Posts Tagged ‘birds’

Monday, June 23, 2014

Adirondack Birds: The Common Yellowthroat

799px-Common_Yellowthroat_by_Dan_PancamoThe overwhelming abundance of pesky insects in and around aquatic areas in the Adirondacks from late spring through mid summer can discourage travel to these picturesque settings, however, the hordes of bothersome bugs that thrive in wetlands help support the rich diversity of life that occurs around these places.

Among the birds that seek out mosquito, black fly, and deer fly infested streams, swamps and shrubby lake shores is a common and vocal warbler whose voice regularly echoes across these watery habitats. Despite its small size and effective protective coloration, the common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) can be seen by anyone passing through its domain as it bellows out its characteristic song from a perch that temporarily makes this Adirondack resident fairly conspicuous. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Noted Monarch Scientist At Wild Center On Thursday

LPB_headshot3_Jun07On his way to becoming an internationally recognized scientist for his work on Monarch butterflies and the evolution of warning coloration in nature, Professor Lincoln Brower first tickled the funny bone of the scientific community with his elegant research and photos of “barfing blue jays” and proved that milkweed toxin protects Monarchs.

As a young scientist at Amherst College in the 1960s, Dr. Brower proved that the toxin that Monarchs ingest from feeding on milkweed plants as caterpillars is so potent at sickening birds that a blue jay once exposed to them in a careful lab experiment, and then given other foods for a month, would vomit at the sight of a Monarch. Dr. Brower’s photos of the unlucky jays, published in the Scientific American in February 1969, still circulate on the internet.

Adirondack residents will have the chance to hear Dr. Brower discuss that famous experiment and his subsequent decades of research on Monarch biology as well as the current threats to their survival in a lecture at The Wild Center, 7:30. p.m. Thursday, June 26. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Great Horned Owl: Greatest Adirondack Predator?

GHOWbyTerryHawthorneWhen you ask most folks, which animal is the greatest hunter in the Adirondacks, they’ll usually say “fisher” or “bobcat”, or some other charismatic predator, but I believe the great horned owl may be the most efficient predator that has ever lived on earth period.

Its approach to hunting is based on a combination of stealth, remarkable powers of prey detection and location, and the application of strength all out of proportion to its size. Victims of a Great Horned Owl’s silent aerial attack typically are not aware of the owl’s presence until they are within the vice-like grip of the owl’s talons. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

New Book: Journey with the Loon

Journey with the LoonThe Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) has announced the publication of Journey with the Loon. Authors David Evers and Kate Taylor detail the story of the Common Loon, told from the perspective of first-hand, in-depth study.

Images by nature photographers Ginger and Daniel Poleschook capture the loon’s cycle of life through the seasons. In his Foreword, award-winning author and field biologist Jeff Fair recounts tales of “the simple joy in understanding such a wild spirit.” Published by Willow Creek Press, the 144-page hardcover book includes a companion DVD. » Continue Reading.


Friday, May 16, 2014

Ed Kanze: Birds Come, Birds Go, Birds Come Again

ed_kanze_eastern_phoebeMigratory songbirds rack up enormous numbers of frequent flier miles as they wing north and south and north again, all without tickets or boarding passes. The bobolink, for example, lives a life of perpetual summer, spending part of the year in sunny fields in our neck of the woods and the other part in the faraway reaches of Brazil and beyond.

Listen here as I ponder the whys and wherefores of fair weather birds in this weeks edition of All Things Natural with Ed Kanze. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bushwhacking for Boreal Birds

Bog south of Crooked LakeSpending time in the backcountry provides many benefits, from the physical exertion of traveling through a harsh terrain to the spiritual rejuvenation that only the sounds and smells of nature can provide. One important benefit for me personally is the pleasure of being intimately immersed in the sounds of bird life, some unique to the Adirondack region.

Unfortunately, this enjoyment appears to be in jeopardy as some of the most precious Adirondack bird species are in a deadly struggle for life and death. Some of the most iconic species of the north woods appear to be losing.
» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Birds: The Buzzy Song of Blackpolls

Blackpoll_warblerAs I have sailed past the half-century mark, I’ve begun to take note – usually with displeasure – of those activities that remind me that I’m getting older. Reading in dim lighting conditions is a near impossibility these days, and I avoid wearing socks as often as possible so I don’t have to acknowledge the difficulties of bending over to put them on.

Sadly, the aging process has also affected my ability to hear birdsong during spring migration. The blackpoll warbler has become especially challenging to hear. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Adirondack Wildlife: The Hooded Merganser

Hooded_Merganser_(Lophodytes_cucullatus)_(1)Spring is the time of year when most male birds support their brightest colored plumage. This makes them more attractive to a potential mate for the breeding season, however it also makes them more visible to any human traveling through their domain.

