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Adirondack Explorer

Archive for the ‘Natural History’ Category

March, 2018

Ed Zahniser: Woodpecker Wake-up Calls


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


March, 2018

This Weekend In An Adirondack Sugar Shack


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.


March, 2018

A Guide To Adirondack Maple Syrup


It’s sugaring season, so here’s a round-up of stories about the fine art of maple syrup making in the Adirondacks. The Basics Understanding Maple Syrup Color And Flavor Forest Economies: It’s Maple Sugaring Season! Maple Sugar Bush Production For Forest Owners Sweet, Sweet Syrup Maple Confections: A Sweet And Local Gift Using All That Maple Syrup The Science The Science of Maple Syrup Do New Tapping Strategies Hurt Trees? Drought, Maple Trees, And Adirondack Maple Syrup <a href="https://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2018/02/weather-extremes-maple-syrup-production.html" » Continue Reading. View original post.


February, 2018

Isolation and the Lonely Ants Club


Excessive tinder is a major contributor to forest fires, but a shortage of Tinder can lead to an early death. For social animals like canines, deer, dolphins, elephants, primates such as bonobos and humans, and even bees and ants, contact with others is as essential to well-being as food and water. A 2015 study done at Brigham Young University which garnered much news coverage in 2017 and early this year found that loneliness may be a greater health risk than smoking and obesity combined. In a December 2017 New York Times article, Dr. Dhruv Khullar of the Weill Cornell Medical >>More


February, 2018

Otter Slides: Sliding Shenanigans


I have been living with an otter. He’s long and sleek, a graceful swimmer with an insatiable appetite for fish. At first he was just my boy, a chubby little toddler, happy to snuggle and follow his big sister around. But on the first snow fall of his second year of life, I watched him in his slick blue snowsuit climb up our steep hill, point his round little head down the hill and go, a daring headfirst belly slide. He repeated and repeated until at last he fell asleep at the bottom of his sliding trough, a smile on >>More


February, 2018

Science of Hoarfrost and Rime Ice


In folklore and literature, Jack Frost is often portrayed as a mischievous guy, sort of Old Man Winter’s younger self. He’s a personification of everything cold. In our region he’s a busy guy, at least for half of the year. And an artistic one. He gets credit for painting the trees orange and yellow and red in the fall. And we’re all familiar with ground frost, that harbinger of winter that looks like a dusting of snow. This phenomenon occurs when the temperature of objects near the ground falls below freezing. Water in the air freezes onto objects, sometimes as >>More


February, 2018

Cloning High Sugar Content Maples Focus of Research


The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has posted the first results of a project evaluating the opportunity to clone high sugar maple trees. The long-term goal is to produce rooted “sweet tree” clones that maple producers can plant to enhance their sugarmaking operations. Cornell University plant pathologist Keith L. Perry conducted the research in collaboration with Joe Orefice, director of the Cornell Uilhein Maple Research Forest in Lake Placid. The concentration of sugar in the sap of maple trees varies year-to-year, by environment, planting site, and the genetics of individual trees. Research » Continue Reading. View original post.


February, 2018

Invasive Species Awareness Week Begins Feb 26th


In Grade 3, a brilliant joke made the rounds. We’d hold up a sheet of blank white paper and announce it was a polar bear in a snowstorm. Genius is relative for kids. But the first time I drove into a whiteout made me realize how accurate that “art” project was. Anything can hide behind a veneer of snow. This leads me to ask why February 26-March 3 was chosen as “National Invasive Species Awareness Week.” By this time of year, our awareness has been blunted by a critical shortage of landscape: down is white, up is gray. Right now >>More


February, 2018

It’s Time for the Great Backyard Bird Count


Counting birds may not be for everyone, but having an opportunity to be a part of a larger project always intrigues me. My family has participated in the annual Christmas Bird Count as well as FrogWatch USA for years. We have counted loons, released monarchs, and monitored nests. These various citizen science projects all have the same thing in common, asking the general public to provide critical data for future conservation efforts. Some projects require a bit of training while other programs just require being consistent. No matter the project, my family is always » Continue Reading. View original post.


February, 2018

Brains Over Brawn for Male Hummingbirds


The following comes from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. When male animals compete over mates, it’s often a showy affair: think of elk tangling antlers or tom turkeys strutting and gobbling. But for a Costa Rican hummingbird, it seems mental prowess holds the edge over mere physical flamboyance. New experiments show that dominant male Long-billed Hermits have better spatial memories and sing more consistent songs than less successful males, according to research published this month in the journal Scientific Reports. The benefit of a good spatial memory even outweighs the advantages of bigger body size and extra flight power. “When we >>More