Posts Tagged ‘Birding’

Monday, February 13, 2017

20th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count Feb 17th

The 20th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is taking place February 17 to 20 in backyards, parks, nature centers, on hiking trails, school grounds, balconies, and beaches — anywhere you find birds.

Bird watchers count the birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, then enter their checklists at birdcount.org. All the data contribute to a snapshot of bird distribution and help scientists see changes over the past 20 years.

Varying weather conditions so far this winter are producing a few trends that GBBC participants can watch for during the count. eBird reports show many more waterfowl and kingfishers remaining further north than usual because they are finding open water. If that changes, these birds could move southward. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Adirondack Wildlife: The Disappearing Spruce Grouse

The spattering of sizable tracts of boreal forests that remain in the Adirondacks serve as home to several species of birds that have evolved the ability to survive in northern taiga woodlands. Among the feathered creatures that are well adapted for a life in lowland stands of conifers is the spruce grouse (Falcipennis canadensis), a dark colored bird viewed by some as being as much a symbol of the Great Northwood’s as the moose.

As its name implies, the spruce grouse inhabits those softwood forests dominated mainly by spruce; yet not all spruce forests serve as home to this northern bird. High elevation forests that cover the upper slopes of our tallest peaks are not as suitable as lowland locations despite the similar presence of spruce and balsam fir. Because higher altitudes are more frequently buffeted by strong winds, the microclimate that exists there is more adverse than the one that characterizes sheltered, lowland settings. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Rarely Seen Gull Boosts Tupper Lake’s Birding Reputation

Ross's gull in flight in Tupper Lake in Jan 2017 by Larry MasterOn a recent Tuesday afternoon, some carpenters working at Jack Delehanty’s home in Tupper Lake put out on the ice some entrails and egg skeins from walleyes they had caught. The next day Jack noticed an unfamiliar bird picking at the walleye eggs. Jack consulted with his sister, Alex, and their mother, Charlcie Delehanty, a longtime birder, and they were also puzzled. Alex then sent me pictures and video they had taken to see if I could identify the bird. That night, I realized it was a first-year Ross’s gull, an incredibly rare vagrant from the Arctic.

Thanks to the internet, my news of the Ross’s gull reached the birding community within hours, and hundreds of birders from all over the country and Canada soon flocked to Tupper Lake (and Jack’s home!) to see the bird, which has been hanging out much of the time near the Tupper Lake boat launch and the causeway near the bridge over the Raquette River.  This bird has provided a small but significant economic boost to the Tupper Lake community as hundreds of visiting birders have bought food and gas and occasionally spent the night.  A similar appearance of this species in Newburyport, Massachusetts attracted thousands of birders from around the country. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Adirondack Wild Turkey in Winter

There are only a few dozen species of birds capable of surviving the rigors of an Adirondack winter, and of these, the wild turkey is one that is more closely associated with the warmer and less snowy regions to our south than the boreal woodlands to the north.

While the turkey is traditionally viewed as one the most successful inhabitants of open, temperate forests, the cold-hardy nature of this bird and its resourceful and adaptable traits permit it to survive throughout the Park, even during winters when intense cold and deep snows are the rule for lengthy periods of time.

With its large, round body and small head, the wild turkey possesses a shape well designed for retaining heat. Despite the lack of feathers on its head, the turkey is able to hold its head close enough to its body for much of the day to reduce heat loss from the limited amount of exposed skin that occurs on its face and over its skull. A dense covering of plumage over the core of its body, along with a layer of fat, helps this bird effectively conserve body heat. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Blue Jays in Winter

“Jay, jay, jay!” Every morning last winter I awoke to the loud cries of a flock of 17 blue jays dancing around my feeder. They gorged on sunflower seeds and suet, scaring away smaller birds, then left, only to return in the afternoon. I ended up buying a second feeder for the smaller birds, which was more difficult (though not impossible) for the jays to feed from.

