Once abundant in the Adirondacks, the spruce grouse has struggled for much of the past century, but now scientists are trying to bolster the dwindling population by importing birds from out of state.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation released three spruce grouse last year and thirty this year, according to Angelena Ross, a biologist with the department.
The three birds released last year were adult females from Ontario. Only one survived the winter, and it was killed by a hawk in the spring.
In August, DEC released twelve adults and eighteen juveniles captured in Maine at three sites in the Adirondacks— two on private land, one in the Forest Preserve— near Tupper Lake and Paul Smiths. » Continue Reading.
The number one reason to have a bird feeder near your home, of course, is to enjoy observing the birds that come and go and their behavior. And when northern winters are at their most severe, you may also be helping some birds survive.
But there is another potential and broader benefit, for both birds and perhaps your own satisfaction, that can arise from feeding birds: letting scientists know what you are seeing. Even common birds such as chickadees and juncos carry important messages about the health of bird populations and trends among them. The problem, of course, is that ornithologists can’t be in very many places at any given time. But bird enthusiasts can be, and they can function as “citizen scientists.” » Continue Reading.
What can cruise at an altitude of 29,000 feet, is a beloved icon of the great outdoors, and yet can be the bane of lawn lovers? It’s the honking harbinger of advancing autumn and coming cold (and sometimes, bad alliteration), the Canada goose.
The familiar autumn voices of Canada geese overhead can at once evoke the melancholy of a passing summer and the anticipation of a bracing new season of color and activity. Kids return to school, hunters take to the woods, and farmers work past dusk and into darkness, all to the cacophonous cries and the heartbeat of wings of migrating geese. » Continue Reading.
Numerous amphibians and avian calls are enjoyed by Adirondack residents and visitors alike throughout spring and early summer, yet as the seasons progress, this music gradually subsides until by early autumn only a few bird voices can be heard amongst the fading background chorus of crickets.
Since singing requires an expenditure of energy, and advertising one’s presence increases the chance of attack by a nearby natural enemy, birds refrain from much vocalization after the breeding season ends. However, it is possible to hear the soulful call of the white-throated sparrow during the autumn, as there always seems to be an individual or two in one of the transient flocks spending time in the area that bellows out its characteristic “Old-Sam-Peabody-Peabody-Peabody” song. » Continue Reading.
This has always been my perception of bird migration in the fall: the days grow short and cool and then, one day, I notice a v-shaped caravan of Canada geese flying southward. Then another and another. Within a few weeks of that first sighting, I hear their melancholy call one final time for the season. Then they, and all the summer birds, are gone. It’s a mass exodus for warmer climes, over and done in the blink of an eye and long before the snow flies.
But what of the geese on the unfrozen mill ponds in January? Or the robins at the birdfeeder in December? It turns out that the process of migration is much longer and less predictable than my cursory observations had led me to believe. First of all, for some species, fall migration begins long before the first ears of corn are ready to be picked. Take, for example, the yellow warbler, whose massive breeding range extends from parts of Mexico to Newfoundland and into Alaska. It is among the earliest songbirds to arrive in the spring and among the first to embark on the return journey. » Continue Reading.
Biodiversity Research Institute’s (BRI’s) Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS’s) Adirondack Program have announced that three new articles summarizing research on Adirondack loons have been published in a special issue of the journal Waterbirds that is dedicated to loon research and conservation in North America. Research was conducted on the Common Loon (Gavia immer), which breeds on Adirondack lakes, by BRI and WCS in collaboration with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, SUNY ESF’s Adirondack Ecological Center, Paul Smiths Watershed Stewardship Program, and other partners.
“We are pleased to have our loon research in the Adirondack Park included in this unique publication,” Dr. Nina Schoch, Coordinator of BRI’s Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, said in a statement to the press. “The special issue includes fifteen scientific papers highlighting loon behavior, life history and population ecology, movements and migration, habitat and landscape requirements, and the risk contaminants pose to loon populations. The publication will be a valuable resource to help guide the conservation of loon populations throughout North America.” » Continue Reading.
It rained heavily the first time I had planned to go on a hawk watch, and the trip was cancelled. But the rain brought with it a weather front the next day that created the perfect conditions for fall hawk migration. And migrate they did. Hawks and falcons and eagles and vultures soared southward along mountain ridges in numbers I have never seen in the 30 years since then. Carried aloft by rising currents of warm air and light winds from the north, many of those birds may have traveled a hundred miles that day without ever flapping their wings.
Despite the diversity and impressive numbers of raptors, there was one species that stood out to all of the hawk watchers: the broad-winged hawk. It was a bird I had never seen before, and although it is a common nesting species in the forests of the Northeast, the total number of broad-wings I’ve observed since then doesn’t come close to the number that soared past us that day. Whereas most hawks travel alone or in groups of three or four, broad-winged hawks migrate in flocks called kettles that can sometimes number in the thousands. » Continue Reading.
