Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

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.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Steve Hall: Feathers, Dinosaurs and Birds

ArchæopteryxDinosaurs were the dominant life form on earth for 170 million years, finally going extinct at the end of the cretaceous period, 65 million years ago, when a huge comet crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. Birds of prey are descended from theropods, a type of dinosaur that walked on its hind legs, while their smaller forelimbs were used, like arms and hands, for reaching and grabbing.

Theropods are usually represented by T-Rex, Allosaurus and Velociraptor, though most theropods were no larger than dogs. During this long period, the earth underwent climate change, just as it does today, and fossilized remains indicate that feathers began to develop about 150 million years ago, and those theropods which developed them survived to breed in cooler temperatures, while those lacking them perished. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Elise Tillinghast: A Squirrel As My Co-Pilot

squirrel TOSThe first red squirrel appeared at about 50 mph. It climbed up over my headrest and landed in my lap. I don’t recall the next few seconds very clearly, but according to my 5-year-old daughter Lucy, I yelled something along the lines of, “oo squirrel. oo oo. squirrel squirrel.”

What I do remember is concentrating on finding a safe place to pull over, and my surprise that the squirrel remained in my lap for the duration. It had a warm, soft weight. Puppy-like. I brought the car to a stop by some woods and pushed the button to the passenger side window. The squirrel came out of stasis, ricocheted off the steering wheel, and launched itself into the bushes.

And that, I thought, was the end of the anecdote. No harm done, and a cautionary tale about why it’s unwise to leave the sun roof open in squirrel country. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

DEC’s Conservationist Magazine To Go Digital

conservationist magazineNew York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that the agency’s outdoor magazine The Conservationist, published since 1946, will now be available in both print and digital editions.

The digital edition will offer subscribers additional content, including video and audio files and more pictures.

For a limited time, the digital version of the August 2016 issue is being made available free of charge for all to see here. Current subscribers to the print edition who have provided an e-mail address will be notified when new digital issues become available.

The August edition includes articles on clamming, incredible pictures of dragonflies, and a thrilling piece on how Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger made a successful emergency landing of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River after both of the plane’s engines were disabled by hitting Canada geese in flight. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 8, 2016

Good News For Wild Bees?

honeybees the outside storyThe honey bee is an introduced species in North America. It’s only been here about 400 years, brought by English colonists who found none after stumbling ashore and then promptly put in an order with their backers back home.

The honey bee, more properly known as the European honey bee, took to its new home, spreading across the continent faster than its keepers. Thomas Jefferson, an astute observer of nature if there ever was one, wrote that Native Americans called them “the white man’s fly.”

Bee colonies thrived in hollow trees as well as in hollow logs called “bee gums” (later bee hives) kept by beekeepers. Thrived, that is, until recently, when wild honeybee populations crashed. Of several contributing factors, the main one is undoubtedly Varroa destructor, a bloodsucking mite native to Asia.. Like a tiny eight-legged vampire, the pencil point-sized red mite latches onto a bee and sucks its hemolymph (the bee version of blood) while spreading debilitating viruses. The mite’s introduction in the mid 1990s caused a crisis in American beekeeping and swept wild colonies from the woods. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, August 7, 2016

New Book Recounts Story Of ‘Adirondack’ Cougar

courgar courtesy Bigstockphoto.comOn a snowy winter night in Lake George, in 2010, Cindy Eggleston’s motion-detecting light came on in her back yard. She looked out her kitchen window and saw a big cat. A really big cat. Her husband, a retired conservation officer, guessed that it must have been a bobcat. No, she said, “it had a long tail.” So he went out to look around. In the snow he found huge tracks and, eventually, a hair sample. DNA analysis subsequently showed that these hairs came from a cougar, an animal whose last proven presence in the Adirondacks had occurred over a century before.

The life and death of this wandering cougar, along with a history of this splendid animal in North America and a discussion of its current status, are the subjects of Heart of a Lion: A Lone Cat’s Walk across America, a fascinating book by William Stolzenburg. He debunks myths and spins an engaging and often sad story. » 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.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

Fishing: Doing Catch And Release Right

fish catch and releaseTo be good at catching fish these days you have to be good at letting fish go. Releasing fish unharmed turns out to be a good way to share a limited resource, and depending on what you hook, it also may be required by fishing regulations. Yet releasing fish successfully can be tricky. There’s nothing more demoralizing than watching a released fish turn sideways and drift downstream.

