Coinciding with the onset of bug season in the Adirondacks is the return of our insect eating birds. While nearly all of these perching birds have an attractive musical call that announces their presence, most maintain a secretive routine so they are rarely spotted.
The swallows are the most visible bug consumers as their preference for perching in exposed places and feeding over open settings allows these skilled aerialists to be regularly seen.
Additionally, their habit of placing their nest close to human dwellings and in plain view of any passerby makes them well known to residents and visitors of the Park. » Continue Reading.
I’m sitting on a picnic table on the shore of Lake Champlain. Valcour Island is in front of me, the sun is shining and the birds are chirping. Tonight is the calm before the storm so to speak, as the campground opens tomorrow.
Paved roads, electricity and hot showers are now plentiful, as is the wildlife. There are three osprey nests within a half mile of my new cabin, and of course, the raccoons are around a lot. Pico has been marking the yard, and that’s keeping them away for now, but the cats still aren’t going outside. » Continue Reading.
Spending time outdoors in the Adirondacks during spring is a rewarding experience, as the sounds that emanate from our forests, especially in the early morning, are sure to delight. While the musical calls produced by most birds are relatively short and composed of only a handful of notes, there are a few songs that are considerably longer and more complex.
The lengthiest and most intricate song that commonly graces our woodlands is one heard in patches of mixed forests where dense clusters of undergrowth or ground debris exist on the forest floor. This fast tempo melody is quite loud, yet comes from one of the smallest birds to nest in the Adirondacks – the winter wren. » Continue Reading.
The 2012 spring turkey season opens today (May 1) in all of upstate New York lying north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary. An analysis of the 2011 spring turkey take, including a county-by-county breakdown, can be found on the DEC website. Take figures for the 2011 fall turkey season and county-by-county breakdown can also be found online.
DEC is looking for turkey hunters to participate in their ruffed grouse drumming survey as hunters are ideally suited for monitoring ruffed grouse during the breeding season. Turkey hunters can record the number of grouse they hear drumming while afield to help DEC track the distribution and abundance of this game bird. To get a survey form, go online or call (518) 402-8886. To participate in DEC’s Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey or other wildlife surveys visit the “Citizen Science” page of the DEC website. » Continue Reading.
There’s a soft, wet blanket of snow covering everything. It’s also eerily quiet. The last two mornings I’ve been woken by a yellow-bellied sapsucker banging on the metal roof of the wood shed. And the morning before that, Pico woke me up barking at the turkeys that were walking by. Today, the birds are silent. The rabbits that are all over out here are brown on top and white on the bottom.
It’s an interesting sight as they sprint down the road in view of my headlights, then dart off into the woods. All winter, I saw lots of rabbit tracks, but no actual animals. Now that there is no snow and they are that awkward combination of colors, I see them all the time. Their winter camouflage obviously works well. » Continue Reading.
Using BirdLog, a data entry app for iPhone and Android smartphones, bird watchers can now use their smartphones to instantly report the birds they see, from wherever they see them. With one click, sightings go straight to the eBird citizen-science program run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon. eBird takes in more than a million bird reports each month from anywhere in the world. These reports are used by a global community of educators, land managers, ornithologists, and conservation biologists. BirdLog was developed by Birds In The Hand, creators of the popular BirdsEye bird-finding app, which is also based on eBird reports. “Bird watchers have waited for in-the-field data entry for years,” says eBird leader Marshall Iliff. “BirdLog’s simple interface not only makes it easy; it maximizes the usefulness of sightings for birding, science, and conservation.”
Fully integrated with the eBird online reporting system, BirdLog allows users to select from thousands of existing eBird Hotspots and personal bird-watching locations, or to use the built-in GPS services of the phone to allow easy and accurate creation of new locations. Users can create lists in BirdLog even if there is no cell coverage at their location.
BirdLog North America and BirdLog Worldwide are available via the iTunes app store or at the Google Play app store for Android devices. A portion of the proceeds goes to fund research and conservation work at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
The early break up of ice on ponds, lakes and marshes, along with a very healthy flow of water in streams and rivers, has made conditions far better for fishing this April than in recent years. Humans, however, are not the only creatures that prowl the banks of remote streams, or visit the shores of backcountry ponds, in an attempt to snag a small brook trout. Throughout the Adirondacks, there are numerous forms of life that are well adapted for catching fish, and among the most colorful and noisy is the belted kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon). With its large head, long, thick bill, jagged crest, and white band around its neck, the kingfisher provides a silhouette that is easily recognized. However, it is not the unique appearance of this stout bird that initially draws attention to its presence. Most anglers and individuals that simply spend time outdoors commonly become aware that a kingfisher is in the immediate area by noting its distinct rattling call. » Continue Reading.
The yellow-bellied sap sucker. My all time favorite name for an animal. I’ve seen two of them in the last week. This March was definitely a weird one as far as weather goes. Record breaking high temperatures led to several shirtless days outside and a sun burn on my back. It was about this time last year that I left Jacksonville and headed back up here. The year didn’t turn out any where near what I had planned, but that’s alright.
