Here's the Latest Episode from Something Wild – Something Wild:
This Something Wild segment was produced by the amazing Andrew Parrella. 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 "larder hoarders." If you've ever been walking through the woods and a red squirrel starts screaming at you, it's defending its one and only stash. The same goes for chipmunks and white-footed mice. The gray squirrel isn't alone in the practice of scatter hoarding. Blue jays and gray jays will spend the summer accosting hikers, filling itself with as much granola or fruit as it can. They bring their bounty back into the forest
We know…we’ve been remiss, and it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room. Something Wild, as you know, is a chance to take a closer look at the wildlife, ecosystems and marvelous phenomena you can find in and around New Hampshire. But over the years there is one species in New Hampshire that we haven’t spent much time examining. A species, I think that has been conspicuous in its absence. Humans. So we’re grabbing the bull by the horns and digging in to a complex species that is an important part of the ecosystem. And we thought we’d start with a particular trait that’s been with us almost since the beginning: olfaction.
Producer's note: Because of the global pandemic, Dave Anderson was not able to record this piece in NHPR's studio. Instead, he recorded through the microphone in his phone, while sitting in his Hyundai during a rain shower. Because that's how he rolls. ______________________________________________________________ My summer lament when weeks accelerate is there are really only two seasons : "summer waxing" and "summer waning." The former happily runs from January to June. The latter opens with the last dying echo of Fourth of July fireworks and extends toward a darkening tunnel of autumn. Most people don’t notice until “Back to School” sales pop up everywhere. I notice the subtle changing angle of summer sunlight before mid-July with an inherited Yankee gothic dose of “ It could be worse” and then “probably will be soon. ” By late July --with pre-dawn light glowing faintly in the east-- the songbird chorus softens. The riotous May-to-June symphony of 20 bird species is dominated now by
The past couple of weeks have been weird. Daily life changed gradually, then all at once. We now find ourselves at home practicing our best “social distancing” protocols. Incredible technology allows us to stay connected, and that’s fantastic. But it’s ok to put the phone down. It’s ok to turn down the news from time to time, and take a long walk outside in nature. This week, I took my own advice. Amidst the simple beauty of nature, I draw one deep breath… and then another. In the forest, I glimpse a furtive movement - beyond the shoulder of the rural, dirt road. One handsome squirrel sits perched on a fallen log, slowly twirling a hemlock cone in its forepaws. In the warm morning sunlight, he yawns…unimpressed with my presence. In his narrow economy, it’s spring and the kitchen larder of conifer cone seeds is running low. Above me, a March wind coaxes a flock of bluebirds to an open, sodden pasture. Springtime arrives this year, just as the bluebirds do– hopeful, tentative, uncertain.
Expert wildlife tracker Susan Morse is A LOT of things: A life-long naturalist…a Shakespearian scholar…an award winning photographer. What she is not…is easy to get a hold of. So with some persistence and a little luck, Something Wild's Dave Anderson and Chris Martin tracked Sue down a few weeks back, before her busy season kicked into high gear. Which is right about now (late winter) as Sue leads dozens of programs across New England and beyond—teaching everyday people about wildlife tracking and habitat monitoring techniques. Aptly named Keeping Track , Sue's program focuses on key species like bobcat, black bear, otter, fisher, and moose-- mammals thought to be really important within New England's various habitats, and the corridors that connect them. Such wildlife corridors can be found along ridgelines, and around the edge of wetlands--and this knowledge is key to tracking wildlife successfully. When Sue Morse is teaching a tracking class, they're "not just blindly walking down
It’s stick season in New Hampshire; the leaves are gone, our landscape exposed; a white blanket covers everything you see. Our trees are dormant. Aren’t they? To look at them, it wouldn’t seem that trees aren’t doing much right now. But it turns out there’s more going on than meets the eye. The phenomenon of photosynthesis is well documented, we all know that plants use their leaves to convert sunlight into sugar, or carbohydrates. But that’s not the only place photosynthesis happens. “Photosynthesis can happen in plant tissues other than leaves,” as Scott Ollinger, a professor of Natural Resources at UNH tells us. Though it is weather reliant, for example trees “can’t do this if the temperatures are below freezing for extended periods of time.” And those tissues other than leaves he’s talking about? He means bark. In woody plants, a corky layer of inner bark contains chlorophyll. When sunlight can penetrate the thin outer bark of beech or white birch, or the bark of tender saplings,
