River Talk


This is one of many red efts seen during the day. The red eft is actually a juvenile stage of the Eastern red-spotted newt. After a few years on land, red efts return to the water. They grow a keeled tail and their color changes to dark green to olive.

Reptile and amphibian workshop at Lacawac Sanctuary

LAKE ARIEL, PA — On May 8, there was a reptile and amphibian workshop and survey at Lacawac Sanctuary in Wayne County. Led by Larry Laubach, Northeast Regional Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Amphibian and Reptile Survey (PARS), it started in the morning and went into the early afternoon. There was a good crowd, from kids to older adults.


Photo by Sandy Long

Four robin nestlings nap in this backyard nest, which has been rebuilt and reused for the past three years. Look closely to see strands of plastic tarp woven among the dried grasses. Visit cams.allaboutbirds.org/channel/55/American_Robin/ to follow the progress of a robin family via the live bird cam at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Sapsucker Woods. Observe other nesting bird species at cams.allaboutbirds.org/all-cams.

The nature of nesting

On Mother’s Day, while our backyard American robin was foraging nearby for food, I checked on the progress of the four beautiful turquoise eggs laid in the recently restored nest near our wood shed. To my delight, four nearly featherless hatchlings were huddled together in the sturdy cup of woven grass and twigs.


TRR photos by Scott Rando

The cotton-like egg masses of the wooly adelgid are apparent at the base of the needles of this hemlock sprig. Many times, the egg masses are at the underside of the needles and branches, and lifting a branch up to look at the underside can help in detecting an infestation.

Attacking the hemlock attackers

On a hot summer day, I was enjoying a few quiet moments next to a stream in Sullivan County, NY. I saw some ebony jewelwings flutter near the stream in courtship flight, and in the stream, there was the occasional brook trout.


A male ruby-throated hummingbird perches near the feeder where he has just been seeking nourishment. The clear liquid in the feeder is a simple mixture of four parts water to one part sugar. It is not necessary for feeder fluids to be red, and is better for hummingbird health to exclude the red dyes that are often included in feeder mixes.

Hello Hummingbirds!

It’s that time of year when we’re busy prepping the garden or doing yard work and we hear it—the unmistakable buzz of an iridescent fairy bird flitting past, zooming and zipping, searching for sustenance from the funny-shaped feeders we’ve come to associate with that most beloved little creature—the hummingbird.


TRR photos by Scott Rando
Bill Streeter “tosses” the young eagle at the start of a test flight. Creance (tethered) flights are a last step before actual release; if an issue is noted, the bird can be retrieved rather than having a bird that may not be ready for release escape and then not survive.

New hope for a young eagle

A wildlife rehabilitator wears many hats during the course of rescuing and rehabilitating animals that find themselves sick or injured. A wildlife rehabilitator is part bush-whacker, part EMT, and part caregiver and occupational therapist, among other things.


TRR photos by Sandy Long

This red-spotted newt got a hand across the road to safety on a recent drizzly evening. While it is best to handle the migrators as little as possible, it is still better than the alternative. 

Road Tolls

It’s a rainy warmish night in the Upper Delaware River region, and while most of us are dry and comfortable inside our homes, other species are out and about, risking their lives while scurrying across roads toward their breeding grounds.


TRR photos by Scott Rando
The downy woodpecker is the most common woodpecker seen in the region as well as heard. One of its courtship calls is a “whinny.” Most woodpeckers can be attracted by seed or suet feeders. This is a male; the females have no red at all on their head.

Drumbeats in the woods

When March arrives and there are any trees at all around, many species of birds get an early start on breeding by trying to court a mate by means of calls. Calling birds are very apparent on even a short walk outdoors. If you listen, you can make out the tapping of woodpeckers as well.


TRR photos by Sandy Long
This black-capped chickadee was the victim of a window collision. There are various ways to make the windows of your home safer for birds. Visit https://www.allaboutbirds.org/why-birds-hit-windows-and-how-you-can-help... to learn more and put at least one remedy into practice today.

The impact of windows

It’s a startling sound, the thud that occurs when a bird mistakes a window for clear flight space and strikes glass instead. Your heart sinks to think about the possible outcomes—at worst, the loss of life, at best, a temporarily stunned and disabled bird that could use all the help it can get until it recovers enough to enable flight.


TRR photos by Scott Rando
This pair of hooded mergansers were among the many waterfowl visitors saw last week in the river at Lackawaxen. The more brightly colored male is to the right.

Waterfowl Riverdance

The coming of spring brings to thought a diverse variety of events to different people. For some of us, the first thing to come to mind is the appearance of daffodils popping out of the ground. For others, the song of spring peepers calling in the early evening from wetlands and marshes.


Contributed photos by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
On March 10, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) forest rangers received notification of a 31-year-old male with a possible fractured femur near the summit of Whiteface Mountain in Essex County, NY. The subject was packaged into a litter and towed by snowmobile down the Whiteface Mountain Memorial Highway, then transferred to an ambulance for further treatment.

Rangers rock

I recently signed up to receive email news bulletins from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). One of the bulletins focuses on the important work done by DEC forest rangers, often with little public awareness of those activities. 

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