This boisterous group was a foraging flock. Like many species of birds, blue jays change their behavior from summer, when breeding birds live in pairs, to winter, when they often gather in groups. In summer, blue jays feed and raise their young mostly on insects, while in winter, they shift to fruits, nuts, and seeds. As biologist Bernd Heinrich explained in his book Winter World, these food sources are widely dispersed, but occur in large clumps that groups of birds can detect more easily by combining their scouting efforts. Another advantage of winter flocks is that many eyes are better for detecting predators. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Questions About Winter Bird Feeding

Back in September, I put out the bird feeder. I try not to do it too early because, well . . . bears. My feathered friends emptied it in hours. A couple of refills later and I decided I couldn’t afford to put out the buffet that early. The weather was warm; natural feed had to be available.

The birds, ever optimistic, still dropped by. I started writing dialogue for them: » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 19, 2016

DEC Issues Final Westward Waters Unit Management Plan

westward-waters-land-mapNew York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)  has announced that the final Westward Waters Unit Management Plan (UMP) outlining the improved recreational access and the management of 13 state forests, seven parcels of detached Forest Preserve, eight Fishing Access Sites, and two Fisherman Parking Areas in Lewis County has been issued.

The Westward Waters Unit Management Area includes a Demonstration Area at the Lowville Office, the Otter Creek Horse Trail Complex, Lake Bonaparte and Eatonville campsites, and several fishing access sites, including Crystal Creek, Burdick’s Crossing, Castorland, Beeches Bridge, Lowville, Glenfield, Denley Dam, and Deer River. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Lake George Land Conservancy Adds To Sucker Brook Protection

lglc-putnam-protected-landsThe Lake George Land Conservancy (LGLC) recently acquired 72 acres in the Town of Putnam from Thomas and Mary Ellen Eliopoulos. The land, known as the Beaver Pond property, joins another 65 acres purchased from the Bain family in September as the latest additions in a focused effort to protect the 2,000-acre watershed of Sucker Brook, a major tributary of Lake George.

As one of Lake George’s ten largest tributaries, Sucker Brook drains directly into the lake at Glenburnie, and makes a significant impact on the lake’s water quality. Its protection provides a safeguard against excess storm water runoff, erosion of the stream corridor, and nutrient loading from neighboring sources of fertilizers and road salt. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Comments Sought On St. Lawrence County’s Largest Wetland

upper-and-lower-lakes-mapThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will host a public information session to answer questions and provide information on a recently finalized habitat management plan for Upper and Lower Lakes Wildlife Management Area (WMA) located in DEC Region 6, Town of Canton, St. Lawrence County.

The area is located on an important waterfowl migration route between eastern Canada and the Atlantic Coast. The upland portion of the WMA consists of woodland, small blocks of conifers, shrub land, grassland, and agricultural land.

The session will take place on Thursday, December 8, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at SUNY Potsdam, in the eighth (8th) floor meeting room, Raymond Hall. The meeting will begin with an open session with DEC staff; the presentation is at 7 pm. The public will have the opportunity to ask questions during the open session and after the presentation. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, October 9, 2016

How Do Birds Know When To Migrate?

Phoebe w/ seed headsOn the north end of my home is a nest site favored by eastern phoebes. Every year a pair shows up, sets up house, and raises a family. They arrive early in the spring, and I spend the long days of spring and summer watching them. At some point, the nest empties out, and then I know that summer will soon end and the phoebes will be on their way.

But exactly when they will be on their way is hard to predict. Fall’s migration tends to be a more open-ended process compared to spring’s, when the urgency to reproduce drives birds to arrive in the Northeast during a relatively short window of time. There is an almost explosive quality to the arrival of songbirds in March and April. One day we wake to the usual quiet of winter, and then the next there is a riot of trilling, chirping, calling, and singing.