Scientists have been studying release techniques since the 1950s, when the catch and release ethic first took hold in this country. Over the years, every imaginable variable affecting fish survival has been studied, including stress from air exposure, exhaustion, bait type and size, hook type, water temperature and water depth (shallow dwelling fish do better than deep caught fish, which are stressed by changes in water pressure), net design, net versus no net, differences between species, size of fish (large survive better than small). Researchers have looked at sub-lethal injuries, too, and their impact on growth and reproduction…the list goes on. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wood Nymphs In The Garden

the outsider wood nymphBy mid-July, the oregano in my herb garden has grown tall and tatty, and I want nothing more than to cut it back into a tidy mound. But I don’t. Doing so would deprive the flurry of common wood nymph butterflies that swarm the plants every year. The messiness is a small price to pay for the sight of them flitting around en masse.

I have learned to expect their arrival, having witnessed it every summer, since I planted gardens around my home six years ago. At first, just one or two appear, but within days there are dozens. Soon, the oregano’s purple flowers are covered in butterflies. But this brief visit is a only a part of the story of the common wood nymph butterfly (Cercyonis pegala). What are they doing for the other eleven and a half months of the year?

Not much, it turns out. At least, not at first. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

With Dry Weather, Adirondack Black Bears More Active

black bear decDue to the dry conditions black bears have been more active than usual throughout the Adirondacks. You can take steps to prevent problems with nuisance bears.

NEVER feed bears. It is prohibited by regulation and is unsafe for humans and the bear. Nuisance bears that have become habituated to obtaining food from humans can be become aggressive, requiring DEC to euthanize them. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Adirondack Trout And Rising Water Temperatures

troutBrook Trout and Lake Trout, coldwater species are found in many lakes, ponds, and streams within the Adirondacks. They require cold, well oxygenated waters that are clean, to survive. With the increasing in overall temperatures, I felt it was time to explore the impact that these rising temperatures would have on our fish populations. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Herping: The Sounds Of Amphibians

toad cropIts that time of the year when kids dart to ponds with nets in hand, searching for amphibians. Frogs, toads, newts and salamanders are among us! In early spring some species use vernal pools as breeding and incubating grounds.

A vernal pool is a temporary body of water that resembles a large puddle. There are obligate indicator (dependent) species and facultative (use only for part of the life cycle) species. The obligate indicator species are wood frogs, eastern spade-foot toads (Scaphiopus holbrooki), and the Jefferson/ blue spotted complex salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonium x laterale). The facultative species are most of the other frogs/toads, a few reptiles, as well as fingernail and amphibious clams and leeches, Isopods, caddisfly, dragonfly, dobsonfly larvae, water strider, whirligig beetle, and backswimmers, which get eaten by the adult amphibians. » 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.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

How Do Cowbirds Get To Be Cowbirds

TOS cowbirdsUnlike the majority of birds, brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater) do not start life surrounded by their own kind. The females do not build nests, but instead add their eggs to the clutches of other birds—usually one per nest, but sometimes several. Host birds generally do not recognize the dumped egg and will tend to it and the hatchling as one of their own. This means that all baby cowbirds spend the first weeks of their lives in the company of warblers or cardinals or any one of the many species whose nests are parasitized.

So why don’t they end up singing like cardinals? Or eating like warblers? Why doesn’t the forest become their home if that is where they were hatched and fledged? In other words, how does a cowbird learn to be a cowbird? » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Honey Bee Swarm, Fort Edward, Washington County

Temporary hive with the swarm of honeybees insideOn Wednesday, June 15, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Environmental Conservation Officer Stephen Gonyeau responded to a report of a large swarm of bees that had formed on a tree in a yard in Fort Edward.

According to DEC, ECO Gonyeau identified the swarm as honeybees and was aware that at this time of the year, hives often split due to overcrowding. A local bee keeper, retired DEC Division of Law Enforcement Lt. Bob Henke, was contacted to collect the bees and provide a suitable home for them. The swarm was estimated to contain between 10,000 and 15,000 bees. The large swarm was placed in a temporary hive and left for the worker bees to return to. It was later removed after the bees had returned to the hive after dark. » Continue Reading.


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