Ithaca City Cemetery

Before the revelation of the Hawthorn Orchard as a major migrant spot, the Ithaca City Cemetery was a favored site among Ithaca birders during spring migration. With an abundance of large spruces, the City Cemetery had a reputation as an especially good site for seeing Bay-breasted Warbler and Cape May Warbler, two uncommon migrants that breed in the boreal spruce forests to our north. The cemetery seems to be a good spot in general for migrant warblers with a preference for spruces, with Blackpoll Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, and Blackburnian Warbler all reported here in recent years, despite a small number of visits by birders. Other migrant warblers seen in recent years include Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Ovenbird, and Northern Parula.

Although good birds can be seen here, this site can often be very quiet, as is perhaps fitting for a cemetery. However, on rare occasions, it can also be a great place to see a fallout of migrant thrushes. On one day in May 1996, there was a big fallout of Swainson's Thrushes here, with these usually secretive, difficult-to-see birds walking around on the green grasses of the cemetery like American Robins. Likewise, a notable total of ten Veery was seen in the cemetery in early May 2000.

Outside of the spring migration season, the Ithaca City Cemetery is rarely birded. The small ravine that runs through the cemetery appears to host nesting Dark-eyed Juncos. During winter finch invasion years, it is worth checking the spruces of the cemetery for irruptive visitors--in March 1998, up to ten White-winged Crossbills were seen here over the course of two weeks.

To reach the Ithaca City Cemetery:

The cemetery is located just downhill from the Cornell University campus, between Stewart and University Avenues.

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