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September 01, 2014
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River Talk

Milestones for citizen science

Those who love birds and want to support their welfare will be eager to know of two bird-related developments in which citizens have played important roles.

Recently, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology released its new app, Merlin, designed as a birding coach for beginning and intermediate bird watchers. Using a series of questions, Merlin helps identify which birds are most likely to be seen, based on location, date and a brief description. Drawing upon more than 70 million sightings submitted from birders across the United States and Canada, possible species are listed.  Read more

Otters on the rise

As people are riding up and down New York State Route 97 to look for eagles or check out the ever changing ice conditions, other sights are there to see, too. A close look at the water might reveal a dark brown mammal, one to two feet long with a square looking snout and a long muscular tail. It may be in the water, on the ice, or along the river bank. This sleek looking critter would be the North American river otter (Lontra canadensis). This aquatic mammal, although very elusive, is spotted frequently along area waterways, but this was not always the case.  Read more

Drug-free fish

While the medications we consume are meant to help us, when it comes to their potential impact on other species, the news is not good. In the past, we have been instructed to flush unwanted medications down the toilet. That strategy is no longer advised in Pennsylvania, where a better alternative is being put into place. According to Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) Executive Director John Arway, even low doses of pharmaceutical and over-the-counter drugs can ultimately harm fish.  Read more

Critter alarm systems

A walk out in the woods during winter usually doesn’t yield a lot of sounds or bird calls; certainly not as much noise as springtime when birds and frogs are in the midst of courtship and breeding. Nuthatches, pine siskins, or the occasional tapping of a woodpecker foraging on a dead tree is the norm. The other day, however, there was the raucous cacophony of a flock of at least two dozen crows calling, while perched in some nearby trees. I checked the trees and others nearby for any interlopers.  Read more

Winter’s hidden inhabitants

At first glance, the winter landscape can appear to be devoid of life. But for the observant person, nothing is farther from the truth. All around us are clues to the existence of animals, and the stripped-down landscapes of winter provide opportunities to learn more about the activities of wildlife in the Upper Delaware region.  Read more

What of the winter?

This month saw a couple of storms with accumulating snowfalls, and there is a foot on the ground in most areas of the region, give or take a few inches. This is good news for skiers and the area ski resorts, but if you are shoveling your driveway or have to get to work in bad weather, maybe this is not so good news.  Read more

Gifts with purpose

Holiday shoppers who desire to make a difference can still do so with some of the following gift options. Support state parks, forests and environmental organizations that play important roles in maintaining regional biodiversity, protecting natural resources and promoting outdoor recreation by checking out these opportunities.  Read more

Snowy owls make an appearance

The Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus), made famous by “Hedwig” the snowy owl that was a gift to Harry Potter in the popular book series, is not an owl normally seen in this region. They spend their summers breeding at the northernmost tundra regions of Canada and Alaska. Unlike most owls, snowy owls feed diurnally, or during the daytime. They have no choice in the arctic, where it’s daylight everyday most the summer. Feather-covered feet and nostrils shielded by feathers are a few of many adaptations that this owl possesses.  Read more

Ted Parker: PA’s legendary conservationist

Twenty years ago, the world lost one of the most renowned ornithologists and one of the greatest field biologists of the 20th century. Ted Parker died at the age of 40 in a plane crash while pursuing what he loved most—the study of South America’s birds. In his honor, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (CLO) is offering a free digital download of his recordings from “Voices from the Peruvian Rainforest” (available at tinyurl.com/peruvianrainforest).  Read more

Give thanks for turkeys

With the Thanksgiving season upon us, most of us are thinking about turkey, whether wild or on the dinner table. Wild turkey is common in our region today, and it’s hard to travel in most woodland habitats without at least seeing sign of wild turkeys, but it wasn’t always like that.  Read more

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