Posted on July 5th, 2011 Add a comment >>
After studying their genetic diversity, NYSDEC is looking into a spruce grouse recover plan for the Adirondack spruce grouse population(which stands at around 100-200 individuals).
Posted on June 11th, 2011 4 comments Add a comment >>
Photo Credit: Tennessee Warbler-Wikipedia photo
Posted on May 6th, 2011 4 comments Add a comment >>
Mark your calendars for the weekend of June 3-5! We are presenting the 9th Annual Great Adirondack Birding Celebration(GABC) at the Paul Smith’s College VIC in Paul Smiths, New York.
We are thrilled to be featuring Scott Weidensaul as our Saturday evening Joseph and Joan Cullman Lecture keynote speaker in the Paul Smith’s College VIC Theater @ 7:30pm
Click here for schedule, registration and additional information for this event.
Three days of birding events will take place at the Paul Smith’s College VIC as well as off-site field trips(Saturday and Sunday mornings) to Wilmington, Paul Smiths, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, and Santa Clara, NY. Each field trip will focus on finding the many boreal bird species that inhabit this area during their summer breeding season.
Friday will feature an all day Boreal Ecology Workshop at Massawepie Mire and The Wild Center. Friday evening is a dessert reception/GABC introduction, followed by our ever-popular owl walk on PSC VIC property. Saturday afternoon activities include workshops, and presentations and time to visit our vendors Wild Birds Unlimited of Saratoga Springs
Please visit our GABC sponsors as they give much of their financial support, time and efforts to this years event:
Photo Credit: Magnolia Warbler-Wikipedia
Posted on April 21st, 2011 1 comment - Add a comment >>
After rolling many thoughts through my head and bouncing off ideas to listening ears I am thrilled to announce the creation of the “Adirondack Birding Center” -a new venue that will focus all its efforts on birds and bird related activities.
The new Paul Smiths College VIC, in Paul Smiths, NY has offered space(3,000 acres of it!) for all Adirondack Birding Center programming, walks, workshops, presentations, and more. The Adirondack Birding Center is an entrepreneurial endeavor that will truly put the Adirondacks on the “birdwatching map”.
Down the “not too distant” road I see Paul Smiths College(and possibly other nearby institutes of education) integrating their own ornithological research and programming into the Adirondack Birding Center’s long list of public programming.
So stay tuned for more details and I’ll be sure to post them here.
Posted on February 28th, 2011 1 comment - Add a comment >>
At first they were being seen around the Great Lakes region in early winter, then they slowly filtered their way into New York State around January. Now we can find Common Redpolls scattered throughout the northeast and down to the mid-Atlantic states. They now number in the hundreds at some bird feeders in NY as well as here in the Adirondacks.
The common redpoll is a small sparrow-sized bird that often goes to where the food is plentiful. That means that this Canadian-breeding species will move, en masse, to an area of healthy food supply any given winter……and this winter looks like a good one for us.
White and yellow birch(Betula) is one of several food sources they see out. It’s possible that birch, and other seed-producing trees in the north are not producing a good mast(seeds) and so redpolls filter south into the US.
To the birdwatcher’s (and bird feeder-watcher’s) delight, common redpolls are visiting birdfeeders all over the northeast. That can be a good thing or a rather expensive thing depending on how often these pink-hued mobs eat you out of thistle and black oil sunflower seed!
Males will burst onto the scene with their blushing red chest and ruby-red cap, while the females and younger males take on a more subdued “streaky brown” coloration, both showing a quieter red cap and black throat.
To the sharp-eyed birder, chances are about one in every group of 100 could be a Hoary Redpoll, which looks quite similar. Still, many an “advanced birder” can find themselves second guessing their own identification of a hoary.
But then if a birder gets a bit daring they will further their identification prowess by calling out, “that one looks like the Greenland race of common redpoll, as a opposed to the more-common “southern” race of Carduelis flammea! Just look at their dark brown auriculars, deep black lores, and darker greater coverts!”
