Something Wild

Fridays at 8:35 am

For nearly 20 years, Something Wild has explored the wonder that is the landscape that surrounds us in New Hampshire. From the many birds that call our state home to the trees around New Hampshire that have been granted "Big Trees" status to stone walls that perforate the state, we explain the behavior and science behind what we see and hear and might take for granted in our backyards.

Seeing something new on your favorite hike, or wondering about something mundane at your bird feeder? Drop us a question and we'll tell you Something Wild!

Something Wild is hosted by Dave Anderson and Chris Martin; and produced by Andrew Parrella.

Click here to get our podcast on iTunes.

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH:

Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests
New Hampshire Audubon

Ways to Connect

NHPR

As we hunker down for the winter weather, we’re frequently too preoccupied with what is in our front yards that we tend not to notice what isn’t there. The snow and ice have muscled out the grass, and the chilly sounds of the north wind have blown away the dawn chorus that woke us this summer. And short of finding a postcard in your mailbox from a warm exotic location, signed by your friendly neighborhood phoebe , you probably haven’t thought much about the birds that flitted through your yard just months ago.

Here at Something Wild, we’ve been thinking a lot about winter and the different strategies animals use to get through these cold, harsh months. There are quite a few techniques to survive winter if you don’t live in a toasty house with central heating or a roaring wood stove. The top 5 are: Don’t live here: Lots of animals live in the Northeast but many more stay away because of the harsh climate. Die in autumn: Some animals' life cycles are tied to the seasons and for those creatures not...

Smithsonian's National Zoo via Flickr

We’ve been hearing a lot about porcupines this year. They seem to be everywhere! It’s positively a plague of porcupines! So why are there so many? Biologists don’t have an official answer, but Dave Anderson has a hypothesis involving coyotes and fisher cats. The porcupine’s only real predator is the fisher. It takes a tough critter to eat a porcupine. Anecdotally, trackers and hunters are reporting that fisher numbers appear to be down this year, so it makes sense that porcupine numbers are...

Picture yourself in the grocery store. You’ve got an organized list in your hand and you’re looking for the things on that list. And as you go down the aisles you’re whizzing by dozens, maybe hundreds, of things on the shelves until your eye picks out that one jar of peanut butter that you have on your list. It’s an efficiency technique that helps you find what you’re looking for.

Susan Lirakis

With winter weather on the way, NHPR's Chris Martin sat down to talk to meteorologist Tony Vazzano, who specializes in mountain weather and snow. His company, North Winds Weather, provides specialized weather reports to ski areas across northern New England.

A common theme on Something Wild is breeding. (Which is why we always sip our tea with our pinkies extended.) Seriously, though, we talk about the how, when, where because there are a lot of different reproductive strategies that have evolved in nature. Today we take a closer look at two such strategies: semelparity and iteroparity.

mwms1916 via Flickr

As fall comes to a close, winter imminent, there is a quiet that sweeps across New Hampshire. We celebrate the changing of the leaves but once they’ve fallen from the trees there’s really not much to look at before snowfall, right? Of course not! There’s always something waiting to be discovered in your back yard and this time of year is no exception. Head outside and into the woods. The bare trees leave exposed that which was obscured earlier in the year. From stone walls to flora that may...

Recently the Something Wild team went for a hike. One thing to bear in mind when walking with knowledgeable biologists like Chris and Dave, is that hikes take longer than they might if you were walking on your own.

Moose Munching
AL_HikesAZ / Flickr Creative Commons

Fall is a busy time for Kristine Rines's department, the moose are in rut (mating) and hunting season is open. She works for NH Fish and Game as the state’s first ever Moose Biologist. She received the distinguished “Moose Biologist of the Year” from her peers at the North American Moose Conference in 2006. Rines has announced her plans to retire after three decades on the job and sat down with Something Wild to reflect on her time studying the state’s moose.

Michael Webber via Flickr CC

Black bears are as much a part of New Hampshire as fall foliage and stone walls, nevertheless they are a misunderstood species. To better understand the species, we wanted to talk to a bear, the closest thing we could get was Ben Kilham. And that’s pretty close, which is evident when you meet him. He’s over six-feet tall and moves with a slow ambling gait. His ursine tendencies aren’t surprising when you consider Kilham’s been studying and living with black bears for nearly 25 years.

