Friday, April 10, 2020

Rising from the freeze, embracing signs of spring

Spring is a time when flowers bloom and trees begin to grow. The days grow longer and the temperatures rise above 40 degrees. For the people who have weathered the winter, the melting of ice and thawing of the ground is greatly anticipated.  During this period, creatures who have adapted to the freezing temperatures through miraculous transformations in bodily functions, now rise to an altered green landscape. 

Many people have not witnessed these seasonal transformations, but as mountain dwellers in close proximity to these creatures, a glimpse becomes possible. Making it to spring is no small feat for animals that hibernate.  To humans, hibernation may appear restful but for the animals who hibernate, this state can be arduous. Some of these animals expend huge bursts of energy so their body temperatures don’t dip too low and do it with little to no food and water. 

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Wild Center Goes Digital with Educational Online Offerings

wild center otterAs The Wild Center has temporarily suspended public operations in order to help curb the spread of COVID-19, the natural history museum for the Adirondacks is focusing on a digital experience over the coming weeks.

The digital offerings include virtual visits, which you can go on by clicking  here, including seeing exhibits that are generally not open to the public. In-depth video content from the Wild Center Naturalists and the Animal Care Team will also be available for viewing.

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Saturday, March 28, 2020

More About Opposums

North American Opossum with winter coat by Wikimedia user Cody PopeAlthough my Irish-American mother taught me that the prefix O’ (descendent of) was originally part of common Irish surnames such as Kelly, Murphy, Hogan and Kennedy, it would sound odd to my ears were these families to suddenly revert to the Old-World form.

I have the same issue with the distinctly New-World marsupial, the opossum. In the Genesee Valley of New York State where I grew up, these omnipresent critters were known to all as possums, and it still sounds foreign to hear their name pronounced with three syllables. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

White Pine Perils

The tallest trees this side of the Rockies, our eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) is one of the most – if not the most – economically and culturally important species in the Northeast.

Though the current US champion is a North Carolina giant measuring 189 feet tall, early loggers recorded white pines of up to 230 feet. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Jay O’Hern’s New Book Tackles Lumber Cruising

Adirondack Timber Cruising by William J O'HernProlific Adirondack researcher and writer William J. O’Hern’s new book Adirondack Timber Cruising takes the reader on a journey through the development of timber cruising, logging, and forestry and our relationship to forests.

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Monday, March 23, 2020

Rethinking the Norway Maple

Norway Maple by Wikimedia user Martin BobkaWhen Norway broke from Sweden in 1905, the newly independent country promised to stay neutral in all international conflicts. However, it has let loose highly successful and prolonged assaults of both the US and Canada on several fronts. To its credit, Norway has managed all this without using the Internet or spending a single krone. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 22, 2020

Preparing for Black Bears in Spring

black bearIt’s not too early for New York homeowners to think about bear-proofing their properties. While most of our bears are still in their dens, the mild winter weather has allowed some of them to stay on foot searching for food. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 19, 2020

Where Do Snakes Go In Winter?

snakes in winter by adelaide tyrolDuring the summer, I often spy common garter snakes sunning themselves in my garden. As the snow piles up through winter, covering the landscape in cold white, I wonder where these warmth-seeking creatures have gone.

Without fur or fluffed-up feathers for insulation, how do these ectotherms survive the long months between autumn’s fading warmth and spring’s arrival? » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Jargon: Watch Your Language

scientific jargonAt one time or other we all have puzzled over a document which was allegedly written in English, yet turned out to be in a foreign language such as legal-ese, medical-ese, or scientific-ese. Such language sneak-attacks can leave us feeling by turns bored, confused, frustrated and intimidated.

Well, science has now proven that bad things happen when we use big words instead of diminutive ones. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 14, 2020

The Hudson River’s Mysterious Frazil Ice

In the old days, 30 years ago, frazil ice started floating down the Hudson River by late November, collecting and backing up from Warrensburg to The Glen by late December.

This year, 2020, it was February before it was cold enough for the “hanging dams” to do their thing. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 12, 2020

Some Declines: Ongoing Adirondack Fisher Research

Fisher provided by DECHarvest data suggests a decline in fisher populations in certain wildlife management units within the Adirondack Park.

To get a better idea of what could be driving these apparent declines, DEC initiated a study on fisher demographic rates in 2019. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Vermicomposting: Making Black Gold

Vermicomposting uses worms to decompose waste courtesy Wikimedia user ChristopheFinotVermicomposting is the process of using worms to digest food waste to produce a nutrient and microbe rich soil amendment known as vermicompost (vermi – being latin for worm).

This compost is sometimes referred to as “black gold” because when mixed into the soil, it’s extremely valuable to the health and growth of the plants. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Boxelder: A Tree By Any Other Name

Boxelder leaves and seeds courtesy USDAIf you know someone who goes by a slew of different names, it could be that they want to hide a bad reputation, avoid arrest, or both. In the world of trees, that individual would be the boxelder, a native member of Aceraceae, the maple family.

Boxelder is known by a dozen or more aliases, including Manitoba maple, ash-leaf maple, California maple, maple ash, sugar ash, and river maple. Because it is breakage-prone, grows fast, spreads easily, and can become a nuisance “weed” tree, its name is often preceded by a few choice words not suitable to print.
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Thursday, March 5, 2020

A Glimpse of Adirondack Lynx

Canada Lynx by Jacob W Frank National Park ServiceBig cats such as panthers, tigers and lions are often featured in popular media. With their great strength, size, and seemingly endless confidence, these felines command attention. There are other members of the Felidae family however that go more unnoticed.

Bobcats (Lynx rufus), Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), and the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus), although dispersed throughout most of the world, appear to share a similar ancestor, Lynx issiodorensis or Issoire lynx, which went extinct more than 12,000 years ago. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Life At 39 Degrees

ice fishing adelaide tyrolOn a picture-perfect winter morning last year, 20 Saint Michael’s College students and I visited Vermont Fish and Wildlife scientists for ice fishing at Knight’s Point on Lake Champlain. We drilled holes, baited hooks, learned about ice safety, identified fish – and even caught a few. » Continue Reading.