Posts Tagged ‘birds’

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What’s At Your Bird Feeder? Scientists Want to Know

btn-PFW-verticalThe 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.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Louse Flies: Avian Blood-Suckers

TOS_flatfliesWhen you find a bird feather in the woods and stoop to pick it up, does your mom’s voice echo in your brain? Can you hear her say, birds have lice, don’t pick that up? Mom was mostly right. Birds can have lice (though you won’t catch lice from a bird). But what Mom probably didn’t know is that birds have something far creepier lurking in their feathers. It’s six legged, leathery, and flat. And it sucks blood.

The good news? It does not want to suck your blood.

Avian hippoboscid flies – also called flat flies and louse flies – survive on bird blood. Estimates vary for the number of different species in our region, but there are likely more than ten, fewer than twenty. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Canada Geese: Autumn Immigrants

CanadaGoose3542468111TonyHisgettWhat 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.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

White-Throated Sparrow Migration

white-throated sparrowNumerous 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.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bird Migratory Quirks: Geese and Juncos

TOS_Bird_migrationThis 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.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

New Studies Put Focus On Adirondack Loons

Loons  Jlarsenmaher 2Biodiversity 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.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Birding: Broad-Winged Hawk Migration

TOS_BroadwingHawkIt 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.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cornell’s Merlin Bird ID App for Android Released

resultsMerlin, 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.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Adirondack Seagulls: The Ring-Billed Gull

Ring-billed_gull_groupAs 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.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Extinction: Passenger Pigeons In The Adirondacks

Adirondack Passenger PigeonOver the course of the past several years I have frequently paddled in the Raquette River -Tupper Lake area. A few weeks ago I paddled from the boat launch known as “The Crusher”, past the several camps where there was once a set of rapids, past the “Oxbow”; through “the Cut” into Simon Pond, and on to the New York State boat launch at Moody’s along Route 30. The day was sunny, and warm, with a slight breeze, and my fellow paddlers were great companions. It had been all-in-all a very and enjoyable paddle. But the present day description of the route is not what one would have experienced back in the 1850s.

In 1854, Samuel H. Hammond, a prominent attorney, newspaper writer and editor, State Senator and sportsman, wrote in Hills, Lakes, and Forest Streams: or A Tramp in the Chateaugay Woods (1854) about a sporting trip with his guide to Tupper’s Lake from Upper Saranac Lake. Hammond described a river that was considerably different, thanks to logging, blasting, damming, and flooding, than what we see today. One change Hammond would never have dreamed possible.  » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Campaign Seeks To Help Protect Nesting Adirondack Loons

2013-BRI-ACLC Limekiln Camera -Don't disturb nesting loonsBiodiversity 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.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Ed Kanze: The Unsung, Well Sung, Pine Warbler

ed_kanze_pine_warblerThe 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.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Learning To Keep Our Distance From Nesting Loons

2003-WFS Turtle Pd loon-7+t300There 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.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

WCS Calls for Volunteers to Survey Adirondack Loons

Loons  Jlarsenmaher 2The 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.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Green Herons: Birds That Bait

1024px-Green_Heron_North_Pond_ChicagoI’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.



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