Almanack Contributor Tom Kalinowski

Tom Kalinowski

Tom Kalinowski is an avid outdoor enthusiast who taught field biology and ecology at Saranac Lake High School for 33 years.

He has written numerous articles on natural history for a variety of magazines and wrote a weekly nature column for the Lake Placid News for nearly ten years.

Tom has also written several books which focus on various events that occur among the region’s flora and fauna during very specific times of the calendar year. Along with writing, he also spends time photographing wildlife.




Monday, December 15, 2014

Wildlife Animosity: Crows and Owls

crowsAnimosity is an emotion not solely restricted to humans, as several forms of wildlife occasionally display an outward aversion to specific creatures, even through such an antagonistic attitude seems to have little to no value to their current survival.

Perhaps the best example of such an overt repulsion of one animal for another is the crow’s reaction to seeing an owl at this time of year. Upon detecting one of these round-faced predators, a crow quickly starts producing a squawking caw designed to summon any other crows in the immediate area. It is believed by some naturalists that a crow, upon hearing this alarm sound, will relay the information to others unable to hear the initial » Continue Reading.



Monday, November 17, 2014

Adirondack Wildlife: Wayfaring Porcupines

Porcupine by Mary Harrsch (Wikicommons)Big game hunters and auto body repair shops know well that early to mid November is the time in the Adirondacks when deer are on the move; however the white-tail is not the only creature that breeds during late autumn.

The porcupine also develops its urge to reproduce in the period between Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving. As is the case with deer, older male porcupines are currently on the move in their attempt to locate as many females nearing their estrous period as possible over these next several weeks.

Unlike the beaver and red and gray fox which establish a pair bond with only one individual, the porcupine, like most mammals attempts » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Adirondack Insects: The Fall Cankerworm

Alsophila pometaria US Forest Service PhotoFrom the onset of November, periods of mild weather become fewer and further between; however, there are always occasions when hats and coats can be left in the closet, and the fire in the woodstove can be allowed to die out for a day or two.

It is during such balmy spells when several species of hardy moths take to the air and can be seen after dusk fluttering around a porch light or a window next to a lamp. These small, drab gray insects are all closely related, belonging to the Geometridae family of animals, and are best typified in the Adirondacks by the fall cankerworm (Alsophila pometaria).



Monday, October 20, 2014

Rabies: A Deadly Adirondack Virus

9__ImageFile__nsRajrIkLRjtGkMqkbgskThe recent barrage of publicity regarding ebola has focused everyone’s attention on this particularly deadly virus, however, the relatively isolated nature of the Adirondacks makes our region a most unlikely location for an appearance of such a troublesome disease. In our area there are other viruses that are a much greater threat to the health of the general public than ebola.

At this time of year rabies must be given a top priority, as autumn is the time many infected animals are on the move, and for anyone exposed to this virus who fails to get medical attention the outcome is almost always fatal.



Thursday, October 9, 2014

White-Throated Sparrow Migration

white-throated sparrowNumerous amphibians and avian calls are enjoyed by Adirondack residents and visitors alike throughout spring and early summer, yet as the seasons progress, this music gradually subsides until by early autumn only a few bird voices can be heard amongst the fading background chorus of crickets.

Since singing requires an expenditure of energy, and advertising one’s presence increases the chance of attack by a nearby natural enemy, birds refrain from much vocalization after the breeding season ends. However, it is possible to hear the soulful call of the white-throated sparrow during the autumn, as there always seems to be an individual or two in one of the transient flocks spending time in the area that » Continue Reading.



Monday, September 29, 2014

Adirondack Salamanders: The Red-Spotted Newt

800px-Notophthalmus_viridescensPCCA20040816-3983AEarly autumn is the time fog frequently shrouds valleys in the morning, and a heavy dew regularly coats unprotected surfaces for several hours after sunrise. As the atmosphere begins to cool with the change in seasons, moist conditions often develop at night and can continue well after dawn. This is ideal for our various terrestrial amphibians, which require damp surroundings for their survival. Among the members of these moisture sensitive vertebrates is the red-spotted newt, a unique form of salamander that goes on the move as the foliage changes color.



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Adirondack Wildlife: A Red Squirrel Uprising?

