Just a few minutes’ drive to the south of New Paltz, in the Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge, recently-hatched kestrels are fighting for their lives.
These harbingers of spring have some remarkable talents. They can withstand being frozen solid for days, and can generate a sound comparable in volume to a chainsaw. Not bad for a creature that tops out at 1.5″ and 5 grams.
Sociable and mischievous, and possibly intelligent, they’re quite a bit different from the stoic turkey vulture, whose great sense of smell they sometimes exploit to lead them to food.
Want to help the local bat population? Put up a bat house. It won’t save the bats from white-nosed syndrome, but it ups the odds that surviving bats will reproduce.
Honey bees are great and all, but did you know many native bees are actually better pollinators because the co-evolved with local plants?
Random evolution can’t explain the dragonfly’s wing. Unlike the evolution of giraffes’ necks, where any incremental increase in length would offer evolutionary advantages, a step-by-step process just wouldn’t work for a wing design. The wrong shape would be useless, and confer no advantage whatsoever.
The 270-acre park is a rich estuarine habitat, particularly for birds. It’s a great place to spot bald eagles, and home to thriving populations of red-winged blackbirds, mallard and black ducks, herons and kingfishers.