Some of us find it easier than others to rise and shine on frigid winter mornings. Sunshine comes late if it comes at all, and the temperature at times hardly rises above zero. What to do? Listen as I tell of one cold morning and what I did and what I saw in this week’s edition of All Things Natural with Ed Kanze.
Weather anomalies impact the lives of most creatures, including humans, and this year’s protracted winter season is slowly taking its toll on people that dislike the snow and cold, as well as on various members of our wildlife community. While all animals native to the Adirondacks have evolved the ability to survive the rigors of a harsh and prolonged winter, some of the recent arrivals to the region may not be faring as well in this unrelenting, sub-arctic weather siege.
Over the past decade or two, the climate in the Adirondacks has slowly warmed enough to allow numerous forms of life to creep northward and expand their geographic range into our lowlands and valleys. For example, several birds, like the tufted titmouse and wild turkey are appearing more, as are some mammals like the gray squirrel and in the very southern realm of the Park, the opossum. However, the greatest influx of new residents probably lie in the vast array of invertebrates that exist in every ecological setting throughout the Park. » Continue Reading.
From a lifetime of experiences, and reading nature books since childhood, it’s true that I should know a little more about wildlife than the average Joe, but I lay no claim to being an expert. Learning something new is a principal reason for reading books, and of late, I’ve had occasion to indulge in several excellent Adirondack-related titles written between 1840 and 1920.
In one of them, a particular passage caused me to stop, backtrack, read it again, and then one more time in disbelief. Since other animal behavior described in the book held true, I supposed this one should as well, but I had reservations. Above all, one thing was certain: confirmation would be hilarious, at least to my thinking. The claim was that bald eagles snore. And not only that: they snore LOUDLY.
On camping trips I’ve taken in the woods over the years, odd and unusual night sounds have proved puzzling, and even intimidating at times. A snorting, growling sound, persistent for hours during a trip 30 years ago, somewhere on the eastern slopes of Lyon Mountain, would have scared me half to death had I been alone. » Continue Reading.
As the sunset colors fade from purple to black an eerie sound breaks the forest calm. It is not the long, low, slow howling of wolves that can be heard further north, but the group yip-howl of coyotes: short howls that often rise and fall in pitch, punctuated with staccato yips, yaps, and barks.
When people hear coyote howls, they often mistakenly assume that they’re hearing a large pack of animals, all raising their voices at once. But this is an auditory illusion called the “beau geste” effect. Because of the variety of sounds produced by each coyote, and the way sound is distorted as it passes through the environment, two of these tricksters can sound like seven or eight animals. » Continue Reading.
With this winter shaping up to be a cold one, spring may still seem far away. But with time and a little patience, we will soon start to notice the lilac leaves bursting from buds, the return of brightly colored warblers, and the ringing chorus of spring peepers in the evening. Any time you detect events unfolding in the natural world, you are making phenological observations.
Phenology refers to the study of the timing of biological activities. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many of these changes in the life cycles of plants and animals coincide with the seasons. Besides day length, factors that influence the timing of biological events include temperature, precipitation, snowpack formation and melting, and wind. » Continue Reading.
The fields and forests of the Adirondacks support many forms of animal life, even during winter, yet many of our wildlife residents are next to impossible to glimpse. Some, like moles, shrews and voles prefer an existence below the surface of the snow, while others such as fisher, bobcat and ermine have adapted a shy and secretive lifestyle causing them to spend nearly all of their time in remote sections of dense woodlands where visibility is limited, making a chance sighting rare. Others, like flying squirrels and owls conduct their affairs under the cover of darkness and seldom are viewed.
One small bird, considered by ornithologists to be widespread throughout the Park year round, is likewise noticed only on rare occasions, despite its regular foraging activities during the light of day. The brown creeper is a slim, chickadee-size bird with mottled brown plumage on its head, back, sides, and tail, which closely resembles the color and pattern of the rough-textured bark that covers many types of mature trees. » Continue Reading.
The wild winter weather is continuing. Friday it was so warm that even several hours after the sun went down, there was still a steady drip-drip-drip coming off the roof. In the forties Saturday, the season just can’t seem to make up its mind.
That’s not to say that it has been an easy winter. And to me, there has been a recurring theme out here at that cabin that demonstrates this better than anything else. I have had a steady supply of small rodents around the house looking for food. » Continue Reading.
Like you, I note birch trees when I’m out walking, even when I’m not looking for them. What makes it easy? Listen and learn what those dash-like markings on birch trunks are, and how to tell one birch from the next in this week’s edition of All Things Natural with Ed Kanze.
In October of last year friends Dan Russell and Charles Baldridge stood on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain and had what they later described as an awe-inspiring experience. For an hour and a half, the sky was lit up with columns of white light, some of them tinged with red and green. This was the Aurora Borealis making an unusual appearance.
Russell remembered having goose bumps for most of the event, while Baldridge remembered wanting to call everyone he knew. “It was really exciting.” » Continue Reading.
A series of natural history programs about Adirondack wildlife will be held at the Whallonsburg Grange in Essex, NY. The series begins with naturalist and photographer Susan Morse speaking on Friday, February 21. Morse’s lecture, entitled “Animals of the North: What Will Climate Change Mean for Them” will be held at 7:00 p.m. Suggested donation is $8.
Morse, Founder and Director of Keeping Track, Inc., describes says the program is not about climate change itself, or even how it will affect us; rather, it’s designed to educate audiences about ways in which northern wildlife species are already being affected, with more serious challenges ahead. » Continue Reading.
I’d never seen snowflakes so big. They seemed like albino flying squirrels falling Frisbee-style from the sky. The big snow got me to thinking: from the perspective of wild animals, is snow a good thing or bad?
It’s economical, sustainable and keeps you in shape, not to mention that nothing feels so good as a seat by the woodstove on a sub-zero night. What’s not to like about heating with wood? Certain things do bug people. The mess, for one. Stacking and splitting can get old. Adjusting the ‘thermostat’ may involve a trip to the woodpile. And occasionally, unexpected guests arrive.
Firewood, I’ve discovered, comes from “trees” which are covered in “bark,” under which insects can hide. As wood brought inside warms up, it feels like winter’s over to these critters, who gleefully sally forth. Inevitably, insects and homeowners are both disappointed. » Continue Reading.
Mid-February weather is often quite harsh in the Adirondacks. However the eventual arrival of spring in another month, or two, causes numerous forms of wildlife to begin preparations for the inevitable change in seasons.
Despite frigid temperatures, blustery winds, deep snow, and limited sources of food, numerous creatures begin to focus a portion of their time and energy towards activities associated with breeding, rather then concentrating solely on the challenges of survival. » Continue Reading.
I’m driving to work too fast, late as usual, trying to make up for those last five minutes I spent puttering around my house when I should have gotten out the door. I lean on the accelerator a little and grab my trusty travel mug, lifting it to my lips just as my wheels hit a bumpy, rippled section of the pavement. I hit the brakes. The tires make painful washboard sounds, and coffee splashes out of my cup and all over the steering wheel.
Living in the Northeast, you get used to the spilled coffee and car repair bills. It’s a fact of life here — come winter, the roads are going to get rough, and your struts and brakes (and wallet) are going to pay.
“I’d guess forty percent of my time is spent dealing with suspension issues due to frost heaves and pot holes,” says one owner and operator of a local car repair shop. “Bent wheels, ball joints, tire rods…the roads around here are not the greatest.” Snow, ice and freezing rain all contribute to poor road conditions, but frost heaves make winter driving like a video game. Dodge and weave a heave? Twenty points! Hit a heave? Lose ten points and call a mechanic. » Continue Reading.