Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Adirondack Fish Hatchery

After being closed for the coldest months, the Adirondack Fish Hatchery is once again open for tours. Though fishing with children is a wonderful activity, having the ability to see the rearing of landlocked Atlantic salmon is well worth the trip. Most children, and adults, don’t realize that a good portion of the fish they catch in the Adirondacks have been raised in one of New York State’s 12 fish hatcheries. Each hatchery specializes in producing a select few species of fish.

The Adirondack Fish Hatchery facility in Lake Clear, located about 12 miles from Saranac Lake, produces 30,000 pounds of salmon yearly for release into regional lakes and rivers.

“There are two sources for eggs,” say Adirondack Fish Hatchery Manager Ed Grant. “The wild fish we catch from the pond and those we harvest from captive fish. That is about 500,000 eggs from wild fish and another 700,000 eggs from captive fish for 1.2 million eggs a year. That is the goal and we usually make it.”

The facility is open for free guided tours. The indoor visitor center contains a self-guided tour with a pool containing salmon, a monitor showing brood fish in a pond, and other exhibits on fish propagation. There is also a video in the Visitor’s Center showcasing the method necessary to produce all that yearly landlocked salmon. Inside the hatchery are 16 tanks holding approximately 275,000 fish; each tank is about 31’ in diameter and holds 8,000 gallons of water. Three of the tanks house the brood stock, the fish used to produce the eggs and milt for the next year’s stock, while the other 13 tanks hold the fingerlings that will be released into the wild now that it’s spring.

According to Grant tours are given throughout the summer and fall as well as certain times during the spring. He recommends that individuals call first during the spring if a tour of the whole facility is requested. Otherwise drop by the Visitor’s Center and Hatchery starting April 1 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The springtime is a busy time as the staff is preparing to release the yearlings and fry into lakes and rivers.

“We have different ways of stocking fish,” says Grant. “The yearlings smolts go right into Lake Champlain. They are able to find a healthy habitat but they are not able to imprint. We also stock about 300,000 non-feeding fry in the Boquet, Ausable, and Saranac Rivers each year. A fry is a fish that first hatches from the egg and has lived off its yolk sac for a while and then it will start looking for natural food. Fry are placed and will stay in the river’s water stream until reaching the smolt stage. The fry then leave the stream environment for lakes but it has imprinted on a section of the river by its keen sense of smell. By requiring a certain number to imprint, we hope to recreate that natural process.”

For children it may be an opportunity to view a salmon for the first time. The next occasion that child and fish may meet could be in a match of wits over a hook and line.

The Adirondack Fish Hatchery is located off Route 30, approximately one mile south of Lake Clear. Call 891-3358 for more information.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Let’s Eat: Prohibition and the Burris Whiskey Jug

In 1918, Congress passed the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution, banning “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States …for beverage purposes.”

The new law was widely unpopular. One Adirondack camp owner asserted, “We looked upon Prohibition as a great disaster. There was no sense of guilt in breaking this law. Everyone we knew shared our sentiments.”

During the “dry decade,” some Adirondackers found their isolated homes and camps made perfect spots for defying the ban on alcohol. Rumrunners smuggled booze from Canada through the Adirondack Park, finding it easier to hide from or outrun Federal agents in the woods. Adirondack neighbors looked out for one another, storing contraband and secretly gathering to enjoy a variety of smuggled or home made brews.

Clyde Adelbert Burris (1883-1957) lived on Pleasant Lake. Like many Adirondackers, he engaged in a variety of work to make ends meet. He worked as a painter and carpenter throughout the year. In the winter he cut and stored ice to sell to campers in the summer and made rowboats which he rented for fifty cents a day, on the honor system. During Prohibition, Clyde Burris made alcohol.

He owned and operated two stills near Pleasant Lake in Fulton County. One was located off the present-day East Shore Road “behind a big rock.” He sold whiskey by the gallon or in teacups to neighbors at “tea parties.” His granddaughter, Joyce Ploss, recalled discovering Burris’ hidden liquor bottles: “At the top of the stairs [there] was a panel which covered a secret room under the eaves. The whiskey was stored in this secret room, and we found many gallon jugs there, waiting patiently to be put to use.”

