Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

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.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Experts Say Adirondack Lynx Return Unlikely

lynx by Larry MastersA fellow carnivore scientist once showed Cristina Eisenberg the skeleton of an animal and asked her to identify it. Looking at the large hindquarters and feet, she guessed snowshoe hare. Told she guessed wrong, she took a closer look.

“I looked at the skull, and it was a lynx,” said Eisenberg, a scientist with Earthwatch Institute, an international environmental organization.

Eisenberg might be forgiven for her initial mistake: the Canada lynx and snowshoe hare have some anatomical similarities. “They have very big, soft feet that don’t punch through the snow,” she said. “Their feet are like snowshoes.” » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Report: Cougar, Elk, Wolf Return Would Boost Economy

DSCN6114An economic study published by the the Cougar Rewilding Foundation, an organization dedicated to the recovery of cougars to their former range, argues that restoring the Adirondack ecosystem with native wildlife would establish Adirondack Park as an international wildlife recreation destination.

The report estimates that restoring native woodland elk, bison, wolves and cougars to the Adirondack Park would add upwards of $583 million annually in wildlife watching and big game hunting tourism and create 3,540 new jobs. The study reports that restoration would create opportunities for wildlife tracking classes and vacations, darting, howling and photography safaris, and big game hunting. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Questions Over DEC’s Trout Stocking Practices

Trout-rainbow-300x196When people think of invasive species in the Adirondack Park, they think of Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussels, Asian clams, or any number of other exotic plants and animals that have made the headlines.

People don’t usually think of brown trout and rainbow trout, but neither fish, though abundant now, is native to the region.

Brown trout are native to Germany and were introduced to New York State in the late 1800s. Rainbow trout, native to the West Coast, were introduced around the same time. In both cases, the goal was to enhance fishing opportunities. » Continue Reading.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Vernal Pools: Hatch, Grow and Get Out

Vernal_poolsThree things happened this week: bluebirds and tree swallows returned, my road was graded, and the red maple buds popped. It’s time to search for vernal pools.

Vernal pools are small areas of wetland that form in the spring and dry up during the summer. Water collects in saucer-shaped depressions that have an impermeable layer of soil, leaves, or debris. Snowmelt and spring rains fill these puddles. Without an inlet to replenish the supply, summer’s sun and heat eventually evaporate the water, though a dense forest canopy helps delay the inevitable drying up. Some vernal pools may refill after a heavy rain, but the main characteristic is their temporary nature. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Going With the Flow: The Sixth Sense of Fish

TOS_NeuromastThere are times when fish appear telepathic. Consider the uncanny way a school of bait fish moves as one to avoid a predator, or the way goldfish in their lighted bowl turn towards the glass when someone walks into a dark room.

Researchers often describe this ability as “touch-from-a-distance.” But fishy sixth sense is closer to hearing than touch. It’s what allows salmon to deftly ply the currents and eddies as they make their spawning runs upstream. They listen to the flow. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Appreciating Bears Through The Seasons

black_bear_Deb-mckenzie_070110_aBears – we love ‘em, we hate ‘em, we’re fascinated with them, and we fear them. We seemed to have evolved from different ends of the mammalian tree. Humans started out as a fruit and seed eater, who gradually adapted the more efficient role of the omnivore. Black bears (and grizzlies) are creatures who appear better equipped to be carnivores, but pursue an omnivorous diet, learning to exploit a variety of food sources, in many different habitats.

We have our nightmare visions of the wild bear prowling beyond the dissolving glow of the campfire – or the fear that we’ll lose our vegetable garden or livestock or trash barrels to a marauding black bear. Those are balanced by their sometimes comical and often ingenious attempts to break into our stored food and trash, or the way they entertain themselves with the natural toys and circumstances nature provides, such as sledding on their butts. Curiosity and play are characteristics of higher mammals, particularly in predators like humans, wolves and bears. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 20, 2015

DEC Issues Coyote Avoidance Guidance

CoyoteThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has issued guidance on preventing conflicts with coyotes. With the onset of warmer weather, many of New York’s resident coyotes are setting up dens for soon-to-arrive pups.

Coyotes are well-adapted to suburban and even urban environments, but usually avoid contact with people. However, conflicts with people and pets can occur as coyotes tend to be territorial around den sites during the spring through mid-summer as they forage almost constantly to provide food for their young. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Adirondack Painted Turtles In Spring

April24 089After a long slumber buried deep in the protective mud beneath Adirondack lakes, the painted turtle is awake. Chrysemys picta, the eastern painted turtle, is common to many of our ponds, lakes and wetlands, preferring areas with abundant aquatic plants, ample spots for sunbathing, and sunny places with sand for nests.

Painted turtles are named for their intricate shell pattern and very distinct yellow stripes on their heads. Reaching an average length of 5 to 6 inches, they can live for more than 40 years. Being omnivorous, they feed on insects, crustaceans, fish, plants and any other food (plant or animal) they can find. Like snapping turtles, painted turtles can live in a wide range of habitats. » 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.


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