wildlife

Tom Petrus via flickr Creative Commons

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 and wildlife. Snow acts as a blanket, a source of camouflage, a form of concealment,  and even a sponge. 

A Snowy Invasion

Jan 24, 2014
Tom Magliery via flickr Creative Commons

This year is being referred to as an "invasion year" for snowy owls, and it might be one for the record books.  

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 Christmas Bird Count found 33, far surpassing the previous count record of four.

Charles Brutlag / Dreamstime.com

In the frozen fastness of a winter forest, devoid of green plants and insects, winter tree bark provides important winter insect habitat and a food pantry for forest birds and small mammals hunting for tiny insects or seeds.

Sergey Yeliseev / Flickr Creative Commons

  Ospreys, also called sea hawk or fish eagle, are found all over the world including here in New Hampshire, But wherever they live, when the temperature drops the birds head for the tropics. For juveniles that first migration is a crucible that only 25 to 40 percent survive.

A project in New Hampshire is tracking Granite State birds and learning about the many misadventures they have between their departure in the fall and return in the spring.

Virus May Be Responsible For Wild Turkey Deaths

Sep 12, 2013
pbedell via Flickr Creative Commons

New Hampshire Fish and Game biologists say wild turkeys in the Newington area may have been infected with a couple of viruses.

They've sent specimens from dead turkeys found last week to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Biologists tell the Portsmouth Herald the turkeys may be been infected with the avian pox virus or one referred to as LPDV.

fatedsnowfox / Flickr Creative Commons

The United States Department of Agriculture is distributing vanilla flavored rabies vaccine packets from airplanes over New Hampshire. The packets will show up in Coos and Grafton counties as part of 5-state pilot study of a new rabies vaccine.

The vaccines are thrown from 500 feet from a small aircraft over rural areas and distributed by hand in towns. They’re vanilla flavored, which trials have shown to be a favorite flavor for critters.

Howl of the Wild

Aug 23, 2013
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. 

The Fight For Frisky Hill

Aug 17, 2013
Gilmanton Land Trust

On her commute from Laconia to Pittsfield six days a week, Tobi Gray Chassie often stops at scenic spot in Gilmanton called Frisky Hill. When Chassie saw a sign telling of plans to develop the land, she felt that it was her duty to support the Gilmanton Land Trust in their protection of the land which meant so much to her.

The Company Of Cuckoos

Jul 26, 2013
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.

Fireflies-- Beyond the Magic

Jul 12, 2013
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.

Brady Carlson

Seeing a moose in New Hampshire isn’t supposed to be news – unless the moose is in a more developed area, like the south end of Concord… and the person seeing it is a public radio host.

That’s right. On Saturday morning All Things Considered host Brady Carlson found a moose in his yard. Twice. The moose even sat down for a rest at one point, though, thankfully, he avoided the Carlsons' vegetable garden.

Marsupial On The Move

Jun 28, 2013
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.

iStockPhoto

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: I understand that pet cats prey on lots of birds and other "neighborhood" wildlife, but isn't it cruel to force felines to live indoors only? And isn’t human encroachment the real issue for bird populations, not a few opportunistic cats?                       -- Jason Braunstein, Laos, NM

Bears In Seacoast Spark Anxiety, Questions

Jun 8, 2013

Two separate black bear sightings in Portsmouth earlier this week startled residents and raised new questions about bears in urban areas.

Early this week, two Portsmouth residents reported black bear sightings to police. Officers responding to the calls said they believed the bears were cubs, but were unsure if a larger bear was with them. Bear sightings are rare instances in the Seacoast, but N.H. Fish and Game’s Wildlife Damage Specialist Rob Calvert says that this behavior isn’t entirely out of character.

Bo Eide, courtesy Flickr

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: What is the “All One Ocean” campaign?          --Bill O’Neill, Los Angeles, CA

Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin E. Stumberg, Department of Defense

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: The three-year anniversary of the 2010 BP oil spill just passed. What do green groups think of the progress since in restoring the region?           -- Mary Johannson, New York, NY

iStock Photo

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: Is nature photography good or bad for the environment? – Cal Moss, Camden, ME

Photo courtesy NH Audubon

Eric Masterson is a blogger and the author of Birdwatching in New Hampshire, and joins us for a hyper-local guide to spotting species around the state.

Comstock

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: How are populations of African elephants faring these days? What conservation efforts are underway and are they working?-- Libby Broullette, Salem, MA

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

The Northern Woods contain a lot of the animals that are symbolic of New Hampshire: bobcat, otter, black bear, fishers, and porcupines to name a few. Many of these animals are mostly found up north because they need a lot of space to move around. One project is trying to come up with a plan to make sure that movement can continue.

The Maligned Fisher

Feb 22, 2013
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:

iStock Photo

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: What is the purpose of National Wildlife Week, which I understand will take place in March 2013? -- Melissa P., Burlington, NJ

Kirk from Wolfeboro

In his book, New Hampshire’s Ben Kilham describes what he has learned in his twenty years studying these creatures.   Contrary to their image as solitary and not-that-intelligent, Kilham finds bears capable of altruism, and cooperation. He even finds them possess a complex communication system, as well as social  behaviors that at times look a lot like ours.

GUEST:

Crossbills Coming to NH?

Dec 28, 2012

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.

Goldfinches, The Late Nesters

Sep 21, 2012

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.

Not So Common Nighthawks

Aug 10, 2012

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.

Courtesy of Crawford Notch Campground

We got a call in the newsroom this morning telling us that a car had collided with a bear just outside of Concord.

We're still learning exactly what happened in that incident, but we thought it would be a good time to check in on how bears and humans have been coexisting in the Granite State this year.

An Expected Newcomer

Jul 13, 2012

There's a newcomer in New Hampshire, a bird that's wild and prehistoric in looks and sound. The bugling of sandhill cranes is common in Wisconsin and Michigan where their numbers have rebounded from near eradication some 70 years ago. That rebound—from the low hundreds to over 50,000 today—has likely led to a range expansion eastward to New England. There's 11 known pairs breeding in Maine, and a few in Massachusetts, Vermont and New York. Surely New Hampshire is next.

Peter Abdu

In December Fish and Game announced that for the first time they had captured photographs of Canadian Lynx alive in Northern New Hampshire. The photographer that snapped those pictures was an amateur biologist and student at UNH, named Peter Abdu.

Mayfly Ballet

May 11, 2012
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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