Tuesday, February 22, 2022

New Research Suggests White-Tailed Deer May Be Highly Susceptible to COVID-19 

Two recent studies; one published in December in Nature (www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-04353-x) and the other posted to the bioRxiv preprint server earlier this month (www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.02.04.479189v1), present evidence that white-tailed deer are highly susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV-2, with multiple reports of widespread spillover of the virus from humans to deer in the wild.

The bioRxiv-published report details a study conducted by an interdisciplinary team of researchers led by Penn State University (PSU) scientists. The team examined 131 free-ranging white-tailed deer, all living on Staten Island, the most suburban of the 5 New York City boroughs. Nineteen tested positive for COVID antibodies, indicating that the deer had prior exposure to the virus and, according to the researchers, implying that they are vulnerable to repeated re-infections with new variants.

The report has not yet been certified by peer review, but has been published as a pre-print because of the significance of the findings, according to Suresh Kuchipudi, an American College of Veterinary Microbiologists (ACVM) board-certified specialist in virology and immunology at the Department of Veterinary and Biological Sciences at PSU. He serves as associate director of PSU’s Animal Diagnostic Laboratory where, as head of microbiology, he oversees the University’s bacteriology, virology, serology, and molecular diagnostic units. Kuchipudi has expressed concern that spillover of omicron from humans to deer could result in new and possibly vaccine-resistant mutations of the virus evolving undetected in non-human hosts and noted that one of the infected deer in the study had antibodies from a previous COVID-19 infection; indicating that deer, like humans, can experience breakthrough cases.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Look for Wildlife Tracks this Winter

wildlife tracksNow is a great time to search for winter tracks (PDF) or other animal signs visible in the snow. It can be fun to be a detective and figure out what animals have been walking through your yard or across a trail. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Snow conditions can make a difference in a track’s appearance—wet snow captures a print better than powdery snow.
  • Members in the dog family (coyote, fox, or dogs) will usually leave claw prints above the toes, while the cat family (bobcat, housecat) will not. You should see four toes on both front and back feet for both families.
  • Rodents, such as squirrels, chipmunks, mice, muskrats, and voles, usually have four toes on the front feet and five on the back. Claws may or may not be seen.
  • Bring a notebook, camera, or field guide with you.
  • Sometimes an animal’s droppings, or scat, can help you identify it—a rabbit’s looks like small balls of sawdust.

Find out more in the Become a Winter Wildlife Detective (PDF) issue of Conservationist for Kids.

Check out the video on winter wildlife tracks and scat identification on DEC’s Facebook page.

Photo of ruffed grouse tracks by Sandy Van Vranken/DEC


Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, Adirondack Land Trust, Eagle Island, Inc. welcome new hires

Three Adirondack-area nonprofit organizations including The Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, Adirondack Land Trust, and Eagle Island, Inc. welcomed new staff members during the month of February.

The Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation expands their team:

 

The Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation is pleased to welcome two new members to its staff – Susan Harry as its Philanthropy Director, and Jay Locke as its Finance and Operations Director. Since becoming a nonprofit organization in 2017, the Adirondack Loon Center has experienced steady growth and expanded its loon conservation and educational programs across the Park.

“We are very excited to have Susan and Jay join our team, as they greatly increase our capacity to do more for Adirondack loons,” said Dr. Nina Schoch, Executive Director of the Center. “They bring a wide depth of experience and knowledge that will significantly enhance our loon research and conservation projects in the Adirondacks.”

Susan has worked professionally and as a volunteer for many wildlife conservation organizations. She is passionate about protecting the environment for future generations to enjoy. Susan raised awareness and support for the Kenyan Lewa Wildlife Conservancy’s conservation efforts to protect the African Black Rhino, which led to Susan receiving the 2010 Anna Merz Honorary Award.

Her wide experience in fundraising and grant management will greatly expand the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation’s capacity for sustaining its Adirondack loon conservation and research programs. When Susan is not with loons on the water, she enjoys exploring the Adirondacks by hiking with her golden retrievers, cross-country skiing, and snow-shoeing.