USFWS Headquarters / Flikr Creative Commons

Bats in New Hampshire have been struggling with White Nose Syndrome for the past few years. So we sat down with Wildlife Biologist Emily Preston from NH Fish and Game and Endangered Species Biologist Susi von Oettingen from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to find out how they’ve been faring recently. Obviously, bats are really important in our eco-system because they are the greatest predator of nighttime insects. As von Oettingen explained, NH hosts eight species of bats (among them: Little...

There’s been a lot of talk about Gypsy moths this year, especially in southern New England, where trees in some areas have been hit pretty hard by this voracious caterpillar. And it has sparked a lot of discussion about how people might help reduce the damage, but it’s worth remembering that the trees these caterpillars feed on are not entirely helpless.

Chris Martin / Courtesy of NH Audubon

November is a great time to spot golden eagles. They are a rare sight in New Hampshire, but they do pass through the state on their annual migration. Right now they’re on their way south to winter in the central Appalachians. They’ll pass back through the state in March on their way to Labrador and northern Quebec to nest. Golden eagles are sometimes confused with young bald eagles, but there are differences. When bald eagles are in flight, they hold their wings flat like a plank, but golden...

National Audubon Society

The iconic call of the loon is one you’ll hear on ponds and lakes throughout the state. We’re checked in with John Cooley, Senior Biologist with the Loon Preservation Committee to learn a bit about the bird and the state of its welfare. The iconic call of the loon is one you’ll hear on ponds and lakes throughout the state. We’re checked in with John Cooley, Senior Biologist with the Loon Preservation Committee to learn a bit about the bird and the state of its welfare. First off we know there...

Robert Taylor via Flickr

You may be familiar with hoarders (not the TV show, but same idea). In nature, a hoarder will hide food in one place. Everything it gathers will be stored in a single tree or den. But for some animals one food cache isn't enough. We call them scatter hoarders. A "scatter hoarder" hides food in a bunch of different places within its territory. The gray squirrel is a classic example, gathering acorns and burying them in trees or in the ground. Not all squirrels are hoarders. Red squirrels are ...

Anderson/SPNHF

We don't often think of trees when we speak of "harvest." Corn is harvested; apples, tomatoes, squash are the fruits of the annual autumnal rite which is the province of our farmers. Maybe it's because those plants are harvested at the end of their lifespan that we don't lament the moment they are cut down. We're much more precious with our trees. Maybe because we associate de-forestation with developments of housing sub-divisions, or banal strip malls with all the character and scenic beauty...

Courtesy Mark Yokoyama via Flickr/Creative Commons

Something Wild fan, Michael Carrier, wrote in recently, he said “If possible could you do a program about identifying some of the more common sounds you hear at dusk or night in New Hampshire.” Yeah, we can do that. So a typical evening scene in Anytown, New Hampshire is a symphony of sound. A screen door slams in the distance…a jake brake startles the neighbor’s dog…the weekend warrior fires up her motorcycle… But as the evening settles in and human sounds fade away we can better hear the...

Midge Eliassen

How do you determine the age of a tree? Just count the rings, of course! One ring equals one year of growth. If you’ve ever stumbled upon a tree stump you may have even done it yourself. But if you’re counting rings on a stump, the life of that tree is over. So how do you count those rings while the tree is alive? Experts use a special tool called an “increment borer”. An increment borer is a tool used to extract a small core from a tree, allowing a dendrochronologist to count its rings...

Courtesy of Colleen P of Newington via Flickr/Creative Commons.

In this part of the country the Corvid family includes blue jays, gray jays, crows, and ravens. And ravens – Corvus corax – are the smartest of this intelligent family, actually their brain to body ratio is on par with whales and the great apes. Ravens are pretty common in New Hampshire, probably more common than you think since at first glance they look a lot like crows. But there are some key differences between these two big black birds. First, ravens are bigger, their wingspan is almost...

