Hudson Riverama  
   
 

 


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The Wood Duck builds its nest in tree trunk hollows.

 
H U D S O N  R I V E R A M A
Nesting on the Hudson
Ranger Ruff: In the spring, we anticipate the warm weather on the Hudson River, when birds build nests and raise nestlings. Let’s find out how by looking at a large and a small water bird.
The Great Blue Heron, the largest waterfowl on the river, can be seen wading through tall grasses and cattails. A master at catching fish, the heron needs to build its nest close to the river to feed its young. High in treetops, a heron’s nest of sticks and twigs is apart from people and predators, such as raccoons. Each year, a heron may add more sticks to its home, so it will be easier for us to spot. The little Wood Duck is the only bird to leave its water home for land, so it can make its nest in a tree-trunk hollow — good protection from damp spring weather. The female chooses the homesite that might even be an old log or wooden box. Mixing its own down feathers with wood chips from the tree, this duck makes a thick, warm nest. Learn more about these birds and their nests in Hudson Riverama’s “Bird Challenge” interactive touch-screen station!
The Great Blue Heron builds its nest in tall trees.
 

H U D S O N  R I V E R A M A
Spring Cleaning the Hudson

Ranger Ruff: Hi everyone! Let's take a look at a cleaned up Hudson that is better for plants, animals and people.

In spring's warm weather, we go to the Hudson's waterfronts, parks, marinas, and piers. How clean is the river? How clean are its shores? Sometimes fish, birds, animals, and even people have been made sick from polluted river water and soil. To make sure this doesn’t happen on the Hudson, we need to know what makes pollution. On the Hudson's shores, you can see factories that once dumped waste on the ground or in the river. That waste caused pollution. Most of the factories are now closed and governments, businesses, and people are cleaning up the river. They remove polluted soil and replace it with clean earth, grass, and trees. Water treatment plants in Yonkers, Mamaroneck, and Poughkeepsie filter sewer water and add chlorine to destroy bacteria before this water enters the river. You can help! Go online to find organizations that protect the Hudson, like Scenic Hudson (www.scenichudson.org) or Riverkeeper (www.riverkeeper.org); the City of Yonkers (www.cityofyonkers.com); and Westchester County (www.westchetergov.com). In Hudson Riverama, see displays of river sludge and follow the path of river pollution by pressing a button. Take a computer quiz to find pollution problems and solutions. There's lots to learn and lots to clean!
Sculpture Meadow in Downtown Yonkers
 

H U D S O N  R I V E R A M A
The Hudson WideScreen

Ranger Ruff: Let’s find out what the Hudson River looks like in places far up its shores

Take a trip up along Hudson — up at Lake Tear of the Clouds in the Adirondack Mountains and all the way down to New York Harbor — by just pressing a button. Come on in to Hudson Riverama. You’ll see a wide flat-screen monitor, a wall map showing photos of ten places on the Hudson’s banks, and a panel of buttons. Choose a photo and press its button. Presto! You just lit up an image of a site on the wall map and on the widescreen.
Want to know your site’s name? It might be Iona Island in the mid-Hudson region, the Blue Ledges of the Hudson River Gorge, or Haverstraw Bay, a little north of Yonkers. On the screen find its name and where it is on the Hudson’s 315-mile shore.
Run your palm over the tracking ball near the button and whirl your site’s image in a circle — up to 360 degrees. This view is called a panorama or a virtual view that is made by a digital camera and the graphic computer application QTVR (Quick Time Virtual Reality). If you look at all of them, you will have a profile of the river and its shores that contains houses, boats, railroad tracks, factories, muddy marshes, forests, and grassy fields. Mercury transit other astronomical gifts at the planetarium. Museum staff and members of the Westchester Amateur Astronomers show you refractors and reflectors, what numbers on binoculars mean, and which telescopes are best for children as they start to explore the sky.
A photographer traveled to Tivoli Bay, Annandale-on-Hudson and nine other places to take photos to create panoramas for Hudson Riverama
 
 
Summertime and the livin’ is easy!
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high...


Ranger Ruff: From spring to summer the Hudson’s waters change. So, let’s get together to explore the river.
The Hudson jumps to life in the summer. As the sun rises high in the sky, the river below warms up. There is little rainfall and no snowmelt now, so there is less fresh water in the river. Now the Hudson can hold more of the salty water that the tide pulls in from the Atlantic Ocean near New York Harbor.
Just as the river’s water changes, so do the fish that live there. The Atlantic Sturgeon and the White Catfish swim away from their winter habitats that have become warm and salty to journey north to the Upper Hudson in search of colder, fresh water. Other fish move into the Lower Hudson. Blue Crab, Butterfish and Menhaden as well as the Lined Sea Horse make summer homes in the Lower Hudson.
The biologists at the Hudson River Fisheries Unit of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation monitor fish movement. They catch fish in nets and with other fishing equipment to tag them with numbered metal or plastic strips, or miniature radio transmitters are placed on a fish’s body or jaw. Then the fish are released, so their movements can be tracked by the transmitters or by checking the tags when a fish is caught by a fisherman.
The scientists’ findings tell us where fish breed, hatch and grow and how the seasons — winter, spring, summer, and fall— change the environment where people, animals and fish live and depend on one another. When we understand the river and the creatures that live there, we will know how to care for it and keep it bright and strong.
Blue Crab is one species that lives in the Hudson in the summer, when the tide pulls warm, salty water into the river from the Atlantic Ocean. Photo courtesy of the Hudson River Fisheries Unit, NYSDEC.
 

