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From the April 2013 Conservationist


By Eileen Stegemann and Jenna Kerwin

An Old Friend Visits

Two bobwhite quail in the grass

My family enjoys Conservationist and we thought you might appreciate the attached photo I took. We have not seen bobwhites in years!
Sophie Janeway
Stuyvesant, Columbia County

What a great photo! Important game birds, northern bobwhites are small chicken-like birds that are members of the quail family. They occur in the eastern United States and Mexico. However, their numbers have been declining in most states and the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists bobwhites as "near threatened." In New York, there is a limited hunting season.
-Conservationist staff

The Mystery Remains

We heard from several interested readers, birdwatchers, rehabbers, falconers and bird banders about our attempts to identify the hungry hawk that appeared on page 31 of the December issue. It was great fun reading the responses, for while each correspondent was certain of their identification, they reached different conclusions as to the identity of the bird! ("It's clearly a Cooper's hawk and here's why..."; "It's clearly a goshawk and here's why...") However, all seemed to agree that it is an immature accipiter (or bird hawk), but whether it was a Cooper's or a goshawk, it seems only the bird knows for sure!
-Conservationist staff

Fish New York City

A man holding a large striped bass with the NYC skyline and harbor in the background

John Bacaring sent us this photo of an impressive striped bass he caught and released in New York Harbor. Striped bass are anadromous, meaning they migrate from the sea into freshwater to spawn. In New York, they are found seasonally in the tidal portion of the Hudson River and in the coastal waters around Long Island. Spawning takes place in the Hudson River estuary in May and early June. Striped bass are popular sportfish, known for their speed, power and large size (up to 4 ½ feet!).
-Eileen Stegemann, Assistant Editor

What's in a Name?

A photo of a man with a beard, glasses, cap and a rolled blanket under his arm.

Our December 2012 feature on Seneca Ray Stoddard's photography prompted a reader to ask us: "What led to Seneca Ray Stoddard's name? Was he a Seneca?" We didn't know, so we turned to an expert
historian for answers...

"No, he wasn't a Seneca. He was born in Wilton, NY in 1843. While his given name may refer to the Seneca Nation, it could just as easily refer to the Roman stoic philosopher by the same name. The 1840s was the height of the Classical Revival period in the U.S., and so a lot of places and some people drew their names from classical Greek and Roman sources: Ovid, NY; Homer, NY; Romulus, NY; Carthage, NY."
-Charles E. Vandrei, DEC Historic Preservation Officer

Photogenic Tom

A tom turkey walking in the grass at the edge of the woods

I wanted to share this photo I took of a wild turkey in Penfield.
Laurie Dirkx
Ontario, Wayne County

Great photo! For tips on how to enjoy a safe turkey hunt this spring, check out page 29 of this issue.

-Conservationist staff

Ask the Biologist

A cluster of brown bullheads guarded by two adult bullheads

Q: I saw these adult bullheads next to a mass of young bullheads and wondered-are they protecting their young?
-Chuck Roda, St. Lawrence County

A: Yes. How lucky you were to see this, and to get some pictures. The fish in your photos appear to be brown bullheads. Members of the catfish family, bullhead spawn in late spring and early summer in New York. Like many fish, they construct nests, usually building them in a shaded spot near a log. Occasionally they will nest inside objects such as an auto tire nailed to a boat dock. As illustrated by your photo, adult bullhead guard their eggs and schooling young for several weeks. This differs from many other freshwater fish species (such as yellow perch, trout and pike) who simply lay their eggs and leave. By chasing away potential predators, bullheads are ensuring better survival for their young.
-Ed Woltmann, DEC Fisheries Biologist