part that doesn't have chips is easy to follow. You also can't miss
the boardwalk when you get to it.
The boardwalk is there to preserve the bog and it's plants from the hundreds
of feet that have been widening and destroying the entrance to the bog.
The boardwalk is made of styrafoam because there have been problems with
preserved wood leaching harmful materials into the bog and killing frogs
and snakes. At least, that is what I have been told. A chemist might argue
with this. But there is nothing that can leach out from this type
of boardwalk and it will last much longer than wood.
A pre-boardwalk description of the area can be found in City
Cemeteries to Boreal Bogs, published by the Onondaga Audubon Society.
Here are some excerpts used with permission.
Ferd's Bog is a beautiful place to visit. It would be a beautiful
place even if it didn't have the great birds and wildflowers. The
name "Ferd's Bog" has an interesting origin. There is
a man named Ferdinand LaFrance who is a hunter and a birder. He
lives in Pompey, south of Syracuse. Ferd and his brother have a
hunting camp on Uncas Road, just across the Hamilton County line from
Eagle Bay. (ed. note: Ferd passed away a few years ago.)
While hiking around on hunting expeditions in the late 1970s, Ferd "discovered"
the bog and its boreal birds. He reported to us in Syracuse and
he took some of us in there. We began to call it "The bog up
near Ferd's camp" which eventually evolved to "Ferd's Bog."
Since there was no official name on the topo map, it has been known, by
birders at least, by that name for more than 25 years.
....The walk to the bog would take 10 or 15 minutes if you didn't stop
to look at birds, but many of the boreal species have been seen right
in the woods themselves before you reach the open bog. If you hear
a woodpecker tapping or a group of chickadees or kinglets going through,
be sure to check them out. Don't fail to look down once in a while
to see the many beautiful plants that grow along the trail -- creeping
snowberry (which has delicious white fruit at the right time of the year).
indian pipe, wood sorrel and many others.
.... Labrador tea, leatherleaf, cranberry and some blueberry are the main
small plants that you see as you reach the edge of the bog. The
evergreen species are black spruce, balsam fir, pine and larch and there
is a variety of deciduous trees. As you reach the edge of the bog,
you can't help but just stop and look in amazement at the exquisite beauty
of the scene before you. Everything you would want to see in boreal
habitat is present. The beautiful, five-acre open floating bog itself,
surrounded by old forest. Cascade Mountain forms a backdrop.
What looks like a small creek flows down one edge with a small row of
trees along it that offers good habitat for Eastern Bluebirds, Lincoln,
Song and Swamp Sparrows and a variety of warblers.
.... Looking across to the far side is an area where both Black-backed
and Three-toed Woodpeckers have nested. If you are there toward
the end of nesting season, you may be lucky enough to see the adults feeding
large, ready-to-fledge young in a hole along the creek. At other
times, listen for tapping or the sharp "pik" call note to try
to locate the birds.
....Boreal Chickadees, Grey Jay and the two Woodpeckers are found all
year with patient searching. (ed. note: It is now a
long time between sightings of Three-toed Woodpeckers.) Black-capped
Chickadees, Blue Jays and other woodpecker species are also present and
can be guides to the boreal birds. Both nuthatches nest there and
Golden-crowned Kinglet. A summer visit to the bog can be very productive
because of the many species of nesting warblers; Canada, Northeren
Parula, Yellow-rumped, Nashville, Magnolia, Common Yellowthroat, Black-throated
Green and Blue. Yellow-bellied, Olive-sided and Least Flycatchers
and a few Rusty Blackbirds and Purple Finches also make use of the bog.
Both White-winged and Red Crossbill have been present, sometimes
year round. ... Lincoln Sparrows nest at the base of some of the small
.... Fall can be exciting at Ferd's Bog because of the beautiful
colors--particularly in the hardwoods on Cascade Mountain. Many
of the boreal birds are still present and wandering around. Needless
to say, the warblers, vireos and flycatchers leave fairly early, toward
the end of August. If Uncas Road is passable, winter is also a nice
time to go in. May-June is probably the best time to see more species,
but it is also the worst time for black flies, mosquitoes or deer flies.
Go prepared to either ignore thsese little creatures or take preventative
measures to try to keep them away. ...
Thanks, Ferd, for finding this bit of ornithological wonderland.