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Adirondack Explorer

Archive for the ‘Natural History’ Category

March, 2015

TR’s Diary Of An Adirondack Birding Trip


The State University of New York Press is coming out with an edition of Teddy Roosevelt’s diaries from 1877 to 1866, when the future president was in his late teens and twenties. Given TR’s ties to the Adirondacks, I expected to find some entries from our neck of the woods and was not disappointed. In 1877, Roosevelt and a friend, H.D. Minot, wrote a short article with a list of birds they had observed near Paul Smiths, The article – “The Summer Birds of the Adirondacks in Franklin County, N. Y.” – was TR’s first published work. Click here to >>More


March, 2015

How Wildlife Are Affected By Intense Cold


Intense cold is hard on all forms of wildlife, however, some of nature’s creatures are better adapted to deal with this type of adversity than others. Those animals whose geographic range extends well northward into Canada and Alaska have evolved various strategies to cope with prolonged bouts of sub-arctic weather and are quite capable of surviving the unrelenting cold that the Adirondacks has experienced this winter. Conversely, some components of the Park’s fauna are on the northern fringe of their range and are better suited for functioning in a temperate region, such as southern New York and the mid-Atlantic States. >>More


February, 2015

Tips for Game Camera Success


My town had the job of removing a dead beaver from a culvert pipe cage, a rather sad and odorous affair, but also an opportunity. I alerted the usual suspects – there’s nothing like a rotting carcass to bring camera trappers together – and we moved the body into the woods and set up a few cameras. We placed the body in mature forest near the wetland. We figured that just about any of our meso-carnivores might appear: coyote, fox, fisher, and bobcat were all possibilities. We didn’t get the bobcat, but we did get the others, and the fisher >>More


February, 2015

Should DEC Plan For The Return Of The Wolf?


Can wolves return to the Adirondacks on their own? If so, should the state Department of Environmental Conservation develop a plan to facilitate their recovery? These are questions discussed in Mike Lynch’s cover story for the March-April issue of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine—the second in a series of articles on the Adirondacks’ missing predators. Some people believe that the wolf, like the moose before it, could disperse from Canada to the Northeast, including the Adirondacks. The nearest wolf population is only a few hundred miles away in Algonquin Provincial Park. There also is a substantial wolf population in the western >>More


February, 2015

Identifying Trees In Winter Using Buds


Every winter I teach several tree identification classes to biology students. Cold or colder, it’s always outdoors, but if student evaluations are on the level, it’s always fun. Demonstrating how to tell one leaf-bereft hardwood from another is one thing. Bark is not the best feature for identifying trees. Sure, white bark means birch, but some birches have black, yellow or reddish bark. Typical bark patterns, such as diamond-shaped furrows for ash, can be absent depending on site conditions and tree health. Cherry and ironwood bark have light-colored horizontal dashes called lenticels, but only on young wood. Not all hickories >>More


February, 2015

Porcupines: Waddling Through Winter


The porcupine is one of the most unique and recognizable mammals in our region, and thanks to its short legs and fat body, it’s also one of the slowest. Of course, a porcupine really has little need for anything faster than first gear, since its quills provide excellent protection from most predators. It still surprises me though, that a short-legged herbivore that doesn’t hibernate manages to thrive in the deep snow of our northern forests. As noted naturalist, tracker, and photographer, Paul Rezendes points out in his book, Tracking and the Art of Seeing, “it takes a lot to excite >>More


February, 2015

Hunter Admits Shooting Bull Moose


A New Hampshire man has admitted illegally shooting a bull moose in the town of Croghan just west of the Adirondack Park. Steven Zehr of Walpole, New Hampshire, turned himself in after shooting the animal on private land on the morning of November 25, according to Stephen Litwhiler, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Litwhiler said Zehr was in a tree stand and mistook the moose, which weighed nearly 690 pounds, for an antlered deer. It was about 10 a.m. when the moose was killed. Zehr was charged with illegally taking wild game, a misdemeanor, and paid >>More


February, 2015

What Wildlife Gets Inside Your Home?


We two-leggeds build inviting habitats and fill them with ample food supplies. We heat these spaces in winter, cool them in summer, and keep them dry year-round. And when our wild neighbors have the audacity to move in, we frequently kill them on sight. My wife and I recently restored an old brick farmhouse that was built in 1790, back when Vermont was still an independent republic. We removed walls and ceilings to expose and repair the original structure, then vacuumed every nook and cranny to remove debris left behind by two centuries of sundry inhabitants. The cavities were crammed >>More


February, 2015

Great Backyard Bird Count This Weekend


The annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is a chance to be part of an international team of citizen scientists using specific scientific protocols and the power of the internet to provide data to professional environment and wildlife researchers and the scientific and educational institutions they represent. From February 13–16, people of all ages, whether beginners or experts, are invited to support bird conservation by counting the number of birds, separated by species, seen during any outing or observational sitting. The information gathered will help researchers track changes in bird populations on a massive scale. Every year, tens of thousands >>More


February, 2015

The Science of Snowflake Shapes


Who hasn’t marveled at a lacy snowflake coming to rest on a jacket sleeve? Do you wonder how it could survive the fall to earth in one piece, or if it’s really true that no two snowflakes can look exactly alike? A snowflake begins high up in the clouds, not as a snowflake but as a small particle of dust, salt, or ash. When a cloud cools below 32°F, some specks of water vapor freeze onto the particle. As it moves through the cloud, the particle absorbs additional water vapor, building up microscopic layers of ice. When water molecules freeze, >>More




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