Merlin, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s free bird ID app, is now available for Android devices. Merlin presents you with a list of the birds that best match your location, time of year, and description of the bird.
“Merlin knows which birds are most likely to be within a 30-mile radius of where you saw the bird—at the time when you saw it,” said Jessie Barry at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “It’s the first app to tap into 70 million observations contributed by birders to the eBird citizen-science project, along with 3 million descriptors of birds to help match what you saw.” » Continue Reading.
As the bright yellow tops of goldenrod begin to fade in fields, and the foliage of the red maple increasingly begins its change to a bright reddish-orange, gulls engage in a nomadic phase of their life and can often be seen visiting a variety of settings within the Adirondacks.
Within the boundaries of the Park, two species of “seagulls” are seasonal components of our fauna; however, the slightly smaller ring-billed gull is far more common and likely to be observed than the nearly identically colored herring gull. » Continue Reading.
Biodiversity Research Institute’s (BRI’s) Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation has announced a new campaign on Adirondack Gives, www.adirondackgives.org, the crowdfunding site for Adirondack region nonprofits.
The campaign will provide support for the placement of trail cameras near approximately 30 Common Loon nest sites in the Adirondack Park to document nesting behaviors, clutch size, and hatch dates for Adirondack loons, and to assess the primary factors (e.g., predation, human disturbance) impacting the birds during incubation.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) provided the cameras for this project. Support from this campaign, which is seeking to raise $1,100 over the next two months, will cover the cost of the lithium-ion batteries and high capacity SD cards used in the cameras. » Continue Reading.
The pine warbler is often heard but rarely seen. To identify one of these birds, even at close range, you’ve got to inventory its features, hear it sing if possible, and ponder. Listen here as I welcome one of these feathered flying insect-eaters to our bird feeder in this week’s edition of All Things natural with Ed Kanze.
The podcast is produced by Mountain Lake PBS’s Josh Clement. Listen to past episodes by visiting Mountain Lake PBS’s Borderless North webpage at mountainlake.org/bn.
There is a loon on Lake Placid’s Mirror Lake that seems almost tame. Sometimes when my family and I are out canoeing it seems to follow us. It is that very familiarity and comfortableness with nature that causes a conflict between humans and nesting loons.
Though Dr. Nina Schoch, Wildlife Veterinarian with the Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) assures me that particular loon isn’t nesting if it’s in the center of the lake and not issue warning signs. According to Schoch there are specific ways for humans to tell if they are distressing loons. » Continue Reading.
The Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Adirondack Program is seeking volunteers to help census loons on Adirondack lakes as part of the fourteenth Annual Adirondack Loon Census taking place from 8:00–9:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 19.
With the help of local Adirondack residents and visitor volunteers, the census enables WCS to collect important data on the status of the breeding loon population in and around the Adirondack Park and across New York State. The results help guide management decisions and policies affecting loons. » Continue Reading.
I’m always entranced watching the hunting behavior of long-legged wading birds like great blue herons and snowy egrets. They stand motionless for long minutes at the edge of a pond or swamp, waiting for prey to swim within striking distance. It’s a technique sometimes described as stalking, and it convinces me that those birds have far more patience than I do. I would go hungry if I were restricted to that strategy, since I get antsy after just a few seconds of standing motionless. I’m much more like the reddish egret of the Florida coastline, running around in knee-deep water with wings outstretched, chasing my meal rather than waiting for it to come to me.
Green herons have a hunting technique that involves neither pure stalking, nor the kinetic approach of the reddish egret. They are one of only a handful of North American bird species that are known to use tools to capture food. » Continue Reading.
“She’s so cute!” a little girl coos to the snowy white owl. The owl blinks languidly, ignoring her admirer. No doubt she is used to human attention, as she is one of the more popular raptors housed at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science Nature Center (VINS) in Quechee, Vermont. She likewise ignores the decapitated rat in her food bowl, chirruping softly as if dissatisfied with what’s on the menu. I wait patiently, hoping to witness the moment when she gulps it down.
Owls eat their smaller prey whole, or tear larger prey into chunks with their beaks and talons. Sooner or later, that owl will grab the raw rat out of her food bowl with her sharp beak and knock it back like a shot of whiskey. It will slide down her esophagus and into her two-chambered stomach. The first chamber, called the proventriculus, or glandular stomach, secretes digestive enzymes to break down all the easily digestible parts. Much like our own stomach, this chamber will liquefy the soft tissue (the gooey stuff, including muscle, fat and organs). Whatever isn’t digested in the first chamber, such as the bones, fur and teeth, will pass through to the second chamber, called the gizzard. » Continue Reading.
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