1024px-Tamiasciurus_hudsonicus_CTThe populations of all forms of wildlife continuously rise and fall as a number of highly changeable environmental factors influences the success, or failure of each species. While variations in the abundance, or scarcity of many of our shy and secretive creatures, like the short-tailed shrew, flying squirrel and ermine, go completely unnoticed, the ups and downs in the number of animals that maintain a high profile can be quite evident, especially to anyone that spends a fair amount of time outdoors. In my neighborhood this year, there is a definite upsurge in the population of red squirrels, as there are more of these small, yet conspicuous rusty-tan rodents running around than in recent years.

Regardless » Continue Reading.



Monday, September 8, 2014

Adirondack Seagulls: The Ring-Billed Gull

Ring-billed_gull_groupAs the bright yellow tops of goldenrod begin to fade in fields, and the foliage of the red maple increasingly begins its change to a bright reddish-orange, gulls engage in a nomadic phase of their life and can often be seen visiting a variety of settings within the Adirondacks.

Within the boundaries of the Park, two species of “seagulls” are seasonal components of our fauna; however, the slightly smaller ring-billed gull is far more common and likely to be observed than the nearly identically colored herring gull.



Thursday, August 28, 2014

5th Annual Great Adirondack Moose Festival Planned

Moose At Helldiver Pond by John WarrenThe Adirondacks, with its vast expanses of wilderness forests, abundant stretches of pristine wetlands, waterways and rugged mountain terrain, serves as home to many forms of wildlife. While all of these creatures have uniquely appealing traits and exhibit their own brand of personal charm, few possess the backwoods’ magic and allure of the moose. Part of this beast’s popularity lies in its massive size, which can range from several hundred pounds for a juvenile to 700 and 800 pounds for a healthy adult. The moose also wins affection with its unusually lanky body features, long snout, and awkward gait.

In an attempt to spotlight and honor New York State’s largest » Continue Reading.



Monday, August 11, 2014

Adirondack Wildlife: Maturing Bats

300px-Wiki_batAugust is when a majority of wildlife families dissolve, as the young gradually start to wander from their parent’s care and begin finding food for themselves and developing the strategies for surviving on their own. Among the many maturing creatures achieving independence as summer wanes are the young of the various species of bats that exist within the Park. Regardless of their habitat and the types of bugs on which they prey, all juvenile bats are now capturing their own food and exploring their surroundings without the supervision of their mother.



Thursday, July 24, 2014

Adirondack Insects: The Stable Fly

Stomoxys_calcitrans_on_aloe_veraDuring summer, both residents and visitors of the Adirondacks should be required to spend time on the water, preferably in a canoe, kayak or guideboat in order to experience the serenity and magnificence of slowly and silently moving across our fresh water environments. However, traveling over the surface of most waterways in a small, open, human-powered craft from July through mid August does have its cost, as people in such boats are occasionally subject to the harassment of a small, fast-moving fly inclined to bite on the upper part of the foot, or the lower section of an uncovered leg, particularly around the ankle. This unwelcome pest is most likely a species of stable fly (Stomoxys), » Continue Reading.



Thursday, July 10, 2014

Adirondack Fish: The Rock Bass

Rock BassFollowing the July 4th weekend, there typically occur stretches of pleasant, sunny weather with highs in the 80’s. This elevates the temperature of the water in the many aquatic settings throughout the Adirondacks to their highest levels of the year and creates conditions ideal for swimming and for our warm water fishes.

Among the residents of lakes and rivers that thrive when the water becomes suitable for wading, lounging, and frolicking are the sunfish, and along the rocky shores of our glacially formed lakes and boulder laden waterways is the rock bass, a ubiquitous and always hungry fish that has frequent encounters with any novice angler that fishes these sites.



Monday, June 23, 2014

Adirondack Birds: The Common Yellowthroat

799px-Common_Yellowthroat_by_Dan_PancamoThe overwhelming abundance of pesky insects in and around aquatic areas in the Adirondacks from late spring through mid summer can discourage travel to these picturesque settings, however, the hordes of bothersome bugs that thrive in wetlands help support the rich diversity of life that occurs around these places.

