by Jillian Liner
One of the many impressive aspects of Elk Lake are the birds and surrounding forest habitat. The notable habitat and rare species that spend time feeding, resting, nesting and raising families at Elk Lake can be enjoyed while sitting on the dock, hiking the trails or paddling the lakes. The significance of this incredible expanse of forest and suite of birds was recognized by Audubon New York in 2015 when it was designate an Audubon Important Bird Area (IBA).
Elk Lake is part of the Adirondack Forest Tract IBA which has been recognized as a globally significant IBA. Elk Lake is globally significant because of the forest birds and habitat and the number of nesting Bicknell's Thrush. Bicknell's Thrush are listed as Special Concern in New York and ranked as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resource because they have one of the most restricted breeding and wintering ranges of any North American bird. They are a mostly brownish gray medium-sized thrush that nests in the high elevation spruce-fir forests in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada. They prefer patches of regenerating forests such as those that have been disturbed by fir waves, ice and snow damage, fires, or insect outbreaks. In the Adirondacks, the species is rarely found below 2,800 feet.
If you come to Elk, you may have a chance to hear or possibly see the rare, elusive Bicknell's Thrush. A relatively short hike up Sunrise Mountain can take you into their favorite habitat. I was fortunate to conduct surveys on Sunrise from 2002-2010, and every year we documented at least one Bicknell's Thrush on our route. In addition, we observed Swainson's Thrush, Winter Wren, Blackpoll Warbler, and White-throated Sparrow—many of the species which support the IBA designation. Birding at Elk Lake can include experiencing a dawn chorus of Swainson's Thrush, Barred Owls calling to one another, and loons yodeling as you pass them on your canoe or as you fall asleep.
To learn more about the nature at Elk Lake Lodge, click here.