Sometimes called a Marsh Hawk, the Northern harrier is currently one the rarest birds of prey nesting in the Granite State. Unlike many of our more common hawks, harriers shun the forest, opting instead to hunt in wide-open spaces like fields, brushy areas -- even in marshes. And get this ... they build their nests on the ground . Peculiar preferences indeed, and ones that have made it a challenge for them to survive here. ___________________________ Flying under the radar is the modus operandi for harriers, both literally AND figuratively. They hunt for voles, snakes, and small birds by skimming the landscape, gliding low over the ground, zipping just above North Country hayfields during the summer, and slipping in and out of coastal salt marshes in the winter. Figuratively speaking, Northern harriers have largely stayed out of sight, and out of mind of wildlife managers...even though their populations across New England have been on the decline for decades. So much so, that harriers
Dave "Superman" Anderson: Sitting in a tree stand in the icy pre-dawn darkness has become a cherished winter time ritual for me. I wasn’t raised in a hunting family, yet I live on a tree farm with fruit trees, vegetable gardens, and a backyard maple sugarhouse. Seeing and tracking deer is common. They’re beautiful, graceful, sometimes pesky… and very tasty. My decision to hunt is about meat: venison that’s clean, local, and grass-fed. It’s about forging closer connections to the forest where I live. And let me tell you deer hunting is NOT easy, even with the odds increasing in my favor. New Hampshire Fish and Game biologists estimate the statewide deer population to be more than 100,000. Meanwhile, the number of licensed hunters here in New Hampshire is decreasing, as part of a broader, nationwide trend. Dan Bergeron is a head biologist of New Hampshire’s Game Division; a department that works to manage deer populations. According to Dan, New Hampshire had 50,000 licensed hunters who
When we think about the kinds of people making important contributions to science, we might imagine someone in a white lab coat, squinting into a microscope, or pouring over reams of computer data. Truth is, good science can also be accomplished by everyday people-- citizen scientists-- volunteering in both large and small collaborations. National Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count, is a great example of one such collaboration. It started on Christmas Day back in 1900, by a n ornithologist named Frank Chapman . He proposed that rather than competing with each other to see who could shoot the most birds on Christmas Day -- a common practice in the late 1800s -- that people instead take a census of their local bird populations. Keene, New Hampshire was one of the places where counts took place that first year. Across the country, 27 people in 25 locations counted a total of 18,500 birds. Since then, it’s grown quite a bit. Last year, there were well over 25 hundred Christmas Bird Counts (or
Standing dead trees (often called snags) are common in our forests, and it’s hard to overstate just how vital a role they play in a healthy ecosystem. These gray ghosts provide food and shelter for a whole heap of forest critters; a total of 43 species of birds and mammals are specially adapted to nesting or denning inside tree cavities. But before a dead tree becomes a high-rise condo for a long list of species, it first undergoes a remarkable transformation. In fact, snags undergo a series of changes, from the time they begin to die until they finally collapse, and each stage of decay has particular value to a whole host of different animals with unique needs. First things first: decaying wood is perfect for fungi -- molds, mildews and mushrooms -- decomposers that soften wood enough for insects to start to gnaw their way in. Next, termites, beetles, and ants all begin to chew apart and break down the cellulose and lignin that gives wood its normally rigid structure. And once you
Autumn in New Hampshire is a wonderful time to watch and observe some easily recognizable stages of natural cycles: hawks migrating, leaves changing color…bears fattening up as they get ready to hibernate. But while we tend to think of cycles as a circular, repeatable pattern, unfolding year after year-- we should note that there are varying degrees of “cyclical” activity that can be quite complicated. The main reason for this? Nature is filled entropy, or randomness. Political historian Henry Adams once said “Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man.” Take for example, the erratic cycles of both the majestic Monarch butterfly, and the humble acorn. You might have noticed an abundance of monarch butterflies in your garden these past few weeks, and many more acorns underfoot. Both are emblematic of the dramatic variations in population numbers and population dynamics, and both are complicated by a lot of factors. Precipitation, predation, reproductive potential, what
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 and 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 through the lens of "how often": semelparity and iteroparity.