Jay brings a broad background in data management, grant administration, and fundraising to the Loon Center. He previously worked with the Open Society Foundations in NYC, where he provided funding and technical advice on impact evaluation and data management to not-for-profit organizations across the world. Prior to OSF, he supported data analysis projects for the United Nations Development Program in Eswatini, served in the Peace Corps in Kenya as a community economic development advisor, and worked in internal audit for a Fortune 500 company in Atlanta. Jay is a licensed CPA and wildlife rehabilitator, and enjoys birdwatching, identifying lichens, and playing guitar.

Jay and Susan are excited to apply their professional expertise and passion for wildlife conservation in their new roles at the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation. The Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation is a 501(c)3 non-profit that conducts scientific research and engaging educational programming to promote and inspire passion for the conservation of Common Loons in and beyond New York’s Adirondack Park. To learn more about the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation visit www.adkloon.org or www.facebook.com/adkloon, or contact the Center at [email protected] or (518) 354-8636. 

 

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 19, 2022

Observing resilient winter breeding crossbills raise their young

It was minus sixteen this morning (Monday, February 14). I was feeding the birds just after sunrise and the trees were popping and snapping as the water that collected in their cracks was expanding very loudly. Last night the deer didn’t come through to clean up the fallen seeds from the feeders, so the blue jays took advantage of the opportunity. They were working on those and carrying them off to a safe place for hiding. Yesterday I banded my 50th blue jay since the first of December. They keep coming in from some place and the others move south. The highest count I can get at any one time at the feeders is sixteen, but I know there are many more than that if they all came together.

I mentioned before how the jays fill their beaks with seeds and fly off with them to store somewhere, just in case I don’t feed them anymore. Their beaks are full of sunflower seeds or corn when I catch them in the potter traps. They are so full, in fact, that you can see it while I have them in hand and they can’t chirp (or bite) while their beaks are full. Most times, I can see the seeds and they let me band them, and measure a wing. They also usually let me check for age by looking for bars on the outside feathers of the wing before they go out the window to freedom. And they are still holding those seeds when they are released by the way. Blue jays are one of the most placid birds in hand while banding them. Very often they just lay still and watch what you are doing with their big black eyes. However, their feet are active and grab on to anything that touches them, like your fingers, a pencil, or the banding pliers…and they have a fairly good grip.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, February 14, 2022

Plan for a Better Spring: Selecting the right species of trees for your property

bur oak trees

Looking for a way to enhance property value, save energy costs, boost mental health, and help the planet in one simple, low-cost step? Yeah, me too. Let me know if you think of something. Seriously, though, a few well-placed trees in one’s yard typically add at least 5% to a property’s value. Having large older specimens (of trees, I mean) around the house can push that figure close to 20%. In terms of energy savings, deciduous trees on the southern and western sides of a house tend to slash cooling costs by roughly one-quarter.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, February 14, 2022

Be a ‘Snow Birder’ This Winter

grosbeaks

While the chilliest months of the year may seem like the hardest time to venture outdoors, it can be a great time to go birding. Layer up and head out to your backyard, local park, or other public space and observe some of the bird species that you may not normally see during warmer months. Winter raptors (PDF) including snowy owls (PDF)short-eared owls, barn owls, and hawks migrate south from the Canadian tundra and can be observed near open bodies of water and large grasslands. Some species of woodpeckers may be easier to hear or see in their winter homes. Black-capped chickadees remain in Northern climates due to their ability to survive the ultra-cold weather. Winter is also the best time to observe bald eagles!

Use a website like eBird to see what species have been detected near you. The free Merlin Bird ID app can help you identify unfamiliar birds and add even more new species to your lists.

If you do brave the cold and snow, properly preparing for winter conditions is essential for a more enjoyable and safe experience. Check out our latest YouTube video on layering for winter, and read up on some of our winter hiking safety tips that can be for any outdoor trip.

Stay tuned for future announcements on the New York State Birding Trail to find locations across the state to go birding.

