Something Wild

Fridays at 8:45 am

Credit Roger Goun for NHPR

Something Wild explores the features of our local landscapes, from birds to trees to stone walls, and explains some of the behavior and science behind what we see and hear in our backyards.

Send an email | Podcasts | Past Shows | Suggest a Topic

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH:

Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests
New Hampshire Audubon

Pages

Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Mistletoe – More Than A Kiss

Ancient tree-worshipers – Druids - believed mistletoe possessed magical powers because it grows high in bare oaks, shedding lush green leaves even in midwinter. Druids harvested mistletoe to hang in households to promote fertility. Translation of the folklore over centuries creates the holiday custom of hanging mistletoe to elicit a Christmas kiss.

Read more
Something Wild
12:18 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Forest Succession

Kyle Harms, Louisianna State University

"Forest succession" is a pattern of plant regeneration that begins when a plot of land is left to its own devices. The first phase of this succession is bare soil or an abandoned field. And nature, over the span of decades, converts the area through several stages to mature forest – if left undisturbed.

Read more
Something Wild
6:00 am
Fri December 6, 2013

Nature’s Brand Names

Credit Rick Ganley

Why do products cloak themselves in natural imagery and metaphor? The auto industry has long co-opted Nature nouns: Falcons, Jaguars, Cougars, Impalas, Mustangs and Rams…

Read more
Something Wild
12:10 am
Fri November 29, 2013

The World Runs on Grass

A common roadside grass, Little Bluestem stabilizes soil against run-off.
Francie Von Mertens

Grass doesn't get a lot of appreciation aside from lawns and hayfields, but grasses play an essential role in ecosystem health. When soil is disturbed by hurricane, fire or logging, grasses take quick advantage of. Dormant seeds awaiting the right conditions sprout and up come the grasses.

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri November 22, 2013

Midges: Last Of The Flying Insects

Credit Stefan Berkner, Flickr Creative Commons

On a rare warm-for-late-November afternoon, a tiny cloud of swarming insects dances in a slanting sunbeam – tiny midges!

Late autumn midge swarms are the last free-flying insects following hard freezes. They emerge for one last dance in fading sunlight just before the entire insect “Queendom” collapses under snow as the natural year closes.

Midges comprise a huge group of insects with estimates of more than 10,000 species worldwide.

Read more
Something Wild
12:54 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Fewer Exotic Birds in NH This Winter

The white-winged crossbill

Fall migration has wrapped up for all but a few bird species. This semi-annual rite of passage typically follows predictable timetables and geographic routes. Exceptions to the rule, "irruptive" species, are northerners that head this way certain winters, driven out of their home territories by food scarcity.

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Yankee Gothic November

Credit Julie Blaustein / Flickr Creative Commons

November becomes fitful; restless. Its moods teeter toward somber: steely-gray or blue and cold.  Even under fair skies, low-angle sunlight triggers some ancestral longing – winter is coming and pantries, root cellars and woodsheds should be chock-full.

Traditionally, November was the time for butchering livestock. Indoors, it remains “kitchen season.” The Thanksgiving holiday is a time to cook and eat - and then yawn and nap. Outdoors, it’s “forest season” custom-made for cutting wood or deer hunting at classic rustic, North Country hunting camps.

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Beauty In The November Grays

Credit Creative Common/Flickr Cape Cod Cyclist

Robert Frost ended a short poem on life and nature with the line, "Nothing gold can stay." October has ended after delivering golden fall days that make us regret the indoor tendencies of our lives. Stark November is at the doorstep now. We reacquaint ourselves with ridge-lines visible through bare trees and with stone walls along fields cleared and worked in a time when days were spent more outdoors than in. 

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri October 25, 2013

Hunting For NH's Big Trees

Bigtooth Aspen
Courtesy photo: Kevin Martin, NH Big Tree Program

Do you know New Hampshire is home to seven national champion “Big Trees?” These are the largest examples of their species discovered nationwide. New Hampshire hosts the largest black locust, mountain-ash, pitch pine, eastern white pine, black spruce, staghorn sumac and black birch in the entire US. They’re among 760 champion trees documented by The NH Big Tree Program.

A recent American Forests magazine featured NH's Big Tree program and highlighted efforts by dedicated volunteers searching for the biggest trees in the state. 

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri October 18, 2013

The Turkey Vulture

Credit Flikr/Creative Commons, K Schneider

October 18 is the Full Hunter's Moon, and heading south now are hunters of a different sort: turkey vultures, scavengers that feed on carrion.

