Spring

Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri March 27, 2015

Something Wild: Habitat Hotspots

Credit Greta Tamošiunaite / Flickr

As the snow starts to melt you might notice a stark contrast in the landscape.  Maybe you were driving down the highway and noticed one shoulder was covered with snow while the other side was bare with a faint tinge of spring green shoots.  The cause?  Slope and aspect.  

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri March 20, 2015

Something Wild: Vernal Equinox

Spring Equinox
Credit NASA GOES

March 20th marks the Vernal Equinox.  It's one of two points on our calendar when day and night are of equal length. More or less. It may be more of a convenient handle we put on an arbitrary point on our annual revolution around the sun, but it is significant in that it marks the point in the year where we start seeing more daylight than darkness.  So with the days growing longer, this is a great time to talk about photoperiod.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri March 6, 2015

The Uncommon History of the Common Junco

Credit Blake Matheson via flickr Creative Commons

A huge question in evolutionary biology is the very basic one: How do species form? It turns out that the Dark-eyed Junco, one of the most common birds at winter feeders, is providing a  clear picture of that process.

First, a quick review of what defines a species:

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri January 30, 2015

Something Wild: How Owls Spend The Winter

Spring is here!  Well, sort of.  Technically, spring doesn't start for another six weeks. But some stoic yankees say that winter begins in New Hampshire when you start stacking your wood pile in late August.  So it follows that Winter Solstice (the shortest day of the year) is the first day of spring training - pitchers and catchers reporting for light duty.  And now, six weeks later, we're seeing 10 hours of daylight and growing, and we're ready to open the season.  The next logical question... who's on first?

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Something Wild
9:00 am
Fri January 23, 2015

The Natural Year Begins Anew

The black-capped chickadee- early harbinger of spring.
Credit Tracy Lee Carroll

Even as we stare down the barrel of the coldest, darkest days of early January, the earliest signs of spring will soon begin anew - even before the first mail-order seed catalogs arrive.  Early harbingers of this new natural year are subtle. Spring renewal begins with hardy birds that remain winter residents, those species best-adapted to our northern winters.

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Something Wild
12:33 am
Fri June 13, 2014

Something Wild: The Eerie Sounding Veery

The song of the veery is a haunting, ethereal song. Males sing at dusk, a time when not many other birds sing and daytime winds have calmed. It's also a time when the air turns damp; dense, moist air transfers sound waves better than dry air.

If you listen to the song carefully, you can hear an echo or tremolo effect (more on this below), because songbirds have, essentially, a double voice box that can produce two notes at the same time. (The left voice box is lower pitched than the right one.) In a sense, a singing veery harmonizes with itself.

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Something Wild
12:41 am
Fri May 30, 2014

The 'Dirt' On Soil

Credit NRCS Soil Health via flickr Creative Commons

This time of year finds a lot of people working in their gardens. Good gardeners pay attention to their soil.Just like above ground, there’s a diverse world of wildlife below ground competing for space, nutrients, and performing roles that support life on Earth.

Microscopic bacteria species by the millions; root fungi that deliver nutrients to plants; worms, ants and other insects aerating the soil and adding nutrients through their droppings and—post mortem—as their bodies decay. Minerals laid down long ago are constantly breaking down through weather and erosion.

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Something Wild
9:28 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Water In The Trees

A yellow birch "leaking" water.
Credit Dave Anderson

The patter of rain. Fingers of wind comb the canopy of tender leaves. These are exotic sounds of the new tree canopy in late May. New Hampshire forests are adapted to withstand rigors of wind and weather. Leaf structures reflect inner tree plumbing we rarely consider.

Tubes of the water-moving "xylem" are coiled like springs that stretch and recoil to some degree and not break the tension of water in these drinking straws.  Stem fibers of differing lengths break at different stress points

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Something Wild
5:59 am
Fri May 16, 2014

A Soft Spot For Bluebirds

Credit Len Peters via flickr Creative Commons

I've learned that a sighting of a bluebird on a bird watching field trip stops everything. We'll pause a long time as people take turns looking through the spotting scope. Involuntary gasps of pleasure, "oohs" and "aahs" and "ohmygods."

