Squirrel Watching

Faced with a 30 degree drop in temperature and the arrival of a snowstorm, we all turn to our survival checklist. I was headed to the woodshed. Cream Puff, the resident red squirrel anomaly, was busy eating – and burying – sunflower seeds.

The firewood could wait – I had to watch and photograph Cream Puff in action. She had an impressive routine, which she repeated for an hour: grab a bite at the feeders, put a sunflower seed in her mouth, sprint 40 feet, bury the seed, sprint back to the bird feeder, and so on. She moved fast and the light was poor, so I tried my best to “pan” the action, swinging the camera at her pace.









At one point the snow was so heavy that it overwhelmed my auto focus. It was winter again and the squirrels were fat, happy, and well prepared. On the other hand, I now had to shovel several inches of heavy, wet snow in order to get firewood to the house!


Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

The Tail End of Winter 2018


Northern Cardinal at the feeders in a snow storm


Abandoned farm buildings and an active hunting shelter


Deer foraging in the corn stubble, a common scene in late afternoon


A matriarch defending her discovery of waste grain


Doe and fawn foraging in a sheltered willow bottom


Mature Bald Eagle, just before dark, in the rain


The resident Red Squirrel with a not-so-red tail


Thinking of warmer days, fake bugs drifting drag-free, and hungry trout


Roots of a centuries-old maple tree, undercut by spring water

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Wildlife Respect and Safety

Recent newsletter from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (Feb., 2018):

Help Keep Wildlife Safe While Viewing

Winter is a great time to get outdoors and observe birds and other wildlife. Some species of birds spend their summers in the tundra and their winters in New York. Unfortunately, some birders, in their enthusiasm to photograph the birds up close, may approach the birds and flush them – cause them to fly. This can deplete the birds’ energy reserves, and in extreme cases, can cause death. It is better to observe wildlife in a manner that is safe for both you and wildlife.

Some ways to respect wildlife and others around you:

  • view wildlife from a distance using binoculars
  • stay on trails
  • only enter private property if you have permission
  • park in designated spots or completely off the road, out of travel lanes

Check out more wildlife watching tips and find more information in a press release regarding observing winter raptors safely.

DEC Conducts Final Year of Three-Year Northern New York Fisher Study

The New York State Fisher Management Plan (PDF, 2.3 MB) includes non-invasive camera trap surveys for fishers (Martes pennanti) in northern New York. These surveys have occurred the last two years, with this winter being the third and final field season. The data from the camera surveys along with information collected by trappers will provide a thorough data set which will be used to help guide management of the species.

Nearly 200 “camera trap” sites are scattered throughout the Adirondack park and adjoining Wildlife Management Units on state and private property. A trail camera is placed at each site, with bait to attract fisher. Cameras remain up for 21 days in hopes of catching a photo of the elusive critter.



Juncos Dawn to Dusk

Slate-colored Juncos are by far the most common winter visitor at the feeders. Dozens arrive in the early morning hours, usually before I’ve finished my coffee and want to brave the elements to scatter bird seed.  The predawn flock of small, dark objects hopping and fluttering about is my signal to get moving. Once outside,  the soft, barely audible twittering of the flock gives me pause. If I needed a reward for my efforts, that would be it.

They’re common, they’re not very colorful, they don’t dazzle with aerial maneuvers….they’re just juncos. But, they have a special place in my archives.







Photos by NB Hunter (Feb., 2018). ©  All Rights Reserved.


The Subnivean Zone

Deep, fluffy snow is a blessing – assuming you spend time underneath the protective snowpack, insulated from the cold and hidden from predators. Grouse know about this, as do meadow voles and red squirrels.

Wait for it….



Tunneling in the subnivean zone enables Red Squirrels to thrive in deep snow and survive the harshest of winters. I watched this one for half an hour as it expanded its elaborate tunnel system (with 4 access holes that kept me guessing) under piles of fresh snow. It can now sprint 40 feet, spruces trees to feeders, sight unseen!


Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Weathering the Storm

A Tufted Titmouse occasionally visits our feeders in winter, but it’s unpredictable and rarely lingers. This visit was different, influenced by harsh wind, snow and subzero wind chills.

The little songbird was in survival mode: it found shelter and food, put its back to the wind, puffed its feathers for insulation and hunkered down.






Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.