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Tufted titmouse is bright, bouncy year-round resident

Tufted titmouse is bright, bouncy year-round resident

This week I am going take a look at the tufted titmouse, one of the bounciest and brightest little birds that will visit your yard. The word “titmouse” is derived from an Old Icelandic word, “titr”, which means “something small.”

Quest to capture elusive harrier on camera is driving me nuts

Quest to capture elusive harrier on camera is driving me nuts

I have a resolution for 2014 — the harrier will be mine.

Sleek, snarky nuthatches dash down trees headfirst

Sleek, snarky nuthatches dash down trees headfirst

Any bird that visits my home is a “favorite bird” of mine, but I have a particular affinity for white-breasted nuthatches that I can’t quite explain.

Balsam fir long a favorite for Christmas

Balsam fir long a favorite for Christmas

Many of us are getting ready to pick out a Christmas tree, and if you’re anything like me you’ll be looking for a balsam fir

Elegant mourning doves are recognizable visitors at feeders

Elegant mourning doves are recognizable visitors at feeders

With the arrival of snow, we can expect to see some of the most common local birds at our feeders. The mourning dove is as elegant as it is common.

Starlings introduced in 1890 have proliferated to millions

Basically, we have turned America into a habitat for starlings. They are happiest in areas that are covered with short grasses and cleared of most trees. Humans had disrupted nearly every habitat on the continent, converting most of them into agricultural landscapes.

Little white-footed mice are big target of predators

Little white-footed mice are big target of predators

As winter gets closer and the temperatures continue to fall, it is quite likely that mice will explore our garages and workshops in their never-ending quest for food and shelter. They may cause some trouble in the process, but they are simply looking for a way to survive in a rather unfriendly world in which they represent food for almost every local predator.

Raccoons can adopt a home and eat all of your birdseed

Raccoons can adopt a home and eat all of your birdseed

Recently, I heard telltale thunking and I found a pair of adolescent raccoons lounging on my porch. There was something in their nature that reminded me of a mother raccoon who used to bring her babies to my house for dinner.

Raccoon eyes glinting in the night an amazing sight

Raccoon eyes glinting in the night an amazing sight

My first memory of raccoons goes back to when I was 6 or 7 years old. It was during a family camping trip in the Adirondacks at a place called Camp Little Notch.

Bigtooth aspen’s leaves, dispersal of seeds fascinating

Bigtooth aspen’s leaves, dispersal of seeds fascinating

It was during the wonderful days of late autumn some 20 years ago that I encountered the bigtooth aspen for the first time.

Woolly bears not really able to predict severity of winter

Woolly bears are the larval forms of a group of moths known as tiger moths. Legend has it that they can predict the severity of winter. But is it so?

Birds start foraging for food that will get scarcer in winter

Birds start foraging for food that will get scarcer in winter

This past weekend, I got out the mower and gave it a final run around the house, and while I did this I started to think about the animals that live at the mercy of the weather.

Chipmunks sneaky-fast seed thieves

Chipmunks sneaky-fast seed thieves

My neighbor the chipmunk is a thief. Using 20 minutes-per-ounce as a nice round number, I calculate that the chipmunk can remove the equivalent of a 40-pound bag of seeds in a little less than 18 days.

Canada geese on the move, find our grassy areas a feast

Canada geese on the move, find our grassy areas a feast

I wasn’t sure exactly where they were, but their voices carried through the crisp morning air with a clarity that allowed me to pick out individuals from the fugue. I turned to the east, squinted against the brightness of the sun as it lay close to the horizon, and finally spotted the family of Canada geese as they moved down into the valley.

Broad-winged hawks are a southbound spectacle

Broad-winged hawks are a southbound spectacle

For those of you who have never seen one, a broad-winged hawk is best described as a small cousin of the red-tailed hawk.

Complex leaf, floral system underlies goldenrods’ glory

Complex leaf, floral system underlies goldenrods’ glory

I imagine that goldenrods are fairly familiar to everyone, but I’m also fairly certain that the plants themselves are not quite as well-known as the flowers.

Asters linger to add their beauty to late summer, early fall

Asters linger to add their beauty to late summer, early fall


Asters are some of our most splendid wildflowers, and they don’t really start flowering until September.

Forget about Mars; take a look at the moths all around you

At this very moment a handful of remote-controlled cars is sending radio signals across the void of space in an attempt to help us learn about Mars. We know that it’s about half the size of Earth, we have learned that the average temperature is 64 degrees below zero and that Mars is a lot more like Earth than we ever suspected. But the big question remains, “is there (or was there) life on Mars?”

A visit to ocean shoreline can yield a wonderful bird sighting

A visit to ocean shoreline can yield a wonderful bird sighting

Along the ocean shoreline, at this time of year, you might come upon a solitary bird with a very striking color pattern. This gorgeous little bird — the ruddy turnstone — will be a particular treat to see.

American kestrel, smallest of falcons, is visible in region

American kestrel, smallest of falcons, is visible in region

The American kestrel is the smallest falcon in North America. There are 58 species of falcons and they can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Here in North America, we have a total of seven falcons, but in the eastern U.S. we are only likely to see four of them: the gyrfalcon, peregrine falcon, the Merlin, and the American kestrel.

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