Spring bird migrants cruising through the park are headed north for the season. The Crown Point State Historic Site, under the North Atlantic flyway, hosts a scientist-led bird banding event to track the migrations. This is the 47th annual event and is open to the public until May 20.
I spotted this yellow warbler at a Saratoga Springs marsh on their way north.
Some people open Christmas gifts with relish. But it is with an equal amount of anticipation that we bird nerds open the annual PDF emailed by Gordon Howard highlighting the previous year’s count at the Crown Point Banding Station — a document that arrived in the mailbox this week. Volunteers at the station, located at the Crown Point Historic Site, net, count and band dozens of species each spring at one of the nation’s more significant avian highways. Prior to Covid, it had become a popular attraction for tourists, birders and school classes, but it’s been closed to the public for the past two years due to the pandemic. This year it will be open again, from May 6 to May 21 for the station’s 47th consecutive year of banding birds.
Endemic to the Adirondack Park are a number of brilliant birders and I’m pretty sure they all roll their eyes when they see me coming, because I’m not much good with biological IDs of any kind, and I’m always peppering them with dopey questions like, “What bird is small, black and white and has a song that kind of goes ‘chickadee-dee-dee.’”
A team of researchers has found that the timing of spring bird migration across North America is shifting as a result of climate change. The study, one of the first to examine the subject at a continental scale, is published in Nature Climate Change. The work was done by scientists at Colorado State University, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the University of Massachusetts.
Using 24 years of weather radar data, the study found that spring migrants were likely to pass certain stops earlier now than they would have 20 years ago. Temperature and migration timing were closely aligned, with the greatest changes in migration timing occurring in regions warming most rapidly. During fall, shifts in migration timing were less apparent. » Continue Reading.
After pairing up and raising chicks, males and females of some bird species spend their winter break apart. At the end of their journey to Central or South America, you might find mostly males in one habitat, and females in another.
Yet conservation strategies have typically overlooked the habitats needed by females, putting already-declining species in even more peril, according to a new study in the journal Biological Conservation. » Continue Reading.
Most songbirds migrate in darkness, usually when weather conditions are favorable. Tailwinds can produce massive migratory movements. Rain can shut down flights entirely.
“Knowing when and where a large pulse of migrants will pass through is useful for conservation purposes,” says Benjamin Van Doren, a former Cornell undergraduate and now Ph.D. candidate at the University of Oxford. “Our forecasts could prompt temporary shutdowns of wind turbines or large sources of light pollution along the migration route. Both actions could significantly reduce bird mortality.” » Continue Reading.
Billions of birds undertake migratory journeys each spring and fall. Most of these spectacular movements go unseen, occurring under the cover of darkness.
A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides some of the most compelling evidence yet that artificial light at night causes radical changes in the behaviors of migrating birds. » Continue Reading.
Each fall, migrating birds can be seen flying south to their wintering grounds. This is the ideal time of year for New York residents and visitors to head to Bird Conservation Areas across the state for great bird watching opportunities.
Visitors can search fields and forests for warblers, sparrows, and other songbirds and explore lakes, ponds, and beaches to see waterfowl and shorebirds. While exploring, visitors can hawk watch to witness the raptor migration. » Continue Reading.
As the temperatures in the many lakes and ponds that dot the Adirondacks begin to cool, the fish inhabitants of these waterways start to spend more of their time at greater depths. While this change in the routine of these gilled vertebrates impacts the way late season anglers pursue them, it also affects the life of our region’s most effective surface fish predator – the osprey.
With its 4 to 5 foot wing span and 2 foot long body, the osprey is a bird that is difficult to overlook as it soars over a picturesque mountain lake, or perches on the limb close to the shore of a pristine pond. » Continue Reading.
For most birds, autumn is a time of migration. As is the case in spring, not all species engage in their bouts of long distance travel at the same time; some are known for heading out early while others linger in the region for several additional months before starting their journey.
Among the birds that are quick to depart the North Country are the warblers, a large group of small, delicate creatures that abound in the vast expanses of forests when daylight is at a maximum and bugs are at their peak. » Continue Reading.
A large V of Canada geese flying noisily over my head – and traveling north, rather than south – got me wondering about the ins and outs of fall migration. Shouldn’t these big birds be flying to warmer climes this time of year? Why do they travel in that V-formation, anyway?
It turns out the answers aren’t simple. Canada geese (Branta canadensis) live throughout the continental United States and across their namesake country. These loud honkers are easily identified by their size – up to 20 pounds, with a wingspan up to five feet – and their characteristic white chinstrap markings across black heads and necks. » Continue Reading.
On the north end of my home is a nest site favored by eastern phoebes. Every year a pair shows up, sets up house, and raises a family. They arrive early in the spring, and I spend the long days of spring and summer watching them. At some point, the nest empties out, and then I know that summer will soon end and the phoebes will be on their way.
But exactly when they will be on their way is hard to predict. Fall’s migration tends to be a more open-ended process compared to spring’s, when the urgency to reproduce drives birds to arrive in the Northeast during a relatively short window of time. There is an almost explosive quality to the arrival of songbirds in March and April. One day we wake to the usual quiet of winter, and then the next there is a riot of trilling, chirping, calling, and singing.
As summer winds down, however, the volume diminishes slowly. In August, I still wake to bird songs, but there are fewer voices; the chorus isn’t as frenetic and rich. » Continue Reading.
The North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) just released The State of North America’s Birds 2016, the first comprehensive report assessing the conservation status of all bird species that occur in Canada, the continental United States and Mexico. NABCI was created by Canada, the United States and Mexico as a tri-national commitment to protect birds and their habitats.
The report argues that more than one third of all North American bird species need urgent conservation action and calls for a renewed, continent-wide commitment to saving birds and their habitats. » Continue Reading.
As an avid birdwatcher for more than 30 years, I’ve long been familiar with the big picture of songbird migration. Tiny blackpoll warblers, for instance, fly 1,500 miles from southern New England to the Caribbean in a single two- or three-day flight across open water with nowhere to land if they get tired.
The even tinier ruby-throated hummingbirds cross the Gulf of Mexico in a similar way. But until recently I haven’t spent much time wondering how these little birds do it. Don’t their flight muscles get tired? How do they replenish their energy reserves in the air? » Continue Reading.
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