Posts Tagged ‘Birding’

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Disappearing Adirondack Spruce Grouse

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.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Phil Brown: Time Running Out for Spruce Grouse

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.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Adirondack Wild Turkey in Winter

There are only a few dozen species of birds capable of surviving the rigors of an Adirondack winter, and of these, the wild turkey is one that is more closely associated with the warmer and less snowy regions to our south than the boreal woodlands to the north.

While the turkey is traditionally viewed as one the most successful inhabitants of open, temperate forests, the cold-hardy nature of this bird and its resourceful and adaptable traits permit it to survive throughout the Park, even during winters when intense cold and deep snows are the rule for lengthy periods of time.

With its large, round body and small head, the wild turkey possesses a shape well designed for retaining heat. Despite the lack of feathers on its head, the turkey is able to hold its head close enough to its body for much of the day to reduce heat loss from the limited amount of exposed skin that occurs on its face and over its skull. A dense covering of plumage over the core of its body, along with a layer of fat, helps this bird effectively conserve body heat. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Adirondack Wildlife: The Pileated Woodpecker

There are only a limited number of sounds that can be heard outdoors during the winter in the Adirondacks. While most of these noises tend to carry only short distances, there is one that is loud enough to travel well over a hundred yards. Even when the limbs and boughs are coated with an audio-absorbing layer of snow, the voice of the pileated woodpecker periodically breaks the silence and resounds through our mature woodlands.

Ornithologists are generally of the opinion that the pileated woodpecker uses it piercing, high-pitched “kac-kac-kac” call in winter to maintain contact with its mate during its daily search for food. Unlike most birds, once an adult male and female pileated woodpecker have established a pair bond, they tend to remain together throughout the entire year in the territory that they have claimed. Throughout the day, the birds routinely venture to various areas of the forest in search of clusters of invertebrate matter, especially carpenter ants that have taken refuge within the trees. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Adironack Wildlife: The Fall Loon Migration

It is typically in November when ice forms on the many ponds and lakes across the Adirondacks. This inevitable transition from a watery world into an icy plain causes the loon to abandon its summer home in remote wilderness locations and seek out an environment in which it can survive until the spring.

This process of relocation begins with the loons leaving their more traditional breeding grounds in remote ponds and back country lakes and moving to larger lakes in the same general region. Because large bodies of water take longer to freeze than smaller aquatic settings, traveling to much larger lakes gives the loon more time in its northern, fresh water environment before heading south. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Adirondack Waterfowl: Mallards in Autumn

As the leaves approach peak color, all of the region’s birds concentrate nearly all their time and efforts preparing either for migration; or establishing a local winter range in which to pass the winter and locating as many sources of food as possible. However, along with developing the food reserves needed to fuel the journey south, the mallard also spends a portion of its time courting members of the opposite sex, fending off rivals and establishing a pair bond with a specific individual.

While the reproductive season is more than a half year from now, the mallard has already developed its brightly colored breeding plumage and starts to engage in the process that occurs in other birds as the buds are swelling on twigs, rather than as the leaves are falling to the ground. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Slugs: Slimy, Slow, and Esurient

The arrival of cooler nights with widespread valley fog and heavy dew creates favorable conditions for many creatures that require excessive dampness. Among those forms of life that function best in moisture laden surroundings are the slugs, a collection of invertebrates known for their slimy, unappealing appearance, incredibly slow rate of travel, and ability to wreak havoc in gardens just as produce is getting ready to harvest.

Slugs, along with the snails, are gastropod mollusks. As a general rule, slugs lack the rounded or spiral-shaped exterior shell that typifies snails. There are many different categories of slugs, and attempting to determine the exact identity of an individual can be as challenging as trying to figure out what species of mosquito has just landed on your arm. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dave Gibson on Birding: The Tale of the Veery

Summer has flown. Bird song no longer greets our sunrise. Many Adirondack migratory songbirds are starting to fly to their wintering grounds in Central and South America and the Caribbean islands this month. I take account of one very familiar bird I really missed this summer. Since we moved to Saratoga County in 1984, the flute-like, descending song of the male Veery ( Ve-urr, Ve-urr, Ve-urr) penetrated from our woodlands, beginning in late May and lasting well through the summer. The bird bred and raised young here for at least 25 years, and probably for centuries before that.

