Wildlife and Conservation: Sunnyhill Farm in Arcade is Bird Friendly | Featured story

ARCADE — Sunnyhill Farm has been specializing in the production of maple syrup for 40 years. With over 600 maple taps, the farm, which has been part of the Ameis family for over 100 years

And it’s also a place for beautiful feathered friends.

Norm Ameis and his wife, Laurie, inherited the farm from Norm’s parents, Norman and Gertrude, and it has been in the family since 1909. They started with 25 buckets and a flat pan.

“The ‘hobby’ got out of control and grew to where we are today,” Norm said. “We believe that maple syrup is more than a business. We are committed to making the sugar bush as healthy as possible.

As a longtime member of the New York State Maple Growers Association for nearly 35 years, Sunnyhill Farm has worked with Audubon, Cornell, and NYSMPA to establish a bird-friendly maple project. . As one of two such farms in New York, the Sunnyhill Maple Grove provides shelter, food, and nesting sites for many birds that use the forest as habitat.

Felled trees and other woody material are left on the forest floor.

“We leave snags (a dead tree whose top is usually broken) standing if they don’t endanger sugar bush workers,” Norm said. “There is an abundant ‘edge’ around the sugar bush which is left to nature…”

Snags provide nesting sites and food for many species.

Of the many species that inhabit Sunnyhill Farm’s maple grove, Norm often sees a variety of woodpeckers.

“Our farm has been suggested as a bird-friendly site by several of our fellow growers,” Norm said.

When first contacted, Norm agreed that helping birds and wildlife was part of being a good steward of the land.

“I believe birds are attracted to our sugar bush because of the habitat it provides,” he said. “There are other forest areas on either side of our sugar bush.

The succession of the Ameis family, Lee and Paul Ameis, with their families, take over the maple syrup operation a little more each year.

“They too will follow in my footsteps to keep our maple grove bird friendly,” Norm said.

Sunnyhill Farm is located at 6631 Route 98 and invites visitors to come and learn more about the operation. Visitors will get a quick tour of the facility, as the tour operations also help educate the public about what is involved in the maple syrup making process.

“We have a nice, wooded setting with a basic log sugar shack overlooking a creek,” Norm said. “We have several small buildings that are part of the operation. Visiting the maple grove is a stretch as it is a mile through fields and woods from our home and sugar shack.”

Those whom he does not consider “bird watchers”, Norm likes to see the different species inhabiting the family sugar bush.

“I get a lot of pleasure from seeing the family tradition carry on into the next generation,” Norm said. “The farm was a small dairy farm until my father died. My wife and I used to work on the farm and rent the working land to another dairy farmer.

“We are now retired and slowly passing the torch to the next generation,” he continued. “I still do most of the repairs and tube replacement, tapping and washing for our maple syrup operation. I collect the sap and prepare it for processing when Lee comes home from work. I enjoy the time I spend in the bush. We use firewood from the sugar bush as a source of fuel. I usually find time during the year to cut the next year’s cane wood.

Visitors are encouraged to stop by Sunnyhill Farm whenever someone is home. Call (585) 492-1757 for more information or to schedule a visit.

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