Monday, April 2, 2018

Let Them Eat Wood: Woodland Mushrooms

Nearly all historians agree Marie Antoinette probably never coined the phrase “Let them eat cake,” a saying already in popular culture before her time. The phrase was ascribed to her by opponents to bolster her reputation as callous and arrogant.

She would have seemed far more benevolent if she had said “Let them eat wood.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 2, 2018

Watch The Road: Annual Salamander and Frog Migration

salamanderAnnual breeding migrations of salamanders and frogs are underway.

Typically, after the ground starts to thaw in late winter and early spring, species such as spotted salamander and wood frog emerge from underground winter shelters in the forest and walk overland to woodland pools for breeding. This migration usually occurs on rainy nights when the night air temperature is above 40F. When these conditions align there can be explosive “big night” migrations with hundreds of amphibians on the move, many having to cross roads. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Happy Birthday to the Wild Center Otters!

wild center otterIt’s time for one last hurrah before The Wild Center goes on its own spring break. Before its annual hiatus, head to Tupper Lake and enjoy everything the Wild Center has to offer, plus cake.

Essentially, you can have your cake and eat it too. Well played, Wild Center. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Adirondack Raccoons in Spring

baby racoonsOften, during my forays into the woods behind our house, I wonder who might be occupying the holes carved into tree trunks by time and nature.

The barred owls I hear hoo-hoo-hoo-hooing, maybe, or the chittering red squirrels. And, chances are, there are raccoons in some of those hollows, high above the ground. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 24, 2018

Arrival of Spring, Phenology and Climate Change

Native ground nesting bees visit apple blossomHow do you know when spring has begun? Is it the flow of maple sap? The first crocuses coming up through the snow? Ice out on local lakes? The arrival of the first red-winged blackbirds? The clamor of peepers? Apple trees and/or lilacs blooming?

Meriam-Webster defines phenology, which is derived from the Greek word ‘phaino’ meaning to show or appear, as ‘a branch of science dealing with the relations between climate and periodic biological phenomena.’ Think of it as a timeline or chronology of periodic natural events; such as when insects hatch or arrive; when flowers and plants emerge, bloom, and produce seed; when migrating birds and insects (e.g. monarch butterflies) arrive, mate or nest, and depart; and how all of these function within ecosystems and respond to change. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 19, 2018

DEC Staff Sampling for Moose Across the Adirondacks

moose Moose (Alces alces) are the largest member of the deer family and the largest land mammal in New York State. DEC staff, in collaboration with other groups, are currently conducting aerial distance sampling for moose across the Adirondacks.

During this multi-year research project, the team is expected to obtain information on the status of New York State’s moose population, health of the moose, and factors that influence moose survival and reproduction. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Watchable Wildlife: Great Horned Owl

great horned owl Now may be a good time to see great horned owls (Bubo virginianus). They are year-round residents, but start sitting in their nests as early as January or February.

Great horned owls are large birds (adults can be 18-25 inches in length) and have large ear tufts on their head and large yellow eyes. Their feathers are usually a mix of colors: white, reddish-brown, gray, and black with a white patch on their throats. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Stone Walls: An Iconic Landform Primer

stone wallWhen you think about the iconic landforms of the Northeast, what comes to mind? The mountains, of course. The lakes. Of course. Rivers? Probably.

But there’s another. Stone walls. An estimated 100,000 miles of them. They might not be as impressive as the Great Range, Hudson Gorge, or Lake George, but collectively they make a big impact on the landscape and the creatures who live there. » Continue Reading.


Friday, March 16, 2018

Avoiding Conflicts With Adirondack Coyotes

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has issued the agency’s annual guidance on preventing conflicts between people and coyotes as spring temperatures approach.

With the onset of warmer weather, many of New York’s resident coyotes set up dens for pups that will arrive this spring. Coyotes are well adapted to suburban and even some urban environments, but for the most part they will avoid contact with people. However, conflicts with people and pets may result as coyotes tend to be territorial around den sites during the spring through mid-summer period as they forage almost constantly to provide food for their young. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 10, 2018

iSeeMammals: Black Bear Citizen Science

Bear at a feeder in Marathon Ontario - Cornell Lab of OrnithologyAs I write this at my home, there’s snow on the ground. But spring is almost here. In fact, as I opened the door to leave my house this morning, I was greeted by a sure sign of spring; the patently pungent smell of skunk! And I couldn’t help but wonder if the little stinker, indeed, missed or misted its adversary.

It never ceases to amaze me how animals can spend the winter months in hibernation (deep sleep) or torpor (a state of decreased physiological activity during periods of extreme cold; light hibernation) in order to survive months of harsh weather and scarcity of food. They’re waking up now, and coming out of their dens and lairs looking for (in the case of skunks, mates and) something to eat. » Continue Reading.


Friday, March 9, 2018

Early Birds Returning To Northern Forests

red winged black bird May is bird heaven in our region. All the species that headed south the previous year are back: the flycatchers, vireos and thrushes; the warblers, wrens and swallows; even the ruby-throated hummingbirds and scarlet tanagers are in full force. But May and its riches of bird seems distant in early March – too far into the future to even contemplate.

The first day of spring, on the other hand, is just around the corner. And while the Adirondack air may still be frigid and the ground often snow-covered, bird populations are nonetheless on the move. By St. Patrick’s Day or shortly thereafter, killdeer, tree swallows, eastern meadowlarks, phoebes and robins will be flitting through our woods and fields again. Red-winged blackbirds sometimes show up as early as late February. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Fagus Grandifolia: Beech Gone Wild

american beech treeThe sturdy, long-lived and stately American beech, Fagus grandifolia, has been slowly dying out since 1920, when a tiny European insect pest was accidentally released on our shores. Because of this lethal but unhurried tragedy, many forest tracts across the Northeast are being choked out by too many beech trees.

That’s right, beech decline has led to a proliferation of beech so extreme that in some places it is a threat to the health of future forests. With apologies to all the bovine readers out there, this qualifies as an oxymoron, I’m pretty sure. The ultimate cause of this weird situation is the aforementioned pest, but the proximate cause is a bad case of hormones being out of whack. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 4, 2018

Backswimmers: Upside-Down Aquatics

backswimmerI had just finished my safety talk to some middle school students when I heard a bloodcurdling scream. In many years handling aquatic insects and other small water creatures, I have never been wounded. Crayfish have once or twice gotten hold of me but never drawn blood. So I was quite surprised to hear through the minor chaos that a student had actually been bitten.

There were no crayfish where we sampled in Winooski, Vermont floodplain ponds and only one likely candidate to produce such a scream. It was the reason I had specifically warned my students to use forceps. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 3, 2018

Ed Zahniser: Woodpecker Wake-up Calls

downy woodpecker One morning early, as I slept in our mountain cabin Mateskared, a woodpecker landed on the cabin’s wood siding. Its profound rapid-fire pecking jerked me out of sound sleep.

Did we have robo-termites?

Not in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Friday, March 2, 2018

This Weekend In An Adirondack Sugar Shack

Mike Todriff firing the sugar boiler in 2018 (Shannon Houlihan photo)It’s that time of year. The sap is running and the buckets and tanks are filling. Backyard syrup makers large and small have been taking advantage of the recent sugaring weather to fire their arches and settle into the ancient and accepted rite of watching the boil.

Whatever you call it – a sugar party, sugaring-off, maple days – people will gather this weekend in old sugar shacks across the Adirondacks around rising steam for one of the great revelries of the season. » Continue Reading.


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