Thursday, June 25, 2020

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails: Wings of the Woodlands

The eastern tiger swallowtail lives in deciduous woods along streams, rivers and swamps and can be seen flying along the roadways here in the Mountains. Eastern tiger swallowtails are loners but are known to be quite friendly to humans and have been observed following people around their yard or in Fields.  

Males are yellow or yellow-orange with black tiger stripes. Their wings are bordered in black with yellow spots, and there are black “tiger stripes” running across the top of their wings. Their long black tails have blue patches on them.

Females can range in color from the yellow of the male to an almost solid bluish-black. The black form of the eastern tiger swallowtail is most common in the southern part of its range in areas also inhabited by the pipevine swallowtail, a butterfly that has an unpleasant taste. The black form of the eastern tiger swallowtail may be an example of deceptive coloration using mimicry by pretending to be the poisonous pipevine.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

National Pollinator Week: Who are the pollinators?

Pollinators are animals and insects that carry pollen from one plant to another. Pollinators are responsible for much of our food and flowers and are responsible for the reproduction of 1 out of every 3 bites of food we eat.   In order to understand pollinators, we need to know a little bit about plants.

Just like animals, flowering plants need to mate. But how can an organism spread its genes without being able to meet up with others of its species and this is where pollinators come in.  Pollinators are animals of all types that visit flowers and take away their pollen. Pollen is a sex cell of plants and is essential for reproduction. As pollinators move from flower to flower, they deposit the collected pollen, basically allowing the plants to mate. 

Many flowers attract insects and animals with the promise of a sugary liquid called nectar.  Their smell and bright petals advertise fresh nectar to passing insects and other flying pollinators like hummingbirds.  In return for the gift of nectar, the flower deposits pollen on whatever comes to visit.  Pollen is like the sperm of plants – and is the way that plants spread their genes and mate with other plants in the same species.

Pollinators come in all shapes and sizes and include species of insects, birds, and mammals. 

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 20, 2020

DEC studies fisher populations

Fisher provided by DECDEC staff, in partnership with researchers from SUNY ESF, are conducting a study to better understand what drives changes in fisher populations in the Central Adirondacks specifically, and more widely across the Northern Zone.

With the help of a number of trappers, fishers are live-captured during the winter and adult females fitted with GPS collars to locate and monitor dens and kit production. The combination of real-time GPS location data, as well as trail cameras deployed at maternal den sites, help estimate kit production and survival.

Ultimately, DEC will use data on the reproductive potential of Northern Zone fisher populations and gain a better understanding of population dynamics.

For more information on fishers and their management in New York, visit DEC’s website.


Friday, June 19, 2020

Operation Pollinator Rescue 

Pollinators are vital to creating and maintaining the habitats and ecosystems many animals rely on for food and shelter. 

Over half of the diets of fats and oils come from crops pollinated worldwide by pollinators alone and facilitate the reproduction in 90 percent of the world’s flowering plants.  Pollinators are needed in the production of over 130 different human food crops and are responsible for 1 out of every 3 bites of food we eat and beverages we drink. 

A world without pollinators would be devastating.  As nature lovers and educators, the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge (in Wilmington) and SkyLyfeADK are collaborating to implement an extensive pollinator project named Operation Pollinator Rescue. 

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

DEC seeks reports of moose sightings

Photo Credit: Gary Lee

DEC is asking the public to report moose sightings as part of ongoing efforts to monitor moose distribution in New York. Most of New York’s moose live in the Adirondacks, but we also have moose in portions of eastern New York along the border with Vermont and Massachusetts. Occasionally, moose are seen in southeastern New York and the Catskills — these are generally single animals that have dispersed from other areas in New York, Connecticut or Massachusetts. In 2019, the public reported 447 moose observations to DEC.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, June 15, 2020

Breeding Bird Atlas Update

Do you birdwatch in Upstate New York? If so then you can contribute to the Breeding Bird Atlas, (the BBA).

On its third iteration, the purpose of the BBA is to observe breeding birds of New York State from 2020-2024 in order to observe comparisons between the past and future NY BBAs to see how locations and population sizes change over time. The data collected is important for conservation programs for birds and their habitats. Everyone is encouraged to participate from 2020-2024, amateur and advanced birdwatchers alike can contribute as little or as much as they want.

Learn more about the BBA to get started.


Photo Credit: Beth Cooper


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The Virtual River: A DEC Educational Program

The DEC’s Hudson River estuary education staff has created The Virtual River, an educational program consisting of videos, interactive lessons, and activities for kids. The content is all ages so parents and children alike can get something out of the lessons. For more information about the Hudson River estuary education staff check out this link. Otherwise, get started on your tour through the virtual river by watching the following videos:

American Eels
Seining for Fish
Turtles
Vernal Pools and Salamanders


Friday, June 5, 2020

The resiliency of white-tailed deer

Editor’s note: This is part two of a two-part series.

Deer appear in paleolithic cave paintings at Altamira, on the north coast of Spain, going back 36,000 years.

The white tailed deer has been in North America for about 4 million years, making the white tail one of the real veterans of nearly all varying habitats in North America, ranging from Nova Scotia west to southern Alberta, sweeping south into Central America, with gaps west of the Rockies.

