Birding

A year of Great Gray Owls The irruptive movement of Great Gray Owls has been an enormous cause for excitement this winter in the Adirondacks and North Country. It is the year in the multi-year cycle in which they might move south, and I began monitoring the owls weeks ago as I watched reports in Canada of them coming closer and closer to our border. The birds have been in northern Franklin County and at Robert Moses State Park in Massena for over a month, attracting many, many people to go see them. Over that time I’ve been in several conversations about other possible locations to find the... continue reading
 
National Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count (CBC), the nation’s longest-running citizen science bird project, just completed its 116th year! Here in the Adirondacks, the Saranac Lake CBC just celebrated its 60th year, making it one of the longest-running counts in the country. It was a record-setting year for the count in many respects. Record Number of Observers On January 3rd, a record 53 people fanned out across the Saranac Lake CBC territory, which includes Saranac Lake, Bloomingdale, Ray Brook, and Lake Placid. (Each count is a circle of territory with a 15-mile... continue reading
 
Birding in Placid! Summer in the Lake Placid Region is a wonderful time of year. And birding at the Intervale Lowlands Preserve in Lake Placid is one of the best ways to enjoy it. With long days and lots of singing birds, it is easy to tally up a great list of warblers and other species. Even better for me is that doing so is part of my job. As one of the many hats I wear, I conduct a variety of field research and I am fortunate enough to conduct some of it at Intervale. As a result I’ve been there looking for birds a few times of late. Each time I go to Intervale is a bit different than... continue reading
 
A Small Secretive Owl Of the three most common breeding owl species in the Adirondacks (the Northern Saw-whet Owl, Barred Owl, and Great Horned Owl), the Saw-whet is the smallest and most mysterious. More often heard than seen, this completely nocturnal owl’s secretive nature makes its habits little known to humans. Relentless Tooting The Northern Saw-whet Owl’s advertising call is rather unusual. The Birds of North America account for this species describes the male’s call as “A monotonous series of whistled notes on a constant pitch." Birders refer to this vocalization as the “tooting”... continue reading
 
Axton Landing to Stony Creek PondsAn Adirondack Everglade StoryAs many of you know Lake Placid is a hub for hiking mountains of all sizes and trails of all abilities but what gets often forgotten is its close proximity to countless lakes, rivers and ponds. This week I decided I would explore paddling the waters at Axton Landing. Axton Landing as many hikers might recognize, by name, is the landing on the Raquette River that is passed as you drive down Coreys Road to explore the Seward Range. Many might not realize its significance to the paddling world and region this landing awards visitors.... continue reading
 
            What started as a few scattered early reports of Snowy Owls turned into a flood of owls seemingly overnight.  While Snowys are not uncommonly found in places in the northeast during the winter, this year they are staging an invasion.                         A friend and I went birding north of Plattsburgh a few weeks ago looking for Snowy Owls at the beginning of the movement.  We found none, but that day a Snowy was found on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain.  Two days later someone found a Snowy near Chazy, but the owl was gone the following day.  Two more owls were found in... continue reading
 
Winter Bird Watching  I had a few guests in town this Thanksgiving holiday and I took them to see the Gray Jays along the north end of the Bloomingdale Bog Trail.  It is the best place to find Gray Jays in the Adirondacks and the region.  It was a cold day and the trail was quiet as we walked south toward the power lines where the jays are usually found. As we approached the makeshift feeder which folks have constructed there, we saw a lot of bird activity.  Black-capped Chickadees and Blue Jays buzzed to and from the feeder into which someone had poured some sunflower seeds.  As we walked... continue reading
 
            The discovery of a rare bird has a way of mobilizing and motivating birders to travel.  How far they will travel generally depends on the bird’s rarity in the region and the likelihood of finding it.  Some good birds are found briefly for one day and never seen in the area again making them less worth the effort.  But the draw of potentially finding a rare bird is strong for many birders – even if the odds of rediscovering it are low.  After all, it is always exciting and fun to find a species which is uncommon in a given area – or more thrilling yet, a species that a birder has... continue reading
 
            For a long time, the weather in our region lingered in September even beyond the calendar, with warm, sunny days dominating the forecast.  For that matter I swam in Lake Colby in Saranac Lake through the first week of October.  But the warm trend changed swiftly as cold fronts finally began to deliver their stored up Canadian chill and it didn’t take long for the region to feel like November.  Winds stripped the remaining leaves from the trees and scattered them across the ground.  And morning after morning has been marked by frost and touches of snow, and even though a brief... continue reading
 
            As October leaves fall with passing cold fronts, it is time to head out at night to look and listen for northern saw-whet owls.  Saw-whets are small (about 8 inches long) owls, and the smallest owl in our region.  They migrate north in the early spring to breed in the Adirondacks and to our north, and then they migrate back through our region during the middle of the fall.  And the first few weeks of October are the best time to find them.  And while the owls are more vocal during the spring because they are beginning their breeding season, they will call during their southbound... continue reading
 

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