 

 

Returning to the Hudson each winter to find food and open water, bald eagles use ice floes and fields as platforms to hunt, fish and eat.
Photo: www.gerrylemmo.com

 
Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

Ranger Ruff: Welcome back!! Brrrr…it sure feels cold! Winter is here, so put on your boots and gloves and explore the Hudson’s snowy banks with me!

The Hudson jumps to life in the summer. As the sun rises high in the sky, the river below warms up. There is little rainfall and no snowmelt now, so there is less fresh water in the river. Now the Hudson can hold more of the salty water that the tide pulls in from the Atlantic Ocean near New York Harbor.
Just as the river’s water changes, so do the fish that live there. The Atlantic Sturgeon and the White Catfish swim away from their winter habitats that have become warm and salty to journey north to the Upper Hudson in search of colder, fresh water. Other fish move into the Lower Hudson. Blue Crab, Butterfish and Menhaden as well as the Lined Sea Horse make summer homes in the Lower Hudson.
The biologists at the Hudson River Fisheries Unit of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation monitor fish movement. They catch fish in nets and with other fishing equipment to tag them with numbered metal or plastic strips, or miniature radio transmitters are placed on a fish’s body or jaw. Then the fish are released, so their movements can be tracked by the transmitters or by checking the tags when a fish is caught by a fisherman.
The scientists’ findings tell us where fish breed, hatch and grow and how the seasons — winter, spring, summer, and fall— change the environment where people, animals and fish live and depend on one another. When we understand the river and the creatures that live there, we will know how to care for it and keep it bright and strong.
Come to Hudson Riverama and explore a snow bank, see animal tracks and videos of fish under the Adirondack ice.
 
 
Take the Challenge

Ranger Ruff: Welcome to Hudson Riverama! The Riverama gallery shows you how the Hudson ’s complex world works and how it must be cared for. Open a tree trunk to find a fact about a forest. Watch a waterfall. See a Peregrine falcon on video. Listen to real river chanties. Look at the shining river through a telescope.

Want to take the Riverkeeper Challenge? Find out about the river and its animals and plants with this computer game in Riverama’s Lower Hudson area. Here’s how! Touch the monitor. A game board appears to show you a map of Hudson Valley sites — Glen Falls, Amsterdam, Albany, Catskill, Beacon, and Yonkers.

When you pick a site and touch its name on the screen, a panorama of that place unfolds before your eyes. You may be surprised by what you discover about your site! If you picked Yonkers, you can see a squirrel and learn a fact. Did you know that hungry gray squirrels often swim across the Hudson River to search for food? It is a dangerous journey, though, because squirrels are not strong swimmers.

Touch the “Quiz” button to get a question about your site. Questions can be fun. Here’s one about Catskill Creek: What can you net to test the health of the river’s water? The screen gives you choices. A. Algae B. Microinbertebrates C. Fish

The right answer: Microinvertebrates, the tiny bottom-dwelling animals that have no backbone and are sensitive to pollution. Lots of microinvertebrates in one place means there is not much pollution, so it is a safe place for them to live.

Visit soon! Play the game!

 
 
 
River People

Ranger Ruff: Now that we’ve journeyed the Hudson together, there is something new for you to see in Riverama. Come to the Riverama theater, close by its front doors for a new show!

Now in Hudson Riverama — the new 30-minute video River People stars four individuals who work on or for the river. Filmed on location on the Hudson, the videos give a first-hand look on how people, who make their living on the river, study, preserve, and protect it. Museum junior docents interviewed Bob Gabrielson, a commercial fisherman; Dr. Robin Bell, a scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, NY, who is imaging the river bottom with underwater sound waves; Alex Mattheissen, the director of Riverkeeper, an organization that monitors the river and prosecutes those who pollute it; and Samantha Heyman, captain of the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, a sailing vessel that educates people about the Hudson. Besides lively conversation and footage, the River People transmits river folk songs can also be heard through Riverama’s sound sticks in the Hudson River jukebox.

