Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Wolf Delisting Commentary:
Adirondack Wildlife Refuge’s Steve Hall

Cree_HowlingThe recent proposal to remove Endangered Species Act protections for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) is almost entirely about politics. The American alligator and the bald eagle, to use two examples, were not delisted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service until they had repopulated their former ranges, while wolves have repopulated only a fraction of their former ranges, and are already under heavy hunting pressure by the state governments of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

How many Americans are aware of the fact that in 1915, the US Congress, acting, as usual, under pressure from special interests, in that case, the ranching and hunting lobbies, provided funds to the Interior Department, to eliminate wolves, mountain lions and other predators from the United States? The Interior Department set up their “Animal Damage Control Unit”, and spent millions of taxpayer dollars to shoot, trap and poison wolves over several decades, with the only survivors being in the Boundary Waters area of Northern Minnesota, one of the most inaccessible regions of the U.S., not to mention a paradise for kayakers, canoeists and fisherman. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Big Push Before Mud Season

The Big PushOut of all the months in the year March is the busiest time for the timber harvesting industry – what many call “the big push.” This is our last chance to produce as much product as possible before the end of winter.

This year winter seems to be lasting longer than usual, and that has given us a few more weeks of production until the spring thaw. The big push is everything you can imagine it would be. Chaotic, stressful, and tiring to say the least. It’s what we have planned for all season long. At its end is mud season, which brings a nice break from a daily routine and some much needed time off. Mud season usually lasts until the hardwood trees start to bud, somewhere around the middle of May. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tree Pruning Time: Six Weeks Before Buds Open

Proper-Tree-PruningSo far as tree health is concerned, the optimal pruning time is the six weeks or so before buds open. We should still have ample time to prune, as spring appears to be in no hurry to get here.

Pruning is a skill that can be readily learned, and, if you practice it enough, you’ll enter into the art of it. It requires the application of a few basic principals using the right equipment. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Northeast Coalition Opposes Wolf Delisting:
New Comment Period Ends Thursday

WolfThe Northeast Wolf Coalition, a group of national, regional and local conservation organizations, has submitted a statement to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in opposition to its 2013 proposal to remove Endangered Species Act protections for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in the contiguous United States.

In a statement isued to the press the Coalition says it took action in response to FWS’ reopening of the comment period as a result of a peer review report by an independent panel of scientists produced by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at UC Santa Barbara.  According to the report, FWS’ move to strip federal protection from nearly all gray wolves in the lower 48 states is based on insufficient science. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 24, 2014

A Short List of Adirondack Signs of Spring

"Bartlett Carry, Spring" On the first full day of spring I was cross-country skiing, breaking trail through about 6-8 inches of powder – on top of an 18-24” inch base of snow that’s been here most of the winter. It was warm and sunny, the snow a bit sticky, and as I enjoyed the late winter experience I thought of the ways we Adirondackers know it’s really spring.

So in no particular order, here are some tell-tale signs that it is actually spring in the Adirondacks. They don’t all have to happen – if you notice a few, spring is on the way.

Unlike today, when every little finger of every branch of every evergreen is carrying a couple of inches of fluffy snow, there will be the bright green of new needles on the tip of every branch.

The faded orange beech leaves, which provide welcome color in the black and white winter woods and tinkle and rustle with every little breeze, will finally fall off, leaving the way for new leaves to burst out.

The sweet smell of maple syrup production in the air and you might notice clouds of smoke from cute little sugar shacks with huge piles of firewood. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Adirondack Birds of Prey: Accipiters

AccipiterI was enjoying a morning cup of coffee in the sunroom when I saw the hawk.

It was perched across the road, maybe 30 yards away, its chest puffed up against the cold. It appeared to be eyeing the activity at our birdfeeder.

As I was trying to decide if it was a female sharp-shinned hawk or a male Cooper’s hawk, the bird launched from its perch, and in an instant had threaded its way through a dense tangle of road-side branches while in hot pursuit of a blue jay.

It all happened so quickly that I wasn’t even sure if the jay had been captured, although I was able to identify it as a Cooper’s hawk. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Diane Chase: On The Prowl For Owls

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 2.19.54 PMMy children seem to attract wildlife like iron to a magnet. It is not because they are good trackers or particularly quiet, as neither attribute is consistently true. It seems that they are observant and often at the right place at the right time.

Quite consistently when they accompany me on a hike we seem to view more wildlife, though eagles and snowy owls have evaded me to date. Opportunities to come across such majestic creatures come down to timing, organization and just luck. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 17, 2014

The Boreal Baker’s Dozen:
Northern Birds in Adirondack Wetlands

A Gray Jay by Simon Pierre BarretteImagine that you are walking on a path through a forest in the Adirondacks and suddenly, you see an opening in the trees ahead. Moving closer, you gaze out on a vast opening covered in a mosaic of leafy shrubs and dotted with spiky conifers. You take a step further and feel the “squish” as your boot sinks into a wet, dense mat of bright green moss. From the top of a nearby snag, you hear the distinctive “quick-three-beers” song of an Olive-sided Flycatcher followed by the complex, jumbled, slightly metallic sound of a Lincoln’s Sparrow. Looking down again, you notice the pale, delicate flowers of a white-fringed orchid. All the sights and sounds are conclusive: you have entered the Adirondack boreal.

