The Adirondack Mountains is an amazing place to witness the natural lives of wild animals. With 2,000 miles of hiking trails, there is ample opportunity to witness new life as well as the passing of life. The mountains are full of the cycle of life as we witness baby animals of various species and come upon a pile of dry bones. The cycle of life escapes no creature calling this Earth their home and there is evidence all around us of this fact. Is it possible for death, the dry bones of an expired animal to once again be a part of the building blocks of life? In the lives of some mountain animals this is most certainly possible and is an important factor in survival as a source of essential minerals.
Migrating Monarchs Soaring at Unbelievable Heights
Monarch Migration has been known to be one of nature’s most spectacular events. Every Fall up to 500,000 monarchs leave the colder regions to seek solace in warmer areas throughout the United States as well as Mexico. Many people here in the Adirondacks are aware of when they first see these beauties in early Summer and when they stop seeing them as fall sets in but have never witnessed the gathering of thousands of monarchs in preparation of their migrating group flight.
It’s not uncommon to immediately think of coniferous trees when hearing the word Evergreen. For us Mountain folks, these tall beauties with multiple hues of green are a welcomed scene of color as the last parcels of leaves fall to the ground and the landscape takes on a dreary, stark appearance. If you care to venture out on a hike, you will find trees aren’t the only plants that keep their lively green shades throughout the coming winter months.
As fall sets in, it’s not difficult to identify the tiny creatures called fall webworms. This time of year, these masses of larva have been busy recreating scenes from sleepy hollow as they prepare to over winter in the pupa stage.
This display of web weaving starts when the adult tiger moth lays her eggs on the underside of leaves in ‘hair’-covered clusters of a few hundred. Host plant selection is dependent on factors like the plant’s degree of sun exposure, age, environmental stress undergone, toughness, and nutritional quality. For an insect that needs energy for processes like dispersal or diapause, consuming plants that provide a lot of carbohydrates could is beneficial; for a female insect that is producing eggs, consuming plants that provide a lot of protein is beneficial. In the eastern U.S., pecan trees, black walnut, American elm, hickory, fruit trees, and some maples are preferred hosts.
SKY Lyfe was born out of love for the tiny life keepers, we call bees and butterflies. As apiarists and lepidopterists our hearts were moved over a decade ago, to research and support some of the World’s most innocent insects as well as one of the most feared. It is our mission to bring awareness to these creatures, in hopes of conserving their lives and global importance to humans and animals alike.
For some people, the thought of a frog brings up mental pictures of small, toothless amphibians. Not many care to catch one of these leaping beauties to do an oral exam but if you were to, you would find most frogs indeed have teeth. Here in the Adirondacks, one of these toothed wonders is the wood frog.
Like the bees, once the temperature gets to 50 degrees and above my husband and I are outside on the move. Its not hard to notice the changes in the view from morning to evening when you spend nearly 80 percent of your time in nature like we do. In the morning the wild flowers are on display, bringing life and a multitude color to a mountain landscape but in the evening the once vibrant petals close and shades of green take over.
Have these flowers become sleepy and fallen into a slumber and if they’re not sleeping, why have they closed for the night?
For over a month now, pollinators here in the mountains have been working their life keeping magic. Each of these winged creatures participating in the cycle of life of the flora that covers the forest floors and meadows. The first pollinators to appear as Spring rolls in, are the mason and carpenter bees who are able to withstand the cooler temperatures followed by bumble bees and then the smaller breeds of solitary, ground dwelling bees which includes polyester bees among many.
In Lepidoptera land, moths that have overwintered in the Adirondacks emerge from their cocoons as well as butterflies that are able to withstand the slowly warming temperatures have made their winged displays known. The eastern tiger swallowtail (pictured here) is one of the first butterflies to soar the fields and roadsides. They are not alone, the checkered and mustard whites, orange and clouded sulfurs and some skippers join them. Some of the migrating butterflies have began to arrive back to the mountains beginning the first week of May, so you may have observed white and red admirals, northern crescents and common blues and whites with monarchs to arrive here by the end of this month.
It’s Turtle Time and these shelled reptiles are making a public appearance here in the mountains. There are 356 species of turtle in the World with only four of them calling the Adirondack Park home; the snapping turtle, the painted turtle, the spotted turtle, and the wood turtle.
