During the winter season, New York trappers will continue setting leghold and “Conibear,” or body-crushing, traps throughout the countryside. Their goal is to capture coyotes, foxes, bobcats and other wildlife.
These devices are frequently placed around trails and roads enjoyed by hikers, nature enthusiasts and their companion animals. Unfortunately, pet owners remain largely unaware that such devices could lie in wait, threatening our dogs, cats and other unintended targets. » Continue Reading.
Body-surfing monster waves in Australia; snowboarding down rooftops in Alaska on improvised boards; tobogganing into deliberate pileups at the bottom of steep hills — the range of unsupervised play that youngsters can get into is jaw-dropping. That’s not to mention the dangerous romping and horseplay, as well as rude games like spit-soccer in the pool. Honestly, they are such animals.
Biologists have long pondered why so many animal species evolved to play, occasionally at their peril. And to some extent, they are still wondering. Juvenile play in primates such as humans and apes is well-documented, and other mammals such as dogs and cats clearly play as well, but it turns out a surprising array of animals engage in frivolous games. » Continue Reading.
Think about the last unexpected mammal, bird, or amphibian that you crossed paths with in a wild space. Perhaps it was a black-backed woodpecker near a bog. Maybe it was an unassuming spotted salamander among the fallen leaves. I once saw a frolicking family of fishers on a walk in the woods.
Anecdotal wildlife encounters help to remind us we aren’t alone in this world. We share natural landscapes with thousands of species who call them home. But look at a map of the Eastern Adirondacks and a few things stand out: Lake Champlain’s massive coastline, the Adirondack Forest Preserve closer to the Park’s interior, and the Adirondack Northway (I-87), splitting the region in two. » Continue Reading.
In the early 1900s, numerous elk were set loose at several places in the Adirondacks, with the hope of re-introducing the species.
These efforts, made possible by private individuals, were described briefly in a book by William Temple Hornaday, American Natural History: A Foundation of Useful Knowledge of the Higher Animals of North America, Volume 2 (published in 1914). » Continue Reading.
The Lake George Arts Project’s Courthouse Gallery has announced “Adaptations to Extremes,” an Art-Science exhibition set to run from January 19th to February 22nd.
An opening reception has been set for Saturday, January 19th from 4 to 6 pm, and a panel discussion writer Michael Coffey serving as moderator on Sunday, January 20th at the Bolton Historical Museum at 3 pm. Both events are free and open to the public. » Continue Reading.
Hundreds of years ago, haunting bugle-like calls echoed through these hills and valleys. The sounds were made by bull elk to attract mates and fend off rivals.
Elk in the Northeast? Yes, elk were once the most widely distributed of North American hoofed mammals. Millions roamed over much of the U.S. and Canada. Adaptable to a variety of habitats, elk were found in the Adirondacks, and in most ecosystems except the tundra, deserts, and the Gulf Coast. » Continue Reading.
An educational program, “Emerging Invasive Forest Pests: Identification, Prevention & Management,” has been set for Wednesday, January 16th, 2019 from 9 am to 3:30 pm at the St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES Education Center’s Classroom A, 40 West Main Street in Canton, NY.
The program will provide information on four invasive species in the Adirondacks, Asian Spotted Lanternfly; Asian Earthworms; Oak Wilt; and Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, as well as a Hemlock Woolly Adelgid scouting trip. » Continue Reading.
Some people keep lifelong birding lists. I’ve tried, but birds and I have never really hit it off. Too many colors, too many species, and I’m tone deaf, so birding by ear is completely beyond me.
I do keep a lifelong weasel list. I can tell you exactly where I was when I saw my first white-coated ermine and how many times I’ve seen a mink. My best fisher sighting was particularly memorable: I watched in awe as it jumped from tree to tree in pursuit of a gray squirrel. » Continue Reading.
Under future climate scenarios, changing winds may make it harder for North American birds to migrate southward in the autumn, but make it easier for them to come back north in the spring according to researchers from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
They came to this conclusion using data from 143 weather radar stations to estimate the altitude, density, and direction birds took during spring and autumn migrations over several years. They also extracted wind data from 28 different climate change projections in the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Their findings were published in the journal Global Change Biology. » Continue Reading.
