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News stories tagged with "birding"

Andrew Wood, Jake Tibbles, and Sarah Walsh with their finished tern nest.
Andrew Wood, Jake Tibbles, and Sarah Walsh with their finished tern nest.

Story 2.0: Stitching a security blanket for the threatened common tern

Almost ten years ago, conservationists tried a novel experiment to protect the common tern, a threatened native bird on the St. Lawrence River. The tern's nesting habitat was getting overrun by gulls and geese. So a group of people sort of faked that habitat on the Seaway's giant navigation buoys, known as "nav cells". The plan worked. In 2006, the number of tern nests on the St. Lawrence was the highest recorded since 1982. The tern restoration project is a collaboration between Save the River, the Thousand Islands Land Trust, and Massena-based biologist Lee Harper. And the group has not stood pat. For our series "Story 2.0" - revisiting reports from the NCPR archive - David Sommerstein returns to the Thousand Islands to see the latest in tern-saving technology - a wire grid that keeps tern chicks in and other aggressive birds out.  Go to full article

A check-in with Maple Ridge wind farm

Iberdrola is one of the owners of the Maple Ridge wind farm on the Tug Hill Plateau. With 195 turbines spanning miles of ridgeline, it's the largest wind farm in the East. Bill Moore is an energy consultant for Iberdrola. Starting in the late 1990s, Moore was the man who went door-to-door to persuade local residents to welcome wind power. Today the project has been producing electricity for almost three years. David Sommerstein asked Bill Moore how it's been going. They talk about megawatts, bird and bat mortality, and the vicious debate over wind power in the North Country.

Since their conversation, the New York Times reported that Maple Ridge has been forced to shut down sometimes because regional electric lines have been too congested to send the power downstate. Moore wouldn't talk about the article on tape. But he did confirm that Maple Ridge has had to shut down its turbines "about half a dozen times a year." Moore said that happens during the spring and fall, when electricity demand is lowest. He said as more wind farms come online in Clinton and Jefferson Counties, the problem could get worse. He agreed with the basic premise of the Times story, that wind energy is hampered by "insufficient grid capacity" to deliver electricity from where the wind blows to where the most people are.  Go to full article

Watertown tries to shoo crows out of the city

Crows are garrulous, clubby birds. Good fliers, fun to watch. But they have their place. Flocks (proper name "murders") can provide human-like entertainment in the countryside. But in cities...not so much. Some cities like Watertown bring in professionals to get rid of crows, particularly at this time of year. Mary Corriveau is city manager of Watertown. She tells Jonathan Brown the birds are starting to flock downtown where asphalt and heated buildings help keep them warm through the winter.  Go to full article
The DEC's Blanche Town looks for birds...
The DEC's Blanche Town looks for birds...

A wetland maze in a birder?s heaven

The end of August is a special chance to take full advantage of a birder's paradise just a few minutes from Canton. You name it: mergansers, black terns, bitterns, even loons and bald eagles, all make the Upper and Lower Lakes Wildlife Management Area their summer home. The area opens its off-limits refuge to the public for two weeks each summer, this year through August 31. Still, much of the area's 4,300 acres of wetlands is accessible throughout the summer. From a canoe, a labyrinth of shifting cattails leads to the open water of Indian Creek, which links the Grasse and Oswagatchie Rivers. David Sommerstein took a tour with a wildlife expert and sent this audio postcard.  Go to full article
Searching by canoe.
Searching by canoe.

Searching for the ivory-billed woodpecker

Leah Filo is a biologist with the Wild Center in Tupper Lake. She's spent most of her professional life doing field work with migratory songbirds. In January, she joined the search for a ghost among birds, the ivory-billed woodpecker - and she came back a believer. The ivory-billed was long thought to be extinct - but in April 2005, a partnership led by Cornell University's ornithology lab formally announced the rediscovery of the ivory-billed in an area of Arkansas bottom land swamp known as the Big Woods. They cited "visual encounters", a video clip, and sounds linked to ivory-bills. Not everyone believes. Since then, scientists and volunteers have been scouring likely habitat for more sightings. Leah Filo volunteered to help and found herself spending two weeks in the very Big Woods of the 2005 sightings -- along the White River in Arkansas. It was wet and chilly -- nights in the 30s, days in the 40s. It's bottom land forest, mostly deciduous woods that flood frequently. Leah spent most of her time in waders. She kept lots of notes, and kept an audio journal as well. She spoke with Martha Foley.  Go to full article

Backyard count captures "real time" snapshot of bird populations

Tens of thousands of people will be outside (or looking out the window), counting birds this weekend. It's the tenth annual Great Backyard Bird Count. The idea is to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent, and how local birds fit into the larger landscape. Anyone can participate - last year participants reported a record-breaking 7.5 million birds of 623 species. Martha Foley talked with Joan Collins of Potsdam, who was watching her feeder as the count began this morning.  Go to full article

Wind Turbine Siting's For the Birds

As wind farm projects face public scrutiny from Cape Vincent to Clinton, one big concern is the windmills' effects on birds. If you look at the Audubon New York's position on wind farms, you'll see a caveat. The group of bird protectors says it supports wind power in New York...if the turbines are properly sited, away from sensitive habitat and migratory fly-ways. So the question is: who decides if a windmill's in a safe place for birds? Turns out each local town board does. New York is a "home rule" state. Through a complex review process, state environmental officials and a host of other agencies weigh in, but the ultimate decision rests in local hands. David Sommerstein spoke with Steve Tomasick last month at the Sustainable Energy Fair in Canton. Tomasick handles all of New York's wind farm proposals for the Department of Environmental Conservation. He says even the DEC has a hard time making a call.  Go to full article

Bald Eagle Found Shot in Rossie

Authorities are offering a $2500 reward for information leading to identification of the person who shot a bald eagle in Rossie. Officials with the US Fish and Wildlife Service say the eagle was found recently in a field. The eagle was seen alive in the same area several times in November and may have been shot in December before being covered by snowfall. The eagle's decomposed carcass was taken to the state's Wildlife Pathology Laboratory outside Albany, where experts were able to determine that the bird had been shot. It's against state and federal law to kill, injure or harassing bald eagles and other threatened and endangered wildlife. Gerry Smith is an ornithologist in Lewis County. He told Gregory Warner that its not just bird-lovers who are outraged.  Go to full article
Ed Robertson paddles on Butterfield Lake, one of the largest of the Indian River Lakes.
Ed Robertson paddles on Butterfield Lake, one of the largest of the Indian River Lakes.

Preserving the Low Profile of the Indian River Lakes

Between the high profile destinations of the Thousand Islands and the Adirondacks, there's a hidden gem of a region. It's called the Indian River Lakes. Black Lake is the most famous and popular, but 14 other little bodies of water straddle the St. Lawrence-Jefferson County line, just several miles inland from the St. Lawrence River. It's rugged country, part of a granite strip called the Frontenac Arch that links the Adirondacks with the Canadian Shield. A conservancy formed several years ago to protect the area. David Sommerstein went kayaking with the group's president and sent this audio postcard.  Go to full article
Listening for Bicknell's thrush
Listening for Bicknell's thrush

On Lyon Mountain, an Increasingly Rare Songbird Makes Itself Heard

Every summer, birders across the Adirondacks and the Green Mountains climb high looking for alpine songbirds. The annual census helps researchers to track the health and population of rare and endangered birds. Brian Mann joined a group on Lyon Mountain last month searching for the Bicknell's thrush. He sent this audio postcard.  Go to full article

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