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 "larder hoarders." If you've ever been walking through the woods and a red squirrel starts screaming at you, it's defending its one and only stash. The same goes for chipmunks and white-footed mice. The gray squirrel isn't alone in the practice of scatter hoarding. Blue jays and gray jays will spend the summer accosting hikers, filling itself with as much granola or fruit as it can. They bring their bounty back into the forest and glue the food into crevices of the trees with its saliva. I know, who
We know…we’ve been remiss, and it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room. Something Wild, as you know, is a chance to take a closer look at the wildlife, ecosystems and marvelous phenomena you can find in and around New Hampshire. But over the years there is one species in New Hampshire that we haven’t spent much time examining. A species, I think that has been conspicuous in its absence. Humans. So we’re grabbing the bull by the horns and digging in to a complex species that is an important part of the ecosystem. And we thought we’d start with a particular trait that’s been with us almost since the beginning: olfaction. The sense of smell among other sensory systems are relatively unchanged throughout mammalian history. As Nate Dominy, professor of anthropology and biological sciences at Dartmouth, says, “a lot of the traits we see in mammals are retention of those basic traits.” Dominy suggested our olfactory sense was really important to our proto-mammalian ancestors. Picture
New Hampshire benefits from the presence of seven different turtle species. This week on Something Wild we’re taking a closer look at two of the most common species you can find all over the state: painted turtles and snapping turtles. First off, we have to acknowledge that turtles are amazing, they’re like living fossils. Artist-naturalist David Carrol, has has spent a lifetime studying turtles describes them as "evolutionarily conservative." He said, "they go back to about 200-220 million years ago, and they have hardly changed at all over that entire frame. Meanwhile, flowering plants for example didn’t appear until about 150-thousand years ago." Carroll says that if you found your self on Pangea 200 million years ago you would have no trouble recognizing our turtles ancestors. These days they tend to be a little smaller. Snappers are easily identified because it looks like a lizard stole a turtle shell. They’ve got these long necks, long tails and a brutish head with a pointed
The specter of drought is often raised in these early days of summer. And for good reason, though water levels have returned to normal around the New Hampshire, state officials are still warning residents to remain cautious after last summer drought. And while we often fret about the health of our lawns and our gardens, Dave (from the Forest Society) wanted to address drought resistance among his favorite species, trees. So, we all know that trees need water to survive. Basically the many leaves on a given tree have these pore-like holes called stomates that leak moisture into the surrounding air. As that vapor exits the tree through the leaves it draws more water up through the trunk and branches, like through a bundle of straws. Harnessing the power of the sun, trees break apart that water into its constituent hydrogen and oxygen molecules; forming glucose with the hydrogen and exhaling the oxygen into the atmosphere. The glucose is what fuels growth in the tree, from buds to bark to
First Bitten is our periodic series at Something Wild where we study the people who study nature, and what set them on the path to do that. And this time around our two subjects under the microscope trace their love of nature back to their parents's nurture, specifically their fathers. Ron Davis grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Not a place known for for its lakes or streams or for vast expanses of wilderness; not a place you'd expect to find a future biologist. But that's where he started, "and because of the Second World War my love of nature became greatly enhanced." While Davis credits the advent of World War Two with his passion for the natural world, the retired biology professor from University of Maine, Orono points out that much of the thanks actually goes to his father. "He was a retail businessman and moved his family out of Brooklyn to the Catskill Mountains because there was a threat that the Germans might be bombing New York." So Davis found himself, a city kid, suddenly in
The foam formed eddies on the surface of the pool as Stevens Brook rushed down and through this particular crook in the waterway in the shadow of route-89 in East Sutton, New Hampshire. Something Wild paused here recently to talk fish with author and fish historian, Jack Noon, who is unapologetic about naming his favorite fish. The eastern brook trout is that for a smattering of reasons. First it’s a family thing. Noon, learned to fish at the elbow of his grandfather, who had a clear preference for brook trout. But it’s the trout’s habitat – cold, clear, unpolluted water; that Noon says, “makes them the perfect symbol for New Hampshire past and responsible environmental policies. They’re just an absolutely beautiful fish. And they’re a native fish, too!” Of course “native” is often a matter of perspective. By one calculation, there are no fish species that are native to the Granite State. The evidence seems to confirm that the mile-thick ice-sheet that encased New England 12,000 years
Here at Something Wild we love all things wild (even blackflies !) but sometimes it can be helpful to look beyond a single species and consider how many species interact within a given environment. In our periodic series, New Hampshire’s Wild Neighborhoods, we endeavor to do just that and this time we’re looking at peatlands. Our Sherpa today is Ron Davis, a retired professor of ecology, limnology and wetland science from the University of Maine, Orono. Peatlands, as you might have guessed are classified by the mat of peat at its heart. Peat is formed from dead organic matter (leaves, branches, dead bugs, etc.), but that organic matter is only partly decomposed because there is no oxygen in the mat, or the water that you often find in such locations. The two most prominent kinds of peatlands in New Hampshire are bogs and fens. Davis explains that, “bogs are rather infertile environments. The plants that grow in them barely hold on and eke out an existence and grow very, very slowly.”
As spring tentatively unfolds around the state, (and the more diligent of us celebrate International Migratory Bird Day - 5/11) the familiar nuisance of black flies also reappears. And as annoying as we find them, as we’ve discussed earlier, they are a sign of healthy eco-system. The presence of black flies means there are sources of clean fresh running water nearby. Black flies are also among the explosion of insect protein in the northeast this time of year, which signals the arrival of more colorful residents…neotropical migrant songbirds. One particular phenomenon that happens this time of year is called, in birding circles, “Warbler Fallout.” These active birds are tiny, between 4-6 inches long. And in many species the male birds are brilliantly colored. Migrant birds been trickling in for over a month now, returning from their winter grounds in the neotropics. Most of the warblers we see in New Hampshire spend those cold months in Central America and the Caribbean, and are now