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The Exchange
9:00 am
Thu May 1, 2014

This Year's Allergy Season / N.H. Hospital Tax Ruled Unconstitutional

Credit AshtonPal / Flickr/CC

Predictions for a Rough Allergy Season Following a Cold Winter

Biologists say this year’s cold Winter and late Spring could mean a wallop of an allergy season, a so-called “pollen vortex” adding to a longer trend toward higher pollen counts, due to climate change.

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Something Wild
6:28 am
Fri April 25, 2014

Tiny Tree Flowers

Spring blossoms of our largest plants - woody trees - are small and inconspicuous. Trees flower early - before leaves emerge. While showy wildflowers on the forest floor rely on specialized insect pollinators, forest trees do not.

Trees rely on wind-pollination of flowers to yield summer seeds and autumn nuts. Flowering before leaves emerge ensures greater air circulation among pollen-producing male stamens and female pistils containing ovaries.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Red-Winged Blackbirds

A red-winged blackbird showing off his flare.
Credit Alexandra MacKenzie via flickr Creative Commons

Move over robins; red-winged blackbirds are the real harbingers of spring.

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. Males return north well before females, and the early bird does get the worm. In this case the metaphorical worm is prime breeding territory.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Spring Sunlight

Credit Dave Anderson

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.

Strong sunlight of lengthening days is the catalyst that controls circadian rhythms influencing production of hormones - in birds, wild mammals and people.

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NH News
7:00 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Granite Staters Relish Belated Springtime Weather

Despite muddy conditions, some Concord residents turned out to White Park to enjoy the mild weather.
Credit Amanda Loder / NHPR

After a long winter and several false starts, it looks like New Hampshire might finally be heading into spring. 

Mild temperatures on Sunday brought many Granite Staters outside to enjoy the weather.  Concord resident Annie Morgan brought her eight-year old son to a city park.  And she was confident that this time, spring was here to stay.  

“Well I’m determined!  It’s not going anywhere," she said with a chuckle.  "No, we’re not getting any more snow, and it’s going to be beautiful!”

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NH News
6:32 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

Historic Ice-Out Of Winnipesaukee Expected

Ice on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee
Credit Rimager via Flickr Creative Commons

The man who officially declares the annual ice-out of Lake Winnipesaukee says this year’s announcement could be a record-setter.

Dave Emerson of Emerson Aviation in Gilford said this winter’s cold and snow may mean it’s early May before he can declare what some consider the official start of the New Hampshire summer season.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Saw-Whet Owls

Northern saw-whet owl.
Credit Kent McFarland via flickr Creative Commons

There are a lot of unusual sounds out there in the natural world. Here’s one from the nighttime forest, often heard this time of year.

No, it’s not a school bus backing up.

It’s a tiny owl, the northern saw-whet, and it’s a lot more common than bird surveys suggest. As you might imagine, small birds active only at night are not easy to survey. Also important to note is that because 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.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri March 28, 2014

The Sugaring Life

Credit Charlie Kellogg via flickr Creative Commons

 Maple time in New England brings out the essence of the trees and the character in the people. 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.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Vernal Equinox Means Equal Night

Sunset over Mt. Major.
Credit Abigail via flickr Creative Commons

The Vernal Equinox has arrived! For one brief moment, everywhere on planet Earth, day and night are equal: 12 hours from sunrise to sunset and sunset to sunrise.

The length of daylight compared to dark, is known as photoperiod. Seasonal changes in photoperiod  trigger a lot of changes in plants and animals. Many plants are known as short-day species; they flower after the summer solstice when days are getting shorter. Plants that bloom in spring are known as long-day species.

