Something Wild en Red-Winged Blackbirds <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Move over robins; r</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">ed-winged blackbirds are the real harbingers of spring.</span></p><p>The male’s scratchy “oak-a-lee” songs are heard when the world is still blanketed with snow and maple sap is just beginning to flow.&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">Males return north well before females, and the early bird does get the worm.&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">In this case the metaphorical worm is prime breeding territory.</span></p><p> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 04:00:00 +0000 Chris Martin 45721 at Red-Winged Blackbirds May Flowers (Pilgrims not included) <div>Delicate wildflowers poke through a dry, mat of last autumn's leaves pressed paper thin by the weight of a now-vanished snow pack.</div><div><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Wildflower strategy is: bloom early, grow quickly in late spring and then die back. These "spring </span>ephemerals<span style="line-height: 1.5;">" create an elegant spring nutrient dam, locking-up important soil nutrients otherwise washed-away by </span>snowmelt<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> or rain. When flowers die-back in summer shade, they release nutrients back to the roots of trees above.</span></p> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 13:50:09 +0000 Dave Anderson 46597 at May Flowers (Pilgrims not included) Spring Sunlight <p>Daylight floods a rural NH valley. A rooster crows in the village. The morning songbird chorus features mourning doves, red-wing blackbirds, a cardinal. The symphony will soon swell with grouse drumming, wood thrush flutes and a crescendo of warbler songs.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Strong sunlight of lengthening days is the catalyst that controls circadian rhythms influencing production of hormones - in birds, wild mammals </span><strong style="line-height: 1.5;"><em>and people</em></strong><span style="line-height: 1.5;">.</span></p> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 04:00:00 +0000 Dave Anderson 45592 at Spring Sunlight Manchester Peregrine Finds New Mate <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">On Monday, the </span><strong style="line-height: 1.5;"><a href="" target="_blank">Union Leader</a></strong><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> reported that the peregrine family nesting high above Manchester had found a new papa bird. After her previous mate injured his wing and was taken in for surgery, the female falcon eventually left the nest in search of food. Wed, 09 Apr 2014 19:33:24 +0000 Logan Shannon & Andrew Parrella 46456 at Manchester Peregrine Finds New Mate Saw-Whet Owls <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">There are a lot of unusual sounds out there in the natural world.&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Here’s one from the nighttime forest, often heard this time of year.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">No, it’s not a school bus backing up.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">It’s a tiny owl, the northern saw-whet, and it’s a lot more common than bird surveys suggest. As you might imagine, s</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">mall birds active only at night are not easy to survey.&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Also important to note is that </span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">because</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> they're the favorite meal of the much larger barred owl, their survival depends on keeping a low profile—usually under cover of dense conifers.</span></p><p> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 04:00:00 +0000 Chris Martin 45589 at Saw-Whet Owls The Sugaring Life <div class="transcript"><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span>Maple time in New England brings out the essence of the trees and the character in the people.&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">For those who love trees, a tongue-tip taste of fresh maple syrup is a sacrament, maple communion at the end of a long winter. To ingest the distilled essence of trees confers the spirit of the forest itself.</span></p> Fri, 28 Mar 2014 04:00:00 +0000 Dave Anderson 44936 at The Sugaring Life Vernal Equinox Means Equal Night <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//" width="420"></iframe></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The Vernal Equinox has arrived!&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">For one brief moment, everywhere on planet Earth, day and night are equal: 12 hours from sunrise to sunset and sunset to sunrise.</span></p><p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The length of daylight compared to dark, is known as </span>photoperiod<span style="line-height: 1.5;">. </span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Seasonal changes in </span>photoperiod<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp; trigger a lot of changes in plants and animals.&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Many plants are known as short-day species; they flower after the summer solstice when days are getting shorter.&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Plants that bloom in spring are known as long-day species.