Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Adirondack Wildlife: Angry Birds

angry birds TOSOne morning in mid-March, I opened the door to discover a dark-eyed junco frenetically battling another bird. Or at least it thought it was another bird. His nemesis was, in fact, his own reflection in the stainless-steel chimney of my wood stove. The junco was perched on a bracket between the chimney and the house and every few seconds would flutter in front of his reflection and repeatedly peck it.

The chimney was still cool, as I had started a fire only minutes before, but I assumed that eventually the heat would deter the bird from getting too close and that would be the end of that. But it wasn’t. The steel apparently never got hot enough, and the conflict raged on. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Moose Inspires Adirondacks To Algonquin Park Trail

MooseThe two-year journey of a 700-pound moose named Alice has inspired plans for a long-distance trail that would connect the Adirondacks to Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park.

The Algonquin to Adirondacks (A2A) Trail would combine existing hiking trails, rail trails, main roads, and back roads to create a four hundred-mile route bridging the two parks. While conceived as a hiking path, options for bicycles and even paddlers are also under consideration. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Adirondack Monarch Butterfly Tag Found In Mexico

800px-Monarch_In_MayThe journey of the monarch butterfly from the northeastern United States to the tropical forests in Mexico every fall is considered a magical one. How could such a lightweight, delicate looking insect survive a journey of more than 3,000 miles?

The feat has drawn the admiration of naturalists and others, including Dan Jenkins, who lives on the shores of Upper Saranac Lake. Jenkins’s property is located on what, he says, is a monarch flyway between Upper Saranac Lake and Raquette River. Because of that, he consistently sees monarchs passing through his yard in the fall as the insects head south. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Adirondack Snakes: Smelling With A Forked Tongue

TOS snakeDid you ever use your hands to scoop the air toward your nose when someone takes a pie out of the oven? Snakes are doing the same thing when they flick their forked tongues.

“They are manipulating the air, bringing chemicals from the air or the ground closer so they can figure out what kind of habitat they’re in, whether there are any predators nearby, and what food items are around,” explained biologist William Ryerson. This time of year, a number of our native species may also use their tongues to track the pheromone trails of potential mates, sometimes over long distances. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Signs Of Spring: Robins On The Nest

the outsider robinWe noticed the first robin in our yard this year in early March. Normally these famous spring harbingers, who move in comically stilted hops across our front lawn, don’t show up until at least April Fool’s Day. Their earlier-than-usual arrival made me wonder how robins decide to begin a spring migration.

The American robin, with its celebrated rusty-red breast, is a short-distance migrant. These members of the thrush family – the brightly-hued eastern bluebird and the melodious hermit thrush are cousins – move based on a number of factors, mainly related to food supply and the weather. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Molting: Bird Feathers Flying

“Boy, he’s really red! I don’t think I’ve ever seen them that red before,” my wife said admiringly of a male purple finch crunching sunflower seeds at the feeder. He was a nice burgundy. The male goldfinches were getting yellower, but still looked scruffy. The birds made me optimistic that spring would finally get here. The next morning it was ten degrees.

Birds molt for a basic reason: feathers wear out. All that flying, preening, dust bathing, weaving through limbs of bushes and trees. For a bird, ratty feathers can be a death sentence. Feathers, which are made of keratin, like your hair and nails, have to be replaced. There is another reason to molt: it allows birds, mainly male birds, to don more colorful plumage for mating season.

Why males? » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Learning To Live With Black Bears As Neighbors

American black bear The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has issued guidance on how to prevent unwanted encounters with black bears. Nearly all negative bear encounters in New York are the result of hungry bears being attracted to human food sources. The simplest way to avoid a nuisance encounter is to remove potential food sources, which usually results in the bear moving on.

New York is home to between 6,000 and 7,000 bears that emerge from the winter denning period and need to replenish their nutrients and body fat. To do so, they may travel long distances to preferred habitats that vary from season to season. Bears must often cross roads or pass through developed areas to find these different habitat types, and they often find human foods readily accessible if homeowners do not take necessary precautions. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Proposed Law Would Allow Trapping Of Adirondack Coyotes With Cable Snares

A Cable Restraint Caught Coyote in MissouriLegislation is now pending in the New York State Legislature to allow the use of cable snares, also known as cable restraint devices, to trap coyotes in the northern hunting zone, which includes the Adirondacks. The New York State Conservation Council has been actively lobbying for the bill’s passage.

The Senate Environmental Conservation Committee has reported bill S2953-C, sponsored by Senator Robert Ortt (R,C,I – North Tonawanda), and it is on the floor calendar. Assembly companion bill A9462-A, sponsored by Assemblyman William Magee (D-Nelson), is currently pending in the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Paul Hetzler: Black Flies Bite, Spiders Burn

spidersSpiders can be dangerous, but mostly in ways you would never imagine.

A couple of years ago a guy in Seattle burned his house down trying to kill spiders with a blowtorch. In 2015 at a Michigan gas station, a man tried to kill one with a lighter and burned up a pump island, narrowly escaping injury. And Mazda had to recall 42,000 vehicles in 2014 because spiders could clog a small fuel vent line with silk, potentially cracking the gas tank and causing a fire. It’s no wonder we are afraid of spiders, right?