Photo of grosbeaks by Randy Fredlund.


Saturday, February 12, 2022

Finding fun after winter storm by snowshoeing, skiing, and analyzing animal tracks

The cold temperatures are back after a short day when they got above freezing just before the massive storm that crossed the country and hit us. Freezing rain and rain were predicted, but all I had here was twelve inches of snow which the snowblower ate for about three hours in order to clear the 950 feet of driveway. I cleared the bird feeders with the scoop first to get them something to eat and they flocked right in as the temperatures were dropping.

My feeding flock of birds hasn’t changed much in the last couple of weeks. I put some bands on a few of them, mostly blue jays caught in the potter trap. The most I’ve counted has been 14 to 16 jays at one time. However, I’ve banded over twenty of them in the last couple of weeks so some new ones may have moved into the feeders. I had a high count of 32 purple finches and 22 slate-colored juncos. I believe all the juncos are wearing bands, but only about ten of the purple finches have bands.

I know the birds went through forty pounds of sunflower seeds in less than two weeks. While much of that has been stored by the jays and the chickadees, the finches and juncos eat every seed they are able to get a hold of. The pair of tufted titmice have been regulars but only one of them is banded. Only a couple of American goldfinches have been hanging around and one common redpoll has been battling for places on the platform with the finches and jays. The sharp-shinned hawk came through early this morning and nailed another junco for a snack. In answer to someone who commented on my last column asking if I caught the hawk and banded it. I didn’t catch it, as I would have had to have the net up in order to catch this bird as it flies through.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 10, 2022

Keeping a healthy habitat for grouse

ruffed grouse

By Suzanne Treyger

Bruce and Gail Cushing knew they had a diverse property before they started connecting with forestry professionals.

Located in Clemons, (Washington County), the Cushings’ 117 acres has a variety of mature tree species – maples, beech, birches, eastern hemlock, oaks, and some large shagbark hickory. Interspersed throughout the mature forest are openings of different sizes that are full of young, regenerating forest.

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 6, 2022

The Predator-Prey Relationship: An Intricate Balance

predator and preyPredator and prey is one of the most common type of relationships in the animal kingdom.  Animals need to survive and feed themselves, and for predators that occurs through them hunting smaller animals or prey.  Ecosystems are complex and diverse, with many levels and intricate relationships between organisms. Removing any level from an ecosystem disrupts a delicate balance that may have evolved over millions of years.

Populations rarely, if ever, live in isolation from populations of other species and in most cases, numerous species share a habitat. The interactions between these populations play a major role in regulating population growth and abundance. All populations occupying the same habitat form a community. The number of species occupying the same habitat and their relative abundance is known as species diversity.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 5, 2022

NYS Bird Region 7 waterfowl count results, visit from a sharp-shinned hawk, and a fish tale

Well, winter stayed with us for another week. We got a few inches of snow nearly each day and it sure remained cold with temperatures some days not reaching above zero…with a wind to boot. They sure got hammered to the east of us with some places getting two feet of snow and wind speeds up to 99 mph. That will certainly pile up snow in places and bring in waves off the ocean just like a boom hurricane.

Then way down in Florida they had freezing temperatures, and it dipped to below 46 degrees for the first time in more than 10 years. Kathryn Ruscitto, View’s Board of Directors Chair, said the iguanas were cold and falling out of the trees. She said the public was being asked to collect these invasive species and take them to a veterinarian or wildlife rescue/rehabilitation center where they could be humanely euthanized. The low temperature at the Florida Keys International airport reached 46 degrees, breaking a record set more than 65 years ago.

My daughter, Erin, sent pictures of snow on the beach sand on Myrtle Beach, but she said there was not enough to make a snowman. It looks like we might finally get a good bit of snow during the week as a low front is creeping across the country and should reach us about mid-week. No predictions yet, but I may have to get out the snowblower for this one.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Beech Gone Wild: Raging Hormones

American beech

The American beech (Fagus grandifolia) has been slowly dying out for the last 140 years. As a result, beech saplings have overrun many woodlots, making them less diverse, less vigorous, and less valuable.

