Sunday, July 31, 2011

Watching Wildlife in the Adirondacks

What follows is a guest essay from the Adirondack Forest Preserve Education Partnership (AFPEP).

Bald eagles are the largest bird species that nest in the Adirondacks but they are just one of 220 species of birds that reside in the Adirondacks or pass through during fall and spring migration. 53 species of mammals and 35 species of reptiles and amphibians also make the Adirondacks their home.

Due to the vast size, unique habitats and geographic location of the Adirondacks many species of wildlife are found nowhere else in New York or are in much greater abundance here. Birds such as the Common Loon, Spruce Grouse, the Black-backed Woodpecker and the Palm Warbler; Mammals such as Moose, Otter, Black Bear and American Marten; and Reptile & Amphibians such as Timber Rattlesnake and Mink Frog.

Observing wildlife is an activity enjoyed by many residents and visitors to the Adirondacks. Common species can be seen in abundance, but opportunities for rare sightings such as moose or bear requires patience and persistence. Here are some tips to increases your chances of viewing wildlife:

Keep your distance – Coming too close to an animal will cause them stress. They may become aggressive and dangerous or they may just run. In some cases they may abandon their young.

Stay quiet and be patient – Move slowly and quietly and avoid sudden movements to increase your chances of seeing wildlife and to avoid stressing the animals you watch.

Dress Properly – The right clothing and footwear will ensure you are comfortable and enable you to stay outdoors for a long periods of time.

Use Optics Gear – Binoculars, spotting scopes and cameras can enhance your ability to view wildlife that is not easily seen with the naked eye.

Learn About Wildlife – Use field guides, books and the internet to learn about their habitat, their appearance, and learn calls and signs to have better luck at finding and seeing wildlife.

Watch at Dusk and Dawn – This is when most wildlife is active.

Choose Your Season – Many species of wildlife appear only during certain seasons at various sites. They may migrate in the spring or fall, breed or nest in specific locations for the summer, or hibernate in the winter.

Cruise the Back Roads – Drive slowly on back roads with a passenger serving as wildlife spotter.

Stay in Your Vehicle – If viewing from a roadside location observe wildlife from the inside of your vehicle. Even with the windows rolled down, wildlife often don’t associate vehicles with humans.

Some Great Places to View Wildlife

Moose – The road systems of many of the conservation easements lands including: Sable Highlands, Santa Clara Tract, Perkins Clearing and Speculator Tree Farm; also the Adirondack Park Visitor Centers in Newcomb and Paul Smith.

Black Bear – Almost anywhere, but particularly the same lands listed for moose.

Otter – Wild Center, Adirondack Park Visitor Centers in Newcomb and Paul Smiths and many other waterways.

Bald Eagles – Meacham Lake, Lake Lila, Little Tupper Lake, Ausable Point.

Boreal Birds – Adirondack Park Visitor Center in Paul Smith, Bloomingdale Bog, Silver Lake Bog Preserve, Ferd’s Bog.

Common Loon – Lake Colby, the Saranac Lakes, Tupper Lake, Long Lake, Mirror Lake and many other lakes.

Photo: Black bears courtesy Smithsonian Wild.

This guest essay was contributed by the Adirondack Forest Preserve Education Partnership, a coalition of Adirondack organizations building on the Leave No Trace philosophy. Their goal is to provide public education about the Forest Preserve and Conservation Easements with an emphasis on how to safely enjoy, share, and protect these unique lands. To learn more about AFPEP visit

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The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional guest essays from Adirondack residents, visitors, and those with an interest in the Adirondack Park. Submissions should be directed to Almanack editor Melissa Hart at

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