Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Spruce Grouse: Help For A Rare Bird

Adult GrouseOnce abundant in the Adirondacks, the spruce grouse has struggled for much of the past century, but now scientists are trying to bolster the dwindling population by importing birds from out of state.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation released three spruce grouse last year and thirty this year, according to Angelena Ross, a biologist with the department.

The three birds released last year were adult females from Ontario. Only one survived the winter, and it was killed by a hawk in the spring.

In August, DEC released twelve adults and eighteen juveniles captured in Maine at three sites in the Adirondacks— two on private land, one in the Forest Preserve— near Tupper Lake and Paul Smiths. » 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 to breed with as many members of the opposite sex as time and opportunity allow. As she becomes receptive, a female engages in a courtship ritual with any older and larger male that happens to encounter her. If the male were to depart shortly after breeding, she may elect to mate again if another suitor were to arrive while her hormones still influenced her behavior. This is why a male typically remains in the immediate area after breeding so as to attack and fend off any male attracted to the smell of her scent. This helps ensure that only his genetic material goes into the fertilization of her egg, perpetuating his blood line. After the female loses her desire to breed, the male quickly abandons her and continues his travels to search for additional females in need of a mating partner. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, November 13, 2014

DEC Seeks Killer of Newcomb Moose Calf

MooseThe state Department of Environmental Conservation is trying to figure out who shot and killed a young moose in Newcomb recently.

The DEC received the report of the dead moose on Tahawus Road in Newcomb on Saturday, November 1, from a caretaker at the Santanoni Club, a hunting, fishing and recreation club located nearby.

A necropsy later found that the animal was “killed by a shotgun slug or muzzle-loading bullet fired through its chest,” DEC spokesman Dave Winchell told Adirondack Almanack.

The necropsy didn’t find any evidence that it was hit by a car or had other serious wounds, Winchell said.

Winchell said the female moose was 244 pounds. Its size indicates it was born this past spring.

Hunting moose is not legal in New York State. Killing a moose is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of a $2,000 fine and a year in jail. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Old Trees: Methuselah In Your Backyard

TOS_OldTreeThere’s something in us that can’t help but be impressed by an old tree. Perhaps we’re simply in awe of something that has outlived generations of humans and will outlive us.

We acknowledge this when we compare the giant sequoia groves to a cathedral. When we compile state lists of big old trees. When we give names like Methuselah to the longest-lived specimens.

Most trees are not destined to live long lives. Ninety percent of the trees in a forest will never become very big, or very old. Some will lose the race for sunlight and food. Others will succumb to insects, wind, fire, or logging. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What’s At Your Bird Feeder? Scientists Want to Know

btn-PFW-verticalThe number one reason to have a bird feeder near your home, of course, is to enjoy observing the birds that come and go and their behavior. And when northern winters are at their most severe, you may also be helping some birds survive.

But there is another potential and broader benefit, for both birds and perhaps your own satisfaction, that can arise from feeding birds: letting scientists know what you are seeing. Even common birds such as chickadees and juncos carry important messages about the health of bird populations and trends among them. The problem, of course, is that ornithologists can’t be in very many places at any given time. But bird enthusiasts can be, and they can function as “citizen scientists.” » 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). » Continue Reading.



Monday, November 3, 2014

DEC Seeks Public’s Help In Finding Moose

Young_bull_moose(1)The state Department of Environmental Conservation is asking for the public’s help in locating moose in the Adirondacks, so they can put GPS collars on the animals for research purposes.

The DEC is currently in the early stages of a moose population study that is being undertaken with SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Cornell University, and Wildlife Conservation Society in Saranac Lake. As part of the study, state wildlife biologists plan to put GPS collars on four female moose. » Continue Reading.



Monday, October 27, 2014

Louse Flies: Avian Blood-Suckers

TOS_flatfliesWhen you find a bird feather in the woods and stoop to pick it up, does your mom’s voice echo in your brain? Can you hear her say, birds have lice, don’t pick that up? Mom was mostly right. Birds can have lice (though you won’t catch lice from a bird). But what Mom probably didn’t know is that birds have something far creepier lurking in their feathers. It’s six legged, leathery, and flat. And it sucks blood.

The good news? It does not want to suck your blood.

Avian hippoboscid flies – also called flat flies and louse flies – survive on bird blood. Estimates vary for the number of different species in our region, but there are likely more than ten, fewer than twenty. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, October 23, 2014

Woolly Bears: Winter Forecast Flops?

woolybearAutumn is coming to a close. The brilliant fall foliage is past peak, if not already layered in the compost bin. The last geese are honking their way toward winter homes. Predictions are proffered (sometimes cheerfully, mostly not) for how cold and snowy this year’s winter will be.

Sources for seasonal predictions vary. The Farmers’ Almanac and traditional old-wives-tales are often cited. How soon those geese head south, for example, is supposed to indicate how difficult winter will be. We trust these bits of folklore because they often have a scientific basis and seem to work. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Learning About Bones In Newcomb

skeleton_anatomy__deer_by_omgshira-d3gfz9jHalloween is ripe for haunting, ghosts and ghouls. My son is weighing his options between being a zombie groom or part of a ghostly orchestra for his art club’s Haunted High School in Saranac Lake this Friday. He knows that I am not the person to ask whether a fake severed arm looks real or if he should go with a gaping head wound.