That’s right – beech decline has led to a beech proliferation so extreme that in some places they are a barrier to forest regeneration. I’d call this an oxymoron, but don’t want to insult the bovine community. Strategies do exist to address this problem, though.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 1, 2022

DEC and Partners Launch Adirondack Moose Research Project

mooseThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced the start of a new moose research project in the Adirondack region. This winter, 14 moose were fitted with GPS collars as part of a multi-year project assessing moose health and population. To safely capture, collar, and monitor these animals, DEC partnered with researchers at the New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University, the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF), and Native Range Capture Services.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 29, 2022

Frigid temps, Northern Shrike encounters and fishing derbies

We finally had a whole week of winter weather with very little snow, but temperatures were in the single digits during
the day and way below zero at night. Our low here at Eight Acre Wood was -28 degrees one morning and -25 degrees
another morning. It was pretty zippy cold when I went out to feed the birds at sunup. The birds were all sitting on their feet trying to eat in that position. The blue jays had a tough time doing this and they tried to open sunflower seeds between their toes. Their numbers have increased as they haven’t been able to find a beechnut in a few weeks. The little birds stay out of their way as they know a blue jay is capable of having them for breakfast just like a sunflower seed if given the chance.

I did have a predatory bird, a northern shrike, come in this week. It tried to catch one of my slate-colored Juncos that was in my potter trap. The other three doors were down so I went out and opened them. Not wanting to let a meal go by, the shrike came right back and went in another compartment to get at the Junco who was just hunkered down to keep from being caught. The door went down behind it, and I had the shrike. I let the banded Junco go unharmed. This is the fifth shrike I’ve caught here at Eight Acre Wood in the potter trap trying to get at another trapped bird.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 29, 2022

Adirondack Experience to offer free Creative February—Painting Demonstration on Feb. 28 via Zoom

Adirondack Experience, the Museum on Blue Mountain Lake, is pleased to offer a free Creative February—Daily Painting Demonstration featuring artist Takeyce Walter on Monday, February 28 from 7 to 8 p.m. via Zoom.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 27, 2022

Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District accepting orders for Tree and Shrub Seedling Sale

As we journey through the winter season, those with the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District (WCSWCD) wish to remind residents that it is time to think Spring! Each year, the WCSWCD offers a tree and shrub seedling sale to interested landowners throughout Warren County.

The annual tree and shrub seedling sale features low-cost bare root trees, shrubs, wildflower seeds and more, including  a number of new items this year such as White Birch, White Oak, American Cranberry, Black Cherry and Cherry trees. The WCSWCD coordinates this program so landowners can take advantage of a bulk buying opportunity to improve the landscape around their property.

 

Buying young bare root seedlings is a small investment that has several benefits:

  • Provide a beneficial habitat for wildlife
  • Encourage pollinators such as hummingbirds, butterflies, bees and more
  • Help stabilize and reduce soil erosion
  • Improve water quality in Warren County
  • Beautify areas in the community

Beyond the tree and shrub seedlings, participants can also order fruit trees, conservation packs, tree shelters, bluebird, bat and wood duck houses, wildflower seed mixes, deer plot seed mix and upland game bird seed mixes. Interested parties may review this year’s order form, which includes descriptions of this year’s available items, information on how to improve planting techniques and soil health, an alert about forest pests called Hemlock Woolly Adelgids, and more, here: 2022 Seedling Sale Order Form.

Orders are due by Wednesday, March 9 and the order pickup date is slated for Friday, April 22 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Any questions related to this program, species selection, or planting ideas may be directed to the WCSWCD office by calling (518) 623-3119 or by emailing Maren Stoddard at [email protected] 

For more information about the sale, please visit https://warrenswcd.org/tree-and-shrub-program/.

The mission of the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District is to protect and improve the lakes, rivers, streams, soils and other natural resources of Warren County through locally-led conservation projects and programs.



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