</span></p><p></p><p> Fri, 21 Mar 2014 04:00:00 +0000 Chris Martin & Francie Von Mertens 44935 at Vernal Equinox Means Equal Night For Some Plants, Getting Green Means Starting Early <p>For some plants, the race to harvest sunlight to make food starts early, in March. Skunk cabbage and many alpine plants begin to photosynthesize under the snow using red "anthocyanin" pigments which can absorb the longer-wavelength blue light at the ultra-violet end of the spectrum--even while buried beneath the snow.&nbsp;</p><p> Fri, 14 Mar 2014 04:00:00 +0000 Dave Anderson 44450 at For Some Plants, Getting Green Means Starting Early The Common Junco And Its Uncommon History <p>A huge question in evolutionary biology is the very basic one: How do species form?&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">It turns out that the Dark-eyed Junco, one of the most common birds at winter </span>feeders<span style="line-height: 1.5;">, is providing a &nbsp;clear picture of that process.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">First, a quick review of what defines a species:</span></p> Fri, 07 Mar 2014 05:00:00 +0000 Chris Martin & Francie Von Mertens 43873 at The Common Junco And Its Uncommon History In Appreciation Of Winter <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Wait! Don't wish this winter away...not yet.</span></p><p>Before dirty, old snow banks rot and melt onto sun-warmed pavement; before sweet steam of maple sugaring or green thoughts at St. Patrick's Day; remember one perfect day, when winter took your breath away.</p><p> Fri, 28 Feb 2014 05:00:00 +0000 Dave Anderson 44074 at In Appreciation Of Winter The Truth About Coy-Dogs <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">It's the height of eastern coyote courtship, and </span><a href="" style="line-height: 1.5;" target="_blank">a pair can really yip it up</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;">.&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Coyote sightings, as well as the sounds of coyotes often sparks talk of <a href="" target="_blank">coy-dogs</a>.&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Is there such a thing?</span></p><p>Yes. And no.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Yes, domestic dog and coyote hybrids are biologically possible and have occurred;&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">but no genetic sampling of coyotes has found evidence of domestic dog.&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Coy-dogs don't survive, and here's why.</span></p><p> Fri, 21 Feb 2014 05:00:00 +0000 Chris Martin & Francie Von Mertens 42706 at The Truth About Coy-Dogs No Such Thing As Animal Love? <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">If Valentine's Day alone were not a slippery slope, consider this question: Muskrat Love?</span></p><p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Science long taught its practitioners--biologists in particular--to avoid ascribing human emotions or attributes to animals. But are we not animals ourselves? For the past century, animals were afforded no emotions despite exhibitions of behaviors humans recognize as emotional: anger, revenge, fear, and love.</span></p> Fri, 14 Feb 2014 05:48:00 +0000 Dave Anderson 42701 at No Such Thing As Animal Love? Creatures In The Night <p>Wildlife tracks in the snow indicate of a lot of coming and going in the nighttime world.&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">Why are so many animals active, given their limited ability to see in the dark?</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">There's the obvious reason: division of resources helps avoid competition.&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">A red-tailed hawk hunts the same fields by day that a great horned owl hunts by night.&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Night also offers some animals protection from their main predators.&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Mice lie low by day, but in the wild—and in my house—they come out at night.</span></p><p></p><p> Fri, 07 Feb 2014 05:07:00 +0000 Chris Martin & Francie Von Mertens 42697 at Creatures In The Night Snow: An Ally For Winter Survival <p>Got snow? That's probably a sore subject for many in New England this time of year, but in the woods, snow is not an enemy--a scourge to be shoveled, scraped and plowed out of the way. In nature, snow is a trusted ally to plants <em>and</em> wildlife. Snow acts as a blanket, a source of camouflage,<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;a form of concealment,&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;and even a sponge.&nbsp;</span></p><p> Fri, 31 Jan 2014 05:00:00 +0000 Dave Anderson 42584 at Snow: An Ally For Winter Survival A Snowy Invasion <p>This year is being referred to as an "<a href="" target="_blank">invasion year</a>" for snowy owls, and it might be one for the <a href="" target="_blank">record books</a>. &nbsp;</p><p>Most of the snowy owl sightings have been along the coast where a flat, open landscape resembles their native tundra. Reports from New Hampshire birders include sightings of up to nine in a single day. On Nantucket, the annual <a href="" target="_blank">Christmas Bird Count</a> found 33, far surpassing the previous count record of four.</p><p> Fri, 24 Jan 2014 05:00:01 +0000 Chris Martin & Francie Von Mertens 42310 at A Snowy Invasion