What’s the difference between hawks and eagles?

The difference between hawks and eagles comes up often when I take people birding. Dazzled by some large bird of prey, we’ll admire it through our binoculars for a while. Sooner or later, someone asks, “”well, is that a hawk or an eagle?” or, when I answer, they ask “well how did you know that?” As you’ll see, it’s not …

Are stink bugs poisonous?

Fall is the time of year when I start hearing from homeowners about insect home invasions. My previous post, Why are there so many bugs in my house? explains this issue specifically. Stink bugs are among the most common unwelcome guests in peoples’ homes, and with a name like that, they are cause for concern. Folks frequently ask, “Are stink …

Gulo in Nature’s top 15 weird nature facts

I had so much fun tracking down scary nature facts for Halloween that I decided to continue that theme in future posts. Conveniently, several readers asked for weird nature facts to impress their friends or make an amusing topic in social settings. Luckily for us, nature always delivers. Especially in the weird department. For this next edition of Biologist Ruins …

7 do’s and don’ts to responsibly enjoy the outdoors

Nature is all of our shared heritage. That means that the outdoors are for everyone to enjoy. However, it also means that we need to be responsible in how we do so. Unfortunately, all nature enthusiasts, including myself, have witnessed cases where people enjoy nature in ways that are destructive. With increasing numbers of people using natural areas, especially since …

What are ferns? Fern facts & Basic Info

Just like mosses, ferns are another widespread part of the wall of green people encounter in the outdoors. They’re found all over the world, but often blend into the background and fall beneath our notice. Ferns don’t grow like wildflowers and trees, and have some cool traits that set them apart from other vegetation. For this Wildlife Spotlight, I’d like …

How do birds navigate during migration?

Bird migration is one of the most impressive wonders of the natural world. Every Fall, birds in the Northern hemisphere fly South to spend the Winter in warmer climates. This can mean fantastic journeys of thousands of miles including trips across oceans! If you’ve read my post on why birds fly South for Winter, then you’re probably aware that there …

Do cicadas have mouths?

As late summer approaches across much of the globe, cicadas emerge from the ground to breed. These large, loud insects are fascinating for backyard wildlife enjoyers. However, they spend most of their time living high up in trees, so it’s much easier to hear them than see them. Encountering a cicada in the wild can be exciting, because they are …

What is molting?

In many previous posts, I’ve mentioned animals that molt. Birds do it, insects and arachnids do it, not to mention many marine animals. Heck, even people do it! But what exactly is molting (or as the British spell it, moulting)? What does it mean for an animal to molt? By now, I have received those questions in one form or …