State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos has announced a call for citizen science volunteers to help in the development of a comprehensive, statewide survey that takes place every two decades to detail New York’s breeding bird distribution. Starting in 2020, five years of field surveys will be conducted by volunteers and project partners to provide the data that will be analyzed to create the third New York State Breeding Bird Atlas.
Posts Tagged ‘Birding’
Thirty thousand years before Harry Potter immortalized the snowy owl in popular culture, our European ancestors were drawing them on cave walls.
Snowy owls breed on the treeless northern tundra of Alaska, Canada and Eurasia, using scrapes on snow free boulders, hummocks or rises as nests. Males select and defend their territory, while females choose the nesting site. » Continue Reading.
Whenever I spy a pileated woodpecker traversing the sky, I pause to watch its weird undulating flight. The jerky rise-and-drop movement of this large woodpecker is endearingly gawky – like a mini pterodactyl visiting from the Cretaceous period. This time of year, the bird’s bold crimson crest flashes in stark contrast to the mostly-muted colors of winter.
Pileated woodpeckers – Dryocopus pileatus – take their common and scientific names from the Latin word for “capped.” Both male and female sport the namesake red crest, as well as black streaks across the eyes. Measuring about 18 inches long, they have wingspans that can stretch past two feet. » Continue Reading.
Close encounters with wildlife have always fascinated me. But the behavior of wild animals can be, at best, difficult to understand and, at times, totally unpredictable. I once grappled with a robin who returned year after year, only to spend the entire summer flying into my office window in a seemingly endless war with its reflection.
Just last month, I was outside beside the woodpile, getting ready to bring in some firewood, when a male ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) stepped out from under a small spruce tree, fearlessly strutted right up to me, and steadfastly stood there on the ground, literally underfoot. I was actually afraid that I’d accidentally step on him. » Continue Reading.
Late one January afternoon, my husband and I stood on the shore of a frozen pond below the summit of Camel’s Hump, admiring the view. Suddenly we heard familiar calls, and a flock of robins flew over. Robins? In winter? In the mountains? I was perplexed.
Later, I talked with a birder friend, who informed me that robins from Labrador and other northern regions migrate south to the Green and White Mountains in winter, where they feed on mountain ash berries. Indeed, during our snowshoe trek to the pond, we had noticed clumps of bright red fruit in the small mountain ash trees, topped with powdery snow. » Continue Reading.
Anything that brings a splash of color to the winter woods is a welcome sight. Much as I enjoy the stark black and white world of winter, sometimes it just needs a little something extra, and that extra something most often comes in the form of a bright and colorful bird, like the American goldfinch (Carduelis tristis).
Goldfinches are, as you no doubt know, small finches native to North America. Like many songbirds, the females are rather drab in appearance, sporting olive-green camos — all the better to hide in the trees, my dear. The males, however, are Crayolas on the wing. My favorite crayon when I was a kid was lemon yellow, and to my mind this will always be the color of the male goldfinch. » Continue Reading.
A couple of decades ago, I spent several winters living in Crested Butte, Colorado, where I learned to peer into the cottonwood trees between Route 135 and the East River on the rare occasion when I needed to travel south to the closest “big” town. There, just downstream from the local fish hatchery, I would often find a group of bald eagles perched and waiting for their dinner to swim by.
Growing up in the Northeast, I’d never seen a bald eagle close to home – and certainly not a dozen of them in one cluster of trees. But the birds that serve as our country’s emblem have made a remarkable comeback in recent decades and are now dispersed across the United States, north into much of Canada, and south into parts of Mexico. In northern New York and New England, adult bald eagles tend to stick around their territories throughout the winter, with younger interlopers from other areas passing through. » Continue Reading.
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.
Black-capped chickadees are one of the most frequent visitors to our bird feeders in winter, but do we really know them? This common bird exhibits some remarkable behaviors and winter survival strategies.
Undoubtedly you’ve heard the familiar “chicka-dee-dee-dee” call in the winter woods. Soon after spotting the caller, with its black cap and bib, you’ll often notice more chickadees showing up on the scene, all calling. This is known as mobbing behavior. The chickadees are investigating to see if you are a potential threat. The birds don’t usually get too worked up when they see a human. (In fact, individual chickadees can become quite tame around people that provide food.) But they do get alarmed when they spot a perched hawk or owl. » Continue Reading.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the four top winners of DEC’s annual I Bird NY challenges for beginner and experienced birders.
DEC announced the annual I Bird NY Beginner’s Birding Challenge in May and encouraged children 16 years of age and younger to identify 10 common New York bird species. DEC also offered the I Bird NY Experienced Birder Challenge, requiring birders of all ages to identify at least 10 of 50 listed bird species found across New York State.
Secrets hidden in more than 300,000 index cards with hand-written information about nesting birds are gradually being revealed. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is partnering with Zooniverse, an online people-powered research tool, to digitize this valuable collection and create the largest database of nesting bird information in the U.S. This new effort is called “Nest Quest Go!” » 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.
In light of recent news about the net loss of nearly three billion birds in the U.S. and Canada since 1970, advocates say it’s more vital than ever that citizen scientists monitor their own backyard birds.
Participants in Project FeederWatch at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology have been doing this for decades. Reports from participants are building the kind of long-term database needed to detect shifts in the number and distribution of birds facing challenges from climate change, habitat loss, and disease. » Continue Reading.
Two new scientific studies recently released by Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute (PSC AWI) and Shingle Shanty Preserve and Research Station (SSPRS) have detected continuing patterns of decline in boreal birds in the Adirondacks.
The authors examined avian community changes in lowland boreal habitats and the impacts that temperature and precipitation have on long-term occupancy patterns of boreal birds. Both peer-reviewed papers were recently published in the scientific journal PLoS One. The studies build on more than a decade of monitoring boreal bird populations in lowland boreal habitat. » Continue Reading.