Ploss also discovered some of her grandfather’s handwritten recipes for making beer (in 6 and 20 gallon batches), and Tokay, alder berry, dandelion, and black sherry wines. His recipe for “Elder Blossom Wine”:

1 quart of blossoms with stems picked off and packed down

Pore 1 gallon of boiling water over them, let stand 1 hour then strain

Add 3 pounds sugar and let it boil a few minutes

Skim well and let stand until luke warm or about 70 [degrees]

Then add 1 grated lemmon and ½ yeast cake

Let stand in warm place for 24 hours and strain again

Then bottle but do not cork tight until it is through fermenting or the bottles will break

When it does not work any more it can be corked tight

On March 23, 1933. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Cullen-Harrison Act, which permitted the sale of certain types of alcoholic drinks. In December that year, Congress passed the 21st Amendment, repealing Prohibition altogether.

Come see Clyde Burris’ whiskey jug (2004.21), and more, in “Let’s Eat! Adirondack Food Traditions” at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake. Open for the season on May 28, 2010.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Adirondack Bracket 2010: The Round of Eight

A few surprises to report as the 2010 Adirondack Bracket winnows itself down to the round of eight.

First off, mushrooms topped pond hockey. Actually, not too much of a surprise with ice-out at hand and the damp woodland floor being exposed by receding snow drifts. If you are new to identifying mushroom varieties in the Adirondacks, there’s probably no better place to start than Mushrooms of the Adirondacks. It’s a start because the book covers only a relatively small portion of the hundreds of varieties to be found (go chanterelles!). And do we really need to remind you that it is always a wise move to double and triple-check the edibility of some mushroom varieties before trying to impress your friends with your outdoor culinary skills. Mushrooms will now take on Triclopyr, vanquisher of Black Brook, for a chance at the final four.

John Brown got by birders—a surprise to nobody—becoming the only individual person to advance (Au revoir, Sammy Champlain, see you in 2109!). The craggy-faced insurgent will now face the even craggier cairns of Krumholtz and cairns. They caught Yellow Yellow still hibernating.

And the team that lived by the upset, Talk of the Town were out of talk and/or out of town (always a risk during spring break), getting sunk by Lows Lake—that deep Adirondack treasure and essential destination for canoe campers. Lows now faces the only endangered species to survive into the round of eight: the Adirondack logger. Which, of course, is our way of saying buh-bye to the Bicknell’s thrush. With breeding season approaching, it is best you stay focused, anyway. This little bird was beaten by Planning Boards, who will meet Backyard Sugarin’ as it looks to extend its run a little longer (with the help of cold nights). Given recent moves by local Adirondack planning boards to outlaw small flock poultry raising (Backyard Chickenin’) and outdoor wood boilers, this next round might not be all that sweet for these sugarin’ saps.

Join us later in the week as we reveal the final four and work toward the thrilling conclusion of the 2010 Adirondack Bracket this coming weekend.


Monday, March 29, 2010

After 30 Years, Some Adirondack Rivers Are Still in Limbo

Peruse the colorful Adirondack Park Agency land-use map and you’ll notice that many of the region’s rivers are overlain by strings of big black circles, small black circles, or open triangles. These rivers are part of the state’s Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers System (WSR).

And then there are the eight rivers overlain by open circles. These are “study” rivers, candidates for the WSR system.

The legislature first asked the APA to study these rivers in the 1970s—more than thirty years ago—and the APA did recommend that all eight be added to the system, but apparently for political reasons, they never were.

The rivers are the Osgood, North Branch of the Saranac, North Branch of the Boquet, part of the Oswegatchie, Main Branch of the Grass, Pleasant Lake Stream, East Stony Creek, and the Branch.

In addition, the APA identified in the 1970s at least eight other waterways as potential study rivers: the Chubb, Little, Jessup, and Miami rivers, Hays Brook, Otter Creek, and Fall Stream.

WSR rivers receive an additional measure of protection from development—something that doesn’t always sit well with local politicians and landowners. This, no doubt, is the reason that no river has been added to the system since the late eighties.

The Adirondack Explorer brought attention to this issue in a series of articles five years ago. The articles inspired the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) to deploy a team of volunteers to paddle a number of rivers in the Park to ascertain whether they should be added to the system.

ADK Executive Director Neil Woodworth told me he hasn’t given up on the WSR initiative. As a matter of fact, the club has drafted a bill to declare the Chubb—a lovely stream that winds through the High Peaks Wilderness—a Wild river. This is the most protective designation.

Yet Woodworth said this isn’t the right time to introduce the legislation, not with environmentalists fighting to restore cash to the Environmental Protection Fund and waging other battles as well. “The bill is certainly important, but we have other issues and other priorities right now,” he said.

