Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Birding: Broad-Winged Hawk Migration

TOS_BroadwingHawkIt rained heavily the first time I had planned to go on a hawk watch, and the trip was cancelled. But the rain brought with it a weather front the next day that created the perfect conditions for fall hawk migration. And migrate they did. Hawks and falcons and eagles and vultures soared southward along mountain ridges in numbers I have never seen in the 30 years since then. Carried aloft by rising currents of warm air and light winds from the north, many of those birds may have traveled a hundred miles that day without ever flapping their wings.

Despite the diversity and impressive numbers of raptors, there was one species that stood out to all of the hawk watchers: the broad-winged hawk. It was a bird I had never seen before, and although it is a common nesting species in the forests of the Northeast, the total number of broad-wings I’ve observed since then doesn’t come close to the number that soared past us that day. Whereas most hawks travel alone or in groups of three or four, broad-winged hawks migrate in flocks called kettles that can sometimes number in the thousands. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cornell’s Merlin Bird ID App for Android Released

resultsMerlin, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s free bird ID app, is now available for Android devices. Merlin presents you with a list of the birds that best match your location, time of year, and description of the bird.

“Merlin knows which birds are most likely to be within a 30-mile radius of where you saw the bird—at the time when you saw it,” said Jessie Barry at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “It’s the first app to tap into 70 million observations contributed by birders to the eBird citizen-science project, along with 3 million descriptors of birds to help match what you saw.” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Endangered Species Act Protection Sought For Monarchs

800px-Monarch_In_MayScientists, wildlife conservationists, and food safety advocates have petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking Endangered Species Act protection for monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus).

“Monarchs are in a deadly free fall and the threats they face are now so large in scale that Endangered Species Act protection is needed sooner rather than later, while there is still time to reverse the severe decline in the heart of their range,” Dr. Lincoln Brower, a monarch butterfly researcher and conservationist, and one of those seeking the Endangered Species designation. The Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety are serving as co-lead petitioners, joined by Brower the Xerces Society. » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Adirondack Seagulls: The Ring-Billed Gull

Ring-billed_gull_groupAs the bright yellow tops of goldenrod begin to fade in fields, and the foliage of the red maple increasingly begins its change to a bright reddish-orange, gulls engage in a nomadic phase of their life and can often be seen visiting a variety of settings within the Adirondacks.

Within the boundaries of the Park, two species of “seagulls” are seasonal components of our fauna; however, the slightly smaller ring-billed gull is far more common and likely to be observed than the nearly identically colored herring gull. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Note to Flies: Avoid Fuzzy Socks

TOS_WebImagine you’re an insect cruising through the air. Suddenly, you realize you’re heading straight for a spider web. You’re doomed. But wait – you can still escape by slipping through one of the gaps. Spider webs are, after all, more gaps than web. You aim between the sticky threads – it’s going to be a close call, but you’re going to make it.

Then, as you pass through, the threads snap towards you … and you’re a spider’s dinner!

It sounds impossible that the threads of a spider web could actively reach out for prey, yet recent studies show that it is not only possible, but may be yet another ingenious spider strategy for capturing insects on the fly. How do webs do this? Static electricity. It turns out spider webs are attracted to the static charge on flying insects. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Conserving Land: A Personal Story

Large oak on the conservation property Adirondack pilot and conservationist Clarence Petty maintained that the only way to really protect places in the Adirondacks that lend the Park its distinctive character and integrity was to acquire and protect them on behalf of the public. He certainly put his all into that cause for decades and helped the work of the Adirondack Nature Conservancy and others, including their acquisition of the former Finch, Pruyn Company lands. Yet, Clarence was also a proponent of protecting much smaller tracts of land that rated highly in terms of the threat of their change in use (development) or their value as recreational open space or their intrinsic, wildlife or ecological value.

Like Clarence I have often sought to protect land to add it to the NYS Forest Preserve or to protect it with a conservation easement.  While working for organizations such as the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks or Adirondack Wild, my colleagues and I have often asked State government to pay for land protection through a bond act or the Environmental Protection Fund.

But acquiring “conservation land” myself and paying for the privilege is something I had not experienced. I soon hope to have that opportunity, but my Susan and I did not seek it out. The opportunity or emergency sought us. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Jumping Mice: Long Tailed Leapers

TOS_JumpingMouseThe woodland jumping mouse, as its name indicates, lives in forested areas. It is hard to observe, but common in the Northeast. If you have a chance to see one up close, perhaps courtesy of a cat, you’ll notice an extremely long tail and large hind feet. The fur is bright yellow to orange on the flanks and face and white on the belly. A broad, brownish-black stripe runs down the back. The tail is 4.5 to 6 inches long and has a white tip (this tip is the easiest way to distinguish it from its cousin, the meadow jumping mouse.)

The mouse walks when moving slowly, but relies on its jumping ability to travel quickly, and to cover distance. How far can this little mouse jump? Accounts vary, but most agree it can jump at least six feet horizontally and two feet high. It uses a four-footed hop. Both front feet are planted at the same time, both back feet an instant later. The large hind feet with long ankle and toe bones provide leverage when pushing off, thrusting the body into the air. The forelimbs are folded into the chest. The long tail trails behind, assisting in balance. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

5th Annual Great Adirondack Moose Festival Planned

The Adirondacks, with its vast expanses of wilderness forests, abundant stretches of pristine wetlands, waterways and rugged mountain terrain, serves as home to many forms of wildlife. While all of these creatures have uniquely appealing traits and exhibit their own brand of personal charm, few possess the backwoods’ magic and allure of the moose. Part of this beast’s popularity lies in its massive size, which can range from several hundred pounds for a juvenile to 700 and 800 pounds for a healthy adult. The moose also wins affection with its unusually lanky body features, long snout, and awkward gait.

