Saturday, April 27, 2024

Sprouting wildflowers & little birds mobbing feeders

A male yellow-bellied sapsucker

Today is Earth Day 2024 and what I see outside isn’t a heavy frost that came overnight, but light snow and 22 degrees on the thermometer. The bird bath is a frozen skating rink for the birds as it was also yesterday morning, April 21. The high temperature yesterday was only 39 degrees, and the little birds were mobbing the feeders as they must have known what was coming. I had a new bird at the feeder for this year yesterday, a Chipping Sparrow, which went away with a band. The day before, I saw three Northern Flickers on a lawn along Limekiln Road feeding with two Robins.

The day before that, I had another new bird in the yard, a male Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, as I heard it drumming. I caught it later that day and banded it. The next day I caught the female, and I heard them drumming this morning as I walked down to the pond. There have been lots of other little birds around the feeders, including over 50 Pine Siskins, over 25 Purple Finch, 10 Slated-Colored Juncos, and a few American Goldfinch. Those male Goldfinch are putting on their pretty yellow feathers and black head caps.

I watched the Common Ravens carry nest material into the salt shed at the town barn. They probably have eggs in their nest by now as their young are out of the nest by Memorial Day. Another pair is nesting along State Route 28 on the ledge just past Bald Mountain Pond. You can see the whitewash on the rocks below their nest. Both pairs have been using those nest sites for a few years now. I’ve had several reports of Loons on local lakes, and I’ve yet to see one. I heard them calling over the hill on Limekiln Lake while I was picking birds from my nets this week.

Some of the new Loon rafts have been put out by the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation on Raquette Lake for the second year in a row. Only one was used as a second nest site last year, but being in this early, the others may get used this year. They have a wire cover that is covered with camo material to protect the Loon nests from Bald Eagles who will take eggs and newborn chicks from the nests. You may see some of these rafts on other lakes in this area, as they look like little floating houses. Some may be marked with keep away signs, but others may not, so keep your distance so as not to disturb the nesting loons.


Hepatica. Photo by Gary Lee.

Some wildflowers were out earlier in the week. I saw lots of coltsfoot on the shoulders of the highways in full bloom. Then we had a hard frost, and they didn’t look so good the next day. Later in the week, I saw a single hepatica flower in my garden and several spring beauties along the path to the pond. I think they all might be toast after last night at 22 degrees, but time will tell. The herd of seven deer have been browsing on some of the wildflowers that are just coming up and some of the new tree seedlings that had started up from last year’s seeds.

As I look across the pond over to the far ridge, I’ve seen trees have started to flower and put out leaves, especially the red maples making the all gray landscape turn red. Many of these trees start with their flowers right along with the leaves, which might take a hit with this hard frost. Many birds and animals depend on these seeds and fruit from those flowers for their food. I haven’t seen any flowers on beech and cherry trees yet, so maybe they will make it. Both of these trees are very important food sources for so many wild critters. I know the bears are out, because one was hit by a car on State Route 28 down near Old Forge the other night and the bear won, as the car had to be towed. I don’t know how the bear fared.

I had a comment on my column that the things that I report on such as floods, fires, hurricanes, and high winds that I find on the internet have been happening for a long time, but only the fast reporting of them has improved so we hear about them. Well, climate change here on Earth Day is changing and causing many of the events to be one-hundred-year storms, which are happening more often than not. The oceans and lakes are warming, and ice at the poles is less and less.

I just saw a nice Zoom program from the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation on Loons in Alaska by Tamara Zeller. All five species of Loons nest in the state of Alaska and the Yellow-Billed Loon, which is the most endangered by the warming of that area. Several of the bigger lakes they nest on are being drained, as the permafrost melts as this is the dam that holds the water. One day they are big lakes and the next day there is a hole in the permafrost, and they are mud flats. These Loons need these big lakes for nesting and feeding their young.

Full moon tomorrow night so maybe that will give us a warming trend, but that’s another story. See ya.

Photo at top: A male Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker. Photo by Gary Lee.

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Gary lives with his wife, Karen, at Eight Acre Wood in Inlet where he was the Forest Ranger for 35 years, working in the Moose River Wild Forest Recreation Area and West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area. Now retired, Gary works summers for the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, observing, catching and banding loons. The author of a column Daybreak to Twilight in local papers from 1986 to 2019, he now writes his Outdoor Adventures a weekly blog. In 2008, Gary coauthored a book with John M.C. “Mike” Peterson, "Adirondack Birding- 60 Great Places to Find Birds."

One Response

  1. Bob Bronkie says:

    I have a question. A year ago I was on the southern side of Seventh Lake with Goff Island about 1000’ off to my right. In clear view of well over two thirds of the lake. Along the north shore line at about 2 o’clock was some sort of bird flying but then again not flying west at a speed well over 15 to 20 mph it’s feet and wings were touching the water and putting up a good splash. I watched it as I could stop watch it. It stayed off shore by no more the 50’ and it went all the way to the bridge at the west end the started back along the south shore line until it was out of site. But no more then a few minutes it was back in view to our camp I could then see it was a Loon. It continued past me and out of site but then I could see it again now at the east side of the lake. The island got in the way of my viewing but it reappeared back at the north shoreline and stopped were it started. Is this behavior some sort of territorial marking or what,

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