It sounds like the Catskills and Adirondacks are going to again be blanketed with six to twelve inches of wet snow which might take down some trees that have started to bud out. This won’t be good for the birds that have already moved north. Many are being hit with the bird flu and those that have died (or are dying) will be eaten by predatory hawks and owls which will in turn catch the flu and also die…not a good deal in the bird world.
Have you spotted curly corkscrews emerging from the forest floor this spring? Look closely as the woods begins to “wake up” this season, and you’re likely to see some fiddleheads. Fiddleheads are the frizzy furls of a young fern that will unroll into a fresh frond. Most species of ferns go through this brief stage, which gets its name for its resemblance to the coiled end of a string instrument.
In folklore, ferns are often described as possessing magical qualities because of their “invisible” reproduction. Having been around for 300+ million years (well before the dinosaurs!), this ancient group of plants preceded flowering species and instead reproduces with spores. These spores can be spotted on the underside of the fern’s fronds after the fiddlehead unfurls.
Please note: many of NY’s native ferns are protected species and should never be taken from the wild unless you have the permission of the landowner.
New York State offers several youth hunting opportunities to allow young hunters time afield with experienced adult hunters outside of the regular hunting seasons. As a result, they gain the necessary knowledge and skills to become safe and responsible members of the hunting community. This spring, the youth turkey hunt is April 23 and 24.
If you’re an experienced, licensed hunter, please consider taking a youth out! The youth season is open throughout upstate New York and even in Suffolk County. Several non-profit groups sponsor specific events, and we encourage experienced hunters to reach out and take a kid hunting.
Other details of the youth turkey hunting weekend are as follows:
- Eligible hunters are youth 12, 13, 14, or 15 years of age, holding a hunting license and a turkey permit.
- All youth hunters must be accompanied by an adult, as required by law for a junior hunter.
- Youth 12 or 13 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or person over 21 years of age, with written permission from their parent or legal guardian.
- Youth 14 or 15 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or person over 18 years of age, with written permission from their parent or legal guardian.
- The accompanying adult must have a current hunting license and turkey permit. S/he may assist the youth hunter (including calling), but may not carry a firearm, bow or crossbow, or kill or attempt to kill a wild turkey during the youth hunt. Crossbows may not be used by licensees who are under 14 years of age.
- The youth turkey hunt is open in all of upstate New York (north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary) and Suffolk County. Shooting hours are from 1/2-hour before sunrise to noon.
- The bag limit for the youth hunt is one bearded bird. This bird becomes part of the youth’s regular season bag limit of two bearded birds. A second bird may be taken in upstate New York (north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary) beginning May 1.
- All other wild turkey hunting regulations remain in effect.
Photo at top: A youth turkey hunting participant. DEC photo.
April 17th is International Bat Appreciation Day
Bat Day is a great time to appreciate New York’s nine bat species. When spring temperatures become warm enough, bats will leave their hibernation sites and may be seen flying in search of insects. Unfortunately, many species of bats, including little brown bats, have faced severe population declines due to White-nose Syndrome.
Some bat facts:
- They are insect-eating machines, eating thousands of mosquitoes and other flying insects in a single night!
- Bats use echolocation (rapid pulses of sound that bounce off an object) to detect and catch insects.
- Bats are more closely related to primates than to mice.
- They are the only mammal that can fly.
To view bats, check out your local park or forested area, especially near water and along trails. Even your own backyard can be a great place to view bats if you have trees near your home!
Learn more about bats in Bats of New York State (PDF).
Photo by Al Hicks.
I’ve been hearing from some of my northern neighbors that snow is still falling, but the ice is out in some lakes and Loons have returned to those open waters. Other big predator birds like Great Horned Owls and Barred Owls, Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons may already be on eggs or at least looking at nest sites. The Peregrines just lay their eggs on a rock ledge, building ledge or bridge beam with no nest material.
April 26 is National Help a Horse Day; an initiative launched in 2013 by the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to create and raise awareness of ways to take better care of these often-beloved animals and to promote protection of neglected and abused horses across the country.
I can think of no animal more valued or respected than the horse. Nor can I think of one that has had greater influence on civilization. Horses were among the first animals to be tamed and broken. And, without question, the domestication of horses transformed the world.
Hikers advised to temporarily avoid high elevation trails and prepare for variable conditions on low elevation trails.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today urged hikers to postpone hikes on Adirondack trails above 2,500 feet until high elevation trails have dried and hardened. DEC advises hikers on how to reduce negative impacts on all trails and help protect the natural resources throughout the Adirondacks during this time.
High elevation trails: Despite recent warm weather, high elevation trails above 2,500 feet are still covered in slowly melting ice and snow. These steep trails feature thin soils that become a mix of ice and mud as winter conditions melt and frost leaves the ground. The remaining compacted ice and snow on trails is rotten, slippery, and will not reliably support weight. “Monorails,” narrow strips of ice and compacted snow at the center of trails, are difficult to hike and the adjacent rotten snow is particularly prone to postholing.
