Secrets hidden in more than 300,000 index cards with hand-written information about nesting birds are gradually being revealed. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is partnering with Zooniverse, an online people-powered research tool, to digitize this valuable collection and create the largest database of nesting bird information in the U.S. This new effort is called “Nest Quest Go!” » Continue Reading.
I fall in love easy. I’ve been mad about river otters and star-nosed moles, and of course the venomous short-tailed shrew. But my first love was a creature that is almost mythical, a shadow lingering on the edges of time. There wasn’t much of it, merely bones, teeth, scraps of hair, and an occasional breathtaking tusk. Yet Mammuthus primigenius, the woolly mammoth, was (literally) my biggest love.
It all started at the Brooks Memorial Library in Brattleboro, Vermont, where a 44-inch tusk was on display when I was a kid. Found in 1865 in a nearby bog, this tusk was my first introduction to this elephant-relative that roamed the hills and valleys of New England more than 12,000 years ago. In my adult rambles along the soft yielding edges of wetlands and paddles down remote rivers, I’m always searching for a tooth, a bone shard, or the treasure of a tusk. That is what mammoth love gives me — a wild hope. » Continue Reading.
After pairing up and raising chicks, males and females of some bird species spend their winter break apart. At the end of their journey to Central or South America, you might find mostly males in one habitat, and females in another.
Yet conservation strategies have typically overlooked the habitats needed by females, putting already-declining species in even more peril, according to a new study in the journal Biological Conservation. » Continue Reading.
Woolly bear caterpillars seem to be everywhere these days – creeping across the lawn, along the road when I’m walking the dog, hidden in the wilted cut-back of the perennial garden. Last week I found a woolly bear curled up in a shoe I’d left on the front porch.
These fuzzy, black-and- brown-banded caterpillars seem intent these days to get somewhere. Where that is – and how they know – is a mystery. » Continue Reading.
Your yard is part of the natural landscape and can offer food and cover for insects, mammals, and birds. Leaving the leaves where they fall adds nutrients back to the soil and provides great cover for insects seeking shelter from the cold and snow.
The leaf litter also provides an extra layer of insulation and protection for native, ground and cavity nesting bees and wasps. Some native butterflies and moths have even adapted their chrysalis to mimic the look of dead leaves and seeds. They will overwinter in the leaf litter and hatch in early spring, providing pollination services for early blooming flowers. » Continue Reading.
In light of recent news about the net loss of nearly three billion birds in the U.S. and Canada since 1970, advocates say it’s more vital than ever that citizen scientists monitor their own backyard birds.
Participants in Project FeederWatch at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology have been doing this for decades. Reports from participants are building the kind of long-term database needed to detect shifts in the number and distribution of birds facing challenges from climate change, habitat loss, and disease. » Continue Reading.
Two new scientific studies recently released by Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute (PSC AWI) and Shingle Shanty Preserve and Research Station (SSPRS) have detected continuing patterns of decline in boreal birds in the Adirondacks.
The authors examined avian community changes in lowland boreal habitats and the impacts that temperature and precipitation have on long-term occupancy patterns of boreal birds. Both peer-reviewed papers were recently published in the scientific journal PLoS One. The studies build on more than a decade of monitoring boreal bird populations in lowland boreal habitat. » Continue Reading.
Last year, I showed up to work on October 31 in one of my old park ranger’s uniforms, torn to fake-bloody shreds in an imaginary bear attack. One year earlier, I drank smoothies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner because, ironically, my prosthetic vampire fangs were too fragile to sink into solid food. As a twentysomething undertaking a year of national service, I once asked my supervisor if I couldn’t make a few small modifications to my uniform and come to work on the last day of October as an “AmeriCorpse.” (He said no.)
In other words, I am a lifelong Halloween enthusiast. Costumes. Ghost stories. Jack o’lanterns. I love it all. » Continue Reading.
Self-Portrait as an Eagle
Hatched 30 minutes earlier
than the day before, I am placed
between a hot-water pad and a towel
to dry. Pecking an air hole in my shell
and beginning the ordeal, as the warm
air feels like Tegaderm on my beak.
Eight hours after hatching, I eat my
first meal-bits of lean quail raised
on my uncle’s farm. Feeding from a
puppet as to avoid being mistaken
by humans; in a week or so I will
see what it means to be wild again.
Photo of Eagle nest by George Cassidy Payne
There has been widespread flooding and numerous roads have been closed across Hamilton, Herkimer, Warren and Essex counties, including the western slopes of the Champlain and Lake George Valleys. » Continue Reading.
Human disturbance is especially harmful to the state’s bat populations since the arrival of the disease known as white-nose syndrome, a fungus that has killed more than 90 percent of bats at hibernation sites in New York due to how closely bats congregate in caves during winter months.
Even a single, seemingly quiet visit to a cave can cause bats to temporarily increase their metabolism and expend significantly more energy than normal. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that emerald ash borer (EAB) has been confirmed in two locations in Jefferson County. A sample collected from a tree in the city of Watertown on South Massey Street was positively identified by the Cornell University Insect Diagnostic Lab.
The sample was taken in cooperation with the City of Watertown Planning Department and Department of Public Works. A second location was confirmed in the village of Clayton. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is planning to amend state regulations and designations for protecting endangered and threatened species across the state. DEC’s proposal would remove 19 species from the state’s endangered and threatened species list.
The Eastern cougar is proposed for removal from the list, due to its extinction in New York State. The grey wolf would also be removed, and renamed simply wolf, signifying new understandings of that species based on recent DNA studies. » Continue Reading.
DEC Wildlife Staff is involved in a spruce grouse translocation project to help boost numbers of the state-endangered spruce grouse and to improve genetic diversity of the remaining population in New York.
To meet the goal of maintaining their population in NY over the next 100 years, wildlife staff believe they will need to release 250 adult individuals from outside populations into NY over the next five years and manage habitat at several sites. » Continue Reading.
On spring evenings, just before dark, I used to hear a faint drumroll coming from somewhere off in the wooded hills. It sounded to me like an old tractor starting up, although it seemed like an odd time for a farmer to start work.
I later learned that it was the drumming of a ruffed grouse. Not a partridge; this was Connecticut. Years later I lived in Maine, where my husband took up bird hunting: not for grouse, but for “partridge.”
They are the same bird, Bonasa umbellus. » Continue Reading.