Posts Tagged ‘Birding’

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Alder and Willow Flycatchers: Sibling Species

TOS_FlycatcherBy mid-May each year I begin to look forward to the return of the alder flycatchers that nest in the willows along the stream near our house. Usually the last migrant to arrive on our property, this small, drab, gray bird with its sneeze-like song, signifies that summer is indeed just around the corner. But last year, for the first time in 20 years, another bird joined the neighborhood.

A willow flycatcher announced his presence, just a few days after I first heard the alder flycatcher. To my surprise, the two sibling species co-existed all summer, presumably both nesting in the same acre or so of shrubby wetland habitat. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Lessons Of Awkward Adolescent Eagles

TOS_EaglesA deer died by the river near my home. The crows found it, as did other scavengers – a bald eagle, and two big brown raptors that were hard to identify. Both had white flecking on their heads, wings and bodies, but the markings didn’t match up, bird to bird. They looked unkempt and more than a little disreputable.

It turns out these were also bald eagles, but young birds, dressed in dark plumage. In common with some other long-lived species, eagles have an extended adolescence. They require about four to five years to mature. During this period they don’t find mates, establish territories, or conform to the adult dress code. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Great Backyard Bird Count Sets Species Record

Northern Flicker by Linda Izer in ArkansasParticipants from more than 100 countries submitted a record 147, 265,000 bird checklists for the annual Great Backyard Bird Count in February and broke the previous count record for the number of species identified. The 5,090 species reported represents nearly half the possible bird species in the world.

The four-day count marked the 18th year for the event which is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Bird Studies Canada. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Comments On Bald Eagle ‘Conservation Plan’ Sought

2010-bald-eagle-kodiakThe NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) “Conservation Plan for Bald Eagles in New York State” is available for public review and comment. The document provides guidelines for the future management of America’s national bird (and national animal) in the State, where it prefers to live in mature forests near large bodies of water.

Bald eagles were once common in America, but their numbers began a dramatic decline as a result of hunting, logging, habitat loss, and pollution. The publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson in 1962, and the modern environmental movement it helped launch, led to a new public awareness of the threats to wildlife from over-development and chemical poisoning. Eventually, that awareness and activism helped save bald eagles from extinction. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sneaky Ducks and Scrambled Eggs

TOS_WoodDuckBabiesIf you peek into a wood duck nesting box during the breeding cycle, you might find 10 to 11 eggs, which is the bird’s normal clutch size. But you might also stumble upon a box overflowing with as many as 30 eggs. How, you might ask, can one duck lay and care for so many eggs? The answer is: she can’t.

These huge piles of eggs result from intraspecific brood parasitism, otherwise known as egg dumping. This is when a bird lays eggs in a nest that does not belong to her. Waterfowl – and wood ducks in particular – often engage in this behavior. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

TR’s Diary Of An Adirondack Birding Trip

63061_covThe State University of New York Press is coming out with an edition of Teddy Roosevelt’s diaries from 1877 to 1886, when the future president was in his late teens and twenties. Given TR’s ties to the Adirondacks, I expected to find some entries from our neck of the woods and was not disappointed.

In 1877, Roosevelt and a friend, H.D. Minot, wrote a short article with a list of birds they had observed near Paul Smiths, The article – “The Summer Birds of the Adirondacks in Franklin County, N. Y.” – was TR’s first published work. Click here to read the article.

The article is based on three birding trips in the Adirondacks, in 1874, 1875, and 1877. Minot, a Harvard classmate, accompanied Roosevelt only on the last trip. TR’s diaries contain several short entries from that excursion.

The SUNY book, edited by Edward P. Kohn, a historian, is titled A Most Glorious Ride: The Diaries of Theodore Roosevelt 1877-1886. It is due out April 1.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Great Backyard Bird Count This Weekend

Snowy Owl in VermontThe annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is a chance to be part of an international team of citizen scientists using specific scientific protocols and the power of the internet to provide data to professional environment and wildlife researchers and the scientific and educational institutions they represent.

From February 13–16, people of all ages, whether beginners or experts, are invited to support bird conservation by counting the number of birds, separated by species, seen during any outing or observational sitting. The information gathered will help researchers track changes in bird populations on a massive scale. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 2, 2015

Adirondack Birds: The Black-Backed Woodpecker

Picoides_arcticus_-Brunswick,_Vermont,_USA_-male-8Wilderness forests serve as havens to many species of wildlife, especially those attracted to stands of old, dying and dead trees. While some people view areas of rotting timber as a breeding ground for tree disease and destructive, wood-boring insects, as well as a source of fuel for fire during periods of exceptionally dry weather, other individuals note that such sites create favorable conditions for many unique forms of life.

Among those creatures attracted to places cluttered with recently fallen logs, where frequent stands of damaged, dying and partially rotted timber jut through a broken canopy, is the black-backed woodpecker. This hardy bird is a year-round resident of the Park, inhabiting areas where old, sick, weakened and dead trees, especially conifers, abound. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Dave Gibson: Christmas Bird Counting

Phyllis Burchett - Audubon Photo AwardsPreparing for the annual Christmas Bird Count is, like the entire holiday season, on the hectic side. The binoculars and spotting scopes have been set aside and need to be found. Packing a good lunch a few hours in advance is a good idea, but rarely accomplished.

My highest hurdle is getting up and out early in the morning to meet my team of counters, whose punctuality and other habits, after nearly thirty years of counting in the dead of winter, are rather well known. » Continue Reading.


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 call that an owl has been spotted. This is an attempt to assemble as sizeable a mob of birds as possible. » Continue Reading.


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