“Why yes, I concur whole-heatedly!”
On another note…….
I’d like to bring your attention to the new Facebook page on the website of Adirondack Park Institute (API) who, by the way, has become a wonderful sponsor of the 9th Annual Great Adirondack Birding Celebration, taking place at the Paul Smiths College “VIC” June 3-5, 2011. API is a friends group for the Paul Smiths College VIC and the Adirondack Interpretive Center in Newcomb(a part of the College of Environmental Science and Forestry). The two VIC’s are going through a bit of a change after NY State gave up ownership of these incredibly beautiful and educationally-valuable pieces of property in 2010. Both College-owned facilities will continue to provide much-needed information and education to visitors that come to the Adirondacks as well as to those who dwell within the 6 million acre park. API has, and will continue in this role. We’re hoping all you Face book-savvy folks out there will take the time to check it out, and then become a “friend” of the Adirondack Park friends group!
Photo credit: common redpoll-wikipedia
Posted on December 17th, 2010 Add a comment >>
Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in Ithaca, NY is producing some amazing resources for birdwatchers across the US. They’ve recently taken all the bird migration data that has been collected over these many years and have placed it all on a very cool, animated map showing movements of certain bird species across the US.
Click here for animation of maps. Be sure to look at the Olive-sided Flycatcher map and pay attention to the Adirondack region as the map is animated. This flycatcher is a summer resident of the Adks.
Also out from Cornell is a very clear video showing how White-winged Crossbills use their “crossed” bill to pry open cones and feed on the hidden seeds. Click here for the video.
Photo Credit: Cornell Lab of Ornithology-Wikipedia
Posted on July 7th, 2010 Add a comment >>
The alarm clock struck 6am and it was still 69 degrees out. The 3 “H’s” were going to make a third appearance this week.
Pouring myself into my kayak I took great joy in knowing that I would be birding atop a glistening river where tall trees along the shoreline, create a temperature-dropping shade to hide myself and rejuvenate.
With beaver dam obstacles, low-growing alder shrubs, and the occasional deer fly all behind me I can now focus on my task of surveying another boreal forest habitat for resident birds. I’m on “part two” of my Chubb River survey. Part one was from the DEC Canoe Access Site (along Averyville Rd in Lake Placid) to the 1/4 mile “carry” skirting some rapids and waterfalls. Part two is from the end of the carry to about a mile further up stream.
As I plop back into my kayak at the end of the carry, I hear the sounds of warblers and flycatchers nearby. I conduct this survey by listening to all bird vocalizations and recording them during a 10-minute point count. I have 5 points on this section of the River.
Suddenly I find myself writing down bird names furiously as they blend their songs and call notes into a chaotic melody. After 3 minutes I tick off Northern Parula Warbler, Alder Flycatcher, Purple Finch, Magnolia Warbler, and Swainson’s Thrush.
Well, I have to say, I’m surprised at the liveliness of the birds this hot, early morning. I was expecting a quiter survey. But once again the birds prove me wrong and belt out song after song in the steamy, jungle-like humidity of an Adirondack(?) summer.
My next three point counts continued along with the same unexpected results. Birdsong seems to filter down from the tall conifers and out onto the flat layer of sedges that line the river’s edge. Singing White-throated Sparrows sit among the conifer branches, and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, and Nashville Warblers top-off this Adirondack symphony from their hidden perches in the alder shrubs.
I finally make my way to the 5th and final point count of the morning. I’m still in a marshy habitat along the river with sedges, alders, and grasses towering over me and my kayak. Then, just beyond my line of sight, falling somewhere outside of my imaginary 50 meter circle that I sit in, I hear the emphatic request…”Quick-Three-Beers” of the Olive-sided Flycatcher
To me, no other bird carries the boreal region in it’s song more so than this bird. I long to hear those notes off in the distance on some far-off peatland or conifer swamp, telling me that it has safely arrived on the breeding grounds.
