On the whole, Europeans did alright naming New World plants and animals. In example, they called a large brown bat species the big brown bat – kudos for accuracy. A few labels missed the target, like the sunflower relative dubbed Jerusalem artichoke, even though it’s unrelated to either. Some names are partly right: the tufted titmouse has a tuft, but it’s a songbird, not a mouse. [Read more…] about Great Blue Herons: A Primer
There was a sucking sound as my rubber boot sank into the deep black muck. Naturalist Jon Binhammer and I were standing in the middle of a hardwood swamp in central Vermont.
Above us, dainty red flowers clung to the still-bare branches of red maple trees and fat black buds encircled the stems of black ash. Though the trees in the surrounding uplands had leafed out, the swamp was cooler, and these trees had not yet unfurled their leaves.
Bright yellow blooms of marsh marigold covered the swamp’s floor, growing out of mud and pools of water. Speckled alder shrubs, named for their spotted stems, were scattered about. In the distance we heard the “kuk-kuk-kuk” of a pileated woodpecker and the “toolili” of a blue jay. [Read more…] about Outside Story: Life In A Swamp
The Atmospheric Sciences Research Center – Whiteface Mountain Field Station has announced their online Falconer Science and Natural History Lecture Series is set to continue on July 21st, via Zoom. [Read more…] about Science At Whiteface: Falconer Lecture Series Goes Online
European starlings are one of the most common bird species in the United States. They are known for their stunning aerial displays (murmerations), but many observers consider them a curse.
Starlings aggressively compete for the nesting places of native birds; they can damage crops (grapes, olives, cherries, grain) and spread disease; they can mess up the environment and be a threat to aviation. The story of invasive starlings is part of a wider narrative that reflects both the ambitions and fears of the Victorian era. [Read more…] about Meddling With Nature: The Acclimatization Movement and Central Park Starlings
Each fall, thousands of broad-winged hawks soar across Northeastern skies in flocks known as kettles, on their way to wintering grounds in South and Central America.
The sky swirls with hawks bubbling up on thermals of hot air and then streaming southward. It is enough to take your breath away – all those raptors, more than you could imagine seeing in a lifetime, coursing across one stretch of sky together. [Read more…] about Broad-Winged Hawk Migrations
I grew up on a street lined with tall, stately elms. While walking to school one day, I found a bird’s nest that the wind had blown down. The nest was a beautiful, silky gray pouch. My teacher helped me identify it as a Baltimore oriole’s nest. Over the years, I found a couple of similar nests, as elms are a favorite nesting tree of orioles. [Read more…] about The Decline of Lord Baltimore’s Orioles
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the start of the 2020 “I BIRD NY” challenges for beginner and experienced birders.
The I BIRD NY program was launched in 2017, to build on the State’s efforts to increase access to New York’s vast natural resources and promote low-cost opportunities to explore the great outdoors and connect with nature. [Read more…] about 2020 “I Bird NY” Challenges Get Underway
Birdwatchers set a new world record on May 9th for birds documented in a single day. During the annual Global Big Day, participants reported a record-breaking 2.1 million bird observations, recording 6,479 species. An all-time high of 50,000 participants submitted more than 120,000 checklists, shattering the previous single-day checklist total by 30%. [Read more…] about Birdwatchers Break ‘Global Big Day’ Records
It is traditional backwoods wisdom to avoid getting between a mother and her babies, and while this advice usually pertains to the black bear, it could also apply to several other forms of wildlife.
In late spring many infants are emerging from the safety of their den or nest and most mothers try to provide some form of protection from potential danger to their babies. Perhaps the most remarkable display of parental courage for a creature of its size is seen in the hen ruffed grouse. This bird will aggressively confront and challenge any human that happens to come too close to its recently hatched chicks. [Read more…] about Encountering Angry Ruffed Grouse Hens In Spring
Spending time outdoors in the Adirondacks during spring is a rewarding experience, as the sounds that emanate from our forests, especially in the early morning, are sure to delight.
While the musical calls produced by most birds are relatively short and composed of only a handful of notes, there are a few songs that are considerably longer and more complex. [Read more…] about Winter Wrens in the Adirondacks