How do plants and animals survive the winter? (Part 1)

Part 1 – Winter is dangerous! Do you ever wonder how plants and animals survive the winter? It can be a brutal time of year in seasonal climates. While we’re wrapping ourselves up in blankets or bickering over the thermostat, the world outside is going into deep-freeze. We see sparse sunlight and shortening days, plummeting temperatures, biting winds, snow, and …

How do plants and animals survive the winter? (Part 2)

Strategies and adaptations All wildlife at higher elevations or latitudes face the challenge of adapting to winter. In part 1 of this post, we explored the challenges that wildlife faces during winter. To recap quickly: Food can be scarce! Starvation or lack of energy is a major survival risk for all kinds of wildlife—plant, animal, or otherwise. It gets cold. …

Do turkeys really sleep in trees?

Rick and Morty is a hilarious sci-fi show on Adult Swim that is no stranger to scientific references. A recent episode brought up an unexpected natural history fact that left fans wondering. The climax of “Rick & Morty’s Thanksploitation Spectacular” presented an interesting question about turkeys. Do turkeys sleep in trees? Here’s how it came up: Let’s set the scene. …

5 Ways to Get More From Your Time Outside

The COVID-19 pandemic turned a lot of people’s lives upside down. Between losing their jobs, working from home, and needing to isolate indoors, many lost a sense of the routine. Whether they wanted to or not, people simplified their schedules and spent their time differently. Since it’s safer to socialize and gather outdoors, many people are spending more time outside …

Are daddy long-legs venomous?

It’s a surprisingly common “nature fact” that I hear from people of all ages. A spindly spider-like invertebrate is trundling along a log and someone says, “Did you know that daddy long-legs have the deadliest venom in the world, but their mouthparts can’t get through human skin?”Everywhere that I’ve heard it, it’s always about the same. These weird bugs would …

5 Essential Outdoor Apps for Beginning Nature-lovers

Smartphone apps offer a variety of fantastic resources for getting more from your time outside. The right outdoor apps can bring huge amounts of information right to your fingertips. Some might help you plan a hike or stay oriented, while others can help solve the mystery of that weird bug your friend just found. As with anything else, there are …

What do baby crows look like?

Pictures of a “baby crow” have been all over Pinterest and Reddit for a couple of years now, winning hearts with their poofy goth aesthetic. Notably not a single nature account is involved in all the sharing, and a few have specifically highlighted that something’s wrong here. You guessed it: this isn’t what a baby crows look like at all. …

Get to know the American robin

The American Robin is one of the most widespread and familiar American birds. Known for their energy, cheeriness, and musical voice, they’ve got more than a few theme songs. But that’s not their only claim to fame. The American Robin is the state bird of Wisconsin, Connecticut, and Michigan, which gives some idea of their wide distribution. You’ll see robins …

Fall Foliar Fruit Flagging: Are trees talking to us?

The dramatic color changes of autumn leaves in some parts of the world are captivating, seemingly magical, and widely appreciated. Dazzling reds and oranges pop up every year while we’re planning our Halloween costumes or breaking out a flannel shirt. Plant scientists (called botanists) are working to understand why these gorgeous displays happen. But there is more to the story: …

Why are trees Green?

Green is such an ever-present and widespread color in nature that it symbolizes the health and vitality of our natural world. Almost anywhere you go in springtime, you can expect to see green; from mosses and algae to all kinds of herbaceous plants and trees, green dominates our idea of natural landscapes and represents life, growth, and abundance. But why are …