Fear of spiders is so common and widespread, it may well be encoded in our DNA. Obviously it would have behooved early humans to learn to be wary of spiders, as a few species are poisonous. Mind you, it’s a tiny minority, but spiders can be hard to tell apart. If something with way too many legs and eyes scurries up our leg, most of us will swat first and ask questions later. It’s a rare person whose first reaction is “Great—hand it over so I can key it out!” when their partner announces there’s a big spider in the bed. You know that person is a hardcore nerd. And that they probably have a relationship issue to work out if they don’t want to sleep alone that night. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 18, 2016

You Found A Baby Animal: Now What?

Porcupine Baby PorcupetteSpring is here, which means baby season! Most mammals and birds in the northern hemisphere, are born in Spring to allow them time to mature physically before Winter, giving them a shot at survival, and many of us will find baby animals in our yards, or while hiking. What should you do?

If it’s a fawn, and it’s lying down, usually surrounded by shrubbery or tall grass, leave it alone. Mom is off browsing, getting the nutrition she’ll need to provide milk for her fawn, while the fawn is doing its job, staying hidden from predators. Thanks to natural selection, which favors prey which are harder to detect, and therefore more likely to survive to breed, and pass along their genes, fawns, as well as moose and elk calves, are nearly odor free, meaning predators like bears and coyotes will pretty much have to step on them to discover them, so get out of the area, as you may spook Mom, who may be watching, or worse, alert predators, who can definitely smell your presence, indicating there may be something of interest to investigate. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

New Research On NY’s Ice Age Large Mammals

woodland caribou drawing by wikimedia user foresmanNew York State Museum scientists have completed research that reveals when and why large mammals — including caribou, mammoths, and mastodons — re-colonized and ultimately went extinct in New York State after the last Ice Age. This research may help scientists better understand how ecosystems formed and why certain species went extinct after the last Ice Age.

Dr. Robert Feranec, the Museum’s curator of Pleistocene vertebrate paleontology, and Dr. Andrew Kozlowski, the Museum’s glacial geologist, co-authored the research that appears in the most recent issue of the journal Quaternary Research (Volume 85, Issue 2). » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

DEC Announces 2015 Bear Hunting Results

black_bear_mammalNew York bear hunters killed 1,715 black bears during the 2015 hunting seasons, the second largest bear harvest on record in New York, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Only the 2003 harvest (1,863) surpassed the 2015 year’s take.

In the Northern Zone, a total of 583 bears were killed, 27 percent above the recent five-year average. Based primarily on cyclers of food availability, bear harvest in the Northern Zone tends to alternate between strong harvests during the early season one year followed by strong harvests during the regular season the next, according to DEC wildlife biologists. This year, hunters were more successful during the regular season, taking 253 bears, whereas 183 bears were taken during the early season.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Spring Music: Peepers, Wood Frogs, And Chorus Frogs

Spring PeeperEvery spring, Mother Nature takes the choir out of the freezer. And sometimes – this year for example – she pops them back in for a while. The choir to which I refer is that all-male horde of early-spring frogs: spring peepers, wood frogs, and chorus frogs. Even while an ice rind still clings to the pond edges, untold numbers of these guys roust themselves from torpor to sing for female attention.

While in our species it is mostly an inflated ego which causes males to become unusually loud attention-mongers when seeking mates, it is an inflated vocal sac which allows male frogs to be so noisy. This air-filled structure balloons out tight, acting as a resonance chamber to amplify sound. I don’t know how it is with all frog species, but the inflated vocal sac of a peeper is almost as big as it is. This contrasts with the human male, whose ego can sometimes swell to many times his body size. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 4, 2016

Experts: Cat In Crown Point Video Is House Cat, Not Cougar

cougarsThe state Department of Environmental Conservation has concluded that an animal shown in a Crown Point video posted online last week is a house cat, not a mountain lion.

DEC placed a life-size cutout of a mountain lion in the area where the animal was filmed and determined that the animal was small enough that it could have passed under the belly of a mountain lion. (See photos below.)

DEC announced its findings in an email this morning, a week after the video had attracted attention online.

Three wildlife scientists from Panthera, a nonprofit organization that works to conserve the habitat of wild cats around the world, came to the same conclusion after reviewing the video, according to Christopher Spatz, president of the Cougar Rewilding Foundation.

“They all suggested it was a house cat, judging by the gait,” said Spatz, whose organization favors restoring cougars to the East and other parts of the country.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Cougar In Crown Point? You Be The Judge

CougarA trail camera recently captured video of an animal that may be a cougar sauntering through a backyard in Crown Point near Lake Champlain.

Cara Cowan posted the video on her Facebook page this week. The video was taken a little after noon on March 20, according to its time stamp.

The 18-second clip shows a long-tailed tawny animal walking and then trotting through the yard before it disappears while descending into a large bowl-like swale.

» Continue Reading.



Wait, before you go,

sign up for news updates from the Adirondack Almanack!