Looking Backward -Tales of Whiskey, Warblers and Walks in the Woods

Local birdwatcher, Joe Brin, agrees. "Dead Creek was formed by glaciers, but Whiskey Hollow was formed by snow melting into Dead Creek. So, it's more of a secondary glacial formation." Whatever its origin, the birds love Whiskey Hollow, especially warm-weather birds from the south. "They spend the winter way down in the tropics, anywhere from Florida to South America. They come up here to breed because this habitat suits them. They're looking for the right combination of trees, plants, temperature and gradient including hemlock forest, hedges and clearings. And, Whiskey Hollow has it all. It's a great habitat for neo-tropical migrants, because of what the glaciers did to that area."

Since retiring from the Baldwinsville Central Schools as an instrumental music teacher, Joe has become an avid bird-watcher. From his home on nearby East Dead Creek Road, Joe made his first daily trek to Whiskey Hollow some 17 years ago. Between bites of a coffee roll washed down with coffee, he recently rattled off several names of these migratory birds from memory. "Let's see, there are "Red-Eyed Vireos, Yellow-Throated Vireos, Scarlet Tanagers, Baltimore Orioles, and of course, the warblers. They include the Yellow Warbler, Common Yellow-Throat, Chestnut-Sided Warbler, Black-Throated Blue Warbler, Black-Throated Green Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Mourning Warbler and American Redstart."

After another sip of coffee, I asked Joe about the rarest bird he's ever seen at Whiskey Hollow. "I spotted two Kentucky warblers back in 1999. They were definitely over-shoots, in that they had flown outside of their normal range. But, they were both male, and I never spotted a female. So, that was the end of that."

Thirty-five years ago, a bird inventory of Whiskey Hollow by Margaret Rusk listed a total of 71 different species. It was part of a larger study of the area conducted by the Onondaga County Department of Parks and Recreation in 1975 to determine Whiskey Hollow's suitability as a county park. It had been identified "by various environmental groups and local citizens as an area that would make a desirable acquisition; and by some as in desperate need of protection and preservation."

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