Posts Tagged ‘Birding’

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

An Avian Chameleon: The Brown Creeper

Brown Creeper (Wikimedia Photo)The fields and forests of the Adirondacks support many forms of animal life, even during winter, yet many of our wildlife residents are next to impossible to glimpse. Some, like moles, shrews and voles prefer an existence below the surface of the snow, while others such as fisher, bobcat and ermine have adapted a shy and secretive lifestyle causing them to spend nearly all of their time in remote sections of dense woodlands where visibility is limited, making a chance sighting rare. Others, like flying squirrels and owls conduct their affairs under the cover of darkness and seldom are viewed.

One small bird, considered by ornithologists to be widespread throughout the Park year round, is likewise noticed only on rare occasions, despite its regular foraging activities during the light of day. The brown creeper is a slim, chickadee-size bird with mottled brown plumage on its head, back, sides, and tail, which closely resembles the color and pattern of the rough-textured bark that covers many types of mature trees. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Center for Loon Conservation Project Seeks Funding

Loon BookThe Biodiversity Research Institute’s Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation has announced a campaign on Adirondack Gives, the crowdfunding site for Adirondack region nonprofits, which seeks support to digitize historical slides and film footage produced by Adirondack nature photographer Kip Taylor.

In the 1970s and 1980s, when loons were rarely observed on Adirondack waterways, and prior to the age of digital photography, Kip Taylor extensively documented the natural history and behavior of Common Loons on Adirondack lakes, including some very unique underwater footage and photographs of feeding and swimming loons. Prior to his passing in 1997 Taylor published Loon, which chronicled his excursions to photograph these distinctive birds. His widow has donated his film and slides for use in BRI’s Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation’s outreach programs. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cross-Country Skiing:
An Adirondack Nocturne at the Paul Smith’s VIC

Twilight at the VIC, S. Hildreth

Nocturne: a work of art dealing with evening or night especially; a dreamy pensive composition for the piano that has a soft and somewhat sad melody.  – 2014 Merriam Webster Dictionary

It was Valentine’s Day, about 8 pm, and I walked out the back door, stepped into my x-country ski bindings, put on my gloves and slipped my hands through the straps on my ski poles, flipped on my headlight and silently glided into the stillness of the night. As I looked up the trail, snowflakes filtered down glittering into the beam of my light.

It was the Full Moon Friends of the VIC Ski Party and this was the evening after the big Nor’easter dropped about 10 inches of fresh snow on what was already a good solid base. There was a nice crowd at the Paul Smith’s College VIC, live music by Split Rock lighting up the great room, but I might as well have been a solitary skier. I met two other skiers coming back to the building right as I started out, and then just two more as I skied across the floating bridge on Heron Marsh. The rest of the evening was mine alone, and it was magical. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Adirondack Wildlife Programs Planned in Whallonsburgh

Bobcat025_Portrait of Snowy FaceA series of natural history programs about Adirondack wildlife will be held at the Whallonsburg Grange in Essex, NY.  The series begins with naturalist and photographer Susan Morse speaking on Friday, February 21.   Morse’s lecture, entitled “Animals of the North:  What Will Climate Change Mean for Them” will be held at 7:00 p.m.  Suggested donation is $8.

Morse, Founder and Director of Keeping Track, Inc., describes says the program is not about climate change itself, or even how it will affect us; rather, it’s designed to educate audiences about ways in which northern wildlife species are already being affected, with more serious challenges ahead. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Adirondackers Flock to Backyard Bird Count

owlbutton_enIn each of the last two years, the Almanack has carried articles encouraging local residents to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), an annual, continent-wide, mid-winter bird census designed to combine the fun of birdwatching with gathering data that will help scientists better understand trends in bird populations and locations.  In the past, although thousands of New Yorkers take part in the count, the Adirondack region has been underrepresented, largely because there are comparatively few winter residents.

With the 17th GBBC approaching (Feb. 14-17), I thought it would be interesting to explore whether those previous articles have increased participation by Adirondackers while once again urging you to join in. It turns out, though, that it is difficult to get comparative data for a specific location for different years. In communicating with the folks behind the GBBC, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, I learned that data are not available by county or ZIP code, for example. Indeed, count results are not even in the same format between years. I could find a list of the number of each species reported in NYS for 2011 (before the first article), for instance, but not for 2013 (after the second article). » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Cornell Lab Offers New App to Identify Birds

Merlin Cornell Bird AppYou’ve heard the question a million times: What bird is that? Now Cornell Lab of Ornithology have a new way to get an answer.   Merlin is a free iPhone app developed by the Cornell Lab to help beginners and intermediate bird watchers identify 285 species in North America.

Merlin draws upon 70 million eBird sightings to calculate which species you’re most likely to encounter within about a 30-mile radius of your location at the time when you saw the bird. The app asks five questions about size, location, and so on. Then it displays a range of photos showing birds that match your description. The app also comes with more than 1,400 photos, plus ID tips, sounds, and range maps for each species. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Adirondack Wildlife: The Ruffed Grouse This Winter

Ruffed GrouseThe lack of a substantial accumulation of snow this winter has created hardship for those forms of wildlife that seek shelter from below zero temperatures and gusty winds by embedding themselves in the powdery covering that typically covers the ground at this time of year.

The insulating value of a fairly deep snow pack affords excellent protection against the elements for many creatures small enough to utilize this seasonal layer of material. Among the more sizeable members of the wildlife community that use snow for shelter is the ruffed grouse, well known for plunging head first into a pile of powder in its attempt to completely cover itself with this unlikely natural blanket for an entire day or two. » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 30, 2013

Finding Snowy Owls in the Adirondacks

Snowy OwlThe vast expanses of wilderness forests that cover the Adirondacks serve as home to many forms of wildlife adapted for survival in areas where visibility is limited by trees and grasses, and grains are nearly non-existent.