Unlike other birds, this species has a uniquely developed sense of smell that guides them to their next meal. Weak fliers, turkey vultures are skilled at hitching rides on air currents. Rarely flapping, they hold their wings in a V angle and wobble a bit while gliding. Because of their large size, they're often misidentified as eagles, but eagles power along, strong and steady in flight, never tipsy.

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

Of Seeds, Trees, & Squirrels

Credit hynkle via Flickr Creative Commons

For homeowners, the floating, spinning or tumbling tree seeds that collect on lawns, patios, gutters and driveways require raking or sweeping. Those "pesky" shade trees! Yet consider the tremendous wildlife food source and genetic wealth that seed crops represent, particularly cyclical acorn crops in NH!

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri October 4, 2013

Marking The Seasons With Hawks...And Apples

A Broad-winged hawk passing Carter Hill.
NH Audubon

At Carter Hill Orchard in Concord, the changing varieties of ripe apples measure out the transition of summer into autumn. Early Paula Reds, which ripen in August, give way to tart McIntoshes, juicy Macouns, and sweet Cortlands, as September wears on.  By early October, yellowed leaves and frosty mornings signal late-season apples with appropriate names: Gibson Golden and Honey Crisp. 

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Non-game and Endangered Wildlife Program Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Eagle on East Inlet in Pittsburg, August 2012
Credit Peter Gray / NH Audubon

Twenty five years ago, bald eagles and peregrine falcons were struggling to return from the brink of extinction.  A handful of outdated surveys were all that existed to assess the location and condition of most wildlife species.  Conservationists and biologists from New Hampshire Audubon, the State, and universities raised the call to "do something!"

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri September 20, 2013

Where Have All The Monarchs Gone?

A monarch on its favorite habitat, the milkweed.
Credit Creative Commons/Rachel Ford James

A lot of people are asking this question, concerned at the diminished numbers of this most charismatic butterfly.  Not many schoolchildren this fall will be able to watch caterpillar transform into chrysalis and then glorious adult—metamorphosis in action.

Monarchs are celebrated for their fall migration to Mexico, but the population that spends the wintering there is experiencing a decline. In fact, this past winter it was the lowest on record.

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Fallen Apples

Credit (Photo by Sebastian Droge via Flickr Creative Commons)

Robert Frost's apple poem "Unharvested" begins: 

A scent of ripeness from over a wall.
And come to leave the routine road
And look for what had made me stall,
There sure enough was an apple tree
That had eased itself of its summer load,
And of all but its trivial foliage free…

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri September 6, 2013

Nature's Obligate Relationships

Monarch Butterfly on a Mexican Milkweed
Wikimedia Commons

It is the height of monarch butterfly season in New Hampshire. Though fewer migrants have returned this year. They're producing the generation that will undertake one of the most impressive migrations: two-thousand miles to overwinter in Mexico.

Adult butterflies feed on the nectar of many different flowers but require very specific plants when laying their eggs. Eggs hatch into caterpillars that feed only on the leaves of particular species.

Read more
Something Wild
9:21 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Yellow Jacket Season

Credit Ross and Lori Reed via Flickr

Forests are often bone dry at the end of the hot summer. When dusty leaves of poison ivy and wild grape vines display the first crimson tinge of fall, underground “yellow-jacket” hornet nests reach their maximum annual size and ferocity beneath brushy fields and woodlands.

The papery hornet nests are packed with nutritious, fat and protein-rich larvae. The grubs are defended aggressively by agitated worker hornets that will soon lie dead after the first hard freeze.

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri August 23, 2013

Howl of the Wild

Credit Wikimedia Commons

During the late summer and fall, coyotes really "yip it up." Despite what you can learn on Youtube, their yips and howls are family communications that have nothing to do with bloodthirsty predators circling for the kill. 
 

The eastern coyote pack is small: an adult pair and their young. The youngsters are venturing out on their own now and adults howl to round them up. When on the prowl for food, silence is the code—which makes sense—but reuniting often inspires prolonged vocal celebrations. 

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri August 16, 2013

Our Favorite (Crooked) Trees

Credit Brenda Charpentier

It's the most unusually-shaped trees in the forest that fire the human imagination. After all, the misshapen, warped, multi-trunked, split and hollowed trees have long been favored as homes by woodland cartoon figments: elves, dwarfs and ogres - not to mention Pooh bears, Piglets and wise old owls.

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri August 9, 2013

NH's Dragonflies Abound

A Rusty Snaketail emerging from exuvia.
Pam Hunt; NH Audubon

We’re standing up to our shins in Turkey Pond, on a warm July morning with Pam Hunt, a biologist with New Hampshire Audubon who has spent the last five years organizing, in conjunction with NH Fish and Game, the New Hampshire Dragonfly Survey. Hunt trained about a hundred volunteers to gather data and help map the distribution of dragonflies across the state. 