To our dismay the Olive-sided population, across the country, has dropped precipitously and ornithologist are scrambling to figure out the cause. Loss of habitat on breeding grounds? Loss of habitat on wintering grounds? Answers elude us.
All the other birds I hear on this steamy morning share their notes with the landscape, and to one another. And they all go on with their lives having dodged disaster after disaster on yearly flights North and South. As they sing along this river they speak volumes to those who will listen.
Photo Credit: Royal Fern along River-Brian McAllister
Posted on June 13th, 2010 9 comments Add a comment >>
I set out this morning to get in another boreal bird survey that I conduct for the Wildlife Conservation Society. My destination was Madawaska Pond, about 10 miles northwest of Paul Smiths, NY. As I got out the car I new it would be a fine morning, because instantly I heard a Boreal Chickadee calling 20 feet from my car. I was right, things got better.
As I wandered down the densely forested logging road with several pockets of boreal wetlands along the way, I encountered wonderful views of a Gray Jay family w/two very darkly colored young.
The Yellow-bellied Flycatchers were also very vocal.
However, the highlight of the day turned out to be a poor viewing of a singing Tennessee Warbler in an area where the dense conifer forest merges into the boreal wetlands of Madawaska Pond. I was so excited that I pumped my fists into the air in final victory of this great encounter. Well that victorious bubble soon burst after I returned home.
Turns out three birder friends were at this very same spot and heard the very same bird I heard only several days earlier. They, unlike my poor viewing of the bird, were able to see the bird singing, and one of them officially recorded the song with his recording equipment. But much to his amazement and bewilderment, he was witnessing a Nashville Warbler singing the song of a Tennessee Warbler. He would not have believed it if he had not observed it.
Alas, my victorious pumping of fists was all for not. However, this brings to mind what a very interesting bit of bird vocalization “anomalie” we just witnessed.
So what was going on there? Did this Nashville Warbler just randomly pick up the song of a Tennessee Warbler. Was this Nashville, as a chick, raised in an area where Tennessee’s were also breeding and singing and simply learned a Tennessee song?
Or was this bird just not satisfied singing a “city” song and felt compelled to sing a “state” song!!…sorry.
Whatever the answer, it is still a mystery that birders, across the globe, face as we learn more about bird song. It is not all that uncommon for birds to learn whatever song they hear growing up as a chick in the nest(other than parents). This has been replicated in laboratories.
Yes there is also that instinctive process of learning the song that your parents sing for you. But to add another twist is the fact that some birds (of a different species) can take over care and feeding of a unrelated nest.
Well, we like to think we know a lot about nature but then there’s always that curve ball that humbly sets us back a step or two.
Photo Credit: Boreal wetland -Brian McAllister
Posted on May 31st, 2010 Add a comment >>
What has bright yellow legs and is black and white all over? And by the way you have to travel up a mountain to see it in our neck of the woods.
The blackpoll warbler leads an interesting life as far as warblers go. During fall migration most species of warbler travel down the eastern US, often following the coast or higher elevations of the Appalachian Mts. But our little blackpoll has a different route.
After nesting just below the treeline on many of our Adirondack High Peaks in the thick spruce-fir forests, the black poll will often wind its way south and east to the New England coastline or farther south to the Long Island coast.
Here, if the winds are just right-meaning a good tail wind from the north, our tiny two-ounce bird takes flight into the night-time skies. Loaded down with fat layers on its body, the blackpoll starts on an incredible migratory journey that takes it out over the open Atlantic Ocean and it may not land on solid ground until it reaches the Caribbean Islands and northern South America for it’s winter holiday. If it’s tired it may stop off in Bermuda for a brief rest and refuel….whew!…that’s almost 90 hours of non-stop flight.
If your birding pursuits take you on a search for Bicknell’s thrush on, let’s say Whiteface Mt, take a moment to stop along the trail or roadside and listen for the extremely high-pitched song of this bird. A quick repetition of “tsi-tsi-tsi-TSI-TSI-TSI-tsi-tsi-tsi” rising in strength in the middle of song.
