wildlife

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.

Cedar Waxwings

May 4, 2012
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.

Frogs Are-a-Courtin'

Mar 16, 2012

When overnight rain arrives in March, male wood frogs emerge from cold leaves and soil to migrate to ancestral vernal pools still encased in ice.  Wood frogs and Jefferson salamanders are the earliest amphibians to begin the annual rites of courtship in vernal pools formed by melting snow. The early imperative to breed drives small, chocolate-brown males to pools where they begin broadcasting clucking mating calls that sound like quacking ducks. 

Wildlife Heroes

Mar 12, 2012

For tens of thousands of years, humans relied on animals to sustain life: their skins kept us warm, their oils provided fuel.  But the 7-billion of us stomping the earth today? Our relationship with the creatures around us is vastly different.  Around the globe, species big and small remain under intense threat of extinction. A new book, ‘Wildlife Heroes’ tells the story of forty leading conservationists who are fighting behind the scenes to save these animals.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine

 

Dear EarthTalk:I heard the term “underwater wilderness” recently. What does it refer to?
-- Melissa Cook, via e-mail
 

The Dogs of March

Mar 2, 2012
via Flickr Creative Commons, MemaNH

In March, coyotes stalk, chase and kill winter-weakened deer in the equivalent of "Lions & Gazelles." Hungry coyotes now take prey larger than their usual fare of small rodents. 

Coyotes breed in February. During March and April gestation, they select maternity dens where they'll birth pups in May. Coyotes do NOT hunt in large family packs or occupy dens in other seasons. Coyote breeding is timed to a seasonal abundance of food: deer are in weakened condition after burning winter fat reserves while traveling in snow on a meager diet of twigs, bark and buds. 

Give a Hoot

Feb 24, 2012

Barred owls, New Hampshire's most common owl species, also have the most familiar courtship and territorial song—usually translated as, "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?"   It can be heard all year, day or night, but really revs up as owl breeding season begins in late winter.  Owls are early nesters.

Wildlife produce their young when their primary food resource is most abundant.  Mice, rabbit and squirrel populations are exploding when owl hatchlings on a continual growth spurt require frequent feeding.

With Valentine's Day over, let's get real about "Romance"…   Do any animals really mate for life?

I Hear You Knocking

Jan 27, 2012

New Hampshire Audubon's annual Backyard Winter Bird Survey is coming up: the second weekend each February.

Three woodpeckers common statewide are among the early birds when it comes to loudly proclaiming territory and courtship. Lend an ear this time of year and you'll hear the rapid-fire drumming of powerful bills on resonant deadwood. Vocally challenged, woodpeckers drum while most other backyard birds sing.

Got Snow?

Jan 20, 2012
Ben Hudson via Society for Protection of NH Forests

Snow - or a lack thereof - is a perennial January conversation. We put online Doppler radar maps in motion to access a range of snow forecasts. For people, weather news underlies commuting times, power outages and snow sports that drive winter tourism. But for wildlife, winter weather spells survival or death for animals best-adapted to changing conditions.

Which animals win or lose during an open or low-snow winter?

by rgallant via Flickr

For wildlife, it's time to display winter survival adaptations … or a lack thereof. What strategy will you choose? Your options to deal with winter are limited to five basic strategies:

#1) Die - Annual plants and many adult insects die-off, leaving offspring as seeds, eggs or larval caterpillars or aquatic nymphs. People avoid this strategy; too radical.

#2) Don't live here - Leave. Songbirds, hawks, waterfowl, several bats, monarch butterflies and resident human "snowbirds" migrate south to warmer climes.

Naturally Curious

Dec 2, 2011
<a href="http://naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com/category/december/">Mary Holland</a>

The natural world quiets down in December, both visually and audibly. Fall's riot of colors is long gone, and the bird song chorus is a distant memory. Not everyone embraces winter, but there is a positive way to view the impending season of cold, ice and snow. Without the overload of spring, summer and fall distractions, we're freed up to notice and appreciate the subtle winter world.

November is breeding season - also called “rut” - for deer. In NH, the white-tail deer population is estimated at 85,000 statewide.

Deer now occupy two social groups: family groups of female “does” with their fawns or in groups of rival male “bucks.”

Deer establish a scent-based chemical landscape during the rut when male territorial behavior peaks. Bucks rub antlers against supple saplings scraping bark from bow-shaped maples or small conifers to remove the antler “velvet” and to deposit scent from forehead glands.

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