Now, I am completely absorbed with the amount of birds that have been popping up around here. I saw two grouse walk through the yard a little while ago, and there were a bunch of robins that passed through a few days ago. I’ve even seen a few geese flying by along with a bunch of others that I can’t identify. » Continue Reading.
When bird watchers joined this year’s Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), they recorded the most unusual winter for birds in the count’s 15-year history. With 17.4 million bird observations on 104,000 checklists, this was the most detailed four-day snapshot ever recorded for birdlife in the U.S. and Canada. Participants reported 623 species, during February 17–20, including an influx of Snowy Owls from the arctic, early-migrating Sandhill Cranes, and Belted Kingfishers in northern areas that might normally be frozen over. “The maps on the GBBC website this year are absolutely stunning,” said John Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “Every bird species has a captivating story to tell, and we’re certainly seeing many of them in larger numbers farther north than usual, no doubt because of this winter’s record-breaking mild conditions.” » Continue Reading.
Hunters are invited to submit recommendations for the dates of the Fall 2012 duck hunting seasons to regional Waterfowl Hunter Task Forces, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced. DEC will evaluate the task force recommendations in setting waterfowl seasons, which must comply with federal rules.
DEC is soliciting recommendations for the Fall 2012 hunting seasons, including opening and closing dates, split seasons and a special hunting weekend for youths. The recommended dates must be within federal guidelines established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). For Fall 2012, DEC expects the USFWS to allow a 60-day duck season, split into no more than two segments per zone, opening no earlier than September 22, 2012, and closing no later than January 27, 2013. » Continue Reading.
Strong and frequent southerly breezes, a disappearing snow pack at low elevations and the presence of large stretches of open water along streams, in the backwater of rivers and in marshes prompt the return of numerous forms of waterfowl to the Adirondacks.
Even though mid March is early for the arrival of some migrants from their wintering grounds, when the opportunity arises to reconnect with the area used for breeding, these flat-billed, webbed-footed birds take advantage of the favorable conditions and fly north. Included with these returning birds is one of the most colorful and handsome species of waterfowl in North America – the wood duck. » Continue Reading.
As the moon becomes full this week, the opportunity arises to be able to hike on a woodland trail or backcountry road well after dusk without the aid of an artificial light. Regardless of the amount of cloud cover, there inevitably exists on nights around this phase of the moon enough natural light to be able to travel into the woods using only lunar illumination. While nocturnal outings in mid spring can provide a great audio experience, there are relatively few sounds that disturb the silence at this time of year. However, among the seldom noted noises that occur in the Adirondacks in March and April is the call of the Adirondacks smallest nighttime aerial predator, the saw-whet owl. When initially heard, few people associate this distinct sound with that of an owl. Rather than bellow out muffled hooting notes, the saw-whet makes a rapid series of short “beeps” that resemble the noise produced by a back-hoe or other piece of heavy equipment when in reverse. The very quick tempo, or rate at which the saw-whet makes these beeps, (over a dozen in a 10 second interval of time) creates an air of haste to this bird’s call. Also, once it starts calling a few hours after sunset, the saw-whet continues uninterrupted for several hours in its seemingly intense bouts of vocalization. » Continue Reading.
For those who enjoy birds, Presidents’ Day weekend brings a chance to combine the pleasure of birdwatching with contributing to science’s understanding of current bird populations and their conservation. The 15th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), organized by Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (and Bird Studies Canada north of the border), is a nationwide mid-winter bird census that calls on bird enthusiasts everywhere to help assemble a picture of bird numbers and distribution. This year’s count dates are this week, February 17 – 20. » Continue Reading.
The spattering of sizable tracts of boreal forests that remain in the Adirondacks serve as home to several species of birds that have evolved the ability to survive in northern taiga woodlands. Among the feathered creatures that are well adapted for a life in lowland stands of conifers is the spruce grouse (Falcipennis canadensis), a dark colored bird viewed by some as being as much a symbol of the Great Northwood’s as the moose. As its name implies, the spruce grouse inhabits those softwood forests dominated mainly by spruce; yet not all spruce forests serve as home to this northern bird. High elevation forests that cover the upper slopes of our tallest peaks are not as suitable as lowland locations despite the similar presence of spruce and balsam fir. Because higher altitudes are more frequently buffeted by strong winds, the microclimate that exists there is more adverse than the one that characterizes sheltered, lowland settings. » Continue Reading.
Imagine if the population of Adirondack loons had declined more than 50 percent over the past two decades. Imagine too that loons stood a 35 percent chance of vanishing entirely from the Park by 2020.
Wouldn’t there be a public outcry from bird lovers and conservationists? Wouldn’t the Adirondack Council, which features a loon call on its website, be demanding that the state do something to stop the decline?
Don’t worry. The loon population appears to be stable. It’s only the spruce grouse that is in danger of vanishing from the Adirondack Park. » Continue Reading.
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