Have you ever heard the saying, “A dog is a man’s best friend”? For many of us who have had a dog for a pet, this saying rings true. Our dog, Mickey, has proven to be a loving, forgiving and tolerant friend and own’s a place in our hearts eternally. But have dogs cornered the market on building friendships with humans? There are thousands of accounts and videos from people around the world who testify, dogs are only one of our potential non-human friends.
My husband and I spend a great deal of time on the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge. It’s there that we witnessed for ourselves, friends come in many shapes, sizes and species. Some have scales, some have fur and some have feathers among other sordid wild attributes. Friendships aren’t limited to humans or domesticated animals, they exist where ever we choose to express our love and appreciation. Little did we know one day we would have friends with feathers who would fly into our hearts. Each of these winged pals are responsible for countless hours of joy in our lives and a true blessing from the natural world.
“A foundation is only as sturdy as its mitochondria.” — Wendy B Hall, Adirondack Wildlife Refuge co-founder
Birds of a Feather Flock together and that’s definitely the case on The Adirondack Wildlife Refuge.
This year started with a time of strategy, dedication and labors of love, beginning with the renovation of the Wolf Dome in honor of Debbie MacKenzie.
Debbie was a devoted and dedicated friend of the Refuge whose love for wildlife exuded from the inside out. She had a special spiritual bond with every wild animal she came into contact with and a particular fondness for song birds. Debbie and her husband, Kevin, assisted in the recovery of wild creatures in need of rescuing and rehabilitation. This duo touched the hearts of like-minded people and developed a close friendship with Steve and Wendy Hall, owners of the Wildlife Refuge in Wilmington. You can imagine the pain and sorrow when Debbie passed away. In a time of reflection and remembrance, the plan to renovate the Wolf Dome came about.
March 21st marked the first day of spring and here in the mountains the warm early spring temperatures have begun to prompt the native bees to wake from their hibernation. Like many creatures, most native bees store up food during the warm months in preparation for a cold long winter.
The first thing waking bees do is perform a cleansing flight, they expel any excrement that has accumulated during their winter’s rest.
The next thing they do is search for food. Its not hard to see that there are no trees and flowers in bloom as the snow begins to melt and once again bare ground is exposed.
So what do these amazing little creatures do to survive until blossoms appear? Unlike colony-building honeybees, solitary bees don’t stockpile honey for times when blossoms are scarce.
Meet the Cicada Beetle. They are big, noisy and make an appearance by the billions every 13-17 years.
May 2021 marks the month and year that we here in New York will experience a natural phenomenon of the insect world. This phenomenon about to happen is named Brood X or The Great Eastern Brood. Starting in May of this year, for five to six weeks, it will be virtually impossible to miss Brood X, which will be the most widespread and prolific of the known generations of cicada in the U.S.
Cicadas are members of the superfamily Cicadidae and are physically distinguished by their stout bodies, broad heads, clear-membraned wings, and large compound eyes.
There are more than 3,000 species of cicadas, which fall into roughly two categories: annual cicadas, which are spotted every year, and periodical cicadas, which spend most of their lives underground and only emerge once every decade or two. While annual cicadas can be found throughout the world, periodicals are unique to North America. Periodical broods are concentrated in the central and eastern regions of the United States, and some areas are home to multiple broods.
If you have a love for the great outdoors, chances are you have heard and or seen “Tree Drummers,” the creatures we call woodpeckers. There are nine species of woodpeckers here in New York; Pileated Woodpeckers, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Yellow-bellied Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, American Three-toed Woodpeckers, and Black-backed Woodpeckers.
Dragonflies are nature’s little aerial acrobats. Likened in bodily shape to a helicopter with numerous maneuvers, they can fly straight up and down, forward and backward, hover and even mate mid-air
There are 7,000 species of dragonflies and mayflies, the dragon flies smaller cousin, in the world.
The Adirondacks are home to approximately 30 species of dragonflies. They typically stay close to water; most species of dragonfly spend the majority of their life underwater or close to the surface of the water. Depending on the species, dragonflies prefer ponds, marshes, or streams.
A dragonfly has a life span of more than a year, but very little of that life is actually as an adult dragonfly. There are three stages of the dragonfly life cycle, the egg, the nymph, and the adult dragonfly. Most of the life cycle of a dragonfly is lived out in the nymph stage where they aren’t seen at all, unless you are swimming underwater in a lake.