Among the birds that seek out mosquito, black fly, and deer fly infested streams, swamps and shrubby lake shores is a common and vocal warbler whose voice regularly echoes across these watery habitats. Despite its small size and effective protective coloration, the common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) can be seen by anyone passing through its domain as it bellows out its characteristic song from a perch that temporarily » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Adirondack Insects: June Bugs

Photograph taken by Patrick CoinAround the time when the puffy, spherical clusters of seeds appear on dandelions, male hummingbirds are engaging in their courtship flights, and hoards of black flies arrive when the air become humid, June bugs make their annual appearance during the evening around porch lights, street lamps, and well illuminated windows.

When indoors at this time of year after dark, it is common to hear the sound of this hefty, hard-shelled bug repeatedly flying into a screen, continuously beating its wings against a window pane, or buzzing around an outside light, as if attempting to get directly into the source of illumination.



Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Family Life Of Adirondack Black Bears

Black Bear NYS Museum Camera TrapPriorities! Just like humans, some forms of wildlife are faced with the dilemma of not having enough time during the day to deal with all the issues that confront them. Over the course of the next several weeks, many black bears in the Adirondacks temporarily elect to put their nagging appetite on hold and channel the vast majority of their time and energy into finding a mate and winning the affection of a potential breeding partner.

In winter, the black bear experiences a profound state of dormancy in which many individuals lose from 15% to 20%, or more, of their autumn body weight. Once they emerge from their den in spring, » Continue Reading.



Thursday, May 15, 2014

Fishing For Adirondack Walleye

Walleye_paintingThe late spring that the Adirondacks has experienced this year delayed the “ice-out” time on our lakes and ponds by several weeks. This pushed back some of the events in the lives of the numerous aquatic animals that reside in these bodies of water. Among the largest creatures to occur in many of our sizeable lakes, noted for spawning shortly after the ice breaks up, is a meaty fish sought after by anglers for its flavorful taste.

The walleye is a cold-tolerant creature common to various lakes across the Park, and a fish that attracts those sportsmen that enjoy the challenge of fishing at a time when the water is only a few degrees above freezing, » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Adirondack Wildlife: The Hooded Merganser

Hooded_Merganser_(Lophodytes_cucullatus)_(1)Spring is the time of year when most male birds support their brightest colored plumage. This makes them more attractive to a potential mate for the breeding season, however it also makes them more visible to any human traveling through their domain.

Among the birds far more likely to be seen during spring than at any other time of year is the hooded merganser, a handsome species of waterfowl that commonly resides in the many wooded wetlands scattered across the Park.



Monday, April 28, 2014

Adirondack Wildlife: Emerging From Dormancy

vernal pool at Huntington Wildlife ForestThe unseasonably cool and overcast weather pattern that has prevailed over the Adirondacks for the past several months has impacted many forms of wildlife, especially the cold-blooded creatures that are early to awaken from their winter dormancy. Among the organisms that return to an active state as soon as the surroundings thaw are two common and highly vocal amphibians that spend winter embedded in the upper layer of soil, or beneath a pile of rotting, organic debris on the forest floor.

Within a few days of the frost melting from the ground around them, both the wood frog and spring peeper experience biochemical changes throughout their body that reactivate the tissues » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Return of the Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture of over florida (Wiki Commons)The very rapid loss of the snow pack that covered our region has created flooding concerns, curtailed, or completely ended, back country skiing for another year and has greatly improved foraging conditions for our ground feeding birds. Among the avian summer residents that benefit from periods of unseasonably warm weather, and the accompanying loss of snow, is a bird renowned for its scavenging talents.

Over eons of time, the turkey vulture has evolved various features to locate and capitalize on recently thawed carcasses of animals that were unable to survive the winter, and has become one of the most effective and visible scavengers in the Park.



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Late Spring In The Adirondacks

Owl's HeadSpring seems to be painfully slow in returning to the Adirondacks this year. Substantial amounts of snow still linger in most places, and ice continues to cover the surface of nearly all stationary bodies of water throughout the Park. Despite the reluctance of winter to yield to spring, scattered patches of land devoid of ice and snow always develop in late March and early April, signaling the coming change in seasons.

These places of bare ground and open water inevitably attract birds that have returned northward in the weeks around the vernal equinox in their attempt to reach their breeding grounds early and lay claim to a prime mating territory.



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