In an attempt to spotlight and honor New York State’s largest wildlife resident, the Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce in the Central Adirondacks, will be holding a celebration, The Great Adirondack Moose Festival, (GAMF) the weekend of September 27 and 28. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Adirondack Habitat Awareness Day Saturday

jen-062014-snowy11This year’s Adirondack Habitat Awareness Day, combines meeting predators from wolves, eagles and snowy owls to bobcats and fox, and learning about their roles in our ecosystem, with understanding how critical habitat and climate issues impact America’s wild lands.

Habitat Awareness Day is on Saturday of Labor Day weekend, August 30th, from 10 am to 5 pm, at the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge, 977 Springfield Road in Wilmington. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Burying Beetles: Nature’s Undertakers

burying_beetleI don’t often shake down my cat for a dead mouse, but I did think it was fair, considering that he is always shaking me down for his cat food. I wasn’t going to eat his mouse. I needed it as bait, to see if I could catch a burying beetle.

Burying beetles, or sexton beetles, are nocturnal and they spend much of their lives underground. You’re most likely to find them under small dead animals, such as moles or mice, in a field, that is if you get there before the crows, raccoons, ants, worms, or bacteria do. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Puddling: Butterflies at the Bar

Puddle_of_butterflies(1)Toddlers aren’t the only ones fond of mud puddles. Butterflies and moths often gather at puddles in large groups. I witnessed about thirty tiger swallowtail butterflies around a puddle on a woods road one spring, their yellow, black-veined wings twitching slightly, contrasting with the brown mud. Another time I saw a crowd of swallowtails around a pile of damp wood ashes in my yard.

This curious behavior is known as “puddling.” Although butterflies and moths get most of their nutrition from flower nectar, puddling provides another way to obtain nutrients, and replenish fluids. The insects use their long tongues, called proboscises, to deliver the fluid or other material into their mouths. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

DEC Guidance For Discouraging Black Bear Nuisance

American black bear by Cephas @ Wikimedia CommonsThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is advising homeowners and tourists about ways to discourage bears from becoming a nuisance. Black bears will take advantage of almost any readily available food source. Once bears learn about human food sources, it is not easy to recondition them to the wild and this can lead to conflicts between bears and people. It is against the law to feed bear, deer and moose.

During midsummer and dry conditions, the black bear’s natural foods are much more difficult to find. DEC Wildlife and Law Enforcement staff respond with technical advice as quickly as possible but local residents and visitors are responsible for preventing bears from gaining access to food items such as bird food, garbage and unattended coolers. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Extinction: Passenger Pigeons In The Adirondacks

Adirondack Passenger PigeonOver the course of the past several years I have frequently paddled in the Raquette River -Tupper Lake area. A few weeks ago I paddled from the boat launch known as “The Crusher”, past the several camps where there was once a set of rapids, past the “Oxbow”; through “the Cut” into Simon Pond, and on to the New York State boat launch at Moody’s along Route 30. The day was sunny, and warm, with a slight breeze, and my fellow paddlers were great companions. It had been all-in-all a very and enjoyable paddle. But the present day description of the route is not what one would have experienced back in the 1850s.

In 1854, Samuel H. Hammond, a prominent attorney, newspaper writer and editor, State Senator and sportsman, wrote in Hills, Lakes, and Forest Streams: or A Tramp in the Chateaugay Woods (1854) about a sporting trip with his guide to Tupper’s Lake from Upper Saranac Lake. Hammond described a river that was considerably different, thanks to logging, blasting, damming, and flooding, than what we see today. One change Hammond would never have dreamed possible.  » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Horntails: The Wasp and the Fungus

TOS_horntailNo one could fault you for running away, screaming in terror, if you saw a large, flying, cigar-shaped insect armed with a “stinger” bigger than a sewing needle. Thankfully, the female pigeon horntail wood wasp is harmless. That spear on its rear isn’t meant to pierce skin. It’s for drilling into wood; and it lays the foundation – literally – for a remarkable inter-species relationship.

Tremex columba is the scientific name for this member of the Siricidae family. Adult females measure one and a half to two inches, males slightly smaller. The female’s “stinger” is actually a specialized egg-laying organ called an ovipositor. This slender, hollow rod is divided top to bottom, both halves articulated. Serrations on the tip allow the wasp to saw into tree trunks, much like an electric knife cuts meat. Two additional segments on either side sandwich the ovipositor in a protective sheath. The whole apparatus originates midway down the underside of the wasp’s abdomen. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Lawrence Gooley: Peeking Into the Wilds

2aBrBearsFallsAbout a month ago, I wrote here about the educational and entertainment value of live, online wildlife cams and included links to some of the better ones. After all the wonderful sights we’ve seen during the past three weeks, I felt compelled to address the subject once more by mentioning the tremendous opportunity offered by one particular set of cams. If you love the Adirondacks, you have at least a general interest in wildlife, so you’re bound to enjoy this.

Cam technology isn’t perfected yet (glitches include freezes, pixelation, and failures), but when things are working well, it’s often much like watching a live TV show. And as I noted, animals are often sitting around doing pretty much nothing. That doesn’t prevent some folks from monitoring cams hour after hour, but for most of us, the best option is to have browsers open and check them occasionally (or perhaps sign up for alerts on sites that offer them). » Continue Reading.