The Adirondacks is rich in bird life, and with 6,172 acres of wetlands in this region, the avian population is abundant. There are, according to NY Breeding Bird Atlas data, 147 species believed to be breed in the Vanderwhacker Wild Forest region. In 1997, the Environmental Conservation Law of New York established the NY State Bird Conservation Area Program designed to safeguard the bird population. In 2001, they designated the Adirondack mountain summits above 2,800 as the Adirondack Subalpine Forest Bird Conservation Area.
Birds associated with marshes, ponds, lakes, and streams include: common loon, great blue heron, greenbacked heron, American bittern, and a variety of waterfowl. the most common ducks include the mallard, American black duck, wood duck, hooded merganser, and common merganser. Other species of waterfowl migrate through the region following the Atlantic Flyway.
Bogs, beaver meadows, shrub swamps, and any areas of natural disturbance provide important habitat for species that require or prefer openings and early succession habitats. Species such as alder and olivesided flycatchers, American woodcock, ruffed grouse, Lincoln sparrow, Nashville warbler, chestnut-sided warbler, Canada warbler, golden-winged warbler, mourning warbler, eastern towhee, brown thrasher, yellow warbler, common yellowthroat, indigo bunting, whip-poor-will, and field sparrow rely on these habitats and are rarely found in mature forests
The most common species found throughout the deciduous or mixed forest include the ovenbird, red-eyed vireo, black-capped chickadee, blue jay, downy woodpecker, brown creeper, wood thrush, black-throated blue warbler, magnolia warbler, American redstart, white-throated sparrow, pileated woodpecker, and black and white warbler. The golden-crowned kinglet, purple finch, red and white-winged crossbill, gray jay, boreal chickadee, black-throated green warbler, northern parula, and black-backed woodpecker are additional species found in the coniferous forest and exhibit preference for this habitat. Birds of prey common to the area include the barred owl, great horned owl, sharp-shinned hawk, and broad-winged hawk.
By the NY State's Unit Management Plan, the following indicated species are under study, we have summarized their findings below. (Pictures and links provided by Wikipedia.)
Bicknell's Thrush (Catharus bicknelli)
Bicknell's Thrush utilizes fir waves and natural disturbances as well as edges of ski slopes. They breed in the Adirondacks at elevations greater than 2800 ft. The species is most common on the highest ridges of the Adirondacks, preferring young or stunted dense stands of balsam fir up to 9 ft. in height.
Osprey (Pandion haliates)
The American Osprey is of special concern. Osprey breed near large bodies of water where there is abundant fish populations. Numerous sightings are within the Adirondack. Osprey construct their nest in tall dead tress, but also use rocky ledges, sand dunes, artificial platforms, and utility pole cross arms for a tall advantage point. The power company has started to built Osprey poles because they often select power poles causing issues when moving their youth from the endangerment of the power lines.
Common Loon (Gavia immer)
Loons have been observed in Wolf Pond, Mink Pond, Cheney Pond, Oliver Pond, Newcomb Lake, Henderson Lake, Trout Pond, Thumb Pond, Hewitt Pond and Boreas Pond. Loons have mistaken fishing tackle for pebbles they need for 'grit'. This has lead to lead poisoning when ingested. NY passed legislation prohibiting the sale of certain lead sinkers (including 'split shot) weighting one-have ounce or less. Nesting areas located in Newcomb Lake, Wolf Pond and Hewit Pond.
Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)
Both wetlands (forested and riverine wetlands, beaver impoundments, dead tree swamps) and uplands (grasslands with scattered trees, golf courses, pastures, roadsides) are used by nesting Red-headed Woodpeckers (Bull, 1974). Red-headed Woodpeckers also are attracted to old burns and recent clearings. Nests are usually located in snags or dead limbs of live trees, or in the absence of trees, poles, fences, or roofs (Ehrlich, 1988).
Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)
Two distinct habitats are used by nesting Common Nighthawks: bare flat rocks or bare ground in open fields and pastures and on flat, gravel rooftops. In upstate New York nighthawks also nest in mountainous areas, provided woods are interspersed with clearings or openings.
American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus)
The American Bittern is a bird of freshwater emergent wetlands where it typically nests on a grass tussock or among the cattails. Here it lays its eggs from 4 to 18 inches above the water in scanty nests made from sticks, grass, and sedges.
Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
The golden eagle is a species once found in the Adirondacks. The last successful nest in New York State was recorded in 1970. Golden Eagles have nested at elevations between 1,500 and 2,600 ft; however, surveys conducted by the New York Habitat Inventory Unit, open habitat suitable for Golden Eagles has decreased. The Goldens have been found in the Santanoni Preserve and Newcomb Lake being chosen as a nesting site.
Red-Shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)
Red-shouldered Hawks breed in moist hardwood, forested wetlands, bottomlands and the wooded margins of wetlands, often close to cultivated fields, Red-shouldered hawks are reported as rare in mountainous areas. Special habitat requirements include cool, moist, lowland forests with tall trees for nesting. Red shouldered hawks forage in areas used as nesting habitat as well as drier woodland clearings and fields.
Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)
Cooper’s Hawks use a variety of habitat types, from extensive deciduous or mixed forests to scattered woodlots interspersed with open fields. Floodplain forests and wooded wetlands are also used by Cooper’s Hawks. Cooper’s hawk construct nests typically at a height of 35 to 45 feet in both conifer (often white pine) and deciduous trees (often American beech). Nests are commonly constructed on a horizontal branch or in a crotch near the trunk. Cooper’s Hawks have been known to use old crow nests s well. Foraging areas are usually located away from the nest in forested areas or open areas adjacent to forest.
Whip-poor-will (Caprimulgus vociferus)
Whip-poor-wills select open woodlands in lowland deciduous forest, or pine-oak woods that is imixed with open fields, with a preference for dry oak-hickory woods. Whip-poor-wills nest on the ground in dry, sparse areas. Eggs are typically laid in the open or under a small shrub on the leaf litter where they are well concealed.
Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)
Sharp-shinned Hawks prefer breeding habitats that consist of open or young woodlands that support a large diversity of avian species for their prey . Although Sharp-shinned Hawks use mixed conifer-deciduous forest for nesting, most nests recorded in New York State have been located in conifers, with 80% of the nests found in hemlocks.
Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)
A combination of tall trees with a partial canopy closure for nesting and woodlands with small, open areas for foraging are important habitat parameters for the Goshawk. They prefer dense, mature, continuous coniferous or mixed woods where they typically place their nest 30-40 ft. off the ground in the crotch of a tree.
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
The Northern Harrier is a bird of open country in associated wet to mesic habitats (Johnsgard,1990).Results of a 1979 survey showed that bogs and other wetland habitats provided nesting sites for Northern Harriers in the Adirondacks (Kogut, 1979 In: Andryle and Carroll 1988). Unlike most New York raptors, harriers nest on the ground, either on hummocks or directly on the ground in nests that are woven from grass and sticks (Andryle and Carroll, 1988).
Spruce Grouse (Falcipennis canadensis)
Possible breeding grounds in the Ausable Lakes. The rare Spruce Grouse is a denizen of the boreal acid bog forest where it selects immature or uneven-aged spruce-fir habitat. Mosses, lichens, and shrub sprovide nesting and foraging ground cover in areas where the forest canopy is less dense. Because their forested wetland habitat is poorly drained, grouse move on to upland summer range to dust and forage.
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
In 1974 New York initiated a program to reintroduce the Peregrine Falcon in the state. Peregrines were successfully hacked in the Adirondack Park with the release of the first birds in 1981. It is possible that Peregrines are utilizing the mountain cliffs for nesting. Three basic requirements nesting Peregrine Falcons include open country for hunting, sufficient food resources of avian species, and steep, rocky cliff faces for nesting. The falcons typically nest 50 to 200 feet off the ground near bodies of water. Nesting sites for Peregrines usually include a partially-vegetated ledge large enough for it young to move about. The nest is a well-rounded shape that is sometimes lined with grass, usually sheltered by an overhang. Sometimes Peregrines may nest in old Common Raven nests. Projects to re-establish the falcon have been successful, but do know that human disturbance of a breeding pair may result in nest abandonment! "DO NOT DISTURB" please! Climbers, not it is illegal to climb during their breeding season, and breeders will attack. To report a falcon signings please contact NYSDEC Region 5, Bureau of Wildlife, P.O. Box 296, Ray Brook, New York 12977, 518-897-1291.
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) - projects to re-establish the bald eagles have thus far been unsuccessful in this region; however, the neighboring High Peaks have had some observations of the Bald Eagles.
Small-footed Bat (Myotis leibii)
In the Adirondacks small-footed bats overwinter in mines and caves where hibernating populations exceed 500 individuals. Here they roost on exposed ceilings and walls, in cracks and crevices, and under rocks. Summer roosting habitat includes talus slopes, holes in the ground, abandoned swallow nests, and roosts in or near man-made structures.
Caves/Bat Hibernaculum: Of particular historical and natural history interest is a bat hibernaculum located in Burroughs Cave along the Boreas River. In the 1860's, John Burroughs wrote “One afternoon we visited a cave, some two miles down the stream, which had recently been discovered. We squeezed and wriggled through a big crack or cleft in the side of the mountain, for about one hundred feet, when we emerged into a large dome-shaped passage, the abode, during certain seasons of the year, of innumerable bats, and at all times of primeval darkness.” In a 4/27/77 survey, 18 little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) were confirmed by DEC personnel. On 4/2/81, DEC personnel recorded 107 little brown bats and two northern long-eared bats (Myotis septentrionalis) in Burroughs Cave. These figures suggest Burroughs Cave is a relatively small hibernaculum when compared to others in the Adirondack region. The difference in number of bats counted in each survey can probably be explained by the time of year when the surveys were performed. The 1977 survey was performed towards the end of April, a time when many of the bats may already have ended their hibernation and left the cave. Management recommendations relating to the hibernaculum include: continue to monitor bat use of the hibernaculum; request that spelunking public avoid entering the cave from September 15 through May 15; refrain from developing trails and/or other facilities near the cave.
Visit our Adirondack Bird Directory when you have time.