The pond offers the perfect opportunity to research lake trout at the southern end of their range, to determine how these large and ecologically important fish could best be managed and protected given rising temperatures and other environmental changes. » Continue Reading.
Whose woods are these I think I know—-they’re ours, although the bank that holds our mortgage might qualify the claim. Out in them for a winter walk, I enjoy seeing signs of the comings and goings of wild neighbors. Their tracks and mine overlap, and the thought of it gives me pleasure.
Deep in the winter-dark woods, beneath the roots of a fallen tree, a mother black bear hibernates with her two yearling cubs. In the spring, they will wake up in a near starvation condition, their fat reserves depleted. The mother bear’s bones, however, will be as strong and as thick as the day she lay down, and her young may even have added bone mass over the winter.
Bears are the only animals known to maintain their bone mass during prolonged periods of inactivity. To consider what a feat this is, consider humans’ susceptibility to bone loss: astronauts who spend six months in the weightless environment of space can lose nearly ten percent of their bone mass, and people forced to spend several months in bed may experience similar declines.
So why are bears different? And what can we learn from their biochemical processes that may help us treat osteoporosis and other bone diseases? » Continue Reading.
Looking to recycle your Christmas tree when the holidays are over? If you want to let the birds benefit from your tree for a bit – you might think about staking it in the ground and leaving it out in your backyard for a while – after you have replaced the ornaments with some yummy bird feeders of course (think pinecones covered in peanut butter and bird seed or suet cakes).
You can then set it aside once all the needles have dropped and it no longer provides good cover for the birds to chip and use as mulch in the spring. » Continue Reading.
The vast expanses of wilderness forests that cover the Adirondacks serve as home to many forms of wildlife adapted for survival in areas where visibility is limited by trees and grasses, and grains are nearly non-existent.
Large open areas scattered throughout the Park serve to support the collection of creatures that require much greater visibility and food sources that exist on the soil’s surface. Among those animals drawn toward these open spaces is the snowy owl, which regularly migrates southward from its arctic breeding grounds in autumn to establish a winter hunting territory in more hospitable surroundings. » Continue Reading.
Over the past 10 years wild turkey populations have declined in many parts of New York State. In an effort to better understand the factors influencing population changes and how these changes affect turkey management, DEC is beginning the second year of a four-year study. This project is expected to provide wildlife managers with current estimates of harvest and survival rates for female wild turkeys, or hens, in New York and guide future management efforts.
Beginning in January, DEC will embark on a statewide effort to capture wild turkey hens and fit them with leg bands to obtain accurate data on survival and harvest. A small number of these birds will also be tagged with satellite radio-transmitters. All of the work will be done by DEC personnel on both public and private lands from January through March. The research will be concentrated in DEC Regions 3 through 9 where turkey populations are largest. » Continue Reading.
In November, as the last colors of autumn are fading, the stark outlines of tree branches are revealed. During this time you might be lucky enough to see an occasional dark mass, looking from a distance like a burl.
Recently, on a hike through a dense forest, I spied one such anomaly high up in a white ash tree. Walking closer, I saw that this shape was a porcupine. It seemed asleep. After circling the area looking for quills and other markings, I shuffled noisily away. When I turned back, the porcupine was heading further up the tree. The branch it clung to bent precariously as the wind picked up, but the tenacious climber hung on. » Continue Reading.
When it comes to major issues that impact the future of the Adirondacks this year has been one of the most event-filled in decades. From the ongoing Adirondack Club and Resort debate and the orbiting cluster of questions related to private land use to the continuing economic wins for the North Country, the recent constitutional amendments and the classification of the Finch Pruyn lands, this has been a pivotal time.
My reading of recent events is that most of the news is good news for the park. It seems to me that stakeholders in the Adirondacks are responding to the challenges we face with concrete initiatives that are making a difference but also with a sense of intelligence: people are thinking a lot about matters in the park and there seems to be a higher level of general understanding of these challenges than in years past. » Continue Reading.
We’re experiencing what could be the largest-ever influx of Arctic Snowy Owls into the Northeast and the Great Lakes states, and more may be on the way. Dr. Kevin McGowan, a biologist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, says this may be the first wave and we should expect more.
