Years ago, when I worked at a nature center in Connecticut licensed to care for injured and orphaned wildlife, a baby opossum was brought to us. It was found lying on a golf course, and was too young to be on its own. We named the opossum Alice and estimated it was 9 weeks old. Although we later determined the opossum was a male, the name stuck. [Read more…] about Lessons Learned from Raising Alice, A Baby Opossum
How Animals Stay Warm In Winter
To survive the cold of winter, some animals take advantage of protected habitats, such as wooded areas or under a blanket of insulating snow. Ruffed grouse, for example, fly into piles of loose snow and create roosting cavities to rest in when not foraging. Mice and other small mammals remain active in tunnels under the snow. [Read more…] about How Animals Stay Warm In Winter
There’s More To Animal Fur Than Meets The Eye
A flash of orange streaks across the meadow – a red fox, like a starburst in the snow. Its fur shimmers in the early morning light, and I, bundled in my winter layers and still shivering cold, envy the fox’s luxurious coat. [Read more…] about There’s More To Animal Fur Than Meets The Eye
Hibernation: How It Works
Mammals and birds are endotherms, which means they generate their own body heat through relatively high metabolic rates. That high metabolism requires energy, which these animals garner from food. We typically think of endotherms as warm-blooded; however, some of them are not warm all of the time.
Most active birds and mammals maintain relatively high and stable body temperatures – often around 100 degrees. But they also lose heat to the surrounding environment, especially during the cold winter months. [Read more…] about Hibernation: How It Works
Deadwood: The Importance of Standing Dead Trees
Some of the most important trees in your woodlot are the ones that are no longer alive. Large, standing dead or dying trees — called snags — are an important component of healthy forests and a critical habitat feature for wildlife.
They provide places for many birds and mammals to forage, den, nest, perch, and roost. Snags are particularly important for cavity nesting birds like woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees; for bats that roost within cavities, crevices, and flaky bark; and for countless species that rely on the abundant insects, fungi, and lichens as a food source. [Read more…] about Deadwood: The Importance of Standing Dead Trees
Squirrel Talk: Gray Squirrel Communication
Even if you’ve never ventured further into the forest than an urban park or a college campus, you’re probably familiar with Sciurus carolinensis, the eastern gray squirrel. While it’s easy to identify gray squirrels by sight, however, recognizing the various sounds they make is more complicated.
Their vocalizations – squeaks, moans, buzzes, barks, and clucks – can sound like noises made by cats, chickens, jays, catbirds, even ducks. [Read more…] about Squirrel Talk: Gray Squirrel Communication
The Trouble with Rodenticides
Last autumn, around the same time I was laying the winter quilt on our bed, my cat became very interested in the space beneath the kitchen sink. Unsurprisingly, a mouse was huddled down there, seeking shelter in the warmth. Though I was sympathetic, and all wildlife is welcome in our yard, I’d prefer they remain outside the house. What to do? [Read more…] about The Trouble with Rodenticides
Help Protect New York’s Bat Populations During Bat Week
Bat Week is an internationally recognized celebration of the important role bats play in our environment. It is a great time to appreciate New York’s nine bat species. Bat Week is observed October 24th through 31st. [Read more…] about Help Protect New York’s Bat Populations During Bat Week
The Ecology of Adirondack Wildfires
There are several natural disasters that can alter the ecological make-up of an area. Widespread tree disease, severe winds, and intense ice storms can all seriously damage or destroy the dominant members of a forest community.
However, the most catastrophic force of nature is fire, as a major blaze can significantly impact more than just the composition of trees that cover a given location. [Read more…] about The Ecology of Adirondack Wildfires
Microbial Ecology: Mind Control, Fecal Transplants & Zombie Laternflies
If you believe we’re the master of our actions, think again. Better yet, have a fungus, bacterium, or protozoan tell you what to think. Jedi mind tricks are nothing compared to what microbes can do to animals, human and otherwise. [Read more…] about Microbial Ecology: Mind Control, Fecal Transplants & Zombie Laternflies