There’s a giant living in Coös County, New Hampshire. It’s a 61-foot tall tree, the country’s largest known American mountain ash. At last measurement, it stood at a height of 61 feet and had a circumference of 70 inches. That’s outstanding for a tree that’s described by most sources, including my old dendrology textbook, as “a small tree or shrub.”
This tree is a champion — but the species as a whole has a lot going for it. I love the mountain ash for the beauty of its white flower clusters and red berries. More importantly, though, it fills an important spot on the menu for birds and mammals, especially in winter. » Continue Reading.
I once lived in a cottage perched atop a sloping field in Western Massachusetts. It was the lone structure at the edge of undeveloped forest and sat far from the road. The cottage had a large front deck with an expansive view and a smaller one in back that faced the forest. It was under the small deck that a porcupine took up residence one fall, for a stay that turned out to be briefer than I would have liked.
Since he wasn’t damaging the house, and didn’t seem aggressive, I didn’t mind his presence. Until my dog, Beckett, met him. Beckett, a 55-pound mixed breed, could not learn the porcupine lesson. He was always certain that this time – this time – he would be victorious. Fed up with yanking quills out of him or taking him to the vet after especially bad encounters, I was desperate to figure out how to share the space peaceably with our resident rodent. » Continue Reading.
It’s the time of year when the landscape is laid bare, the ground is impenetrable with frost, and flying insects have faded into memory. As fall slides into winter, resident songbirds like robins and waxwings must switch from their warm weather diets of earthworms and arthropods to the best of what’s left: fruit, and lots of it. As it turns out, this is also the time of year when conditions become ripe for the conversion of fruit sugars into alcohol via natural fermentation.
Studies show that waxwings, whose winter diet is comprised almost exclusively of fruit, metabolize alcohol seven times faster than finches (seed eaters) and three times faster than starlings (omnivores). In addition, a waxwing’s liver constitutes nearly 5 percent of its total body weight, compared to just under 3 percent for starlings and finches. Larger livers and higher rates of alcohol metabolism likely evolved in response to occasional exposure to fermented fruit. For the most part, these adaptations enable waxwings to dine on boozy berries without ill effect. » Continue Reading.
The sound of a gray jay (Perisoreus canadensis) evokes an image of the North Woods: dark green spruce trees, spire-like balsam fir, and bare-branched tamaracks silhouetted against a raw, slate-colored sky; the smell of woodsmoke in the air and a dusting of fresh snow on the ground. I see these birds occasionally around our cabin in northern New Hampshire and on hikes at higher elevations in the White Mountains. They’ve always had an air of mystery about them.
The bird is often heard before it’s seen. The gray jay has a number of calls, whistles, and imitations in his repertoire: many are harsh sounding, and I have witnessed gray jays mimic the scream of the blue jay. My favorite call, though, is what some ornithologists refer to as “the whisper song.” This is a soft, warbling chatter that can sound either cheerful or melancholy – depending, I suppose, on the mood of the listener. Not long after hearing the whisper song, a group of birds will suddenly appear, silently swooping and gliding from branch to branch. » Continue Reading.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Warren County Cornell Cooperative Extension have announced a workshop on hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) has been set for December 15, at the DEC Region 5 Office in Warrensburg.
Charlotte Malmborg, a natural resources technician with the New York State Hemlock Initiative at Cornell University (NYSHI), will provide information on the importance of hemlock trees in northeastern forests, the threat presented by HWA, and how landowners can identify and manage HWA infestations. She will also introduce New York State Hemlock Initiative’s research of biological control opportunities and describe the role of NYSHI in promoting hemlock conservation in New York State. » Continue Reading.
Over the past two decades, biologists have been busy studying one of our native mythological birds. At once the most widely distributed member of the crow family, and a figure revered across the globe by civilizations both ancient and modern, the common raven (Corvus corax) is anything but ordinary.
In Norse mythology, the god Odin had two ravens who flew around the world gathering information for him, and the Irish giant and culture-hero Cú Chulainn was honored by a visit from the goddess Morrígan who appeared as a raven. To the modern Haida and Tlingit peoples out West, the raven is a bird of surpassing intelligence, as well as a culture-hero who is responsible for creating humans, and causing much mischief as an inveterate trickster. » Continue Reading.
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