“More than likely these Snowy Owls are moving south from the Arctic because of a shortage of their favorite food up north—lemmings, or because of a bumper crop of young,” he said, “We can expect them to stick around through early spring before they head back to the Arctic again.”
This year’s Snowy Owl irruption is the largest recorded in decades in the Northeast and is an excellent opportunity to see these birds, so here are a few online resources to get you up to speed on our latest high profile visitors. » Continue Reading.
My favorite season tends to be whatever comes next, which means, for now, deep winter. With our storm windows installed and four tons of wood pellets put up, I’m feeling smug as the ant in Aesop’s fable. But what about the furred and feathered creatures out there in the cold?
When I imagine a Canada goose on an icy pond, or a white tail knee deep in the white stuff, it makes me shiver and wonder: How do warm-blooded animals stay warm?» Continue Reading.
Noting what visitors appear at a bird feeder in winter can provide some revealing information on the status of the local populations of the feathered creatures hardy enough to remain in the Adirondacks after cold weather becomes established. Aside from the regular flocks of black-capped chickadees, a pair or two of red-breasted nuthatches and blue jays, there may be juncos, redpolls, evening grosbeaks, pine siskins, purple finches and other closely related seed eaters.
This year, at least around my house in Saranac Lake, there has been a healthy number of American goldfinches, which is not surprising considering this past summer’s weather. From mid May through the first week in July, record setting rains soaked the region, and cool temperatures made conditions difficult for birds attempting to incubate eggs and care for a nest full of recently hatched offspring. However, after the 4th of July, the weather improved substantially. Bright skies, warm temperatures and moist soil created ideal growing conditions for plants, which was noted by people who attempted to keep their lawn properly mowed, individuals who maintained flower and vegetable gardens, and those souls that enjoyed harvesting our crops of wild berries. » Continue Reading.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has proposed to remove the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) from the list of threatened and endangered species.
The agency claims that the Gray Wolf’s population has been “restored” to its historic range and no longer needs federal protection despite their continued absence from the Northeast and the Adirondacks, along with parts of the Pacific Northwest and other areas of the Mountain West, which are parts of the wolf’s historic range. The Endangered Species Act says that the Gray Wolf must be protected throughout its historic range. » Continue Reading.
For the first time since the 1970s, the number of plants and animals on the waiting list for Endangered Species Act protection has dropped below 150. The progress the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made last year addressing the backlog comes on the heels of a landmark agreement reached with the Center for Biological Diversity in 2011 requiring the Service to speed protection decisions for 757 species.
The 2013 “candidate notice of review” released by the agency November 24, includes 146 species now awaiting protection: 94 animals and 52 plants. In fiscal year 2013, 81 species were awarded final protection under the Endangered Species Act. » Continue Reading.
The powdery layer of snow covering the forest floor across the Adirondacks is still too thin in many areas for back country skiing and snowshoeing; however, several inches of fluff is ideal for noting the tracks of wildlife. Among the most common of mammals that populate the Park is a miniature predator, whose tracks typically appear from beneath an old stump, a rotted log, a surface boulder or a pile of brush and zigzag in an erratic pattern for roughly a dozen feet before disappearing under some other chunk of debris.
In our mixed forests and woodland edges, the short-tailed shrew is a prolific, but rarely seen, member of the wildlife community, yet its abundance becomes evident by the presence of its tracks in the snow, especially in late autumn and early winter before an increased snow depth reduces this creature’s visits to the surface. » Continue Reading.
At least one Common Loon and four Red-throated Loons were blown down in a windstorm on Sunday, November 24th. The Biodiversity Research Institute’s (BRI) Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation received its first call Sunday afternoon concerning a Red-throated Loon that was in the Catamount Mountain parking lot, which was brought to the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge & Rehab Center. A second Red-throated Loon was found at Mt. Van Hoevenberg the following morning. Then a third loon was found up by Mountain View Lake and a fourth in the Old Forge area. And finally, a Common Loon was found on a road in the Glens Falls area.
Red-throated Loons breed in Canada and Alaska. They are much smaller birds than the Common Loons that summer here in the Adirondack Park. They must have been migrating to the coast for the winter when they encountered the strong winds on Sunday and got blown down. » Continue Reading.