Archives for The Nature of Phenology

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.

The Nature of Phenology 1/19/19

Producers/Hosts: Hazel Stark and Joe Horn

Frogs in Winter

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

May and June are two months that are almost entirely defined by frogs—their cheery chorus sounds from vernal pools and along pond edges hoping to entice a mate to come for a swim. This time of year, however, we instead sit in relative quiet but for the howl of wind, the rattle of bare tree branches, the roar of a woodstove, the moan of ice, and the somber call of a raven. During this time of year, one might wonder the fate of the subject of today’s episode, our flipper-footed friends: frogs.

The Nature of Phenology 1/12/19

Producers/Hosts: Hazel Stark and Joe Horn

Queen Anne’s Lace

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

Finding animal tracks, listening to the nighttime calls of barred owl pairs, or spotting a perfectly camouflaged snowshoe hare or ermine offer a sense of excitement and change during a season that might otherwise feel still and unending. But today I’m here to argue in defense of the excitement of plants, and one plant in particular whose seed heads have curled up into what may look like a perfect tiny bird nest on the end of a stem: Queen Anne’s lace.

The Nature of Phenology 1/5/19

Producers/Hosts: Hazel Stark and Joe Horn

Ice

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

“Frozen” is the operative term that can be applied to our neck of the woods for the coming months, though it is easy to keep warm and stave off the cabin nasties when shuffling across the frosty world on a pair of skates, skis, or snowshoes. Now that we are in the depths of winter, folks will be taking advantage of the peculiar physical properties of water as it freezes into the subject of today’s topic: ice.