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.


Sunday, May 24, 2020

Plover population reaches record high in 2019

piping ploverPiping plovers are creating nests on Atlantic Coast beaches on the heels of a successful 2019 season. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the population climbed from 1,879 pairs in 2018 to record high of 2,008 pairs breeding last summer from eastern Canada south to North Carolina.

This marks a conservation milestone 35 years in the making from the cooperation of several organizations and many public beachgoers. The record high numbers are due in part to a widespread implementation of “management practices” such as installing symbolic fencing around nests, leashing dogs, posting caution signs, reducing predation, and trusting beachgoers to be conscious of their behavior near the fenced areas around nests.

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Saturday, May 23, 2020

Happy World Turtle Day

May 23 is World Turtle Day

sea turtle swimmingAmerican Tortoise Rescue (ATR), a nonprofit organization for the protection of all species of tortoise and turtle, created World Turtle Day to celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world. These gentle animals have been around for 200 million years, yet they are rapidly disappearing due to smuggling, the exotic food industry, habitat destruction, global warming, and the pet trade. The four species of sea turtles that can be found in New York waters are either threatened or endangered.

Here are a few ways you can help sea turtles:

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Monday, May 11, 2020

The Waggle: Interpretive Dance of the Honey Bee

honeybeeHoney bee colonies contain three distinct castes of individuals.  Each hive contains a single female queen, tens of thousands of female workers, and anywhere from several hundred to several thousand male drones during the Spring and Summer.

Female workers bees are solely responsible for bringing two main resources back to the hive.  These two resources both come from a flower: nectar and pollen.  These workers diligently search for flowers with the most of these two resources which are vitally important for the survival of the hive.

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Saturday, May 9, 2020

Bald Eagle: America’s ‘comeback kid’

The bald eagle is not only our nation’s most recognizable natural symbol, and the only eagle found exclusively in North America, it is also the Endangered Species Act’s most prominent success story, and a reminder of how important are the protection of our wildlife, critical habitat and natural resources generally.

Populations of breeding pairs of bald eagles in the lower forty-eight states crashed in the late 1960s to just over 400 pairs, due to hunting, habitat destruction and most prominently, the use of chemical pesticides in agriculture, such as DDT. In a scary process, known as “biomagnification,” bald eagles, being an apex predator at the top on their food chain, and feeding mainly on  fish, occasional small rodents and carrion, in other words, wildlife which had themselves absorbed toxins in various forms ultimately from pesticide-laden vegetation or runoff from agricultural fields, suffer highly concentrated, elevated levels of these toxins, negatively impacting birth and mortality rates. Calcium deficiencies caused by the toxins resulted in the thinning of eggshells, which would collapse under the nesting female’s weight, causing a nosedive in successful eaglet births.

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Friday, May 8, 2020

Bald Eagle: National symbol, bird of ‘bad moral character’?

Part one of two about the bald eagle

Ben Franklin, the statesman, philosopher, naturalist, inventor and all around Renaissance Man, was not all that thrilled with the choice of the Bald Eagle as our national symbol, and seemed to prefer the wild turkey as a utilitarian symbol, which is uniquely American, and often spelled the difference between our wilderness forefathers eating or starving. In a letter to his daughter, Franklin said, in part…..

“For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk (osprey); and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him. 

» Continue Reading.


Friday, May 1, 2020

Birding in Socially Distant Times

American OspreyFrom the Lake Placid Land Conservancy:
Have you ever stepped outside and wondered what bird just flew by or is chirping at you from a tree overhead? Perhaps you’re looking for a new way to spend more time outside or a fun activity to do while social distancing? Birding is a perfect activity to do while hiking locally and spring is an especially wonderful time to start!

Bird activity is on the rise in April and May, as many species migrate to their summer habitats either in the Adirondacks or to points north. In our neck of the woods, we excitedly anticipate seeing the silhouette of common loons on the chilly lakes. The loons are noisily welcomed by the distinctive calls of Red-winged Blackbirds and osprey along with the lovely, melodic songs of Lincoln’s Sparrows, Palm Warblers, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, to name a few.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, April 27, 2020

Ravens, Crows and Wolves: A harmonious group

raven

Part 2 of 2 (click here for Part 1)

Wherever wolves hunt, ravens are present, scavenging prey, and sometimes leading upwind wolves to potential prey, or to carcasses too frozen or tough for even the ravens’ heavy, pick-like beaks to penetrate. 

Ravens not only scavenge wolf kills, but steal up to one third of a carcass, by continually carrying away chunks of meat, caching and hiding them both from the wolves and their fellow ravens. A fascinating study suggested that, since an adult wolf can, by itself, kill any prey smaller than a small moose, the real reason wolves hunt in packs, is to minimize the portion of a carcass lost to ravens! And while it may seem that wolves have the short end of this symbiotic relationship with ravens, idle wolves and ravens have been observed playing together, with ravens pulling on wolf tails, and wolf pups chasing after teasing ravens.

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 26, 2020

Ravens and Crows: Telling them apart

Part 1 of 2

 

Ravens, crows and jays make up the corvid family, arguably the most intelligent of birds. We may honor the bald eagle as our national symbol, but compared to any corvid, the eagle is definitely a bird brain. Ravens in particular, based on their omnivorous adaptability to almost any environment, their fascination with colorful toys and glittery objects, their use of natural tools, and their remarkably diverse repertoire of sounds and vocalizations, appear to be exceptionally intelligent. In fact, ravens remind me of us humans, with no formidable anatomical weapons, but large brains to help us figure out how to get whatever we need.  

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 19, 2020

American Woodcock: The Harbingers of Spring

The arrival of American Woodcock back to New York is a telltale sign that spring is here to stay. Despite their diminutive size, woodcock are one of the earliest ground-nesting birds in the state. Just this week, DEC Biologist Jeremy Hurst found this female nesting in the snow on his property near Albany. If you’re curious where NY’s woodcock come from – DEC is currently part of a large cooperative research project to track both Fall and Spring migration of woodcock throughout their eastern range using tiny GPS transmitters. For weekly updates on their migration, please visit the Eastern Woodcock Migration Research Cooperative’s website.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 18, 2020

Signs of Spring: Emerging Life in Woodland Pools 

A gelatinous mass of frog eggs with black dots are nascent tadpoles. In the mid and lower Hudson estuary watershed, egg masses of wood frog, spotted salamander, and Jefferson-blue spotted salamander complex are developing under water, still weeks away from hatching into frog tadpoles or salamander larvae. Further north in the estuary watershed, where the breeding season gets a later start, male wood frogs may still be calling from woodland pools to lure females for breeding. Their distinct call resembles the sound of quacking ducks.

 


Friday, April 17, 2020

Today is International Bat Appreciation Day

bat hanging upside down in caveInternational 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.
  • They are the only mammal that can fly.
  • Bats are more closely related to primates than to mice.

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). Bats generally do not come close to people. However, if you do encounter a bat on the ground, do not touch or pick it up as they can carry rabies.

Photo by Al Hicks/provided


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.

» Continue Reading.



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Support the Adirondack Almanack and the Adirondack Explorer all year long with a monthly gift that fits your budget.