KEENE VALLEY & SARANAC LAKE, NY — Are you interested in bird watching, but don’t know where to begin? Starting this summer, the Keene Valley Public Library and Saranac Lake Free Library are loaning backpacks stocked with binoculars and field guides to give people an opportunity to try out birding.
The backpacks are part of the Adirondack Land Trust’s “Adirondack Birding for All” program, which is working with the libraries to increase awareness and appreciation of Adirondack birds and their habitats.
The eastern bluebird is our official state bird. It became so on May 18, 1970, making New York the last state to acquire an official state bird.
Bluebirds are among the first birds to return in the spring. And for some bird-enthusiasts, attracting a pair of these harbingers of spring to a backyard nest box and having them fledge a brood of young bluebirds is the ultimate birding experience.
Old man winter returned today (Sunday, March 27) as it snowed most of the day. I hadn’t checked my little pond behind the house, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there would be some wood frog eggs in it after the warm week we’ve had. Last year I saw eggs in some little pond along Trail 5 when there was snow all the way around them. I don’t know if those made it, but the ones behind the house hatched.
The newts feed on those little polliwogs and so do baby painted turtles. I watched them catch some right by the dock at Francis Lake one day. It was a busy day in the bird world today (March 27) as the snow was on the ground when I got up and it snowed most of the day. Looking down on the dam at the carcass there was a Red-tailed Hawk, six Ravens and two Turkey Vultures working for a snack.
Spring has sprung on this first day of spring (Sunday, March 20) and my daffodils would have bloomed yesterday if the sun stayed out, however it started snowing which shut them down. The crocus usually come out first, but they have only popped out of the ground and the daffodils have flower buds ready to pop. Coming home from Utica on Friday (March 18) with temperatures in the fifties (and even sixty) I kept mentioning there are more Robins along the shoulder of the road. My wife, Karen, said, “I hear you, yes, there are lots of Robins.”
My neighbor Eric Sutherland’s sugarhouse [Maple Moss Sugarworks] has been cooking 24/7 this last week with lots of guests visiting his operation. He is into it big time and I’m learning more every day about his operation. With each day freezing at night and thawing during the day this next week he should be making maple syrup every day. He loves to show people his operation and he will be glad to sell you some of his products.
It’s Sunday evening (March 6) and we just came home from the movies in Old Forge in a howling wind with the temperature at 55 degrees which breaks the record of 43 degrees set in 2004. The power was off a couple times during the movie but came back on, so we didn’t lose much of the plot. As this weather (with changing temperatures) came across the country a few tornadoes touched down across Iowa and one near Des Moines killed 7 people including two children.
This string of unsettled weather is now going through the southern part of New York with quite a bit of red showing on the weather map. This warming trend and the rain overnight last night pretty well whipped many of the snowmobile trails and most of the paved roads they had been using which also bared up. There were some washouts in the Moose River area that the snows this week filled in nicely by the groomer. These were those frozen culverts that I mentioned last week which will have to be repaired before opening in May.
Editor’s note: We are pleased to start offering this new weekly column from retired forest ranger Gary Lee.
This week was a little more like winter should be, with snow a few days and very cold a few others. Tuesday was a bear about dark a light rain was falling with the temperature on twenty-eight which instantly froze on anything it hit and some of that was on my windshield. I didn’t get five hundred feet down the road and my windshield was a blank screen.
I pulled over and let it warm up some, but it was covered instantly when I started to move again. I had to use windshield washer fluid to keep it so I could see. I called my wife Karen at the library to tell her that things were being coated extremely fast and be careful on her way home. I told her about the windshield washer trick which she used all the way home. That ice coated the trees making them all shiny when the sun came out, but it also put an eighth-inch of ice on top of the snow which was just like glass.
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.’”
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the launch of the new NYS Birding Trail to highlight world-class birding opportunities across the state. Birding or birdwatching is one of the fastest-growing recreation and tourism activities and requires little to no experience or equipment to get started.
The New York State Birding Trail provides information on places anyone can go to find birds amid beautiful natural settings across the state. The trail is not a physically connected or built trail but a network of promoted birding locations that can be accessed by car or public transportation and provides an inclusive experience for all.
Anyone who is a bird lover and an avid birdwatcher undoubtedly already has the Adirondacks on their bucket list. There are over 100 species of birds in the Adirondacks and the chance to enjoy everything from boreal birds and birds of prey to perching birds and waterfowl. The area is a feast for the eyes and the other senses. For the uninitiated, or the person who has not yet had the chance to enjoy birdwatching in the area, here is a quick guide to experiences I have had and advice I’ve garnered over time.
I BIRD NY is one of the DEC’s many programs with the purpose of enabling entertaining ways to get the public to engage in nature, and outdoor activities. Bird watching is a generally low cost hobby and a great excuse to get the family together. Two levels of challenges provide kids experienced birders to take part in identifying birds, and to learn about bird life and offer a chance to win some new equipment.
To complete the challenge, just ID 10 common NY species of birds, and submit the challenge sheet to the DEC either via mail or email. All participants will receive a certificate of participation and be entered into a random drawing for a chance to win birding accessories.
In addition to the Beginner’s Birding Challenge, DEC is offering the I Bird NY Experienced Birder Challenge (PDF). To complete the experienced birder challenge, birders of any age must identify at least 10 different bird species found across New York State. All participants in this challenge will also receive a certificate of participation and be entered into a drawing for birding accessories.
“I encourage all birders to contribute observations of breeding birds to the Atlas by creating a free eBird account,” said Julie Hart, Breeding Bird Atlas project coordinator for the Natural Heritage Program. “By doing so, birders will increase the value of their observations for conservation. The Breeding Bird Atlas is a valuable tool to help protect birds and their habitat.”
During this pandemic one of the safest forms of recreation is birding. It’s an activity you can do away from crowds in the woods, or if you have space, in your backyard.
If it’s not an activity you’re familiar with, we have you covered. Recently, Explorer contributor Molly Ormsbee produced a video on the topic that you can find on our website. In the video, birder and photographer Larry Master provides tips about bird houses, feed, and other information to get you started.
“Hearing the sounds of the birds and seeing them is a great, great therapy. It’s just endless entertainment if you’re interested in nature,” says Master. » Continue Reading.
Birdwatching is one of the fastest growing outdoor recreational activities in the U.S. Backyard birding, or watching birds around the home, is the most common way people engage in birding. New York State is home to a wide range of habitats that support more than 450 different bird species throughout the year. There are also 59 designated Bird Conservation Areas to safeguard and enhance bird populations and habitats on State lands and waters across New York. Check the map to find the bird conservation areas in your region. The State’s I Bird NY program provides resources for New Yorkers who want to get outdoors and engage in birding all year long. People from all economic backgrounds experience the joy of birdwatching. While binoculars can help, you can enjoy birds without any special equipment.
Do you birdwatch in Upstate New York? If so then you can contribute to the Breeding Bird Atlas, (the BBA).
On its third iteration, the purpose of the BBA is to observe breeding birds of New York State from 2020-2024 in order to observe comparisons between the past and future NY BBAs to see how locations and population sizes change over time. The data collected is important for conservation programs for birds and their habitats. Everyone is encouraged to participate from 2020-2024, amateur and advanced birdwatchers alike can contribute as little or as much as they want.
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