Although WSR provides some protection against development, critics say the restrictions need to be strengthened.

Consider the Chubb. The proposed Wild stretch passes through one parcel of private land where there used to be a small hunting cabin. Several years ago, the cabin was replaced by a large house. Even if the Chubb had been in the system, that would not have prevented the construction of the house. APA regulations allow landowners to replace an existing structure with another. The new structure can be bigger, taller, and more obtrusive, as long as it’s not closer to the water.

As of today, all or parts of fifty-one rivers in the Park—totaling more than 1,200 miles—belong to the system. It looks like we’ll have to wait till next year, or longer, to see if the Chubb becomes the fifty-second.

Photo by Phil Brown: a paddler on the Osgood River.


Monday, March 29, 2010

NYS Comptroller Reports on Economic Benefits of Open Space Conservation

NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released a report late last week that argues for the economic benefits of open space conservation [pdf]. According to John Sheehan of the Adirondack Council, “this is the first attempt ever by the state’s top elected financial officer to quantify the value of undeveloped forests and open farm lands.”

The report comes at a time when the Legislature is negotiating the 2010-11 state budget, including the Environmental Protection Fund and its Open Space Account. This year’s budget contains $212 million for the EPF and $59 million for open space protection — land acquisition and conservation easements (purchase of development and recreational rights on private lands).

The Senate has proposed a $222-million EPF for the fiscal year that begins April 1, with little detail yet available on specific categories. The Assembly yesterday proposed an EPF of $168 million, with $44.3 million for land. The Governor — whose proposal came out first, back January, had proposed a $143-million EPF, with zero for land.

“Open space can provide a variety of public benefits, including storm water drainage and water management,” DiNapoli said. “Open spaces also provide a more direct economic benefit through tourism, agriculture and the forestry industry. All these benefits should be a factor in land use decisions from Montauk to Massena.” Here is an excerpt from Dinapoli’s press release on the report:

Agriculture is among New York’s largest and most vital industries, encompassing 25 percent of the state’s land and generating more than $4.5 billion for the state’s economy each year. In 2007, the income generated directly by farms, combined with income generated by agricultural support industries and by industries that process agricultural products, totaled $31.2 billion.

The study noted that open space contributes to the state’s economy by providing opportunities for outdoor recreational activities. DiNapoli also noted that open space often requires fewer municipal services than lands in other use and tend to generate more in municipal tax revenue.

Open space helps control storm water runoff, preserves surface water quality and stream flows, and aids in the infiltration of surface water to replenish aquifers. When lands are converted to other uses, the natural benefits provided by open space often must be replaced through the construction of water treatment facilities and infrastructure to control storm water, all paid for through local tax revenue. A series of studies have found the preservation of open space to be a more economical way to address storm water requirements.

DiNapoli’s report recommends that New York State consider:

* Allowing municipalities to establish community preservation funds
* Evaluating the adequacy of protections for lands providing benefits for municipalities
* Improving state-level planning for open space to address long-term funding needs
* Improving the administration of funds for open space programs
* Encouraging private land conservation

Map: 2009 APA Land Use Map


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bank Swallows: Thurman, 1955

O swallows, swallows, poems are not
The point. Finding again the world,
That is the point….

From “The Blue Swallows,” Howard Nemerov

In the mid-fifties, when I was four or five, I started visiting an old bootlegger’s hideout in the woods of Thurman with my friend Dinah, Dinny, who was a year and a century older than I was, and infinitely wiser, and whom I admired and adored. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Newcomb VIC Offers Family Bluebird Nest Box Workshop

On Saturday, April 3, from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m., the Visitor Interpretive Center at Newcomb will host a Family Bluebird Nest Box Workshop. This will be an opportunity to learn about bluebirds, their lifestyles and their habitat.

Bluebirds can be found in the Adirondacks and are attracted by some open grassland such as a yard and a nest box or two. Participants will learn about bluebirds, how to make your yard “bluebird friendly” and join with VIC staff to build a nest box. Nest box kits are available to purchase for $10.00 each. Pre-registration is required by Thursday, April 1st.

For information and to register call the Newcomb VIC at 518-582-2000.

The Newcomb VIC is located on NYS Route 28N just west of the Hamlet of Newcomb, Essex County.

