Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge
This guide follows the yellow loop of the Kanyoo Nature Trail to the halfway point. The complete
loop is approximately 2/3 mile long. Numbered posts match the text in this guide. While walking
the trail, remember, silence brings rewards.
1. Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is managed to meet the different habitat needs of many
animals. Mowing and fire keeps brush from taking over grassy fields. Mallards, pheasants and
blue-winged teal nest here while deer and other animals hide or rest in the grass.
Eastern bluebirds, the New York State bird, typically nest in knot holes in wooden fence posts or
in dead trees. Nesting boxes, such as this one, replace natural nest sites lost to development.
A Helping Hand
2. For centuries farmers have planted
hedgerows to mark the boundaries between
fields or properties. Then, as now, birds and
small mammals find food and shelter in the
shrubs and trees of a hedgerow. Hedgerows
also form a transition zone between two different
habitats, such as fields and woods.
3. Vines use trees as ladders to reach the sunlight. In commensalism, one species (the vine)
benefits without harming the other, (the tree). Vines make good hiding places or nesting sites for
What are they:
Poison Ivy -- look for three leaflets growing from a common stem. No leaves? Look for hairylooking stems climbing up a tree trunk. The "hair" is aerial roots. In open areas poison ivy can
look like a shrub. Birds eat the clusters of white berries in the fall, but WARNING - all parts of this
plant are poisonous to people and can cause a severe rash if touched.
Virginia Creeper -- has five leaflets, arranged like the spokes of a wheel on a smooth stem.
Small, greenish flowers in the summer produce blue-black berries in the fall and winter.
Wild Grape -- woody stems and heart-shaped leaves are characteristic of wild grape vines. Birds
and other small animals eat the clusters of small purple grapes.
4. Identified by its "corn flake" bark, the black cherry is a valuable hardwood tree in these woods.
Songbirds, deer, rabbits, and mice all eat the clusters of small dark cherries. The seeds (pits),
which are not digestible, passed through the digestive system of animals, germinated and grew
where they landed, creating this grove.
5. "Vernal" means spring. This seasonal wetland is a nursery for frogs and other amphibians.
This is also a recycling center. When the
flooded trees become diseased they are
attacked by insects which in turn are eaten by
woodpeckers and other birds. Mushrooms,
mosses and small animals such as millipedes,
worms and sowbugs break the dead wood down
into minerals which will nourish the next
generation of plants.
Turn left ahead.
In the "thicket" of it
6. Communities undergo a cycle called succession in which one group of plants and animals
replaces another. Shrubs shade out the shorter plants (herbs or grasses) which in turn are
shaded out by taller plants (trees) which are overshadowed by even taller trees. Each species
changes the habitat so that other plant and animal species can move in and take over. Finally, in
a climax community, a few species dominate the community and replace themselves.
7. Both the leaves and the flowers resemble a tulip. Also known as yellow poplar, the tulip tree is
more closely related to the magnolia. Let your eyes follow the grey-brown ridges and furrows up
the straight, limbless trunk to the top. This is one of the largest of our eastern hardwoods. Still
valued for its cheap and easily worked lumber, it was once used by Native Americans to make
dugout canoes. Around the base of the tree, look for evidence that squirrels and chipmunks have
been feasting on the compact, cone-like clusters of seeds.
8. In wetlands, where the water table is high, some trees will send their roots out sideways just
below the surface. Without strong anchors these trees were felled by the force of the wind.
In the eye of the beholder
9. What do wild turkeys, fruit baskets and
vandals have in common? Answer: beech trees.
Turkeys search the ground for the small,
triangular nuts; fruit baskets were once made
from strips of the wood; and vandals deface the
smooth, gray bark. Not only does cutting into the
bark make the tree vulnerable to disease it is
vandalism and it is against the law.
Unlike other deciduous trees, beech trees will
hold onto their brown leaves until spring, making
them easy trees to spot in the winter woods.
The value of wetlands
For a long time wetlands have been considered worthless havens for mosquitoes, but...
... wetlands control floods by acting like a sponge, soaking up large amounts of water from storms
or spring thaws.
... wetland plants reduce erosion by slowing the rate of flow of water.
... wetlands help filter pollutants from water and recharge groundwater supplies.
... on Iroquois Refuge marshes such as this are actively managed as resting, feeding, staging and
nesting areas for migratory waterfowl and other waterbirds.
... wetlands are beautiful. Stop, look and listen to the beauty of a wetland.
[From this point you may retrace your steps back to the lot or continue on the trail as