“The earth is a puzzle. Looking at its surface, you can tell how the earth was formed. The sediment and ridges on the river bottom tell a story that affects everyone and everything who lives on it.”
— Dr. Robin Bell, Director of the Benthic Mapping Project for the Hudson River
Junior docent Debbie Solano interviews Bob Gabrielson on his boat Rock Roe, where he has fished for shad, herring and crabs for the last 60 years. Bob has seen boat construction evolve from wood to fiberglass and fishermen’s nets change from linen to monofilament. At left on the camera boat a videographer shoots the interview.

This project was funded in part by a grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Protection Fund through the Hudson River Estuary Program of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

 
 
Sea Horses & Falcons

Ranger Ruff: It’s nice to have you along again for our trip down the Hudson River! Bring your lunch and a pair of binoculars because we’re going to search for the strangest looking fish to swim in the river and the fastest bird to fly over the river!

Right now we are near the George Washington Bridge that crosses the Hudson far south along its course. Looking into the river’s gray-blue waters we know that here its fresh water will mix with the ocean’s salty water. When the two mix, they make a salty liquid “brackish” home for creatures like the Lined Seahorse. Yes, the seahorse is a fish! It uses gills to breathe and fins to swim. Its long tail helps the sea horse swim upright and cling to underwater grasses along the riverbank. Sometimes sea horses use their tails to cling to each other and to mate. In the warmer months, you can find sea horses in the river’s shallow water around piers and in grassy areas from Staten Island to the Tappan Zee Bridge in Westchester.

Hey, look up at the top of the George Washington Bridge! Did you see that fast-flying bird? That’s the Peregrine Falcon. It is the fastest bird in the world, diving at speeds of over 220 miles an hour. The Peregrine was almost extinct, that is very few peregrine falcons remained alive, because the pesticide DDT poisoned its food. When DDT was banned in 1972, conservationists introduced these birds to the Hudson River and other areas. They made nesting boxes for them on the tops of tall buildings and bridges to simulate the cliffs and ledges where they once lived. Peregrine falcons feed on pigeons, which thrive in cities. Now, peregrines can be found on every bridge across the Hudson from New York City to Albany.

 








Muskrats and Marsh Wrens, are two marsh dwellers who make their homes from Cattails, a marsh plant.

 
Muskrats and Marshes

Ranger Ruff: Glad to see you back for our journey down the Hudson River! Put on your hip waders because we’re going into the marsh!

Marshes are muddy places along the river where grasses and plants grow below and above the water. Marsh plants form a thick, spongy mat that gives a home to the Hudson ’s animals and fish and gives them food.
You’ll want to know what animals like to live in marshlands. The answer: Different kinds—mammals like the Red Fox and raccoon; fish like the Striped Bass and Pumpkinseed; reptiles such as the Snapping Turtle and Northern Water Snake; and, maybe prettiest of all, birds like the Great Blue Heron and Yellow Warbler.
Look! See that furry, orange and brown thing swimming by? It’s not a rat…it’s a muskrat. This rodent builds a home using broken cattails, formed into a hollow mound in the mud. When large animals or people come too close, the muskrat can escape through an underwater entrance. The Marsh Wren. builds a home by weaving cattails together a few feet above the water. Tall, thin-leaved plants like the Purple Loosestrife and short, broad-leaved plants like Arrow Arum grow in freshwater marshes. On the banks of brackish marshes, you find the Common Reed and wiry Saltwater Cordgrass.

Be careful! How we live affects marshes. When people build homes and businesses next to the river, marshes are often filled with soil and destroyed. Now, some marshes are being turned into parks so river animals can survive and grow.
Take in the sights and sounds of a marsh on a visit to Hudson Riverama.

Tivoli Marsh, Annandale on Hudson , is a freshwater marsh. Some marshes mix fresh and salt water and are called “brackish.”

 

 



 
Facts About the Adirondacks

Hudson Riverama is a journey from Mt. Marcy in New York ’s northernmost corner to New York Harbor in the south. Ranger Ruff will point out facts and sights as you follow the Hudson , rushing its way down the Adirondack Mountains , through forests and farmlands, and past the towns where we live.

Ranger Ruff: Glad to have you along! We’ll begin our journey at the top or the very beginning of the Hudson River .

Did you know that the water where the Hudson starts is NOT called the Hudson River ? An icy, clear stream in Lake Tear of the Clouds, this water flows into Feldspar Brook, the Opalescent River and Calamity Brook, before it gets its name ─ Hudson River.

Up here in the Adirondack Mountains , lots of creatures live close by the northern Hudson River , which looks like a winding creek. A sleek River Otter can catch and eat a small fish, while swimming on its back. Black Bears catch fish too, and their excellent sense of smell leads them to any food a camper accidentally leaves behind.

Deep in the forest away from the water, Wood Ducks nest in the holes of old trees. Wild Turkeys live here as well. The Moose, though, very shy and rarely seen, is the largest animal in these woods.
Visit Riverama soon and make your own discoveries as you explore the Adirondacks of the Upper Hudson.