Robert Taylor via Flickr

It all started with a black squirrel. These rare creatures aren't a separate species - they're your garden variety gray squirrel, but a genetic mutation has given them a black fur coat. That got Dave wondering if a black squirrel has any advantages its fairer forebears don't (other than being incredibly popular among nature photographers). Wondering turned to arguing.

Courtesy DES

To everything there is a season and this is the season when we go swimming and we spend a lot of time talking about Cyanobacteria. So what is it, exactly? Sonya Carlson is head of the Beach Inspection Program with the state Department of Environmental Services and gave us a primer on the micro-organism. Cyanobacteria has been on earth for a long time, to the tune of 3.5 billion years! “In fact, we scientists think it's what created oxygen in our atmosphere, so it's a very important part of...

Qualsiasi/flickr

Today’s topic is thunderstorms. Summer in NH brings those triple H days – hazy, hot, and humid! On days like those there’s nothing more welcome than the arrival of a late-afternoon thunderstorm, leaving in its wake cool, refreshing air, scrubbed clean of haze and pollution.

Courtesy Ias-initially via Flickr/Creative Commons

At Something Wild we like to talk about some of the interesting wildlife or natural occurrences you can find in New Hampshire. We hope you learn a little something wild along the way; sometimes that’s birds and bees, sometimes that’s flowers and trees, but today we want to talk about that thing called love. Biophilia is an idea popularized by American ecologist and philosopher E.O. Wilson. He suggested that humans have an instinctive bond to other living creatures – that we’re innately...

Chris Shadler

Chris Schadler is a wild canid biologist, and for about 25 years, her specialty has been the coyote. The first confirmed case of coyotes in New Hampshire was an individual found in a trap in Holderness in the mid 1940s. But they have likely been here longer, because as Schadler points out, they didn’t parachute into Holderness, they will have migrated south from Canada.

Smithsonian's National Zoo via Flickr

We’ve been hearing a lot about porcupines this year. They seem to be everywhere! It’s positively a plague of porcupines! So why are there so many? Biologists don’t have an official answer, but Dave Anderson has a hypothesis involving coyotes and fisher cats. The porcupine’s only real predator is the fisher. It takes a tough critter to eat a porcupine. Anecdotally, trackers and hunters are reporting that fisher numbers appear to be down this year, so it makes sense that porcupine numbers are...

Flkr Creative Commons / US Fish and Wildlife

Talk of turkey is usually relegated to the month of November as we stuff ourselves with eating yams and cranberry jelly, and watch college football. And the misperception about Ben Franklin proposing the wild turkey as our national bird, is usually not far behind.

Michael Bentley via Flickr

Every week here at Something Wild we encourage you to go outside. It's easy to find the wild in New Hampshire, be it a walk on the beach, a hike in the woods or a quiet crepuscular kayak ride. However there are things you need to be mindful of when you're out. We've heard a lot about ticks but not so much about poison ivy. You've probably seen or come into contact with poison ivy at some point; the three waxy leaves with serrated edges. You probably also know you should avoid it. Don't touch touch the vine, don't touch the root. You can get a rash from any part of the plant.

Courtesy Brendan Clifford, via NH Fish & Game

There are few sounds in nature that command your attention as effectively as the rattle of a rattlesnake. And though these snakes are not aggressive, that sound does elicit a hard-wired, innate fear response. Roughly translating to “Watch Your Step, Mister!” the rattle is an alarm designed to stop trouble before it starts.

Courtesy of brewbooks via Flickr/Creative Commons (https://flic.kr/p/sqY5Yp).

Biologists like to talk about crocodiles, cassowaries, even chickens as being descendants of the dinosaurs. But in your back yard is likely something that can trace its ancestry to before the dinosaurs, some 360 million years ago. We’re talking about Ferns!

Courtesy Hamish Irvine via Flickr/Creative Commons

A Something Wild fan wrote in recently with a question or two. Ben, a backyard beekeeper in Deerfield, asks “I know there has been a lot of buzz about chemicals getting into the bee's main protein source, pollen. It would be really cool if you could mention the bees and what kind of plants the bees pollinate (and are exposed to) throughout the various seasons. Furthermore! Where in the world are the bees getting pollen in the winter? Sometimes I even see my bees bringing in pollen from who knows where on the rare warm day in the wintertime."

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