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Old 03-25-2012, 12:05 PM
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Did You Know?

The brightly-colored eastern bluebird was designated New York State's official state bird in 1970. Although a bluebird feather looks blue, it really isn't. In actuality, the bird's feathers absorb all wavelengths of colors except blue. The blue wavelength is reflected and scattered, resulting in the bird's blue appearance to the human eye. Get more facts on this song-bird, and find out how to build a bluebird nest box by visiting DEC's Eastern Bluebird webpage.
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Old 07-19-2012, 12:46 PM
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New York State is home to four species of lizards

New York State is home to four species of lizards, with the northern fence lizard, five-lined skink and coal skink being natives. Many of these tiny, four-legged reptiles have a unique ability to shed their tails as a defense mechanism. The detached tail thrashes on the ground, distracting predators and giving lizards a chance to scurry away.
Read more about our local species in a colorful DEC brochure, "Lizards of New York State" (PDF).
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Old 07-31-2012, 10:08 AM
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Hummingbirds

A spectacle to see and typically gone in a flash, the ruby-throated hummingbird flaps its wings about 60 times in one second. To maintain an adequate fuel level, it eats three times its weight each day. Favorite foods include nectar from many kinds of flowers, tree sap and insects, which are sometimes stolen from a spider's web! Read more cool facts about these speedy, high-energy birds on Cornell's "All About Birds" website.
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Old 08-13-2012, 05:03 PM
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A male wood duck is one of the most colorful ducks in North America. However, when it "molts" or sheds feathers after breeding, its signature bold white stripes and colorful array of emerald, teal, burgundy and gold vanishes. This is called an "eclipse" plumage because the duck's brightly colored feathers appear masked with dull grayish-brown hues similar to the female's coloring. Not all vibrancy is lost, however, as the male's orange, yellow, white and black bill and bright red eyes remain!
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Old 09-12-2012, 07:57 AM
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Orb-weavers

Orb-weavers are a group of spiders that construct complex and intricately designed sphere-shaped webs used to ensnare unsuspecting flying insects. One of the largest and most widespread orb weavers in North America is the black and yellow garden spider. The female's web can reach up to two-feet wide and take her several hours to complete. Each night, she eats her web and builds a new one, ensuring it is sticky and strong enough for seizing prey.
For more fun facts on spiders, see DEC's brochure Common Spiders of New York (PDF).
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Old 10-23-2012, 08:55 AM
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Did You Know...? Coyotes

Did You Know...? Coyotes
Coyotes were not always present in New York State. It is believed that coyotes filled the ecological gap left by the extirpation of wolves in the eastern U.S. and southern Canada. Young coyotes may roam more than 100 miles from their birthplace, a tendency that allowed western coyotes to gradually extend their range eastward, first appearing in New York in the 1920's. Read more facts and information on DEC's Eastern Coyote webpage.
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Old 11-05-2012, 08:29 AM
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Black Capped Chickadees

Like squirrels, black-capped chickadees are excellent at caching food for winter. Yet, lacking a sense of smell, they must use a different approach to find their caches. The hippocampus region of their brains, an area for making new memories, expands by approximately 30 percent each fall because of the addition of new brain cells. This helps them remember a combination of visual and spatial cues to find stored food. It also helps them recall sites that were emptied, either by them or others. Learn more about black-capped chickadees on Cornell's All About Birds webpage.
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Old 11-20-2012, 06:45 PM
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Moon Jellyfish

Moon jellyfish, also referred to as sea jellies, are one species of jellyfish that most humans can touch without feeling a painful sting. Although they never quite reached the moon, nearly 2,500 juvenile moon jellies went from undersea to outer space as they launched into orbit aboard the shuttle Columbia in 1991. On their mission, they helped scientists learn more about the effects of living in space.
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:29 PM
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crossbill bird

