Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Strange Lives of Porcupines

Porcupine in Denali by Steve HallNorth American porcupines are large rodents whose ancestors apparently crossed from Africa to South America on floating trees and logs some 30 million years ago. Their most prominent feature are the approximately 30,000 quills which grow individually everywhere out of the skin musculature, interspersed with bristles, under fur and hair.

The quills help the porcupine defend themselves from attacks by predators. The only quill free areas are the face and underside. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 6, 2020

Guidance to Avoid Coyote Conflicts

Eastern coyote radio-collared by researchers at DEC and SUNY ESF

The Eastern coyote is found in many habitats, from rural farmland and forests to populated suburban and urban areas in New York State. Coyotes are well adapted to suburban and even urban environments, but for the most part will avoid conflicts with people.

However, conflicts with people and pets may result, particularly during the spring denning and pupping period. If coyotes learn to associate food, such as garbage or pet food with peoples’ homes, they may lose their natural fear of humans and the potential for close encounters or conflicts increases. » Continue Reading.


Kid next to water
Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Pileated Woodpeckers: Winter Excavators

Pileated Woodpecker by Adelaide TyrolWhenever I spy a pileated woodpecker traversing the sky, I pause to watch its weird undulating flight. The jerky rise-and-drop movement of this large woodpecker is endearingly gawky – like a mini pterodactyl visiting from the Cretaceous period. This time of year, the bird’s bold crimson crest flashes in stark contrast to the mostly-muted colors of winter.

Pileated woodpeckers – Dryocopus pileatus – take their common and scientific names from the Latin word for “capped.” Both male and female sport the namesake red crest, as well as black streaks across the eyes. Measuring about 18 inches long, they have wingspans that can stretch past two feet. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 3, 2020

Fishers: Don’t Give A Damn About Their Bad Reputation

fisher provided by Adirondack Wildlife RefugeWhenever the subject of fishers comes up, you hear they’re mean, nasty and vicious – a smaller wolverine with attitude. Fishers get a pretty bad rap, but when they do, there’s a great deal of projecting and anthropomorphizing going on.

Fishers aren’t mean or evil, and they don’t really eat many house cats at all. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 27, 2020

Beavers: Nature’s Architects and Engineers

Beaver in Algonquin Park by Steve HallBeavers are the great architects of American ponds and streams. The North American beaver competes with the Eurasian beaver to be the 2nd largest rodent in the world, after another semi-aquatic mammal, the South American Capybara. The average weight of a beaver in New York State is 42 lbs, though 60 pounders are not that unusual. Beavers have an average body length of 2 and ½ feet to 3 feet, and a flat swimming rudder tail of 8 to 14 inches. The tail doubles as a warning device, used to loudly slap the water when predators, dogs or people are sighted.

Beavers can stay under water for about 15 minutes, with their ears and nostrils sealed, and can live to be twenty years plus. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 25, 2020

An Unusual Encounter With A Ruffed Grouse

ruffed grouse by richard gastClose 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.


Saturday, January 25, 2020

Snowfleas: Your Chance To Name A New Species

Aquatic Springtail by Adelaide TyrolAs 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.


Sunday, January 19, 2020

Champlain Valley Salmon: A Free Teacher Workshop

Don Lee lands a salmon in the Saranac RiverThe 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.


Saturday, January 18, 2020

Winter Fruit Provides Bounty for Wildlife

winter robin by adelaide tyrolLate 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.


Monday, January 13, 2020

Adirondack Bobcats, Wildlife In Deep Snow

bobcat in winterSnow 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.

A snowfall can bring salvation or suffering to wild critters as well. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, January 12, 2020

Wild Center Adds Ice Shanty; Wild Walk Going Year-Round

Wild Centers Wild Walk in WinterThe 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.


Saturday, January 4, 2020

Chipmunk Game Theory 101

chipmunk by adelaide tyrolTwo 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.


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

New Deer, Moose Feeding Regulations Adopted

whitetail deer provided by decNew 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.


Saturday, December 28, 2019

Appreciating the American Beech

american beech by adelaide tyrolI’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.


Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Eastern Coyote: The Adirondacks’ Large Canid

eastern coyoteThere 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.



Kid next to water

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