How do you know when spring has begun? Is it the flow of maple sap? The first crocuses coming up through the snow? Ice out on local lakes? The arrival of the first red-winged blackbirds? The clamor of peepers? Apple trees and/or lilacs blooming?
Meriam-Webster defines phenology, which is derived from the Greek word ‘phaino’ meaning to show or appear, as ‘a branch of science dealing with the relations between climate and periodic biological phenomena.’ Think of it as a timeline or chronology of periodic natural events; such as when insects hatch or arrive; when flowers and plants emerge, bloom, and produce seed; when migrating birds and insects (e.g. monarch butterflies) arrive, mate or nest, and depart; and how all of these function within ecosystems and respond to change. » Continue Reading.
When I hear the phrase “trap tree,” an image of Charlie Brown’s kite-eating tree in the Peanuts comic strip comes immediately to mind. But trap trees, or sentinel trees, are meant to nab a much smaller flying object, the emerald ash borer (EAB).
The idea is to make certain ash trees more attractive to EAB, to serve both as a monitoring tool and as a means of slowing the rate of ash death. Early in the growing season, a chosen ash tree is girdled, which stresses it and induces it to create certain phenols and alcohols not present in healthy trees. It is on this chemical signature that the adult emerald ash borers home in. » Continue Reading.
Moose (Alces alces) are the largest member of the deer family and the largest land mammal in New York State. DEC staff, in collaboration with other groups, are currently conducting aerial distance sampling for moose across the Adirondacks.
During this multi-year research project, the team is expected to obtain information on the status of New York State’s moose population, health of the moose, and factors that influence moose survival and reproduction. » Continue Reading.
Great horned owls are large birds (adults can be 18-25 inches in length) and have large ear tufts on their head and large yellow eyes. Their feathers are usually a mix of colors: white, reddish-brown, gray, and black with a white patch on their throats. » Continue Reading.
When you think about the iconic landforms of the Northeast, what comes to mind? The mountains, of course. The lakes. Of course. Rivers? Probably.
But there’s another. Stone walls. An estimated 100,000 miles of them. They might not be as impressive as the Great Range, Hudson Gorge, or Lake George, but collectively they make a big impact on the landscape and the creatures who live there. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has issued the agency’s annual guidance on preventing conflicts between people and coyotes as spring temperatures approach.
With the onset of warmer weather, many of New York’s resident coyotes set up dens for pups that will arrive this spring. Coyotes are well adapted to suburban and even some urban environments, but for the most part they will avoid contact with people. However, conflicts with people and pets may result as coyotes tend to be territorial around den sites during the spring through mid-summer period as they forage almost constantly to provide food for their young. » Continue Reading.
As I write this at my home, there’s snow on the ground. But spring is almost here. In fact, as I opened the door to leave my house this morning, I was greeted by a sure sign of spring; the patently pungent smell of skunk! And I couldn’t help but wonder if the little stinker, indeed, missed or misted its adversary.
It never ceases to amaze me how animals can spend the winter months in hibernation (deep sleep) or torpor (a state of decreased physiological activity during periods of extreme cold; light hibernation) in order to survive months of harsh weather and scarcity of food. They’re waking up now, and coming out of their dens and lairs looking for (in the case of skunks, mates and) something to eat. » Continue Reading.
May is bird heaven in our region. All the species that headed south the previous year are back: the flycatchers, vireos and thrushes; the warblers, wrens and swallows; even the ruby-throated hummingbirds and scarlet tanagers are in full force. But May and its riches of bird seems distant in early March – too far into the future to even contemplate.
The first day of spring, on the other hand, is just around the corner. And while the Adirondack air may still be frigid and the ground often snow-covered, bird populations are nonetheless on the move. By St. Patrick’s Day or shortly thereafter, killdeer, tree swallows, eastern meadowlarks, phoebes and robins will be flitting through our woods and fields again. Red-winged blackbirds sometimes show up as early as late February. » Continue Reading.
An online Pollinator Plant Sale hosted by the Adirondack Pollinator Project is underway, and will continue through May 31st.
All flowers are local to the Adirondacks and were selected for their ability to attract pollinators, like bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. The plants are being cultivated without the use of pesticides by locally-owned Cook & Gardener Nursery in Plattsburgh. » Continue Reading.
I had just finished my safety talk to some middle school students when I heard a bloodcurdling scream. In many years handling aquatic insects and other small water creatures, I have never been wounded. Crayfish have once or twice gotten hold of me but never drawn blood. So I was quite surprised to hear through the minor chaos that a student had actually been bitten.
There were no crayfish where we sampled in Winooski, Vermont floodplain ponds and only one likely candidate to produce such a scream. It was the reason I had specifically warned my students to use forceps. » Continue Reading.
Excessive tinder is a major contributor to forest fires, but a shortage of Tinder can lead to an early death. For social animals like canines, deer, dolphins, elephants, primates such as bonobos and humans, and even bees and ants, contact with others is as essential to well-being as food and water.
A 2015 study done at Brigham Young University which garnered much news coverage in 2017 and early this year found that loneliness may be a greater health risk than smoking and obesity combined. » Continue Reading.
I have been living with an otter. He’s long and sleek, a graceful swimmer with an insatiable appetite for fish. At first he was just my boy, a chubby little toddler, happy to snuggle and follow his big sister around. But on the first snow fall of his second year of life, I watched him in his slick blue snowsuit climb up our steep hill, point his round little head down the hill and go, a daring headfirst belly slide. He repeated and repeated until at last he fell asleep at the bottom of his sliding trough, a smile on his red cheeked face. I knew then that I should have named him Lontra canadensis, instead of Liam Samuel. » Continue Reading.
The Eastern hemlock is one of the most abundant trees in New York and a major component of the forests in the Lake George – visible in nearly every corner of watershed.
Hemlock stabilize streambanks and shorelines, protect water quality of the streams that flow into the lake, and provide value to local forest products economies.
But last summer, a small population of hemlock woolly adelgid was found on Prospect Mountain in Lake George. The terrestrial invasive insect, native to East Asia, has been killing large swaths of hemlock trees from the Great Smokey Mountains to the Catskills and is making its way north, having finally reached Lake George. » Continue Reading.
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