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. As part of the study, twelve moose were captured in the Adirondacks in January 2015, fitted with GPS radio collars, and released. Another nine moose were captured » Continue >>More
Archive for the ‘Natural History’ Category
Now may be a good time to see great horned owls (Bubo virginianus). They are year-round residents, but start sitting in their nests as early as January or February. 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. Great horned owls can be found throughout New York state in a variety of habitats, such as forests or fields, near cliffs, and even around suburban >>More
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. Stone walls parse the land into finer pieces, creating diverse microclimates and ecosystems and opportunities for creatures of all types, said Robert M. Thorson, a University of Connecticut geology professor, the founder of the >>More
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 >>More
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 » Continue Reading. View original post.
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 >>More
The sturdy, long-lived and stately American beech, Fagus grandifolia, has been slowly dying out since 1920, when a tiny European insect pest was accidentally released on our shores. Because of this lethal but unhurried tragedy, many forest tracts across the Northeast are being choked out by too many beech trees. That’s right, beech decline has led to a proliferation of beech so extreme that in some places it is a threat to the health of future forests. With apologies to all the bovine readers out there, this qualifies as an oxymoron, I’m pretty sure. The ultimate cause of this weird >>More
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. >>More
One morning early, as I slept in our mountain cabin Mateskared, a woodpecker landed on the cabin’s wood siding. Its profound rapid-fire pecking jerked me out of sound sleep. Did we have robo-termites? Not in the Adirondacks. Evolutionary biologist George Constantz first told me woodpeckers assert territoriality with rapid, rhythmic blasts. Their feeding produces the random, erratic, and arythmical pecking that a John Cage composer might love. For maximum signal effect, in wild nature woodpeckers choose a hollow tree trunk. It acts like the resonant body of an acoustic guitar. What better sound chamber than an un-insulated cabin’s large enclosed >>More
It’s that time of year. The sap is running and the buckets and tanks are filling. Backyard syrup makers large and small have been taking advantage of the recent sugaring weather to fire their arches and settle into the ancient and accepted rite of watching the boil. Whatever you call it – a sugar party, sugaring-off, maple days – people will gather this weekend in old sugar shacks across the Adirondacks around rising steam for one of the great revelries of the season. You can guarantee there will be food. Pancakes and sweet » Continue Reading. View original post.