The Adirondack Park Agency operates two Visitor Interpretive Centers at Newcomb and Paul Smiths. The mission of the Agency, which is headquartered in Ray Brook, is to protect the public and private resources of the Adirondack Park through the exercise of powers and duties as provided by law. For more information on the Adirondack Park Agency, call (518) 891-4050 or visit www.apa.state.ny.us.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Return of the Black Flies

According to my friend Edna, black fly season has begun. Edna is one of the fine folks who participate in our local Bti Program, and it is through the efforts of her team, and other Bti teams around the Park, that our black fly populations are greatly reduced.

A couple weeks ago I stopped to talk to Edna as she was roping off the muddier parts of her driveway. I wanted to give her photographs of our “new” beaver pond because the Little Sucker Brook, which is now Little Sucker Pond, is one of her treatment sites. She told me she hadn’t been in there yet, but the test sites she had visited were still full of larvae in suspended animation – it was too soon to treat. » Continue Reading.


Friday, March 26, 2010

This Week’s Adirondack Web Highlights


Friday, March 26, 2010

Going Solar:Another Way to Help Save the Adirondacks?

If global warming is ever to be reversed, or even slowed, Americans must consume less of the energy produced by coal fired power plants.

Wind and solar power are among the alternatives New York State is promoting, said Adele Ferranti, a Queensbury resident who’s a project manager at New York State’s Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

“Every little bit helps,” Ferranti said. “The potential for reducing emissions is tremendous; we can make a significant dent in the consumption of energy.”

More and more people are taking advantage of alternative technologies, Ferranti said.

“They’re doing it because it’s the best thing they can do for the environment,” said Ferranti. “They’re replacing the energy made by burning fossil fuels with clean, natural power.”

Among the Lake George residents reducing carbon footprints are Rebecca and Candida Smith. The daughters of the late sculptor David Smith, they live part time at the home and studio he created in the hills above Bolton Landing.

A few years ago, they contracted with GroSolar, a Vermont company recommended by author-turned-environmental activist Bill McKibben, to install solar energy systems in the property’s three buildings.

“Global warming caused by human activities was a problem I had been aware of for a long time but it was too big, complicated and scary for me to bear thinking about for long,” said Rebecca Smith.

But after recent visits to Australia (“where I was relatively close to the ozone holes in Antarctica and actually felt how much stronger the effect of the sun was down there — it burned into my eyeballs painfully at times”) and Great Britain (“where climate change was an accepted, observable reality that government was starting to do something about”) as well as extensive reading on the subject, Smith said she became “interested and excited about the new technologies and decided to see what could be done at my family’s home in Bolton.”

Smith adds, “One person can’t do much, but there are many, many people out there doing lots of things and I am inspired by being part of that effort.”

According to NYSERDA’s Adele Ferranti, New York State offers financial incentives to homeowners like the Smiths to encourage the use of alternative energy. “Our goal is to build an infrastructure that will not only make solar power more affordable but reduce the consumption of fossil fuels,” Ferrante said.

Eliot Goodwin of GroSolar says that New York State will pay 40 to 50% of the costs of installing a solar energy system in the form of a rebate. “The homeowner is also eligible for a 25% state income tax credit and a 30% federal tax credit,” said Goodwin. “This works out to be about 60 to 65% of the costs paid for by outside sources.”

Nevertheless, the initial investment is expensive. Whether an alternative energy system is cost-effective depends upon how one determines value, groSolar’s Eliot Goodwin suggests.

“Is a car cost effective? Is a marble countertop cost effective? Is a pool cost effective? Is a hot tub cost effective? Is it cost effective to have no mountain tops left from coal mining? Is it cost effective to no longer have clean air to breathe?” he asks.

Still, Goodwin said, “With solar, no matter what, the system will pay for itself in its lifetime. You can usually expect a 7-11% return on your investment and you can also expect the house to increase in value by as much as the system costs.”

Short-term costs are offset by long-term savings, and, of course, by environmental benefits, said Rebecca Smith.

“By my calculations, it will take about 9 years to pay for the solar panels (which are under warranty for 25 years).” said Smith. “I don’t regard this as a money-saving strategy in the short run but as an investment that will pay off in dollars and environmental benefit in the long run. The satisfaction of making a difference is a really great feeling and it inspires me to do more.”

According to Fred Brown, the property’s year-round caretaker, approximately 80 flat solar panels were installed on the roofs of three buildings last spring.

“The system is comprised only of solar panels and an inverter,” said Brown. “ The panels produce direct current (DC) electricity which is steered toward the inverter where it’s converted into the Alternating current (AC) electricity, the same kind of power you get from the power grid.”

