Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Remove Bird Feeders, Don’t Attract Bears

black bear The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has reminded New Yorkers to take steps to prevent bears from easily accessing food sources like bird feeders and garbage.

Due to poor natural food availability last fall, many black bears went into their dens with low fat reserves. As they begin to emerge from winter dens, they have already begun seeking out food sources around homes. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 25, 2019

Animal Population Estimates: What’s in a Number?

moose by adelaide tyrolForty years ago, amid the surge of legislation that accompanied the rise of the modern environmental movement, New Hampshire passed its first Endangered Species Conservation Act.

The goal was to protect wildlife facing extinction in the Granite State. There was just one problem: they had no list of exactly which species were threatened or endangered. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 18, 2019

The Mink: An Outside Story

otter by adelaide tyrolIt was a cold, snowy Sunday morning in the middle of January. I planned to heed the warnings encouraging motorists to stay off the road and turned the radio on to catch the end of an interview with poet Mary Oliver, recorded in 2015.

The poet had died earlier that week, at the age of 83. “Listening to the World” was the title of the conversation, ironic on a snowy morning when the earth seemed so quiet. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 16, 2019

Fireflies of Winter

winter lightning bug Like most people, I thought I knew where to find fireflies: in back yards and fields on summer nights, flickering on and off like dollhouse-sized lanterns or like Tinkerbell, the tiny fairy that the author of Peter Pan invented while observing fireflies near a Scottish lake.

I was only partly right. There are about 2,000 firefly species, but not all are nocturnal. Nor are they all flashy – some don’t light up at all. Furthermore, we don’t have to wait for summer to see one.

Meet Ellychnia corrusca, known as the winter dark, or diurnal, firefly. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Ornithology: The State Museum’s Bird Collection

Intern Eric Diaz preparing a Greater Shearwater specimen that was found on a Long Island beach The State Museum’s bird collection is always growing as scientists continue to prepare new specimens to document the current New York bird population.

Every time a bird specimen is prepared, State Museum scientists take tiny samples of different types of tissues (heart, liver, muscle, brain) and place them in a plastic vial that is stored in an ultra-cold freezer at -80 degrees Celsius (-112 Fahrenheit). » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Migratory Bird Ecosystem Disruption Research Published

Black and white Warbler Using data on 77 North American migratory bird species from the eBird citizen-science program, scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology say that, in as little as four decades, it may be very difficult to predict how climate change will affect migratory bird populations and the ecosystems they inhabit.

Their conclusions are presented in a paper published in the journal Ecography. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 9, 2019

Eyeshine: Those Glowing Eyes Looking Back At You

eye shine I’ve taken to wandering the night lately – one of the pleasures of having a puppy. Willow, my pup, and I walk at all hours, from twilight to midnight and into the shadowy early morning. Some nights we walk under the cover of stars and moonlight, and other nights the world is so dark my black dog disappears and I wonder what exactly is on the end of my leash.

Void of visual stimulus, any earthbound glimmer of light is noteworthy. One night I saw the glow of two small eyes, like gold coins caught in the arc of my headlamp. I watched the weasel – a long small body, and bold shimmering eyes – disappear down the crevice of a stonewall. Since then I’ve become obsessed with eyeshine. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Herpetofauna of the Adirondacks Talk in Schenectady

frogThe Kelly Adirondack Center at Union College has announced Herpetofauna of the Adirondacks, a talk with Alvin Breisch, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Fish and Wildlife (retired), set for April 11, 2019, in the Old Chapel on the Union College Campus, 807 Union St, Schenectady.

Refreshments will be served at 5 pm, with the lecture beginning at 5:30 pm. This event is free and open to the public. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 25, 2019

Roosting Crows: Birds of a Feather

American Crow Birds of a feather flock together. It’s a metaphor dating back to the sixteenth century; used even then in alluding to people with similar interests, motivation, loyalties, or like minds.

It’s also a straightforward reference to the fact that birds congregate with others of their own species. So, when I’m asked, as I have been recently, about the considerable numbers of crows that people have seen roosting in the village of Malone, I’m inclined to simply answer, ‘birds of a feather…’ » Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 24, 2019

Viewpoint: Important Tick Research Needs Support

tick next to dimeI’d been living in the North Country for about a month when I woke up to discover a red bulls eye on my left arm. Since, mentally and emotionally, I have never advanced much past the fourth grade, my first thought was: “Cool!”

Because it was clearly visible, however, a number of people subsequently pointed out that this, technically, was nothing to celebrate. So I walked around for the next three days looking like the dog from the Target ads, while people dutifully commented on my impending doom.

Nothing ever came of it. So far the only discomfort ticks have caused me is embarrassment, owing to an appointment with a massage therapist that went horribly wrong. » Continue Reading.


Friday, February 22, 2019

A Natural History of Adirondack Flying Squirrels

Adirondack Experience, The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake (ADKX) next 2019 Cabin Fever Sunday Series lecture, Night Moves: Natural History of Adirondack Flying Squirrels with Charlotte Demers, is set for February 24th, at 1:30 pm. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

My First Trout and The Rainmakers

My advice to nine-year-old wanna-be trout anglers is: “Do not wear a sweater.” Repeat: “Do not wear a sweater.”

My earliest trout fishing days in and around Bakers Mills in today’s Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area were frustrating because my own fishhook invariably caught mainly my sweater. And we mostly used night crawlers not artificial flies then. Better to wear something less adept at snagging stray hooks. Try thick vinyl, maybe. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 17, 2019

Feeding Deer Does Much Harm, Little Good

deeryard A few winters back, there was a doe who frequented our compost heap. The garden fence around it proved an inadequate barrier, as she simply hopped over it to nosh on the rotting shards of jack-o-lanterns and the latest veggie scraps tossed atop the pile. Not far from the garden sits an old orchard, and we’d also spot her there, scratching with sharp hooves to get to the long-frozen, shriveled fruit beneath the snow.

Watching deer forage for whatever bits of food they can find through the cold months of winter, I can understand why some people feel an urge to feed them. Only supplemental feeding isn’t helpful at all to deer. Instead, it’s detrimental to their digestive health, and it pulls them away from safer, more nutritious food sources. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Sociable Gray Squirrel

squirrels On winter mornings when I look out my window, I often see a gray squirrel clinging upside down to the post supporting my bird feeder, with his front paws in the tray, munching sunflower seeds. Sometimes, a much smaller red squirrel is perched on the opposite side of the feeder.

This brings to mind my studies of squirrels years ago and the differences between the two species. For my thesis in biology at Williams College, I conducted a field study of social behavior and organization in the eastern gray squirrel in a suburban area in Williamstown, Massachusetts. My first step was to live-trap and mark squirrels so I could identify individuals. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 10, 2019

Understanding This Winter’s Polar Vortex

A strong polar vortex configuration in November 2013I’d love to explain exactly what a polar vortex is, but I’ll spare you the details, mainly because I don’t know them.

Apparently, the definition of a polar vortex has been changed by the American Meteorological Society three times in the last 20 years — even the experts are still trying to nail down what it is. Besides freaking cold, I mean. » Continue Reading.