River Talk


 TRR photos by Sandy Long

Beaver are semi-aquatic mammals that weigh between 30 to 60 pounds and range in length from 20 to 25 inches with flat, textured, paddle-shaped tails approximately 10 to 15 inches long. The tails serve as rudders when swimming, store fat in winter, provide balance and act as a prop when the animal is cutting down trees. Beaver also use their tails to warn potential predators away with a loud slap on the surface of the water.

Beaver behavior

Did you know the beaver is New York State’s official mammal, or that it is North America’s largest rodent? I recently encountered the beaver depicted here and had the opportunity to observe it harvesting twigs from along an icy shoreline, then engaging in grooming activities.


TRR photos by Scott Rando

This is one of the bald eagle nests along the Delaware River. In it were three young that are three to four weeks old. Two of them were visible when this image was captured last May. An average clutch for a bald eagle nest is two offspring, and records show that the majority of young produced from nests on the Delaware River survive past fledge from year to year.

The state of the eagles

The start of a new year usually means it’s time to move on from the past year’s local government activities and early January re-organizational meetings. Also, there’s been drama to keep up with over the partial federal government shutdown and the uncertain State of the Union address in Washington, D.C.


TRR photos by Scott Rando

In the mid-2000s, the National Park Service obtained funds to purchase and release galerucella beetles, pictured here. These leaf beetles are host-specific predators of purple loosestrife, an invasive plant that is displacing many native plant species in our region.

New York announces invasive species grants

It’s the middle of winter, and you’re probably not thinking now about  invasive species. Then again, it’s hard to forget clearing thickets of Japanese barberry or treating hemlocks for wooly adelgid, if you’ve ever had to do these tasks.


TRR photos by Sandy Long

“Garbage bear” is a term used to refer to bears who develop the practice of raiding garbage cans. Some bears follow established collection routes that can range for miles. Making filled garbage cans accessible to bears encourages them to enter yards and properties, putting them into closer proximity to the humans who live there. Reduce your risk—and discourage a bear from developing this behavior—by storing cans where bears cannot access them. Place the cans along roadways as close as possible to the time specified for pickup. 

Careful co-existence

Many of us live in the Upper Delaware River region partly for the opportunity to experience the abundant and amazing wildlife sharing the forests and waters of this majestic place.


TRR photo by Scott Rando

This is an aerial image of Walker Lake in Shohola, PA, in early December. The ice is too thin to hold anyone. The lower right portion of the lake shows the inlet stream and the absence of ice in that area. There are three holes together near the center frame, which is likely a spring.

Got ice?

With New Years behind us, a lot of people are looking forward to getting involved in seasonal outdoor activities, including skiing and snowshoeing. By January, the ice fishing season has usually kicked off in most of the region; in fact, in some areas, it is a tradition to do some ice fishing on New Years Day.


All copyrighted photos contributed by Wayne Laubscher

Male Rufous hummingbird

Hummingbirds are here? Now?

In the warmer months of the year, it’s common to see hummingbirds throughout the Upper Delaware River region, brightening our lives with their bejeweled beauty and entertaining us with their feisty behaviors around feeders.


TRR photos by Scott Rando

This bear has been caught red-pawed, foraging in a garbage can in Shohola, PA. Bears especially like communities where several homes are in close proximity of each other; it’s easier to “make the rounds” on garbage collection day. Try to wait and put out garbage on the day of pick-up to keep from getting an unwelcome visit.

Christmas bears

Early last week, a neighbor complained to me that a bear had carried her garbage from the trashcan to the edge of her yard.


TRR photo by Sandy Long

This deceased shrew was discovered atop the dam at the Shohola Recreation Area in Shohola, PA, where it might have been dropped by a predator that mistook it for a mouse. Because shrews secrete an offensive musky odor, predators will sometimes choose not to eat this prey. In addition to predation by animals such as owls, herons, hawks, weasels and foxes, shrews also succumb to starvation, rapid temperature changes, accidents and battles with other shrews.

Shrews: short-lived and sassy

Have you ever seen a shrew? Chances are good that the answer is no, given their secretive nature and relatively brief life spans of approximately 18 to 20 months. 


Photos by Scott Rando

The confluence of the Lackawaxen and Delaware Rivers attracts wintering eagles. Anywhere there is ice-free water offers eagles an opportunity to forage for fish. There are several eagle-viewing areas in the region.

Enjoying cold weather critters

Although it is getting cold with good potential for snow throughout the next few months, opportunities abound for winter activities and sights that can only be found this time of year.

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