The power is not stored, but, rather, either used immediately or sent backwards through the meter, creating dollar for dollar credits in a process known as net-metering.

“We send power to the grid and the meter runs backward,” said Brown.

“During the summer solar panels create more energy than the owner can consume and the utility is required by law to buy it from you and credit your account,” said Rebecca Smith. “The power companies now depend on the small percentage of solar owners to feed in a critical extra margin of energy during the peak summer months.”

For Rebecca Smith, the environmental benefits of using alternative energy are local as well as global.

“If warming trends continue, there won’t be maple trees in the Adirondacks for our grandchildren,” she says. “I decided that it was better to be part of the solution than part of the problem.”

Every year, more New Yorkers are adopting that attitude, said Eliot Goodwin.

“We have approximately 75 installations in New York under the current programs. There’s probably another 2-300 installations in the state divided amongst 30 other installers. People care about the world they’re leaving to their children.”

Photo: A solar-powered workshop on the David Smith estate in Bolton Landing.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror


Friday, March 26, 2010

Adirondack Bracket 2010: The Round of Sixteen (Part 2)

The round of sixteen match-ups continue. The upper right division of the Bracket saw a stunning upset of our Adirondack Olympians by the opinionated crew from WNBZ radio’s Talk of the Town. No doubt threatened cuts to the Olympic Regional Development Authority annual budget from the New York State Senate rattled the concentration of the younger, more athletically inclined, better-dressed, more polite, and far less gloomy team. Way to go, talkers, you move on to face Low’s Lake, an issue you have often argued into submission. Low’s Lake bested road salts, a perennial threat to the health and beauty of our waterways through the excessive application of State DOT crews and local plow fleets.

Loggers left Adirondack movies (a squad with a storied past and promising future, and here) on the cutting room floor.

Loggers now face the sole surviving 2009 final four contestant Samuel de Champlain, who made short work of timber rattlesnakes to advance.

In the lower right regionals, the return of sub-freezing temperatures has extended the run for Backyard Sugarin’ (a former regional magazine editor insists that the title of this useful how-to guide sounds dirty). They brought a premature end to the impressive run of special congressional elections in Adirondack Districts which stemmed from President Obama’s nominations of Hillary Clinton and John McHugh to federal posts. It is worth noting that the third and last special election will be held this November, as Senator Kirsten Gillibrand officially defends her appointment.

Backyard Sugarin’ now confronts ANCA, one of the least identifiable acronyms within the Blue Line (Adirondackers Need Clearer Acronyms!). ANCA has made an impressive show under rookie coach Kate Fish. Established in 1953 to promote community, cultural and commercial development within the park, the organization, known as the Adirondack Park Association changed its name in 1983 after a dozen years of exchanging misaddressed mail with the Adirondack Park Agency and the Association to Protect the Adirondacks. They defeated the APA’s proposed boathouse regulations.

Planning boards—who most recently lost rookie talent when the northern Adirondack Town of Franklin abolished its newly formed board—made it past another 2009 final four contender, Warrensburg’s World’s Biggest Garage Sale. They now face the most enduring summer residents: Bicknell’s thrush (who are looking to a possible final four match with birders). This should be interesting, as the planning boards might have something to say about these little critters’ habit of building summer homes at high elevations.


Friday, March 26, 2010

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Adirondack Music Scene: Fiddles and Family Events

This week I think of the most intriguing show looks to be in Raquette Lake. Check out this nifty video of Trish Miller clogging and John Kirk playing the tune, Irishtown Breakdown on the fiddle.

I also want to call some attention to The Adirondack Bluegrass League. They have a very thorough calendar listing events held all over the park and beyond.

Thursday, March 25th:

In North Creek, Diz at Trapper’s Cabin . He starts at 7 and plays until 10 pm.

Friday, March 26th:

In Canton, The Hazel Pearl Band is playing the Blackbird Cafe. The band plays from 7 – 9 pm.

In Plattsburgh, Professor Chaos at Gilligan’s Getaway an all ages show starts at 8 pm.

Saturday, March 27th:

In Potsdam, Hamlet: The Met Opera Live in HD. At the Roxy Theater starting at 1 pm.

In Lake Placid, Hamlet:The Met Opera Live in HD. At LPCA starting at 1 pm. Tickets are $18 for adults and $15 for seniors and students. Running time is 3 hours and 45 minutes with intermissions.

