Posts Tagged ‘Birding’

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Dave Gibson: The APA Says Science Can Wait

Adirondack_Park_Agency_in_Ray_Brook_NYIt’s happened again. The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) has eliminated a permit condition for advance studies to assure no harm comes to sensitive wildlife from new development on four mountain summits.

The entire project – a new Emergency Communication system for Essex County – could have still gone forward and been completed by next winter according to New York State Police – even with the permit condition in place. It’s remarkable how little pressure is required to cause APA to abandon its statutory purpose to protect delicate biological and physical resources of the Adirondack Park. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Cabin Life: Birds In The Yard

View from St Regis MountainSpring has decided to show up fashionably late.  I woke up to snow the last couple of days, and even though it’s been melted by lunch time each day, it has been discouraging to say the least.  However, even with the new snow showers, it is clear that winter is gone, even if spring hasn’t set in completely yet.

Pico and I went hiking the other day up St. Regis Mountain.  It was a crisp morning, but with clear skies forecasted all day, it seemed like a great opportunity to hike one of my old favorites before the bugs are out in any sort of force.  We set off and wandered through the woods down behind Paul Smiths and up the mountain. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sandy Hildreth: Hiking Before The Leaves Emerge

Chapel PondI’ve been gone for 10 days visiting family and so upon returning to the Adirondacks and waking up to blue skies and sun (and 21 degrees in April!), I decided to get out in the woods and check out one of my favorite little trails and see how far along spring actually was. I was especially interested in seeing the heron nest I’d found last spring, just about this same time, to see if the herons were back. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Adirondack Birds: The Dark-Eyed Junco

600px-Dark-eyed_Junco-27527Strong southerly wind in spring not only brings periods of mild weather to our region, but also helps usher in numerous species of migratory birds from their wintering grounds. Among the early arrivals to the Adirondacks, often before the snow finally disappears from wooded areas and north-facing hillsides, is a cold-hardy member of the sparrow family. Although this handsome bird is just as abundant throughout the Park as the white-throated sparrow, even in the harsh climate of upper elevations, the dark-eyed junco does not enjoy the same level of notoriety as its white-throated cousin.

The dark-eyed junco, (Junco hyemalis) known to most as simply a junco, is a common bird that is easy to recognize. The slate-gray color of its head and back stands in sharp contrast to its white underside and its stubby, creamy-pink bill. Also, the junco has white outer tail feathers that become particularly noticeable when it flicks it tail. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Ruffed Grouse: Breaking The Sound Barrier

grouseA distant motor thud-thud-thuds as if trying to start, then dies away.  The noise repeats, and again dies off. I’ve been fooled by this sound, wondering who could be trying to start a 2-cylinder engine in the middle of the woods. This mechanical noise, of course, is really the drumming of a male ruffed grouse.

People once thought that male grouse struck their wings on a hollow log to produce this low whumping, but better observation revealed something far more astonishing. The bird stands bolt upright on a log, leans back on his tail, and fans his wings vigorously – so fast, in fact, that the wings achieve the same speed as the sound waves generated by their passage through the air. This causes the sound waves to “pile up” into a penetrating shock wave, also known as a sonic boom. For a one-and-a-quarter-pound grouse to exert such force takes strength and perseverance. Novice males have been observed going through all the motions and not producing any sound at all. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Adirondack Birds in Spring: Nesting Crows

Nesting CrowsRegardless of how cold and inclement the weather may be at the onset of April, several species of birds begin to nest in the weeks following the equinox, occasionally amid periodic bouts of snow, unrelenting north winds and freezing temperatures. In the Adirondacks, one early nester is a common denizen of fields, highway corridors, heavily used campsites, and villages throughout the Park and is among our most familiar birds.

The large size and jet black plumage of the crow makes this bird difficult to overlook, and its characteristic “cawing” call is among the most recognizable sounds in nature. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

DEC Plans To Introduce Spruce Grouse

close-up-of-maleThe state may introduce spruce grouse into the Adirondacks as early as this year to bolster a native population that appears headed for extinction.

Without intervention, the state’s spruce-grouse population could vanish by 2020, according to a recovery plan released today by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

“The spruce grouse is perhaps the best-known icon and a perfect representative of boreal habitats in New York,” said Michale Glennon, a scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Adirondack Program, in a DEC news release. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Rubber Loons Flocking Back to Adirondacks

ESF loonThe Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC) celebrates the beginning of spring with plans for its second rubber loon race, billed as the only event of its kind in the United States. “Common loons migrate back to their breeding grounds in the Adirondacks in the spring. Our rubber loons will be back in action, too,” AIC Program Coordinator Paul Hai said.

Dubbed the “Loon Drive,” the race will be a highlight of the Memorial Day Weekend festivities that celebrate the AIC’s second year of operation as part of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Newcomb Campus. The college took ownership of the facility in 2011. The loon race last year used American-made rubber waterfowl manufactured by CelebriDucks of California. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Preventing Conflicts With Coyotes And Bears

CoyoteThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has issued guidance on preventing conflicts with coyotes and bears. With the onset of warmer weather, New York’s black bear population will be on the move and coyotes are setting up denning areas for soon-to-arrive pups. Conflicts with people and pets may result as coyotes become territorial around den sites and increase the frequency and intensity of foraging to provide food for their young.