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Word of Mouth
12:11 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

3.20.14: The Birds, The Bees, & The Birds And The Bees

Credit Neomodus photos & SeaDave / via flickr Creative Commons

While the weather these days might not be an indicator, spring is officially here. Which got us thinking in the Word of Mouth pod...about the birds and the bees. And also birds and bees. On today's show a conversation about the most awkward talk a parent has to have: "the talk." Also, a bird expert tells us about this year's unusual snowy owl migration. We'll also hear about the next great frontier in self tracking apps: fertility apps. 

Listen to the full show and click Read More for individual segments.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri March 14, 2014

For Some Plants, Getting Green Means Starting Early

Snowdrops in snow.
Credit elPadawan via flickr Creative Commons

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. 

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri March 7, 2014

The Common Junco And Its Uncommon History

foxtail_1 via flickr Creative Commons

A huge question in evolutionary biology is the very basic one: How do species form? It turns out that the Dark-eyed Junco, one of the most common birds at winter feeders, is providing a  clear picture of that process.

First, a quick review of what defines a species:

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

If It Sounds Like A Duck...Might Be A Frog

Credit ckaiserca / Flickr/Creative Commons

If you're out for a walk this month, and you hear something that sounds like ducks quacking, don't expect to see ducks. The call of a male wood frog fools a lot of people. The all-male frog chorus is revving up now, and wood frog males are the first to announce their availability to females.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri June 15, 2012

Dandy Dandelions

Photo Courtesy Chris Martin

You've got to hand it to dandelions. They're transplants from Europe that have adapted and spread very, very well. Anyone who has tried to pry dandelions loose from lawn or garden knows they have a long tap root. Leave any root segment and the plant will rise again. 

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri June 1, 2012

Silent Spring

Courtesy Sterling College via Flickr

Fifty years ago, Rachel Carson's book, "Silent Spring", woke the world up to the perils of chemicals that promised food crops free of disease and insects, and time outdoors free of mosquitoes. The book is credited with starting the modern environmental movement. It was the birdwatchers that first alerted the scientists about robins literally falling from the sky soon after DDT was sprayed, as well as longer-term declines in birds higher on the food chain.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri May 25, 2012

The Green Rx

Forests keep us healthy.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri May 18, 2012

Spectrum of Birdsong

Courtesy JKD Atlanta via Flickr

Mid-May is like rush hour in the bird world. Migrants have returned for the nesting season and the air is full of birdsong. As you might guess, birdsong is as varied as birds themselves. In fact, birdsong is defined generously to include any and all sounds they make with territorial or courtship intentions. Let's start with a traditional vocalization and then branch out.  

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri May 11, 2012

Mayfly Ballet

smilla4, Flickr Creative Commons

It’s not just anglers who follow emerging mayflies. The drama plays to appreciative audiences above and below the water. Hatching nymphs rise from dark, watery depths up to the wide blue sky, a glorious curtain call and tolling dinner bell.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri May 4, 2012

Cedar Waxwings

Courtesy Iguanasan via Flickr
Courtesy Iguanasan via Flickr

May brings apple blossoms, a universal favorite—whether in hillside orchard or backyard crabapple. They're also favored by one of the most elegant songbirds of all, cedar waxwings. They're a social species but sedate and quiet as birds go—easy to miss despite traveling in flocks.

Often the best way to know they're around is by their song. It's subtle, admittedly, but worth learning. Once alerted by their song, here's what you might see: male and female waxwings exchange blossoms bill-to-bill as part of a courtship ritual when winter flocks pair off for the breeding season ahead.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri April 27, 2012

Wildflowers, the Indicator Species

Paul-W, Flikr Creative Commons

Lovely woodland wildflowers are reliable “indicators” of soil moisture, fertility and light conditions. Wildflowers on the forest floor repeat patterns seen elsewhere each spring. The flowers speak to the patterns of why plants and trees grow where they do in our forests. 

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri April 20, 2012

Dilig-Ant

Rikfrog via Flickr/Creative Commons.

The ants come marching, one by one, up the kitchen wall; it’s a sure sign of spring. These are the worker ants, females all, tasked with delivering food to the colony. Male drones remain in that colony, on call for their one role in a very brief life: mating with a fertile female destined to be a new queen.

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