Veery, one of our familiar upstate thrushes, was a constant in our summer lives until this year when I only began to hear Veery in our woods in mid- July, long after this species usually nests. Its immediate habitat hadn’t changed. With this 50-acre patch of forest habitat more or less unchanged, I conjecture there were simply fewer breeding Veery in the area to fill its favorable habitat, and a non-breeding adult came to these woods late in their season. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Adirondack Wildlife Festival August 6th

The Paul Smiths VIC will continue the tradition of hosting the Adirondack Wildlife Festival on August 6 from 10 AM to 8 PM. There will be presentations on all creatures great and small, from Bears to Salamanders, live music with Roy Hurd, storytelling with David Fadden of the 6 Nations Indian Museum, Mark Manske’s bird on hand demonstrations, fun and games, visits to the butterfly house and a special presentation on Loon Conservation in America by Dr. Jim Paruk.

Current schedule of activities includes: » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

‘Conference of the Birds’ Wild Center Theatre Event

The Adirondack Lakes Summer Theatre Festival continues its second season with an encore performance of stage director Peter Brook’s work performed in the Great Hall at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. After performing two sold out performances at St. Williams on Long Point, Conference of the Birds returns due to popular demand at a much-reduced cost. With a single performance on August 8th at 8 pm, audiences will get one last opportunity to see this production.

The storyline of the play focuses on a nation of birds in crisis. Urged on by one of their flock, the Hoopoe, they chart a path to find their king. Above all, the Hoopoe tries to help them conquer their fear of life as the stage becomes an astonishing aviary. Through masks, dance and song, this beautiful adaptation of the 12th Century poem comes to life in a magical evening of theater. Appropriate for all ages. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

DEC Seeks Turkey Survey Volunteers

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is encouraging New Yorkers to participate in the Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey, which kicks off in August.The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is asking New Yorkers to participate in surveys for wild turkeys.

Since 1996, DEC has conducted the Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey to estimate the number of wild turkey poults (young of the year) per hen statewide. Weather, predation, and habitat conditions during the breeding and brood-rearing seasons can all significantly impact nest success, hen survival, and poult survival. This index allows DEC to gauge reproductive success and predict fall harvest potential. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Watching Wildlife in the Adirondacks

What follows is a guest essay from the Adirondack Forest Preserve Education Partnership (AFPEP).

Bald eagles are the largest bird species that nest in the Adirondacks but they are just one of 220 species of birds that reside in the Adirondacks or pass through during fall and spring migration. 53 species of mammals and 35 species of reptiles and amphibians also make the Adirondacks their home.

Due to the vast size, unique habitats and geographic location of the Adirondacks many species of wildlife are found nowhere else in New York or are in much greater abundance here. Birds such as the Common Loon, Spruce Grouse, the Black-backed Woodpecker and the Palm Warbler; Mammals such as Moose, Otter, Black Bear and American Marten; and Reptile & Amphibians such as Timber Rattlesnake and Mink Frog. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 18, 2011

The Turkey Vulture: A Welcome Invasive Species?

Over the past several centuries, there have been numerous additions to the Adirondack flora and fauna. The recent Invasive Species Awareness Week highlighted some of the many forms of life that have invaded the region and are currently wreaking havoc with the established members of the region’s plant and animal communities. However, not all organisms from outside the area adversely impact the environment like Eurasian milfoil or the zebra mussel. One of the largest transplants to the North Country is the turkey vulture, a bird that occupies a niche for which few other creatures are so well suited. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Waterfowl: The Common Merganser

The pristine waterways of the Adirondacks that are a favorite for outdoor enthusiasts during the summer are also highly attractive to many forms of wildlife. While many creatures are often difficult to spot, others are regularly noticed by kayakers, canoeists, power boaters, and individuals simply sitting on a porch overlooking a busy lake, a quiet pond, or a back country river. Among those forms of animal life routinely seen, especially after the July fourth weekend, are the mergansers, which thrive in most of the larger aquatic settings within the Park.

The American, or common merganser, known to many as the fish duck, is recognized by its narrow, hook-tipped bill and a protruding row of feathers on the back of its head which often gives the impression that this bird is in need of a comb. This crest is far more pronounced in the female than in the male, however, both sexes have this irregularity to the profile of the back of their head. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bushwhacking with Compact Binoculars

Imagine walking down a trail or bushwhacking through some dense underbrush. A flash of movement appears out of the corner of your eye that just might be a three-toed woodpecker (or any other bird, mammal, insect, plant or mineral of interest).

The backpack is carefully is removed, opened, and fished through in an attempt to find a full-sized pair of binoculars. After finally locating the binoculars, the case is opened and the binoculars are ready to be focused on this rare bird species (or mammal, insect, plant or mineral). Unfortunately, it is long gone and you are out of luck. » Continue Reading.



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