New York State
Ornithological Association

For the birders and birds of the Empire State

Featured NY Birding Sites

Ferd's Bog

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.  (from Important 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 bushes
.... 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.

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