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri August 2, 2013

Trails Week – Paying It Forward

Credit Carrie Deegan via NH Forest Society

Mount Monadnock is allegedly the most-climbed mountain in the western hemisphere. Recently, I attended Monadnock Trail Week event from July 12th to 16th at Mount Monadnock State Park in Jaffrey, Marlborough and Dublin. The Forest Society and N.H. State Parks staff invite volunteers to help restore degraded sections of the heavily used hiking trails during this annual five day event.

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri July 26, 2013

The Company Of Cuckoos

The Black-Billed Cuckoo
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Elusive, secretive birds often are the most satisfying to discover, and for me the black-billed cuckoo ranks near the top. Hearing a bird is usually the best way to find it, but attentive ears are needed to detect this cuckoo's song: a subtle, slow and hollow-sounding "cucucu – cucucucu." The song in no way resembles the bold double notes of a cuckoo clock that mimic the song of the common cuckoo, a species that nests across Europe and Asia.

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri July 19, 2013

Cicadas Invade: NH spared

One more reason to be thankful, New Hampshire: we did NOT experience the periodic cicada invasion this summer. You've likely heard about the mass synchronized emergence of billions of periodic cicadas this summer across the Eastern Seaboard from Virginia north to New Jersey, New York and as far as northern Connecticut - NOT New Hampshire.

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri July 12, 2013

Fireflies-- Beyond the Magic

Credit Wikimedia Commons

The twinkling fireflies of a summer night bring a little magic. If we think beyond the twinkling, we probably realize it is courtship in progress: the signals of males and females.

There are a couple dozen firefly species in New England, each with a unique series of flashes, from males in flight to females perched below. Beyond the magic, very few people have knowledge of the medical benefits as well: the use of a firefly's light-producing chemicals in bioluminescent imaging.

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri July 5, 2013

New Hampshire - Crawling With Ticks?

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Here's a dubious Granite State superlative: New Hampshire has the third highest incidence of Lyme disease in the country following Delaware and Connecticut!

Southern New Hampshire is prime tick habitat. Deer ticks - not dog ticks - are THE vector for human Lyme disease. Two-toned solid colored deer ticks, also called "black-legged ticks" are smaller than familiar mottled brown dog ticks.

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri June 28, 2013

Marsupial On The Move

Credit Bob Peterson / Wikimedia Commons

New Hampshire is home to the Virginia opossum, our country's one-and-only marsupial.

As a marsupial, an opossum's development takes place ex utero in the mother's pouch instead of in utero, as placental mammals do.

Opossums are a backyard species, but because they are nocturnal, casual sightings are rare. More often, they will be seen as roadkill--an unfortunate consequence of being an urban, slow-moving animal.

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri June 21, 2013

Summer Solstice= Productive Trees

A "tree factory".
Credit blmiers2 via Flickr Creative Commons

Welcome summer! Today is "Summer Solstice" - the annual crest of sunlight when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky is "solar maximum."  Imagine for a moment the green living infrastructure of our planet as a vast industrial factory seasonally producing carbohydrates and oxygen… call it a "manufacturing plant" if you will.

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri June 14, 2013

Ladies First: Role Reversals Of Spotted Sandpipers

Credit Kenneth Cole Schneider / Flickr/Creative Commons

From shores of wild waterways to not-so-wild urban ponds, a small bird startles up and flies low over the water with quick, stiff wingbeats.
 

It's a spotted sandpiper, a small shorebird often encountered along freshwater shorelines.

Shorebirds come in all sizes, and spotted sandpipers are in the short, stocky category. Despite coloring that blends well with sand and rocks, there's a movement that often gives spotted sandpipers away: they bob up and down as though seized by intense hiccups. When stalking prey, however, their teetering stops.

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri June 7, 2013

A Babe in the Woods

Credit the-whitetail-deer.com

White-tailed deer give birth to cryptic-colored, white-spotted fawns by early June in New Hampshire. Does typically give birth to twins, rarely triplets.  More single fawns are born to younger does, or in years of harsh winter weather with deep snow.   Does choose a secluded and yet open area to birth while scanning for any approaching danger.

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri May 31, 2013

Small Bird, Big Song

Credit Shanthanu Bhardwaj / Flickr/Creative Commons

As spring moves into summer, birdsong is in full voice. The winter wren, weighing only one third of an ounce, is tiny in stature but boasts an energetic song made up of over 100 individual notes.

Why such a big song from such a small bird? The winter wren makes its home among root tangles and boulders, and unlike birds of open spaces, birds particular to dense, enclosed spaces need a strong song to have it carry far.

Read more

Pages