Among the birds far more likely to be seen during spring than at any other time of year is the hooded merganser, a handsome species of waterfowl that commonly resides in the many wooded wetlands scattered across the Park. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Return of the Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture of over florida (Wiki Commons)The very rapid loss of the snow pack that covered our region has created flooding concerns, curtailed, or completely ended, back country skiing for another year and has greatly improved foraging conditions for our ground feeding birds. Among the avian summer residents that benefit from periods of unseasonably warm weather, and the accompanying loss of snow, is a bird renowned for its scavenging talents.

Over eons of time, the turkey vulture has evolved various features to locate and capitalize on recently thawed carcasses of animals that were unable to survive the winter, and has become one of the most effective and visible scavengers in the Park. » Continue Reading.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Ed Kanze: Out For A Lark

ed_kanze_horned_larkBefore there was a cigarette and a compact car known as the lark, there was a bird. In fact, there was a group of birds. One of them, the horned lark, is native to our part of the world.

Listen to what larks do and don’t do in this week’s edition of All Things Natural with Ed Kanze. The next time you’re out on a lark, maybe you’ll see one. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Late Spring In The Adirondacks

Owl's HeadSpring seems to be painfully slow in returning to the Adirondacks this year. Substantial amounts of snow still linger in most places, and ice continues to cover the surface of nearly all stationary bodies of water throughout the Park. Despite the reluctance of winter to yield to spring, scattered patches of land devoid of ice and snow always develop in late March and early April, signaling the coming change in seasons.

These places of bare ground and open water inevitably attract birds that have returned northward in the weeks around the vernal equinox in their attempt to reach their breeding grounds early and lay claim to a prime mating territory. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Redefining Vermin: A Short History of Wildlife Eradication

Vermin01 BlackList1919Beware! Pictured here are your adversaries—the official enemies of the state. Don’t be distracted by the pretty colors, lovely feathers, or furry critters. These are vermin, and citizens are urged to kill them at every opportunity. The poster, by the way, represents only the top nine targets from a group of notorious killers, presented here alphabetically: bobcat, Cooper’s hawk, crow, English sparrow, goshawk, gray fox, great gray owl, great horned owl, house rat, “hunting” house cat, lynx, porcupine, red fox, red squirrel, sharp-shinned hawk, snowy owl, starling, weasel, and woodchuck. Kingfishers and a number of snakes were later added, and osprey were fair game as well.

While some of the phrases used above—“official enemies … kill them at every opportunity … new job requirement”—might sound like exaggerations, they were, in fact, official conservation policies of New York State a century ago.

It was all part of a Conservation Commission campaign in the early 1900s to eradicate undesirables (their word, not mine) from the food chain. The above-named animals were deemed undesirable in the realms of farming and hunting. They were just doing what comes natural—killing to eat, or gathering food—but those foods included barnyard animals, garden and field crops, and the vaguely defined “sporting” game that hunters treasured, particularly grouse, pheasant, and rabbits. Lest you think eradicate is too strong a word, the actual order in one state pamphlet was, “Destroy the Vermin.” » Continue Reading.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Birding: The Decline of Evening Grosbeaks

ed_kanze_grosbeakThe most glamorous of our winter birds, the evening grosbeak, isn’t extinct or even close. But it’s in a steep decline in many places. Sightings grow rare.

Listen as I consider why grosbeaks seem to be leaving us, and why they may eventually come back in this week’s edition of All Things Natural with Ed Kanze. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Adirondack Birds of Prey: Accipiters

AccipiterI was enjoying a morning cup of coffee in the sunroom when I saw the hawk.

It was perched across the road, maybe 30 yards away, its chest puffed up against the cold. It appeared to be eyeing the activity at our birdfeeder.

As I was trying to decide if it was a female sharp-shinned hawk or a male Cooper’s hawk, the bird launched from its perch, and in an instant had threaded its way through a dense tangle of road-side branches while in hot pursuit of a blue jay.

It all happened so quickly that I wasn’t even sure if the jay had been captured, although I was able to identify it as a Cooper’s hawk. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Diane Chase: On The Prowl For Owls

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 2.19.54 PMMy children seem to attract wildlife like iron to a magnet. It is not because they are good trackers or particularly quiet, as neither attribute is consistently true. It seems that they are observant and often at the right place at the right time.

Quite consistently when they accompany me on a hike we seem to view more wildlife, though eagles and snowy owls have evaded me to date. Opportunities to come across such majestic creatures come down to timing, organization and just luck. » Continue Reading.



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