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From the December 2013 Conservationist

Letters

By Eileen Stegemann and Jenna Kerwin

The Kelloggsville Coyote

A coyote in the woods during fall

I was photographing wildlife from a tree stand at our hunting camp in Kelloggsville when this coyote came trotting through the woods, heading directly at me. When it was about 30 yards away, it climbed onto a downed, dead tree and looked all around. I quickly snapped off some photos. The sound of the camera clicking didn't seem to bother it a bit. Boy was it my lucky day!
Ed Snyder
Williamson, Wayne County

This is one impressive photo. You sure are lucky this coyote stopped where it did-striking a great pose for you!
-Eileen Stegemann, Assistant Editor

Redpoll Friend

A man outdoors in the snow with a redpoll bird sitting on his hat

I thought you might enjoy this photo I took of a redpoll that came to visit. I actually counted 119 of them at one time.
Alvin Briesch,
Retired DEC Amphibian and Reptile Specialist

You must be serving something good at your house, Al!
-Dave Nelson, Editor

Postcard Cardinal

A female cardinal sittingon a branch in winter

I wanted to share a picture of a bird that's been making an appearance around here after a recent snowfall.
Zachary Brown
West Valley, Cattaraugus County

What a great mood piece for the season. It reminds me of an old postcard!
-Jenna Kerwin, Staff Writer

Winter Flight

A bald eagle in flight over water

Phil Naccarato of Kingston, Ulster County sent us this picture taken by his late son, Keith. A resident of Olive Bridge, near the Ashokan Reservoir, Keith would "tramp through the woods and marshes getting photographs of the wildlife in the area, as well as many scenic pictures of the sunsets and the mountains around the reservoir." We are happy we could share Keith's love of the outdoors. Truly he was passionate about nature, as well as his photography.

Unusual Smallmouth

A man standing in a motorboat holding a large fish

I caught and released this beauty while drifting on the lower Niagara River. Its bright yellow color and orange eyes are different from other smallmouth bass I've caught here. Is this unusual?
Brian Steger
Amherst, New York

What a nice catch! Like most wildlife, fish coloration will differ between individuals and between different waters. While this smallmouth bass is a bit lighter than most that we see from Lake Erie, we do come across fish like this from time to time.
-Donald Einhouse, DEC Fisheries Biologist

Strength in Numbers

Four deer, one with head down standing in the woods in the snow

Last year, Diane Hayes of Honeoye, Ontario County, sent us this photo of white-tailed deer on her property. We posted it on our Facebook page with the caption, "How many deer do YOU see?" and received quite a response. This year we thought we'd ask our subscribers the same question. How many deer do you see pictured? Turn to page 29 for the answer.

Ask the Biologist

Animal tracks in the snow

Q: I came across these giant tracks and wondered what made them. Could they be from a big cat like a bobcat or cougar?
-David Brack

A human foot in a sneaker beside an animal track in the snow

A: You may be surprised to know that these are actually small tracks left by a bounding squirrel. The four "prints" (or what appear to be toes) are from the squirrel's four feet. This is particularly clear on the photo showing the person's shoe. In the other photo, the squirrel was moving from right to left, and you can see that the hind feet partially obscured the tracks of the front feet. Rabbits leave behind similar trails. Also, note that if this was a bobcat or cougar, there would be a huge central pad mark behind the four individual "toe" prints, as shown in the sketch here.
-Dan Rosenblatt, DEC wildlife biologist

a drawing of a couger print with 4 toes and a large central pad