I have always loved the old picture of young Cornell professor (and Lab of Ornithology founder) Arthur Allen shinnying up a tree to reach a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker nest (below). Everything about it evokes a rich sense of time and place and history. Allen’s good friend, famed bird artist Louis Agassiz Fuertes, looks on from below, wearing a floppy hat and a cravat. This picture was taken 100 years ago last spring, in 1909, and it was the first sapsucker nest ever found in this part of New York.
Overjoyed at the discovery, Fuertes immediately dubbed the place Sapsucker Woods—a name that it bears to this day. Years later, in 1951, when Lab friend and donor Lyman K. Stuart offered to fund the construction of a permanent home for the Lab of Ornithology, there was never any question where it would be built—right here in Sapsucker Woods.
To celebrate the centennial of the naming of Sapsucker Woods, world-renowned bird carver Floyd Scholz (above) was commissioned by Cornell Lab friend Charles Shelley (Cornell ’53) to create a carving of a pair of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers for permanent display in the Lab’s observatory. The lifelike carving was presented to the Lab this past November 2, at a special event for local members.
Visitors to the Lab of Ornithology can now see the sapsucker carving on display as well as a series of historical photographs of Sapsucker Woods taken over the years as the woods expanded and filled in areas that had been cleared in the 19th century to create agricultural fields.