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News stories tagged with "nature"

A bat in Vermont's Aeolus Cave frozen in icicle, Photo: Brian Mann
A bat in Vermont's Aeolus Cave frozen in icicle, Photo: Brian Mann

Biologists check Vermont cave for bat disease rate

DORSET, Vt. (AP) Biologists are analyzing data collected over the winter in a Vermont cave to determine whether more bats are surviving white nose syndrome.

Last fall, biologists glued radio tags to the backs of more than 400 bats outside the Aeolus cave in Dorset and lined the cave with electronic equipment that monitors how many of the bats emerged in the winter.  Go to full article
Eastern hognose snake (<em>Heterodon platyrhinos</em>). Photo: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Heterodon_platirhinos_head.jpg">Dawson</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Eastern hognose snake (Heterodon platyrhinos). Photo: Dawson, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Our mildly venomous neighbor, the Hognose snake

The Eastern hognose snake is better known by its nickname, puff adder, derived from its aggressive display when disturbed. Its bite is mildly venomous, capable of sedating small prey, such as toads. Martha Foley and Curt Stager discuss this common northeastern reptile.  Go to full article
A Willow Ptarmigan along eastern Lake Ontario. The sighting this week is a first for New York State.  Photo: Jeff Bolsinger.
A Willow Ptarmigan along eastern Lake Ontario. The sighting this week is a first for New York State. Photo: Jeff Bolsinger.

Willow Ptarmigan becomes an avian celebrity near Watertown

Carloads of birders from across the region have visited the shore of Lake Ontario, near Watertown, over the last few days hoping to glimpse a rare avian visitor from the Arctic tundra.

Late last week, Eugene Nichols was birding near Point Peninsula and found an all white bird that didn't belong in northern New York. Nichols contacted Jeff Bolsinger, a bird biologist at Fort Drum, who confirmed that it's a Willow Ptarmigan. Bolsinger says the bird normally lives only in northern Canada and Alaska. He says the sighting this week is the first documented sighting of a Willow Ptarmigan in New York State, and the second recorded in the lower 48 states in a century.

Bolsinger told Todd Moe he's not sure how the bird ended up this far south, but it's become an instant celebrity in the birding community.  Go to full article
SLU junior David Smith is an Environmental Studies major and lives on the school's sustainability farm a few miles from campus.  Chores include tending a flock of chickens. Photo: Todd Moe
SLU junior David Smith is an Environmental Studies major and lives on the school's sustainability farm a few miles from campus. Chores include tending a flock of chickens. Photo: Todd Moe

St. Lawrence junior's coursework includes farm chores

Sometimes spending a college semester abroad means just a few miles down the road. St. Lawrence University junior David Smith, a Potsdam native, is one of nine students living and studying sustainability issues on a 33-acre farm leased from Cornell Cooperative Extension this spring.

The farm, just south of Canton, includes a house, outbuildings, gardens, orchards, a chicken coop and classroom space. Professors visit the farm to teach courses. This spring, students will help prep the gardens that will feed participants in the fall semester program.

Next Tuesday, Earth Day, will be a busy time for Smith, who combines his college studies with environmental activism. Smith is the organizer of NC350, a local chapter of 350.org, an international organization working to address global climate change.

Todd Moe stopped by SLU's Sustainability Semester farm to get one young person's take on helping the planet.  Go to full article
Barred owl in the rain. Archive Photo of the Day 12/19/12: Butch Bramhall, Croghan, NY
Barred owl in the rain. Archive Photo of the Day 12/19/12: Butch Bramhall, Croghan, NY

Natural Selections: Barred Owl

The barred owl is often heard but seldom seen. Dr. Curt Stager and Martha Foley discuss the habits of this nocturnal hunter, and Curt demonstrates his own highly-regarded version of its distinctive call.  Go to full article

"A Beautiful Truth" by Colin McAdam

In Colin McAdam's new novel, a childless couple in Addison County, Vermont buys a baby chimpanzee. At first he's a cute little guy, but what happens when an ape is raised as a human?

Colin McAdam begins his book in rural Vermont in the 1970s when it wasn't difficult for a man with enough money to buy a baby chimpanzee.  Go to full article
American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), in Quebec. Photo: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tamiasciurus_hudsonicus_CT.jpg">Cephas</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), in Quebec. Photo: Cephas, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Natural Selections: Squirrel diet

Red squirrels do well in an abundant year for spruce and balsam cones, eating as many as fifty a day. Introduced to Newfoundland for the first time in the 1960s, squirrels eat as much as two-thirds of all the black spruce cones produced. Dr. Curt Stager and Martha Foley talk about the eating habits of squirrels and their impact on the environment.  Go to full article
A nest with Eastern Bluebird eggs.  Photo: Carl Austin, Jr., Grovetown, GA
A nest with Eastern Bluebird eggs. Photo: Carl Austin, Jr., Grovetown, GA

Want to keep an eye on bird nests this spring?

Lots of birds have begun returning to the North Country from their wintering grounds. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is recruiting volunteers for its annual NestWatch citizen science project. Participants map any nest or birdhouse location on the NestWatch website. They report the species of nesting bird, when eggs laid, how many hatch and how many fledglings leave the nest.

Todd Moe spoke with NestWatch project leader Robyn Bailey says the nationwide program tracks and analyzes nesting bird data all year. She says sometimes NestWatchers see something remarkable that surprises scientists.  Go to full article
Be on the lookout for the Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/warriorwoman531/8129491756/">Heather Paul</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Be on the lookout for the Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) Photo: Heather Paul, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Cornell seeks volunteer bird's nest watchers

ITHACA, N.Y. (AP) As birds wing their way north from their wintering grounds, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is recruiting volunteers for its annual NestWatch citizen science project.

Participants map any nest or birdhouse location on the NestWatch website (www.NestWatch.org). Then they report the species of nesting bird, when eggs are laid, how many hatch, and how many fledglings leave the nest.  Go to full article
Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/hobgadlng/11393404204/">Tee La Rosa</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved<br />
Photo: Tee La Rosa, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

You're a moth: How do you defend yourself?

The battle for survival among insects is not always carried out with mandible and stinger. This branch of the animal kingdom also employs chemical warfare. Some moths and butterflies store plant poisons in their bodies that make them so toxic, spiders will cut them loose from their webs. Some spiders make their webs and the food stored within deadly to ants and some create toxic "veils" to protect their mates while they are vulnerable. Martha Foley and Paul Smith's College biologist Curt Stager explore the arsenal of the natural world.  Go to full article

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