As an extension of our recent post about an Old Forge grandmother, Beth Pashley, avid hiker and talented photographer, The Adirondack Almanack will be featuring snippets of Pashley’s hiking adventures on a year-round basis including her visually-striking and artistic nature photographs. Pashley was inspired to embrace the great outdoors with her grandchildren starting at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, dubbing the family bonding time as “The Grandma Chronicles.”
On April 6, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced proposed changes to wild turkey hunting regulations, giving hunters additional turkey hunting opportunities. The proposal, if enacted, would not be in place until later this year and among other changes, establishes a spring turkey season in Suffolk County in 2023, with a season limit of one bearded bird.
On April 5, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) reminded New Yorkers to take down bird feeders and secure garbage to avoid potential conflicts with black bears.
Bears are emerging from their dens, and now is the time to take steps to reduce potential conflicts throughout the spring and summer. Bird feeders, unsecured garbage, and outdoor pet and livestock feed can attract bears and lead to potential conflicts for homeowners. Repeated access to bird feeders and garbage can make bears bolder, seeking additional sources of human-related foods inside vehicles or buildings, particularly when natural foods are scarce.
Feeding bears intentionally is illegal. Unintentional feeding through bird feeders and unsecured garbage also has consequences for communities and may ultimately be deadly for the bear if the bear becomes a greater threat to people and property after exposure to these sources of food. It is important to properly manage attractants to avoid human-bear conflicts.
The DEC advises everyone residing in or visiting bear country (most of upstate New York) to remove any attractants. People should take down bird feeders and clean up any remaining bird seed now, begin storing garbage inside secure buildings until the morning of collection, and feed pets indoors. By taking these simple steps, New Yorkers can help ensure bears will find food naturally, which protects people, property, and bears.
For more information, please visit DEC’s webpage on reducing human-bear conflicts.
An interview with DEC Wildlife Biologist Jeremy Hurst discussing ways to avoid human-bear conflicts and a video of a bear destroying a bird feeder can be found on the DEC’s website, interview/video coverage courtesy of the NYS DEC.
Photo at top: Black bear in Raquette Lake. Photo by Jeff Nadler, archive photo.
I see that some snow is still falling on you folks up north, but it is in the eighties down here on Sanibel Island and the water is also very nice. Just before leaving there was a world of birds still using the feeders and several birds feeding on the carcasses on the dam. The last evening, I had a mature Bald Eagle and immature Bald Eagle feeding right up until dark. The bunch of Slate-colored Juncos that had come out of the woods or moved north were under the feeders right until dark as well.
With Canadian testing requirements set to change on April 1st, the Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau (VCB), a division of the North Country Chamber of Commerce, is excited to once again be able to welcome our Canadian visitors to the area for the upcoming tourism season. The ability to invite and host our Canadian visitors once again on the Adirondack Coast, after over 2 years of separation, will be huge not only to our economy but to the vitality of our community.
“The message is simple but important to express after two years of separation,” says Garry Douglas, President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce. “We have missed our friends and neighbors and are really looking forward to seeing and welcoming them. Just as we are anxious to get back to places in Canada we so enjoy, our mountains, lakes, shops and businesses are ready and waiting here. We have dubbed April 1st Reunion Day for Canadians and Americans so let the reunion begin.”
The eastern bluebird is our official state bird. It became so on May 18, 1970, making New York the last state to acquire an official state bird.
Bluebirds are among the first birds to return in the spring. And for some bird-enthusiasts, attracting a pair of these harbingers of spring to a backyard nest box and having them fledge a brood of young bluebirds is the ultimate birding experience.
Old man winter returned today (Sunday, March 27) as it snowed most of the day. I hadn’t checked my little pond behind the house, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there would be some wood frog eggs in it after the warm week we’ve had. Last year I saw eggs in some little pond along Trail 5 when there was snow all the way around them. I don’t know if those made it, but the ones behind the house hatched.
The newts feed on those little polliwogs and so do baby painted turtles. I watched them catch some right by the dock at Francis Lake one day. It was a busy day in the bird world today (March 27) as the snow was on the ground when I got up and it snowed most of the day. Looking down on the dam at the carcass there was a Red-tailed Hawk, six Ravens and two Turkey Vultures working for a snack.
With the arrival of spring temperatures, amphibians have begun their annual migrations to woodland pools to breed. Often, they must cross roads to reach these pools. In New York, this migration usually occurs on rainy nights in early April, when the night air temperature is above 40 degrees. When these conditions exist there can be explosive, “big night” migrations, with hundreds of amphibians on the move. Volunteers can help document these locations and help amphibians like wood frogs, spotted salamanders, American toads, or spring peepers safely cross the road. Drivers on New York roads are encouraged to proceed with caution or avoid travel on the first warm, rainy evenings of the season. Amphibians come out after nightfall and are slow moving; mortality can be high even on low-traffic roads.
Photo of wood frog by Laura Heady.
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