Onondaga Lake Sees the Return of Threatened Bird Species

Onondaga Lake sees the return of native wildlife as the wetlands are restored. (c) 2017 Lileana Pearson

Onondaga Wetlands

With the restoration of Onondaga Lake's wetlands comes the return of threatened bird species.

By Lileana Pearson SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – Once considered the most polluted lake in the United States, Onondaga Lake is healthier than it has been in nearly 100 years.

The energy company Honeywell is in charge of the lake restoration. They finished the dredging and capping of the lake last year and are now focused on rebuilding shoreline and wetland habitats.

Honeywell, in partner with SUNY EFS, has selected and planted native plants. Currently they have finished rebuilding about 70 acres of wetlands with around ten acres to complete.

The regrowth of natural plants and trees has brought the return of two to three dozen bald eagles, numerous swans, and several types of ducks.

Chris Lajewski, the Director of the Montezuma Audubon Center, is excited to see the growing habitat attract rare birds back to the area.

“There are also threatened species like the pied billed grebe and northern harrier which is becoming an increasingly rare bird here in New York State, but are now thriving at Onondaga Lake.” Said Lajewski

Both the pied billed grebe and norther harrier are on New York State’s list on threatened species, which means they may become endangered in the foreseeable future. However, Onondaga Lake is helping fight the threat by providing a clean, safe ecosystem for them to live.

With the return of more wildlife and swimmable water, Honeywell’s project director, John McAuliffe, hopes to see more tourist visit the area, making Onondaga Lake an economic draw for the county.