Once you pinpoint the song, scan the tops of the stunted trees before you and look for a small black-capped bird, not unlike the black-capped chickadee, but with black stripes on the breast and dark wings. Then look for the definitive ID clincher of yellowish legs.
I often describe the blackpoll song as a fast-moving squeaky wheel going by you as you stand still (soft at first, then growing in volume, then softening) as compared to the flat, monotone squeaky-wheel of the black and white warbler.
If you look for this bird during fall migration you’ll be fooled by its appearance. Just before summer ends it will molt into light-green-yellowish colored feathers with some white and dark striping.
Hopefully you’re planning a hike up your favorite Adirondack Mt. this early June, maybe in search of a Bicknell’s thrush, and as you do you’ll take the time to look and listen for this little, inconspicuous, black and white bird, with the unpretentious song.
Photo Credit: Blackpoll warbler-Wikipedia
Posted on April 18th, 2010 2 comments Add a comment >>
I wonder if in 1881, amateur ornithologist Eugene P. Bicknell, had any idea what a whirlwind he would cause in the birding world by classifying his new-found thrush as a subspecies. Back in the day they assumed this thrush was a just a subspecies of gray-cheeked thrush(a bird lesson for another day). Fast forward to 1995 and the birding-powers-that-be officially gave Bicknell’s thrush it’s current name and status as a species of thrush.
As birders eagerly watch for Bicknell’s thrush on Whiteface Mt near Lake Placid, they are grateful to Eugene because he added another bird to the big list, which in turn adds another “tick” off the list for the hardcore birders among us.
But over the years we’ve learned a lot about Eugene’s bird, and it now stands precariously on a delicate precipice that could easily crumble. Bickies are listed as a “Bird of Special Concern”. As you look at the range for this bird you see a very small wintering ground in the Caribbean and a very localized breeding ground here in the northeast.
To make matters worse, Bickies nest in a very inhospitable area – they prefer the harsh climate of the very thickly-wooded red spruce-balsam fir forest found at higher elevations of the Adirondacks, Green, and White Mountains in northeast US.
Your best bet to see a Bicknell’s is to take a drive up the Whiteface Mt Toll Rd which is certainly eaiser than climbing the other mountains where Bicknell’s is found, but if you’re the hiking type and enjoy a good workout, then try Wright Peak, Hurricane Mountain, Blue Mountain, or even Cascade Mt(outside Lake Placid).
On Whiteface, stop, look, and listen along the stretch of road between the “Lake Placid Turn” and the “Wilmington Turn” before coming to the top.
Chances are you will hear the thrush before you see it. The peak time to observe this bird is during the early breeding season(late May-early June) when they are most vocal. You can hear the song here
As with other members of the thrush family, the Bicknell’s is somewhat drab brown in color with a pale white breast w/darker spots on the throat and upper breast. Many sharp-eyed birders are able to discern a reddish color to the feathers of the tail and larger(primary) feathers of the wing.
Also the paler brown coloration on the cheek of Bicknell’s differentiate it from the “gray-cheek” of the gray-cheeked thrush…clever name, eh?
Here’s the other ID clue that you need to know. At a point on most of the High Peaks around here you come to an elevation where the Bicknell’s shares habitat with it’s other cousin the Swainson’s thrush. That’s somewhere around the 2500-3000 ft level. But if you are beyond that elevation, in the thick spruce-fir forest, then there’s a very good chance you are looking at a Bicknell’s
Well pat yourself on the back and then buy yourself a beer to celebrate your accomplishment…not many get to see this bird, and it’s pretty high on the list of “priority sightings” for many birders.
Better yet, save the money from the beer and give it toward a research organization that’s keeping tabs on one of our prettiest but most imperiled thrush!
Photo Credit: Bicknell’s thrush – Wikipedia