Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Anatomy of Bird Feet

raptor footAs spring’s crescendo of birdsong mellows now to a steadier summer trill, I listen for melodies I don’t recognize and try to figure out which birds are singing. I look through binoculars at their feathers, the color variations along head and chest, the size of their beaks, the shape of their wings, and the tilt of their tails in my flailing attempts to distinguish one species from another. Rarely have I considered feet in my casual observations, although this part of a bird’s anatomy can be highly specialized for various uses.

“When you look at the foot of a bird, they’re not all the same,” said Kevin McGowan of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “All the birds basically started off with three toes forward, one back. From that, they’ve evolved in a number of different ways for various reasons.”

Birds walk on those toes – not the entire foot. The backward-bending joint we may consider a knee is actually the birds’ ankle. The feet consist mainly of bones and tendons, with very little muscle and few blood vessels. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Garden Blight: Better Never Than Late

It’s not too early to start thinking about late blight. No relation to early blight, with which it shares a last name, late blight has become a perennial disease since infected tomato plants were shipped from southern greenhouses to the Northeast in May 2009. Prior to that, late blight was uncommon, but now we seem to be able to bank on its arrival each August. The fact that it is a seasonal immigrant is worth noting, since most garden diseases (such as early blight) are already here in the soil.

Gardeners and produce growers make a fuss about late blight because it has the potential to kill acres of tomatoes and potatoes in a matter of days; its fearsome reputation is well-deserved. Given the botanical name Phytophthora infestans, “highly contagious plant destroyer,” it is what laid waste to the Irish potato crop from 1844 to 1846, leading to a devastating famine. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Pollinator Project Passing Out 30,000 Wildflower Seed Packets

Adirondack Pollinator ProojectADKAction has spent the past three years helping spread the word out about the importance of milkweed. With the distribution of over 20,000 free seed packets now Adirondack roadsides, gardens, and community parks are thriving with the Monarch butterflies only food source.

According to ADK Action Executive Director Brittany Christenson, the organization began the Milkweed project at the time when the plight of the Monarchs was also receiving a lot of national press. At the time, some people couldn’t even recognize Monarchs, let alone understand that milkweed was the only plant where Monarchs laid eggs.

“The timing of the project was perfect,” says Christenson. “After talking with people we feel that we were able to help get the word out. People are aware of the Monarch’s issue and know what they can do to help. Now we are focusing our attention on a broader range of pollinators.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 19, 2017

Whiteface Field Station Science Lectures Planned

asrc logoThe 2017 Atmospheric Sciences Research Center’S (ASRC) Falconer Science/Natural History Lecture Series will be held Tuesday evenings at 7 pm at the ASRC Whiteface Field Station, 110 Marble Lane, Wilmington.

These lectures are free and open to the public. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Non-Native Jellyfish Found In Newcomb ‘Heritage Lake’

View of Wolf Lake during summer 2016A SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry undergraduate received the Hudson River Foundation’s Polgar Fellowship this summer to conduct water sampling in Wolf Lake on SUNY-ESF’s Huntington Wildlife Forest (HWF) under my guidance.

Sampling will be conducted to determine if water quality changes observed over the past few summers in Wolf Lake might be due to a relatively unknown but widespread organism, the freshwater jellyfish Craspedacusta sowerbii. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Striders: Summer Insects Who Skate On Water

Water Strider Scanning a sunlit pond floor for crayfish, I was distracted by seven dark spots gliding in a tight formation. Six crisp oval shadows surrounded a faint, less distinct silhouette. The shapes slid slowly and then, with a rapid motion, accelerated before slowing to another glide. I can remember seeing this pattern as a child, in my first explorations of pond life.

Water strider shadows are far larger than the insects casting them. To visualize the surprising proportion of legs to body, it may help to think in human scale. For mathematical simplicity, picture a six-foot-tall man lying flat on the water surface. Imagine that attached near his hips he has a pair of seven-foot-long, stick-skinny legs pointing back at a 45 degree angle. Just forward of these spindles he has another pair pointing forward at a 45 degree angle; these are nine feet long. A pair of three-foot-long arms point forward and each has a single claw protruding from the palm. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Adirondack Pollinator Project Celebrating Pollinator Week

monarch butterflyThe Adirondack Pollinator Project (APP) is a new initiative of AdkAction in partnership with The Wild Center, The Lake Placid Land Conservancy, and Common Ground Gardens, that features an extensive program of educational activities and events throughout the summer. The program will kick off at area farmers’ markets and The Wild Center during National Pollinator Week, June 19-25th.

Film showings, hands-on beekeeping, gardening and citizen science workshops, and free public lectures by pollinator researchers are planned throughout the Adirondacks to help inspire individual and collective action to help pollinators thrive. Highlights of the programming are two free public lectures from Dr. Christina Grozinger, Director of the Center for Pollinator Research at Penn State University, at The Wild Center on July 19th and at View Arts in Old Forge on July 20th. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Woodcock Focus of Habitat Management Workshop June 21st

woodcockAudubon New York has invited Tug Hill and Adirondack forest landowners to register for an upcoming free workshop to learn how to manage their properties to maximize benefits for birds and other wildlife, especially the American Woodcock, a species of conservation need in New York State.