In Raquette Lake, Trish Miller and John Kirk will perform from 7:30 – 9:30 pm at The Raquette Lake School on Route 28. Tickets are $12.

In North Creek, The Noodlemen at Laura’s Tavern start at 9 pm. I looked around online for these guys and I think I found them but there is no way to prove it so I won’t include the link because what if there are other Noodlemen out there and I’d be steering you wrong.

In Potsdam, The Orchestra of Northern New York presents “Carnival of the Animals”. the concert is from 7 – 9 pm at SUNY’s Helen Hosmer Concert Hall and features creatures created by Camille Saint-Saens and Dr Seuss.

In Canton, Sweet Adelins St. Lawrence Chorus’s annual barbershop performance. The 7 pm concert is being held at the Canton High School.

In Queensbury, The last Saturday of the month Coffee House Open Mic at the UU Church is held from 7:30 – 10 pm. A donation of $4 includes light refreshments.

In Saranac Lake, The Back Porch Society will perform at the Waterhole Upstairs Music Lounge starting around 9 pm. Cover of $5.

Sunday, March 28th:

In Potsdam, Hamlet: The Met Opera Live in HD Encore Perfromance, at the Roxy Theater starting at 1 pm.

In Hadley, The Siver Family in conjunction with The Adirondack Bluegrass League will perform from 2 -3 pm.

Tuesday, March 30th:

In Saranac Lake, The Adirondack Singers will rehearse for their annual Spring Concert. New members are encouraged. For more information contact Val at 523-4213.

Photo: John Kirk and Trish Miller


Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Changing Face Of Bird Migration

On any given spring day here in the Adirondacks you are bound to hear an American robin calling from a treetop or front lawn. And then you ask, when did they get here? Later that day as you are paddling along the shoreline of a quiet lake you see an osprey circling overhead as it hunts for fish. Again you ask, When did they arrive?

Do these birds all arrive at once or is there some sort of bird-migration-schedule that our feathered friends use on their northward journeys?

A simple answer is yes, they do arrive on somewhat regular schedules. But as with all things in the world of biology, it is not that simple.

Let’s look at the big picture first. We know that birds arrive in the spring and we can kinda guess-within a week to 10 day margin-when they might arrive. Someone once told me that our Adirondack hummingbirds arrive within a week, either side, of Mother’s Day. That’s true.

Our summer visiting common loons are usually on lakes and ponds just at or near complete ice out. Come to think of it that’s pretty easy for a loon to determine as they fly 500-1000ft in the air getting a loons-eye view of what lakes are open.

But looking at the nuts and bolts of migration we see there are many biological signals that kick these birds into migration mode.

Deep within birds there are biochemicals, testosterone and estrogen, surging through veins and into cells. This in turn signals other processes to begin: reproductive parts start to increase in size; increasing day length signals readiness for migration; and there is a general restlessness that birds exhibit as they begin orienting their movements towards north or south, depending on the season.

As all this occurs, birds then get an uncontrollable urge to eat and fatten up as a result. This is good because the fat is the fuel for long distance migration.

But back to the main point-are birds on a schedule? One way to answer this is to look at the “waves” of different species that arrive in our woods, fields, or wetlands.

As March began we noticed bunches of Canada geese, and snow geese in flight far overhead. A week later we take note of our first red-winged blackbird down by the swamp or cat-tail marsh. About 2 days later the common grackles find their way into the fields and call to announce their arrival. Cardinals, brown creepers, and golden-crowned kinglets begin singing their songs for the early riser.

As I write this blog near the end of March we find the arrivals of song sparrows and fox sparrow to the neighborhood. My guess is that next week will bring tree swallows, northern flickers and white-throated sparrows.

April is when the migratory birds really make their presence known across the Adirondacks. Belted kingfishers will be seen along the shorelines of ponds, American kestrels(small falcons) will be hunting for the first crickets from telephone poles and wires. Great blue herons will be fishing among the grasses of the beaver swamps, and eastern phoebes will be scolding us from the roofs of backyard sheds.

Think of bird migration as a large conveyor belt cycling though the spring months and dropping off species of birds at timed intervals. But keep a sharp eye about you because the bird scene changes daily and then weekly.

Personally I’m looking forward to late April when the wild flowers have poked through the dead leaves and the sounds of the first warblers fill the woods and finally reach my winter-weary ears.

Photo Credit: Canada Geese-Wikipedia