To put that in perspective, modern moose have only been in North America about 15,000 years, having migrated through Berengia about the same time the ancestors of native Americans began to trickle across. 

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 4, 2020

Bucks, does and fawns: All about deer

Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part series.

Following Bergman’s Rule, white tails in colder climates will be larger on average than deer in warmer climates, as larger deer in colder climates are more likely to survive cold winters, thus surviving to breed and pass along their genes for superior size. Adirondack bucks average about 200 lbs, with mature females at about 160 lbs.

While deer flourish in widely varying habitat, ideal habitat tends to be woodlands, river valleys, forest edge, swamp, meadow and farmlands. The Adirondacks, with its rough mountainous terrain, is not good habitat, and most of the hunters who hunt in the Adirondacks are here as much for the beauty and splendor of an Adirondack autumn, and would more likely find more deer in their back yards or local forest, than they will up here. 

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Discover Local Wildlife with a Trail Cam

A trail cam can be beneficial for observing wildlife without disrupting their natural environments, as well as for teaching kids about nature, tracking movement, hunting, and birdwatching.

DEC Wildlife biologist Katrina Talbot recently held a Facebook live session on how to set up a trail camera outdoors on either public or private property.

When you are scouting out a location for a trail cam, check for tracks on the ground or obstacles that may end up in front of the camera. Facing the camera north is the best for photo exposure.

If you get a photo or video of an animal you want identified, feel free to email the DEC here: [email protected]


Tuesday, June 2, 2020

In search of spring salamanders

By Thompson Tomaszewski, Lead Naturalist, Paul Smith’s College VIC

Every resident of the Park marks the changing of the seasons in their own way. We all joke about the “12 seasons of the Adirondacks” that include second winter, false spring, mud season (followed by third winter) and so on as if we are bothered by the seasonality of our landscape, but that is far from the truth. Us blue-liners have come to terms with our seasonal lives, and find excitement in the signs of seasonal changes.

The call of spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) (pictured at left) is by far my favorite sound; no noise of any other critter compares. I could sit and listen for hours on end to their high pitched peeps. This, to me, is the song of spring in the Adirondacks.

Laced into this soprano song is the clucking call of the wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus). Their rough tune is starkly contrasted with that of their neighbor’s but is equally a part of this choir that I’ve come to know and yearn for each April.

This choir is my favorite for two reasons: 1) it’s pleasing to the ear, and 2) it means that salamanders are getting ready to move.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, May 30, 2020

Get To Know New York’s Natives: Red Trillium

red trillium flowers in a forestOne of the most beloved signs of spring across the state is the red trillium wildflower (Trillium erectum). With its three deep-red petals and three whorled leaf-like structures, trillium is easily recognized by even the most beginner plant enthusiasts.

This trillium species is native to the eastern and northeastern US. In New York State, you can find it in every region. As a shade-tolerant species, trillium thrives in damp, semi-shady forests, though it emerges early in the spring to take advantage of full sun before the trees above it leaf out. Across the state, you may be able to spot this flower sometime in March through June. The flowers wither after about 2-3 weeks of blooming, leaving behind berry-like fruit that is eaten by birds and mammals.

This trillium species is listed as “exploitably vulnerable” on New York’s list of protected plants. Because of its protected status, remember that if you are lucky to spot a trillium while out in the woods, you should enjoy its brief beauty using only your eyes and your camera.


Friday, May 29, 2020

Bumblebees: Out of the Shadows

bumblebeeWhen it comes to pollination it seems that honey bees are give the spotlight, but they’re not the only bees that shine for their ability to pollinate.  Bumblebees have their own unique abilities that honey bees don’t. 

Bumblebees are long tongued bees with tongues 15mm – 20mm long and are capable of pollinating tuberous flowers with deep corollas such as cucumber, tomatoes, melons, squash, thistle, honeysuckle among many others. 

In contrast, honey bees are short tongued bees with tongues 5mm – 8mm long and pollinate flowers that are flatter and shallow such as, coneflowers, daisies, apples, cherries, raspberries, cranberries along with a variety of others.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Red Fox: Nature’s Rodent Control

A smaller member of the Canidae family, which includes wolves and coyotes, red foxes are found in multiple habitats throughout North America, Europe and Asia, their numbers increasing in areas where their larger canid cousins have been hunted, trapped or otherwise extirpated.

Just as wolves, limiting competition for smaller prey, hold down coyote numbers, both wolves and coyotes keep fox numbers in check. Red foxes were introduced into Southern Australia in the 19th century, and to parts of the southern United States in the 18th century, to provide sport for hunters, and, as you’d expect, with the loss of predators, they are a problem in some areas in their impact on older native species.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, May 25, 2020

The American Marten in the Adirondacks

Rolling into the summer months, the High Peak wilderness experiences a sharp expansion of its wildlife community.

Insects adapted for survival in an often cool, high-elevation environment emerge from their long winter dormancy and are engaged in eating and breeding. Various species of birds have traveled to our upper elevation slopes to mate and nest, and numerous mammals that reside in this harsh climatic zone are now busy rearing infants which can temporarily double their populations.

One predator that is occasionally seen by people who pass through this region and whose young are currently developing to the stage at which they are leaving their mother’s den for the first time is the American marten (Martes Americana), a creature that symbolizes the great North woods character of the Central Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.