The term “boreal” is used to describe cold, wet areas in northern latitudes. For the most part, people think of northern Canada and Eurasia, with vast spruce-fir forests, extensive wetland complexes, and frigid winter conditions. Though much of the Adirondack Park is within the temperate deciduous bioclimatic zone, we can also find low-elevation boreal pockets containing bog rosemary, pod-grass, tamarack and other boreal plants. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Cabin Life: The Plowed Driveway

Ice on a spruceI’d like to tell you that it’s been a long couple of weeks out at the cabin.  That, however, would not be the truth.  The truth is, it’s been a couple of very lazy weeks lounging around in the comfort of an actual house.

The weather has been terrible. I was having to hike into the cabin, my firewood is running low, and I was sick of dragging a forty pound jug of water a quarter mile uphill twice a week.  So I’ve been staying at my girlfriend’s with Pico and Herbie.  And the Levine men have officially taken over the couch. » Continue Reading.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Ed Kanze: How Birds Keep Their Feet Warm

ed_kanze_chickadeeYou wouldn’t think it possible: birds being able to survive cold northern winters in nothing more than their bare feet. And bare most of them are, covered by neither feathers nor boots nor Smart Wool socks. The trick? Listen here as I ponder the magic birds employ to hold onto their toes in wintertime in this week’s edition of All Things Natural with Ed Kanze.

The podcast is produced by Mountain Lake PBS’s Josh Clement.  Listen to past episodes by visiting Mountain Lake PBS’s Borderless North webpage at mountainlake.org/bn.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Birding: The Mating Habits of Songbirds

PhoebeWhile winter can be stunningly beautiful, with its magical snowfalls and ethereal silences, I must admit that by late-February the long absence of so many songbirds has me feeling bereft. I miss the vireos; I miss the thrushes and most especially I miss the pair of phoebes who settle into the well-worn nest on the gable end of my house to raise their young.

It’s amazing how two tiny beings who weigh no more than a handful of twigs can evoke such strong emotions in me. I am joyful when the pair resurfaces in early spring; moved by their devotion to their shared progeny, and I take pleasure in the companionship they provide one another.

But on some level I know that these are sentimental notions that I am ascribing to behavior that is biologically, not emotionally, driven. The phoebes I see one year aren’t the same phoebes that I observed the previous year. Or are they? » Continue Reading.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Ed Kanze: Early On A Frosty Morning

ed_kanze_hareSome of us find it easier than others to rise and shine on frigid winter mornings. Sunshine comes late if it comes at all, and the temperature at times hardly rises above zero. What to do? Listen as I tell of one cold morning and what I did and what I saw in this week’s edition of All Things Natural with Ed Kanze.

The podcast is produced by Mountain Lake PBS’s Josh Clement.  Listen to past episodes by visiting Mountain Lake PBS’s Borderless North webpage at mountainlake.org/bn.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Adirondack Insects: Extreme Cold And Climate Change

100_1407Weather anomalies impact the lives of most creatures, including humans, and this year’s protracted winter season is slowly taking its toll on people that dislike the snow and cold, as well as on various members of our wildlife community. While all animals native to the Adirondacks have evolved the ability to survive the rigors of a harsh and prolonged winter, some of the recent arrivals to the region may not be faring as well in this unrelenting, sub-arctic weather siege.

Over the past decade or two, the climate in the Adirondacks has slowly warmed enough to allow numerous forms of life to creep northward and expand their geographic range into our lowlands and valleys. For example, several birds, like the tufted titmouse and wild turkey are appearing more, as are some mammals like the gray squirrel and in the very southern realm of the Park, the opossum. However, the greatest influx of new residents probably lie in the vast array of invertebrates that exist in every ecological setting throughout the Park. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Adirondack Wildlife: Do Eagles Snore?

Bald EaglegovFrom a lifetime of experiences, and reading nature books since childhood, it’s true that I should know a little more about wildlife than the average Joe, but I lay no claim to being an expert. Learning something new is a principal reason for reading books, and of late, I’ve had occasion to indulge in several excellent Adirondack-related titles written between 1840 and 1920.

In one of them, a particular passage caused me to stop, backtrack, read it again, and then one more time in disbelief. Since other animal behavior described in the book held true, I supposed this one should as well, but I had reservations. Above all, one thing was certain: confirmation would be hilarious, at least to my thinking. The claim was that bald eagles snore. And not only that: they snore LOUDLY.

On camping trips I’ve taken in the woods over the years, odd and unusual night sounds have proved puzzling, and even intimidating at times. A snorting, growling sound, persistent for hours during a trip 30 years ago, somewhere on the eastern slopes of Lyon Mountain, would have scared me half to death had I been alone. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Coyotes: Decoding Their Yips, Barks, and Howls

coyote_howlAs the sunset colors fade from purple to black an eerie sound breaks the forest calm. It is not the long, low, slow howling of wolves that can be heard further north, but the group yip-howl of coyotes: short howls that often rise and fall in pitch, punctuated with staccato yips, yaps, and barks.

When people hear coyote howls, they often mistakenly assume that they’re hearing a large pack of animals, all raising their voices at once. But this is an auditory illusion called the “beau geste” effect. Because of the variety of sounds produced by each coyote, and the way sound is distorted as it passes through the environment, two of these tricksters can sound like seven or eight animals. » Continue Reading.


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