Large open areas scattered throughout the Park serve to support the collection of creatures that require much greater visibility and food sources that exist on the soil’s surface. Among those animals drawn toward these open spaces is the snowy owl, which regularly migrates southward from its arctic breeding grounds in autumn to establish a winter hunting territory in more hospitable surroundings. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

DEC Seeks Help With Wild Turkey Research

QF Turkey cropOver the past 10 years wild turkey populations have declined in many parts of New York State. In an effort to better understand the factors influencing population changes and how these changes affect turkey management, DEC is beginning the second year of a four-year study. This project is expected to provide wildlife managers with current estimates of harvest and survival rates for female wild turkeys, or hens, in New York and guide future management efforts.

Beginning in January, DEC will embark on a statewide effort to capture wild turkey hens and fit them with leg bands to obtain accurate data on survival and harvest. A small number of these birds will also be tagged with satellite radio-transmitters. All of the work will be done by DEC personnel on both public and private lands from January through March. The research will be concentrated in DEC Regions 3 through 9 where turkey populations are largest. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Join the 2013 Christmas Bird Count

ChristmasBirdCount_newThis will be the first time that my family makes counting birds part of our holiday tradition, though the National Audubon Society has been conducting its Christmas Bird Count (CBC) for the past 114 years. This year we, along with numerous others, will be walking roads, peering at backyard feeders and looking to the skies to track birds.

Over the past few years we’ve taken steps to learn more about birds by participating in various bird counts organized by the National Audubon Society. Putting up a bird feeder is one of the things we manage to do no matter where we’ve lived. It is so peaceful watching our feathery friends come and go. We have a bird poster near the window in case any newcomer visits our feeder. Along the way we’ve learned what food attracts which birds and how to avoid the squirrels. Well, the squirrels are still a work in progress. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Learn About Visiting Snowy Owls

Snowy OwlWe’re experiencing what could be the largest-ever influx of Arctic Snowy Owls into the Northeast and the Great Lakes states, and more may be on the way.  Dr. Kevin McGowan, a biologist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology,  says this may be the first wave and we should expect more.

“More than likely these Snowy Owls are moving south from the Arctic because of a shortage of their favorite food up north—lemmings, or because of a bumper crop of young,” he said, “We can expect them to stick around through early spring before they head back to the Arctic again.”

This year’s Snowy Owl irruption is the largest recorded in decades in the Northeast and is an excellent opportunity to see these birds, so here are a few online resources to get you up to speed on our latest high profile visitors. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How Warm-Blooded Animals Stay Warm

geese on iceMy favorite season tends to be whatever comes next, which means, for now, deep winter. With our storm windows installed and four tons of wood pellets put up, I’m feeling smug as the ant in Aesop’s fable. But what about the furred and feathered creatures out there in the cold?

When I imagine a Canada goose on an icy pond, or a white tail knee deep in the white stuff, it makes me shiver and wonder: How do warm-blooded animals stay warm? » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Birds This Winter: The American Goldfinch

447px-American_goldfinch_winter_fNoting what visitors appear at a bird feeder in winter can provide some revealing information on the status of the local populations of the feathered creatures hardy enough to remain in the Adirondacks after cold weather becomes established. Aside from the regular flocks of black-capped chickadees, a pair or two of red-breasted nuthatches and blue jays, there may be juncos, redpolls, evening grosbeaks, pine siskins, purple finches and other closely related seed eaters.

This year, at least around my house in Saranac Lake, there has been a healthy number of American goldfinches, which is not surprising considering this past summer’s weather. From mid May through the first week in July, record setting rains soaked the region, and cool temperatures made conditions difficult for birds attempting to incubate eggs and care for a nest full of recently hatched offspring. However, after the 4th of July, the weather improved substantially. Bright skies, warm temperatures and moist soil created ideal growing conditions for plants, which was noted by people who attempted to keep their lawn properly mowed, individuals who maintained flower and vegetable gardens, and those souls that enjoyed harvesting our crops of wild berries. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

The 114th Christmas Bird Count: A Holiday Tradition

cbcpressroom_tuftedtitmouse-judyhowleThe year was 1900. The National Audubon Society did not yet exist and wildlife management was in its infancy. Through the century just ending, many people in this country participated in a holiday tradition known as a “side hunt.” Groups would gather, choose “sides,” and then compete to see which side could shoot the most birds (and other animals) in a day.

But some citizens were then becoming concerned about declining bird numbers. That year, American ornithologist Frank Chapman, founder of Bird-Lore magazine and later a leader in the emerging Audubon Society, proposed a new form of hunt in which participants would count birds instead of killing them. He called it a Christmas bird-census.  Chapman urged readers to help by “spending a portion of Christmas Day with the birds” and then submit to Bird-Lore a report of their count “before they retire that night.” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Loons Blown Down in Recent Windstorm

2013-NS RTLO Rls-9412-tAt least one Common Loon and four Red-throated Loons were blown down in a windstorm on Sunday, November 24th. The Biodiversity Research Institute’s (BRI) Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation received its first call Sunday afternoon concerning a Red-throated Loon that was in the Catamount Mountain parking lot, which was brought to the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge & Rehab Center. A second Red-throated Loon was found at Mt. Van Hoevenberg the following morning. Then a third loon was found up by Mountain View Lake and a fourth in the Old Forge area. And finally, a Common Loon was found on a road in the Glens Falls area.

Red-throated Loons breed in Canada and Alaska. They are much smaller birds than the Common Loons that summer here in the Adirondack Park. They must have been migrating to the coast for the winter when they encountered the strong winds on Sunday and got blown down. » Continue Reading.



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