Close encounters with wildlife have always fascinated me. But the behavior of wild animals can be, at best, difficult to understand and, at times, totally unpredictable. I once grappled with a robin who returned year after year, only to spend the entire summer flying into my office window in a seemingly endless war with its reflection.
Just last month, I was outside beside the woodpile, getting ready to bring in some firewood, when a male ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) stepped out from under a small spruce tree, fearlessly strutted right up to me, and steadfastly stood there on the ground, literally underfoot. I was actually afraid that I’d accidentally step on him. » Continue Reading.
As we leaned over a bog boardwalk, a student asked, “What’s that black stuff on the water?” I suggested gently poking it with a twig. This elicited the expected response: as though ejected from James Bond’s Aston Martin, tiny black flecks scattered, landing inches away and on my student’s hand.
Springtails, the Tiggers of the invertebrate world, are often seen bouncing out of footprints and depressions in snow; hence another moniker: “snowfleas.” Although they have six legs and hop, they’re not actually fleas. They’re not even insects. Taxonomic revisions have alternately kicked them out of and accepted them back into the insect club for decades. Springtails, who, as far as we know, don’t much care how they are classified, are now in a class of their own: Collembola. » Continue Reading.
The Champlain Basin Education Initiative has announced a free International Year of the Salmon Workshop for K-12 teachers, set for Saturday, January 25, 2020 in Grand Isle, Vermont.
Teachers will work with a fisheries biologist to learn about salmon life cycle, habitat needs, and restoration efforts in the Champlain watershed, with a Trout Unlimited angler to learn about Salmon and Trout in the classroom programs, and have a chance to dissect fish as well. The history of salmon and their importance as a food source to early inhabitants of the Champlain Valley will also be featured. » Continue Reading.
Late one January afternoon, my husband and I stood on the shore of a frozen pond below the summit of Camel’s Hump, admiring the view. Suddenly we heard familiar calls, and a flock of robins flew over. Robins? In winter? In the mountains? I was perplexed.
Later, I talked with a birder friend, who informed me that robins from Labrador and other northern regions migrate south to the Green and White Mountains in winter, where they feed on mountain ash berries. Indeed, during our snowshoe trek to the pond, we had noticed clumps of bright red fruit in the small mountain ash trees, topped with powdery snow. » Continue Reading.
Snow day! The announcement draws squeals of joy from students throughout the school district and groans from parents who must scramble to provide care for their kids and face a treacherous commute. But fourth-graders with overdue homework and harried parents aren’t the only ones whose fortunes hang in the balance when new snow blankets the region.
The Wild Center has announced that their award-winning Wild Walk will be available in winter for the first time, allowing visitors to see The Wild Center from a new perspective. The Wild Walk has been upgraded with thousands of feet of lights, snow activities and new photo opportunity stations, and is expected to remain open all season long.
The experience includes a four-story twig tree house, swinging bridges, a spider’s web and a full-sized bald eagle’s nest at the highest point – 42 feet in the air. The Wild Walk’s elevated path takes visitors up a winding trail of bridges and platforms from ground level to the treetops of the Adirondack forest. » Continue Reading.
Two chipmunks vie for seeds on our front lawn. One lives directly underneath the bird feeder. Another hails from the far side of the house, address unknown.
The chipmunks appear identical to me: same size, same stripes. Same interests, namely seed hoarding, aggressive chittering, jumping into the bushes and back out again, and brazen stiff-tailed standoffs with the dog. » Continue Reading.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner adoption of a regulation regarding feeding deer and moose.
DEC first prohibited deer feeding in 2002 in response to the threat of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) because concentrating deer or moose at feeding sites increases the risk of disease transmission. » Continue Reading.
I’ve always found slender, sharp, yellow-ochre beech leaves alluring, and it’s endearing how they cling onto saplings late into the fall. However, Fagus grandifolia, the American beech, tends to get a lot of flak from foresters.
The trees are plagued with beech bark disease, which ruins any timber value, and they can dominate the understory, shutting out sugar maple and prized yellow birch. Quick to arrive after most logging jobs, they sprout and sucker their way into dominance. » Continue Reading.
There are few things as equally hair-raising and awe-inspiring as a chorus of coyote calls. My first experiences with these were of the hair-raising variety when I worked at a summer camp in Lake Placid for three years right out of high school.
We spent the summer living in canvas tents that were draped over wooden platforms. At night we could see the fire reflected in the eyes of the “coydogs” that lurked in the trees between the junior and senior camps.
And then we would hear the howls…no, the wails…no, the…the… Words fail to describe the sound these animals make when they all sing together, but it was enough to make me wish that we had a lot more between us than a flimsy canvas wall. » Continue Reading.
Anything that brings a splash of color to the winter woods is a welcome sight. Much as I enjoy the stark black and white world of winter, sometimes it just needs a little something extra, and that extra something most often comes in the form of a bright and colorful bird, like the American goldfinch (Carduelis tristis).
Goldfinches are, as you no doubt know, small finches native to North America. Like many songbirds, the females are rather drab in appearance, sporting olive-green camos — all the better to hide in the trees, my dear. The males, however, are Crayolas on the wing. My favorite crayon when I was a kid was lemon yellow, and to my mind this will always be the color of the male goldfinch. » Continue Reading.
A couple of decades ago, I spent several winters living in Crested Butte, Colorado, where I learned to peer into the cottonwood trees between Route 135 and the East River on the rare occasion when I needed to travel south to the closest “big” town. There, just downstream from the local fish hatchery, I would often find a group of bald eagles perched and waiting for their dinner to swim by.
Growing up in the Northeast, I’d never seen a bald eagle close to home – and certainly not a dozen of them in one cluster of trees. But the birds that serve as our country’s emblem have made a remarkable comeback in recent decades and are now dispersed across the United States, north into much of Canada, and south into parts of Mexico. In northern New York and New England, adult bald eagles tend to stick around their territories throughout the winter, with younger interlopers from other areas passing through. » Continue Reading.
In my humble opinion, one of the most adorable animals in our Adirondack woods is the weasel in winter. To be more precise, it’s two animals: the short-tailed weasel, or ermine (Mustela erminea), and the long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata). Both animals, with their pristine white fur, black-tipped tails, black button noses and alert black eyes, embody the essence of cute and curious, while at the same time filling the role of efficient predator. Most of us, upon encountering a weasel, would be hard pressed to say if it was the long- or short-tailed variety, mainly because the encounter is likely to be fleeting. » Continue Reading.
It was small. Black … with a reddish band across the middle. It scuttled across the kitchen counter on six short legs. I had to swat at it more than once to kill it. It was… a larder beetle.
Larder beetles (Dermestes lardarius) are also known as bacon beetles, and, as you may have guessed, they are frequently found in our kitchens. A member of the scientific family Dermestidae, these insects, while at once creepy and revolting, serve an important function in the world: they clean up messes. That’s right. » Continue Reading.
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