By working with private landowners and organizational partners, Audubon New York aims to restore and maintain critical habitat for American Woodcock and other wildlife. The landowner workshop scheduled for Wednesday, June 21, 2017 from 6 to 8 pm, at the Boonville Municipal Building’s Town Conference Room, 13149 State Route 12, Boonville, will offer participants the chance to learn strategies and techniques for maintaining high-quality habitat on their land to support the needs of birds and other wildlife. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Adirondack Fisher Cats Don’t Fish; Not Cats

fisher catThe “fisher cat” is neither of those things. Doesn’t fish. Isn’t a cat. In fact, a lot more of what people think they know about the fisher is wrong. It’s almost like we made up the animal.

The fisher, Pekania pennanti, is a big forest-dwelling weasel, related to the American marten, and native to North America. The common name has nothing to do with fish, but instead derives from French and Dutch words for the pelt of a European polecat, to which it is distantly related. Native American tribes had their own names for the animal, many of which translate roughly as “big marten.” » Continue Reading.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

DEC Advises Motorists to Be Alert for Turtles Crossing the Road

painted turtleThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has reminded the public that the state’s native turtles are on the move in seeking sandy areas or loose soil to lay their eggs. Drivers that see a turtle on the road should use caution and should not swerve suddenly or leave their lane of travel, but take care to avoid hitting turtles while driving.

In New York, thousands of turtles are killed each year when they are struck by vehicles as the turtles migrate to their nesting areas. New York’s 11 native species of land turtles are in decline, and turtles can take more than 10 years to reach breeding age. The reptiles lay just one small clutch of eggs each year, which means the loss of a breeding female can have a significant effect on the local turtle population.  » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Watch Out For Deer Ticks: Reduce Chance Of Lyme Disease

The loathsome deer tick, also known as the black-legged tick, is defined more by the disease it spreads than by its own characteristics. Deer ticks, a name that came about due to its habit of parasitizing white-tailed deer, are transmitters or vectors for Lyme disease microbes that they acquire by feeding on infected mice and rodents. Lyme disease, if untreated can cause a variety of health issues including facial paralysis, heart palpitations, arthritis, severe headaches, and neurological disorders. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lyme disease is currently one of the fastest-growing and most commonly reported vector-borne diseases in the United States. More than 14,000 cases are reported annually, but because the symptoms so closely resemble the flu and usually go away without treatment, scientists estimate as many as nine out of every ten cases go unreported. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Lake Sturgeon Recovery Efforts Show Signs of Success

lake sturgeonThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is asking anglers to avoid spawning lake sturgeon in New York’s waters.  Lake sturgeon are New York’s largest freshwater fish and can grow up to seven feet long and weigh more than 200 pounds.  They are listed as a threatened species in New York

Typically during this time of year, DEC receives multiple reports of lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) caught by anglers fishing for walleye and other species. » Continue Reading.


Friday, June 9, 2017

Invasive Species Trainings in the Adirondacks

AIS-training: Volunteers are shown how to complete survey data sheets to contribute to a region-wide lake monitoring program led by APIPP's Aquatic Invasive Species Program Coordinator Erin Vennie-VollrathThe Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) is offering a series of free training sessions to help protect Adirondack woods and waters from the harmful impacts of invasive species this summer. These workshops are open to the public.

Participants can learn to identify, survey for and manage invasive species currently threatening the Adirondack region, such as Japanese knotweed and Eurasian watermilfoil, as well as those that pose significant risk to the region, but have not yet arrived, such as hydrilla and mile-a-minute weed. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Twilight Singer: The Hermit Thrush

If you take a walk in the woods on a summer evening, you may be treated to the ethereal, flute-like song of the hermit thrush, often the only bird still singing at dusk (and the first bird to sing in the morning).

In 1882, naturalist Montague Chamberlain described it as a “vesper hymn that flows so gently out upon the hushed air of the gathering twilight.” The hermit thrush, once nicknamed American nightingale, is among North America’s finest songsters; its beautiful song is one of the reasons Vermont chose the hermit thrush as its state bird. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Adirondack Birding: The Barn Swallow

Barn SwallowCoinciding with the onset of bug season in the Adirondacks is the return of our insect eating birds. While nearly all of these perching birds have an attractive musical call that announces their presence, most maintain a secretive routine so they are rarely spotted.

The swallows are the most visible bug consumers as their preference for perching in exposed places and feeding over open settings allows these skilled aerialists to be regularly seen.

Additionally, their habit of placing their nest close to human dwellings and in plain view of any passerby makes them well known to residents and visitors of the Park.
» Continue Reading.


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