While the beak on a Did You Know...?
While the beak on a crossbill bird may look odd and cumbersome, it is actually highly specialized and useful for picking seeds from pinecones. With such a particular appetite, crossbills are always in search of the largest supply of cone seeds to eat. Once a sufficient pinecone source is found, the bird will begin to breed, even if it is during the middle of a cold winter.
Read more about this expert pinecone-eating finch on Cornell's All About Birds website.
may look odd and cumbersome, it is actually highly specialized and useful for picking seeds from pinecones. With such a particular appetite, crossbills are always in search of the largest supply of cone seeds to eat. Once a sufficient pinecone source is found, the bird will begin to breed, even if it is during the middle of a cold winter.
Read more about this expert pinecone-eating finch on Cornell's All About Birds website.
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Old 01-14-2013, 02:32 PM
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Snakes

Beneath the frost line in rock outcroppings or mammal burrows, common garter snakes spend winters in groups, ranging from just a few to thousands. Fairly tolerant of the cold, some may temporarily venture out of hibernation sites on warm winter days to bask in the sun.
Learn more fun facts on the array of snakes found in New York in DEC's Snakes of New York (PDF) brochure.
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Old 01-27-2013, 03:38 PM
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Rare Moth Reappears in New York After 100 Years

Last summer, surveys at Fort Drum Military Installation by the New York Natural Heritage Program turned up a surprise. A faded gray geometer (Stenoporpia polygrammaria), a species of moth that has not been discovered in New York State for 100 years, was found in a sandy grassland on the edge of woods.

Until then, this rare moth was believed to be limited to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, where it is listed as state threatened. For unknown reasons, the species had declined sharply in our region. To assist in research and environmental review, New York Natural Heritage has mapped the location where the moth was found. Learn more about this species in the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
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Old 01-27-2013, 03:49 PM
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Snowy Owls

Unlike most owls that hunt during the night, snowy owls hunt both day and night. They are common in the Arctic tundra but may remain in New York for the winter. Thick feathers protect them from the cold and add extra weight, making them the heaviest owls in North America.
Learn more about this winter-white bird on Cornell University's All About Birds webpage
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Old 01-27-2013, 03:56 PM
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Fishers

With the name fisher, one would expect this animal's primary food source to be fish. On the contrary, fishers eat a variety of foods, ranging from small mammals and birds to fruits and nuts. What's most intriguing about their diet is they are the only known North American mammal that seeks and kills porcupinesóleaving nothing but quills and a few large bones behind.
Read more interesting facts about this forest-dweller on DEC's Fisher webpage.
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Old 02-11-2013, 08:04 AM
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Black Bears

During a five to seven-month-long winter slumber, hibernating black bears can get all the nourishment and warmth they need entirely from their own bodies. Fat tissues break down to supply water and up to 4,000 calories a day, and muscle and organ tissues break down to supply protein. Great bulk, deep layers of fat and thick fur provide heat retention to keep them warm in their small den, which is seldom warmer than the temperature outside.
Find more fun facts about this large mammal on DEC's Watchable Wildlife: Black Bear webpage.
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Old 02-24-2013, 12:30 PM
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Pike

Did You Know...?
While their metabolism may slow down in colder temperatures, the northern pike still regularly hunts throughout the winter. Despite its large size, it avoids being seen by lurking within crevices and cracks of rocky ledges, where it waits to ambush unsuspecting prey.
Find more interesting facts about this and other pikes of New York State on DEC's Pikes webpage.
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Old 03-11-2013, 09:24 AM
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Horseshoe Crabs

The blue blood of a horseshoe crab has unique bacteria-fighting abilities, which is used by pharmaceutical and biomedical industries to ensure that products like intravenous drugs, vaccines and medical devices are free of bacterial contamination. Only about 30% of a crab's blood is taken, and each crab is returned to the wild, where it resumes normal feeding and breeding activity.

Get more interesting facts about this prehistoric-looking creature on DEC's Horseshoe Crab webpage and by reading a previous Conservationist article, "Giants at Our Feet."
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