Eastern coyotes and black bears are firmly established in New York, and an integral part of our ecosystems. In most cases, these animals avoid people as much as possible. However, if they learn to associate people with food (e.g., garbage, pet food, bird feeders), they may lose their natural fear of humans, and the potential for conflicts increases dramatically. Here are steps you can take to avoid conflicts with coyotes and bears: » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bicknell’s Thrush and the Endangered Species Act

Photo by T.B. Ryder, USFWS.This month the Center for Biological Diversity notified the US Fish & Wildlife Service of its intent to sue for protection for the Bicknell’s thrush (Catharus bicknelli) under the federal Endangered Species Act. The Bicknell’s thrush uses the high elevation forests of the northeast as its breeding habitat.

I had a chance to talk with Mollie Matteson, long-time environmental advocate in the West and Vermont, about her work for Center for Biological Diversity on the future of the Bicknell’s thrush and the Endangered Species Act.

Bauer: What is the current state of Bicknell’s thrush in the northeast US? » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Waiting For Spring: No Robins Yet!

American Robin by Wikimedia user MdfThe date of the first day of spring varies greatly, as the starting point of this anticipated time of the year depends upon how this season is defined. For those that rely on the calendar, spring begins on Wednesday, as this is when our tilted planet is at a particular position in its orbit around the sun.

For individuals more attuned to meteorology and climatology, spring officially starts on March 1st, as this is when a change in weather patterns traditionally commences. For many back-yard naturalists and people interested in something more noticeable, the sighting of a robin marks the onset of spring. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Outside Story: Golden-Crowned Kinglets

KingletThe only regal thing about the golden-crowned kinglet is the crest of yellow-orange feathers atop its head. Everything else about this speck of a songbird’s appearance and behavior would make any proper monarch frown. It’s half the size of a black-capped chickadee yet twice as energetic: a gregarious and kinetic bird wrapped in unassuming olive-gray plumage. Yet this tiny creature faces head-on winters that animals fifteen thousand times its size (we’re looking at you, black bears) hide from.

Winter survival for animals in the Northeast often involves setting their metabolisms to “simmer” and waiting out the coldest months in a state of hibernation (in the case of many mammals) or some equivalent torpor (most reptiles, insects, amphibians). In the most dramatic cases (wood frogs, woolly-bear caterpillars), the animals simply freeze solid and thaw in spring. Songbirds, given the luxury of flight, often simply flee.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Birds: Making Ends Meet with a Crossed Bill

crossbillCrossbills are one of our most specialized groups of birds, feeding almost exclusively on conifer seeds. These hardy, nomadic finches have evolved oddly-shaped bills that allow them to exploit a food source before it becomes available to most other birds. However, being so specialized and relying on a single primary source of food means that when that food is unavailable, they have to search far and wide to make ends meet.

North America has two species of crossbills – white-winged crossbills (Loxia leucoptera) and red crossbills (Loxia curvirostra). Both are widespread across boreal regions dominated by conifer trees, and populations extend south into mountainous areas, with red crossbills reaching as far south as Mexico. In the Northeast, the more slender-billed white-winged crossbill, which is more commonly observed, spends most of its time foraging on the relatively small cones of spruce, balsam fir, hemlock, and tamarack, while red crossbills are typically associated with large-coned white and red pines.
» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

General Permit Fails to Address Today’s Forest Challenges

logging roads on Finch landsThere has been some good writing on forestry issues in the Adirondack Park in the media recently, stimulated by the APA’s proposed, controversial General Permit for clear-cut logging. Adirondack Wild applauds the discussion and encourages more of it.

The APA held a stakeholder meeting recently of Agency staff, forest landowners and managers, scientists, and environmental groups where a conversation ensued about the difficulties that face forests and forest managers today in the Adirondack Park (and beyond). The dialogue needed to happen, and it should continue, but the General Permit (GP) does more than just get in the way of that discussion. It does little to solve the problems discussed, and cuts out the public’s involvement in these matters and, even worse, it subjects forest landowners who might apply for the GP to a perception of unfair dealings with the Agency in order to expedite the clear-cutting of their lands. That’s may be an unfair characterization, but that is the public’s perception. All in all, this General Permit is a just a bad idea. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Backyard Bird Count: Adirondacks Still Underrepresented

GBBCIf thousands of New Yorkers counted birds in their backyards and across the landscape for four days in the middle of February, how many species would they find? And what species do you think they would spot most frequently?

Well, it happens that it is possible to answer these questions, and many more, for the past fifteen winters as a result of the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). This annual “citizen science” project  is designed to encourage bird enthusiasts to combine the pleasure of observing birds with gathering data that will help scientists better understand trends in bird populations and locations.

The 16th annual GBBC, occurring over this President’s Day weekend (February 15-18) once again aims to develop a nationwide mid-winter bird census and calls on bird watchers everywhere to help assemble a picture of bird numbers and distribution. » Continue Reading.



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