Archives for The Nature of Phenology

The Nature of Phenology 3/16/19

Producers/Hosts: Hazel Stark and Joe Horn

Red Squirrels

Photos, a full transcript, references, contact information, and more available at thenatureofphenology.wordpress.com.

On a brief romp through the thick wintery Downeast woods, I was startled away from the tranquility of the chickadees chirping, trees creaking, and the soft “flump” of my wooden snowshoes pushing through the snow’s surface when I was immediately overwhelmed by the alarm call of a small yet charismatic creature. It was sitting on the stump of a broken spruce bough only 8-12 feet above my head. This pint-sized terror didn’t blink twice at my approach—even when I was just a few yards off! Instead, it sat upon its perch and let out a punishing holler with a twitch of the tip of its voluminous tail with each squeekish shout.

The Nature of Phenology 3/9/19

Producers/Hosts: Hazel Stark and Joe Horn

Mourning Cloak Butterflies

Photos, a full transcript, references, contact information, and more available at thenatureofphenology.wordpress.com.

When their wings are folded closed, mourning cloak butterflies are perfectly camouflaged against tree bark. The undersides of their wings are mottled with shades of brown, gray, and cream, giving the impression of a flake of bark. But when they open their wings, they display a velvety deep red-brown pair of wings with a cream border beyond a row of bright blue spots.

The Nature of Phenology 3/2/19

Producers/Hosts: Hazel Stark and Joe Horn

Mad as a March Hare

Photos, a full transcript, references, contact information, and more available at thenatureofphenology.wordpress.com.

Right now in early March begins a very special time for our furry snowshoe-footed friends: time to start planning for the next generation of hares. Through the winter, hares keep to a small patch of spruce trees. When spooked, they will run a large figure-eight track and return right back to the hidden snowy depression, called a form, they were spooked from. But as the breeding season begins, the little hares start acting a bit crazy… mad, you might say.

The Nature of Phenology 2/23/19

Producers/Hosts: Hazel Stark and Joe Horn

Raccoons

Photos, a full transcript, references, contact information, and more available at thenatureofphenology.wordpress.com.

These cold, still days can make it hard to believe that several species are in the midst of their breeding season. One macabre clue, in this age of rapid transportation, that can help us ascertain some of the goings-on in the natural world this time of year, unfortunately, is roadkill, and every year at about this time, I notice an increased amount of roadkill of a particular masked opportunist and the topic of today’s episode, raccoons.

The Nature of Phenology 2/16/19

Producers/Hosts: Hazel Stark and Joe Horn

Doves, Wild and Feral

Photos, a full transcript, references, contact information, and more available at thenatureofphenology.wordpress.com.

Last month we had an intriguing inquiry from a WERU listener. This person was curious about why so many pigeons are found throughout our more built-up towns and cities, and yet only a few minutes from these places, nestled among the trees, only native mourning doves find their way to winter birdfeeders and never pigeons. To unearth the answer to this great question, we must first look to the life history of these two feathered marvels.

The Nature of Phenology 2/9/19

Producers/Hosts: Hazel Stark and Joe Horn

Bird Irruptions

Photos, a full transcript, references, contact information, and more available at thenatureofphenology.wordpress.com.

In parts of Canada, where many of these finches would happily spend their winters, there is a particularly poor food crop this year. Alder and birch seeds, mountain ash fruits, spruce and other conifer seeds are in low supply this year—as happens from time to time. This food scarcity drives these birds that are adapted to those food types further south to places like Maine where the food crop isn’t as bad this year.

The Nature of Phenology 2/2/19

Producers/Hosts: Hazel Stark and Joe Horn

Groundhogs

Photos, a full transcript, references, contact information, and more available at thenatureofphenology.wordpress.com.

There is one animal above all that strikes the most fear and worry into the hearts of farmers and gardeners. They thieve from our carefully tended vegetable gardens, whistle in alarm at the mere sight of us, bolt like a sack of muffins to the safety of their dens, and even allude our most devious schemes for their removal. And yet, on the second of February each year, we bow to the mystical powers of the “Seer of Seers”, the fluffy and foreboding, the earthy oracle, the paunchy plunderer: the groundhog.

The Nature of Phenology 1/26/19

Producers/Hosts: Hazel Stark and Joe Horn

Ermines

Photos, a full transcript, references, contact information, and more available at thenatureofphenology.wordpress.com.

Short-tailed weasels are year-round Maine residents, but we tend to call them ermines in the winter when they change from light brown with pale bellies to pure white with black-tipped tails. The unusually bright white quality of their winter fur made ermines especially desirable for the royalty of yesteryear who cherished their skins to create those famous black-spotted bright white fur collars and trim on their red velvet capes.