Francie Von Mertens

Contributor, Something Wild

Pages

Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri March 8, 2013

High Perch: Peregrines Nesting In The City

Male peregrine, banded by Chris in 2000. He came from a nest at Cathedral Ledge near North Conway, NH, and has lived in Manchester since January '01. Now 13 years old, he has helped raise all 35 peregrines fledged from this urban breeding territory.
Chris Martin NHA

The peregrine falcon: Fierce, fast, high cliff dweller, symbol of the wild. All true, but increasingly peregrines can be found inhabiting urban canyons of concrete and steel.

Read more
Something Wild
9:11 am
Fri February 22, 2013

The Maligned Fisher

Credit ForestWander.com

The "fisher cat": ferocious predator of house cats whose bloodcurdling screams pierce the dark of night. Facts about this one wildlife species have mutated a long way into fiction. For starters, fishers are members of the weasel family—not feline. Properly referred to, they're "fishers," not "fisher cats." 

As for all the house cats they're thought to kill, here's what a NH Fish and Game species account says:

Read more
Something Wild
8:59 am
Fri February 8, 2013

New Study: Cats Kill Birds, A Lot of Birds

Credit pjsixft / Flickr/Creative Commons

There's new and unsettling information about domestic cats. A study just published (full study here) estimates cats kill between 1 and 4 billion birds each year in the U.S. That's an average of over three million birds each day.

Read more
Environment
8:14 am
Tue January 22, 2013

Ravens Are Playful And Smart

Credit Yeliseev / Flickr Creative Commons

  

Among the many stories about the intelligence of ravens, and their playfulness is one from Mount Monadnock. As the sun was setting a hiker shared the mountaintop with a gang of ravens taking turns leaping  into a strong updraft, tumbling up, then circling around to leap again.

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri January 11, 2013

The Common Raven Is Exceptional

The stately Raven has garnered many connotations over the years, chief among them are for the bird’s intelligence. Additionally, this largest of songbirds is also known for is aerobic alacrity - flying upside down, doing barrel, etc - and playful proclivities.

Stories of their intelligence abound, including one that involves Cheetos. A wildlife biologist was attempting to trap and band ravens. To lure them in, he spread Cheetos on snow and the bright orange color soon attracted several ravens, which were then snared by leg traps under the snow.

Read more
Something Wild
8:00 am
Fri December 28, 2012

Crossbills Coming to NH?

The Red Crossbill.

A poor cone crop in Canada this year is driving crossbills south of the border in search of food.

As volunteers fan out across the state for the annual Christmas Bird Count, they’re likely to see two noteworthy species down from the north this year. Both are named "Crossbills" for unique bills that actually do cross, all the better to pry seeds from a conifer cone.

Read more
Environment
12:00 am
Fri December 14, 2012

Gifts for the Budding Naturalist

Birds that could be seen by your birdfeeder.

As the year draws to a close, it's a great time to reflect on Rachel Carson's Silent Spring once more. 2012 marks the books 50th anniversary. The book encouraged many young naturalists and, with the holidays approaching, we've come up with two gifts to further one's love of nature: a pair of binoculars and a bird guide.

Read more
Environment
12:00 am
Fri November 30, 2012

Birds of a Feather

Ken Sturm/USFWS

Taxonomy is the attempt to place all plant and animal species in a logical order based on relationship. Two thousand years ago. Aristotle classified birds by appearance and behavior, such as birds that swim, birds of prey, and birds that sing.

Read more
Environment
12:00 am
Fri November 16, 2012

Wild Cranberry Relish

For the forager of wild foods, November brings cranberries, crisp and tart to suit the season. Cranberries are a wetlands obligate, meaning they grow in wetland soils, so keep a watch for these low, trailing plants when you're out exploring river edges and soggy lowlands. And then return in November for the harvest. Many berries survive through the winter freeze to provide a spring snack.

Read more
Environment
12:00 am
Fri November 2, 2012

What's Good for the Goose

Daniel D'Auria

November's gray skies carry the last of the migrating Canada geese, graceful ribbons of true wild Canadians on a long-distance flight. These aren't the New England locals, flying low from golf course to cornfield.

The northerners are vocal in flight. Geese are highly social, vocal year-round as they maintain relationships both within the family grouping and the greater flock. Vocalizing by young begins within the egg before hatching, and helps build a strong family bond that lasts a full year.

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri October 5, 2012

Thoreau Remembered

Henry David Thoreau's death 150 years ago has inspired memorial events in Concord - the Massachusetts Concord - but Thoreau passed through our Concord on a trip by boat and foot that led to his first book.

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri September 21, 2012

Goldfinches, The Late Nesters

Courtesy byard via Flickr/Creative Commons

The bird world quiets down by late summer - but not the American goldfinch, one of the most common backyard birds. September brings the chatter of young goldfinches as they follow their male parent. They beg noisily, perched with head thrown back and trembling wings.

Most songbirds switch their diet to high-protein insects when feeding their young, and they nest earlier when insects are most bountiful. For example, chickadees that keep bird-feeders busy in winter disappear in summer as they forage for insects not birdseed.

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri September 7, 2012

Hawks Aloft

Courtesy Ned Harris via Flickr/Creative Commons

Once again, it's broad-winged hawk migration time. Whirpools of hawks soon will fill the sky, riding high on thermal lift as sun warms earth. When lift plays out they stream south in an orderly, and countable, procession.

New Hampshire Audubon does just that - count the hawks - at Carter Hill Orchard in Concord and atop Pack Monadnock at Miller State Park in Peterborough.

Here's what Henry Walters, the official counter at Pack Monadnock, wrote two years ago on September 18:

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri August 24, 2012

Dragonflies Winging South

Late summer brings cool nights and clear air - and winged migration. Along with birds heading south, there's a few butterfly, moth and dragonfly species that respond to the migratory urge.

One dragonfly - the common green darner - has been studied with results that suggest there's a lot of similarities between insect and bird migration. Tiny radio transmitters were attached with eyelash adhesive to green darners which were tracked by plane and ground crews.

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri August 10, 2012

Not So Common Nighthawks

Photo Courtesy Lillian Stokes

In mid-August, one of the most elegant and least known migration flights begins. Common nighthawks, a long-distance migrant, are one of the earliest to depart their northern breeding grounds. Despite their species name, they aren't hawks and they aren't nocturnal. And, alas, they no longer are common. Nighthawks are crepuscular, a great word for the handful of species that are most active at dawn and dusk.

Read more

Pages