As summer winds down, however, the volume diminishes slowly. In August, I still wake to bird songs, but there are fewer voices; the chorus isn’t as frenetic and rich. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Birdsong: Singing a Different Tune

chickadee tosBirdsong has always fascinated humans. Besides waking some of us up a wee bit too early in the morning, it has inspired musical compositions and immortal poetry. It has produced lush descriptions, like those of the early 1900s field guide author F. Schuyler Mathews, who wrote of the wood thrush’s song: “It is like the harmonious tinkling of crystal wine-glasses, combined with the vox angelica stop of the cathedral organ.”

Simon Pease Cheney, Mathews’ contemporary, wrote in Woods Notes Wild, that “one is oblivious to all else, and ready to believe that the little song is not of earth but a wandering strain from the skies.” » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Killdeer: The Pasture Plover

I always do a second take when I see a killdeer skittering across a northern New Hampshire lawn, more than 100 miles from any ocean. These lanky birds look and move like they belong at the shore, running along the edges of waves. Despite their shorebird appearance, killdeer are present throughout our region – in yards, fields, parking lots, and even atop gravel rooftops.

“They’re one of our plovers, which you do usually see along the shore,” said Rebecca Suomala, a wildlife biologist with New Hampshire Audubon. “They just have a different niche.” » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Plattsburgh’s Erastus Hudson and the Lindbergh Baby Case

1A EMHudson“Trial of the Century” is a term frequently bandied about in the media to define extremely high-profile court cases. In the 1900s, twenty or so sported the moniker—the Scopes Monkey Trial, Nuremburg, Charles Manson, and O. J. Simpson among them—but always in the running, and at the top of many lists, is the Lindbergh Kidnapping in 1935. (The crime was committed in 1932; the court case began three years later.) At the center of one of the main issues during that trial was a North Country man, whose testimony spawned doubt among observers that justice was achieved. Many books have been written about the case during the ensuing 81 years, addressing the controversy as to whether the final verdict was justice or a travesty thereof.

That North Country man was Erastus Mead Hudson, born into a prominent Plattsburgh family in March 1888. (Hudson Hall at Plattsburgh State University is named after Erastus’s father, George Henry Hudson.) He attended Plattsburgh High School, and after graduating from Harvard in 1913 with a bachelor of science degree, Erastus attended the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, graduating in 1917 with specialties in bacteriology and body chemistry. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 18, 2016

Adirondack Wildlife: Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds

the outsider hummingbirdZzz-zzzt. Sitting on my deck on a summer afternoon, I’m often distracted by a hummingbird whizzing by. The tiny bundle of energy hovers in front of a row of jewelweed, probing each pendulous orange flower with its long beak, then backs up and darts to the next. My dozing cat raises his head and observes the hummingbird as it zips by, heading for the cardinal flower. “Don’t you even think it,” I admonish him.

This bee-like creature is a ruby-throated hummingbird, the only species of hummingbird found in our region. Iridescent green with a white breast, it is named for the male’s scarlet throat (the female has a white throat – as do this year’s little ones of both genders). Ruby-throats weigh only 0.1 to 0.2 ounces, less than a nickel. Kent McFarland of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, who has banded these birds, commented, “when you have one in your hand, it is shocking how small they are.” » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

NYS Bald Eagle Conservation Plan Completed

bald eagle portraitThe State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced a new conservation plan to manage New York’s population of the bald eagle. The Conservation Plan for Bald Eagles in New York State describes the historic status, restoration efforts and current status of the bald eagle in the state and provides guidelines for future management actions. A draft of the plan was released in February 2015; more than 120 comments were received.

The bald eagle, currently listed as a threatened species in New York, continues to make recover across the state. The Conservation Plan serves as a guide for landowners, resource managers, local government agencies, and other stakeholders to manage and perpetuate the bald eagle and its habitat in New York. This plan also informs the public of actions recommended to achieve the goal of a sustainable, healthy bald eagle population, including its essential habitat and the ecosystems it depends upon. » Continue Reading.


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