I am not the family thrill seeker when it comes Halloween. If I were to look at bones I’d rather it be part of Mark Lawler’s program “Bones I Have Known” at Newcomb’s Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC). An instructor in anthropology, geology and environmental science, Lawler is leading an interactive program on Oct 25 from 1-2 pm to show how bones, scat and tracks of animals can be used for identification as well as to demonstrate survival. » Continue Reading.



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. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Canada Geese: Autumn Immigrants

CanadaGoose3542468111TonyHisgettWhat can cruise at an altitude of 29,000 feet, is a beloved icon of the great outdoors, and yet can be the bane of lawn lovers? It’s the honking harbinger of advancing autumn and coming cold (and sometimes, bad alliteration), the Canada goose.

The familiar autumn voices of Canada geese overhead can at once evoke the melancholy of a passing summer and the anticipation of a bracing new season of color and activity. Kids return to school, hunters take to the woods, and farmers work past dusk and into darkness, all to the cacophonous cries and the heartbeat of wings of migrating geese. » Continue Reading.



Monday, October 13, 2014

Backyard Compost: A Hot Mess

TOS_compostAt the New Hampshire University Organic Dairy Research Farm in Lee, even the heat for the wash water is organic and locally-sourced.

The heat comes from the farm’s composting facility, a building that looks like an eight-bay garage but actually contains cutting-edge composting technology, as well as a whole lot of rotting stuff.

Of course, compost heat doesn’t require sophisticated technology or the attention to detail that doctoral students provide to farm chores. However, managing heat generation is tricky. Even academics and professional composters can’t always get everything in the right balance for perfect decomposition. » Continue Reading.



Friday, October 10, 2014

Ed Kanze: Skippers, Butterflies, and Moths

ed-kanze-skipperShould you care about tiny drab butterflies that look like moths? I’m not sure. But plants all over the world seem to care a great deal about them, coaxing skippers of a wide range of shapes and patterns to do the important work of delivering their pollen.

Learn a little about them by listening here to this week’s All Things Natural with Ed Kanze.

The podcast is produced by Mountain Lake PBS’s Josh Clement. Listen to past episodes by visiting Mountain Lake PBS’s Borderless North webpage at mountainlake.org/bn.



Thursday, October 9, 2014

DEC To Address Lake Placid Bear Problems

black_bear_mammalState Department of Environmental Conservation wildlife technician Ben Tabor said his department had a high number of calls about nuisance black bears in Lake Placid this summer, leading DEC officials to host an informational meeting on the topic at the Lake Placid Pub and Brewery on Thursday, Oct. 16.

Tabor said there were about six bears feeding in dumpsters in Lake Placid, including some on Main Street. The DEC started receiving calls about them in early July, and the complaints continued into September.

The goal of the meeting is to educate business owners and local residents about ways to curb the problem, Tabor said. He said removing nuisance bears isn’t the solution because others will replace them. » Continue Reading.



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 bellows out its characteristic “Old-Sam-Peabody-Peabody-Peabody” song. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Adirondack Loon Celebration On Sunday

Loon CostumeBiodiversity Research Institute’s (BRI’s) Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation will host the 2014 Adirondack Loon Celebration on Sunday, October 12th (Columbus Day weekend) at Riverside Park and Harrietstown Hall in Saranac Lake.

The celebration will include a Loon calling and Loon costume contests; presentations about loon natural history and Adirondack loon conservation programs; live concerts by Adirondack folksingers Jamie Savage and Roy Hurd; a field trip to observe loon behavior first-hand (9a.m., pre-registration and fee required); performances by ventriloquist Sylvia Fletcher and Merriloons the Clown; the 2014 Adirondack Loon Quilt Raffle; and a special appetizer/dessert reception and silent auction. » Continue Reading.



Monday, October 6, 2014

The Odor Side of Otters

TOS_RiverOtterWe slid our canoe over the beaver dam and paddled into the upper, smaller pond. A breeze rippled the water and rustled the reeds lining the shore. Suddenly I spied four long, sleek brown figures cavorting in the water ― otters! They submerged quickly near the shore, probably into an old beaver bank den with an underwater entrance. This was one of only a few times in my life I’d seen these secretive, often nocturnal, creatures.

We had likely seen an otter family ― mother and young, known as kits. Once the kits were able to swim well enough, at about three months of age, the family would leave this pond and assume a nomadic lifestyle. » Continue Reading.



Friday, October 3, 2014

Ed Kanze: A Damsel in Distress

ed-kanze-damselfliesBirds do it, bees do it, and so do damselflies, delicate cousins of dragonflies that dart through the air around and above wet places. Olympic gymnasts have nothing on damselflies.

Listen here as I catch a damselfly pair in the act and gaze in astonishment at their contortions in this week’s edition of All Things Natural with Ed Kanze.

The podcast is produced by Mountain Lake PBS’s Josh Clement. Listen to past episodes by visiting Mountain Lake PBS’s Borderless North webpage at mountainlake.org/bn.



Thursday, October 2, 2014

Adirondack High Peaks Fall Foliage Report

Mt-Jo-Web
The fall foliage in the High Peaks region is just past peak color. Reds are turning to browns and leaves are starting to fall around Heart Lake. It is still a beautiful time to view fall colors in the area, but the vibrant reds and oranges that were present in the High Peaks last week seem to be fading. Lower elevations and points south may be better if you want to view peak foliage.


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