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The Nature of Things

A blog about nature and the environment

Archive for November, 2007

More for the birds


First of all, to add to yesterday’s news about birds in peril, check out this gallery and additional information from National Geographic. It features some vibrant photos and additional information about birds placed on the WatchList 2007.

Then, while you’re there, be thankful you’re not a rat-battling bird on (where else) Rat Island, Alaska. Might be a good name for a TV show . . .

Posted by Mike Risinit on Thursday, November 29th, 2007 at 3:31 pm |

For the birds


Forty-seven of the bird species in need of help conservation-wise spend time in New York. That’s according to Audubon and the American Bird Conservancy. Those feathered individuals are included on WatchList 2007, which was released today. Overall, 217 bird species are in danger across the U.S.

Three of NY’s threatened birds earn a spot on the “red list” because they face a greater risk of extinction: piping plover, Bicknell’s thrush and Henslow’s sparrow. Identification of bird species in peril, the organizations point out, is the first step in helping to save them.

Click on the images to see some of the information and how you can help.



Posted by Mike Risinit on Wednesday, November 28th, 2007 at 2:39 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Dining for the birds


Yes, New York City is chock-full of places to eat, even if you’re a songbird just passing through.

So far, according to an ongoing research project connected with the Bronx Zoo, it seems the Big Apple (or at least the Bronx) provides migrating songbirds with enough insects, worms and berries to continue flapping south. The study will continue in the spring as the birds pass through again, on their way from, say, Central America, to the northern U.S. or Canada.

 To catch up on my way-more-local bird-feeding issues, go here.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Tuesday, November 27th, 2007 at 7:06 pm |


Indian Point tests old siren system Nov. 28


While the new emergency siren system for Indian Point remains inoperable, the nuclear plant is relying on the system in place and will conduct a test of its sounding ability today between 10:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. All 156 sirens will be tested simultaneously at full-volume for four minutes in the four counties within 10 miles of the Buchanan plant – Westchester, Rockland, Orange and Putnam. WHUD Radio (100.7 FM) will perform a test of the Emergency Alert System immediately after the test. No public participation is required.

Posted by Greg Clary on Tuesday, November 27th, 2007 at 5:38 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Feeder news


Had a bit of life-and-death trauma out at the bird feeders the other morning. Nothing affecting my well-being but rather that of a mourning dove. The dozen or so doves that hang out behind our house tend to perch in the tops of some of the elms back there. It’s there, 60 feet or so above the ground, that the first rays of the sun hit every morning.

Anyway, I was reaching up to grab a feeder for refilling when I saw a hawk swoop in feet first and try to grab one of the doves. After a second or two of a treetop tussle, the hawk left empty-taloned. Pretty sure it was a sharp-shinned hawk because I’ve seen them in the yard before and its closest cousin, the Cooper’s hawk, tends to be a bit larger (kind of blue jay vs. crow size).

The incident just serves as a reminder that what seems like a strictly benevolent activity (bird feeding) can actually provide a one-stop buffet for raptors who prey on on other birds. But, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, right?

And, speaking of bird feeders, the photograph shows the records and PVC pipe I mentioned in an earlier post that are supposed to deter the thieving squirrels from accessing the feeders. So far, so good. feeder.jpg

Posted by Mike Risinit on Saturday, November 24th, 2007 at 12:30 pm |



This may gross some of you out, but the other day I cut the antlers off of a deer that was struck and killed by a car in front of my house. The deer was struck early Saturday morning and, consequently, sat there until Monday, when the highway department came along and picked it up.

I was mostly curious about how difficult it would be, thought about it for a while and then went at it Sunday afternoon.antler.jpg

My first attempt was with a pair of pruning loppers. But as antlers are actual bone, those didn’t cut it (pun intended). I had to go get a hand saw from the garage. As you can see from the photo, they weren’t all that big.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Wednesday, November 21st, 2007 at 4:44 pm |


Crows, crows, crows


Crows, crows, crows. I live across from a farm field, which, depending on the season and rotation, gives rise to either pumpkins or strawberries. No matter where pumpkins are on said farm, that field becomes a crow hangout during the fall. At least hundreds gather during clear afternoons and fill the air with cawing. Check out the video below. It takes a minute or two to load. And, the bird is actually known as an American crow.


According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, “raucous flocks” gathering at fields or dumps can be the norm in late summer and the fall.

For more crow info, check out this dedicated Web site.

A fun fact, courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is that while crows dining on road-killed animals may be a common sight, the black birds lack the beak strength to rip open even a dead squirrel. They have to wait for someone else to dive in before they can feed.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Tuesday, November 20th, 2007 at 1:46 pm |

Educating students about land use


The fourth annual Planning Land Use with Students, or PLUS, symposium is set for Dec. 4 in Haverstraw village.

The sponsors are Hudson River Basin Watch, Keep Rockland Beautiful, Cornell Cooperative Extension and Rockland AmeriCorps.

The annual program aims to help educate high school students about responsible land use. Students take some of their new knowledge and apply it to a mock piece of property, which they help “plan out.�

The program also includes an environmental fair, with this year’s theme being sustainability, especially as it relates to responsible land development.

Any agency, organization or company interested in hosting a booth during the fair can call Kathy Galione, project coordinator for Rockland AmeriCorps, at 845-708-7307.

Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Monday, November 19th, 2007 at 12:51 pm |

Talking turkey


Just to dispel any notions that the turkeys you may spot on the shoulder of the Taconic State Parkway or crossing a quiet road are the same as the bird you will probably be gobbling on Thursday, check out these links.

From the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department: Domestic turkeys can’t fly — or even run very fast – making them easy pickings for any predator.

From Cornell University: European explorers took wild turkeys to Europe from Mexico in the early 1500s. They were so successfully domesticated in Europe that English colonists brought them back with them when they settled on the Atlantic Coast. The domestic form has retained the white tail tip of the original Mexican subspecies, and that character can be used to distinguish wandering barnyard birds from wild turkeys which have chestnut-brown tail tips.

For a different perspective on human-turkey interaction, go here.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Sunday, November 18th, 2007 at 9:37 am |
| | 1 Comment »


Global warming session


Seeking the lowdown on global warming? The head of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the executive director of the Natural Resources Defense Council and the executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York will discuss impacts global warming will have on the state and what needs to be done.

The forum on Nov. 29 is presented by state Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, D-Ossining, who will moderate the event. It takes place at Cortlandt Town Hall and a question-and-answer period will follow. For more information, go here.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Thursday, November 15th, 2007 at 5:49 pm |

About this blog
The Nature of Things provides a chance to talk about the wild denizens that share the Lower Hudson Valley with us and the natural settings that make this place home for everyone. From Long Island Sound to the Hudson River to the Great Swamp and beyond, almost anything related to the environment is fair game in this blog.


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About the authors
SBenischekJournal News staff writer Greg Clary writes Earth Watch, reporting on environmental issues in the lower Hudson region. Clary has been a reporter, editor and columnist at the Journal News since 1988 and has covered police and courts, transportation, municipal government, development and the environment in the Lower Hudson Valley, among other topics.
Laura IncalcaterraLaura Incalcaterra covers the environment, open space and zoning and planning issues for The Journal News. A Boston College graduate, Laura grew up in Rockland, attended East Ramapo schools and has worked for The Journal News since 1993. Laura has written features and covered North Rockland, crime, government and a host of other issues.
SBenischekMike Risinit covers Patterson and Kent in Putnam County, as well as environmental topics touching on the Hudson River and the Great Swamp. Risinit has been a reporter at The Journal News since 1998.
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