Archives for The Nature of Phenology

The Nature of Phenology 5/25/19: Warblers

Producers: Hazel Stark & Joe Horn
Host: Hazel Stark

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

Warblers can be very challenging to identify, mostly because they’re hard to spot as they hardly ever stop moving, they’re quite small, and they are easily obscured in their leafy environs. Taxonomically, warblers aren’t really a group at all—warbler to warbler may not be particularly closely related. But what they do have in common is that they’re small, they eat bugs, they’re quite vocal, they can be quite drab in color, making them hard to identify, and they’re hard to get a close look at.

The Nature of Phenology 5/18/19: American Shad

Producers: Hazel Stark & Joe Horn
Host: Hazel Stark

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

Shad run at various times in the year depending on where they live along their range from Florida to the Atlantic provinces of Canada. Here in Maine, that time is in the spring. Shad are large fish that can grow up to 30 inches with the males being considerably smaller than the females. They are relatively thin fish that are brilliant silver on their bellies fading into rich metallic purple on top. Their strong tail is deeply forked.

The Nature of Phenology 5/11/19: Shadbush

Producers: Hazel Stark & Joe Horn
Host: Hazel Stark

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

So varied are the names used to identify shadbush, I inevitably find myself rattling off all the names for this stunning little shrub in the hopes that one of those names will sound familiar to my friends and fellow plant nerds. Some of these names include shad, serviceberry, servicetree, Juneberry, saskatoon, and Amelanchier, which is both the genus of this small tree and the name most often used by gardeners. While it may seem that this plant has enough names, they are also names which cover a great number of species and all of these species will hybridize freely forming fertile crosses that make identification of individual species nearly impossible for all but the foremost Amelanchier expert.

The Nature of Phenology 5/4/19: Bluets

Producers: Hazel Stark & Joe Horn
Host: Hazel Stark

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

Bluets are small, mostly white flowers that grow in dense clumps, usually in lawns. They sport four petals, often tinged with blue and with a yellow center, that are fused together into a tube in the flower’s center. The small leaves are arranged opposite each other, which is one of the many defining characteristics that place bluets into the coffee, or Rubiaceae, family.

The Nature of Phenology 4/27/19

Rhubarb

Producers: Hazel Stark & Joe Horn
Host: Hazel Stark

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

All plant nomenclature and physiology aside, rhubarb is a most beloved fruit-like food in our far northern climates because unlike so many of the lovely true fruits we find in the grocery store, rhubarb is an extremely cold hardy perennial—which is to say, it will come back year after year despite the worst our weather has to throw at it. This fact is evident by the enormous rows of rhubarb one can see growing behind the farmhouses which dot the sweeping bucolic landscape of northern Maine between Houlton and Presque Isle.

The Nature of Phenology 4/20/19

Big Night

Producers: Hazel Stark & Joe Horn
Host: Hazel Stark

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

When weather conditions are just right for the first time in the spring—temperatures above 40, rain, or especially high humidity—over half of the breeding population of many of our local amphibians migrate to their breeding pools on what is referred to as “Big Night.”

The Nature of Phenology 4/13/19

Ospreys

Producers: Hazel Stark & Joe Horn
Host: Hazel Stark

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

Unlike me, with my catch-and-release tendencies, ospreys live an exclusively fish-based diet, giving them their other name: ‘fish hawks.’ Everything about these incredible raptors has been optimized and specialized to pursue their piscine prey.

The Nature of Phenology 4/6/19

Timberdoodles

Producers: Hazel Stark & Joe Horn
Host: Hazel Stark

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

This chunky, long-billed, gourd-shaped bird is also called an American woodcock, mudbat, or bog-sucker, among other descriptive names. He flew straight up—100 feet or more–-and began to fly loop-de-loops in the sky, accentuated by lyrical wingbeats. On his ascent, quick high whistling notes drew our attention (and ideally, the female of the species); on his descent, slower “kissing-sounds” burbled in the sky before his gentle thud back down to the old field.