Naturalist Answers addresses your everyday questions about the natural world. Ever wondered why trees lose their leaves, how birds learn to fly, or how bugs survive the winter? Look no further!

 

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How do bugs stick to walls?

Bugs, and invertebrates in general, have all sorts of superpowers. Marvel’s Spider-Man is a great example of our cultural appreciation for invertebrates’ incredible abilities. Among other things, your friendly neighborhood super-hero can climb walls, stick to ceilings, and scale buildings by sticking to glass windows. Although Peter Parker wows us in theaters, we’re less happy to watch a cockroach skitter …

Why do birds sing in the morning?

Trying to sleep in on a weekend morning in early June, I was awakened by my neighbors. It wasn’t a loud phone call, a.m. dance party or super-loud footsteps upstairs. In fact, it wasn’t even my human neighbors. A Brown thrasher, American robin, and Northern mockingbird had started singing their little hearts out. Looking out the window, I noticed that …

How long do butterflies live?

One of the most pleasant parts of spring and summer is the arrival of butterflies. These colorful, lively, harmless insects tend to delight people and symbolize natural beauty. Like the sound of birdsong, butterflies put people at ease and give us a sense of peace in the outdoors. Many people who garden for wildlife are specifically interested in butterflies. Beyond …

How can I attract hummingbirds to my yard?

Hummingbirds are no-doubt one of the most delightful groups of birds in the Western hemisphere. They’re fast, energetic, spunky, and fly like insects, achieving feats that most birds cannot. In many ways, hummingbirds also symbolize an idyllic garden scene, hovering their way from flower to flower. I tend to get one particular question when hummingbirds migrate back through North America …

Why are sloths so slow?

Sloths are increasingly receiving much-deserved attention and love from animal lovers across the internet. Their odd brand of cuteness, peaceful lifestyles, and exceedingly leafy diets seem to have won many hearts. Sloths are getting a lot of attention, from Youtube channels to types of Pokémon. And sloths need all of the attention that they can get! Two of the six …

The truth about opossums

In this Wildlife Spotlight post, I’d like to put in a good word for an animal that people see all the time but tend to misjudge: the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana). These cat-sized, fuzzy, long-whiskered beasts tend to have a polarizing effect on people. Everyone seems to think they’re either hideous or adorable. They have a reputation for being dim-witted, …

Why do people find birdsong relaxing?

Does birdsong actually make people more relaxed? Is this ancestral association the reason that people find birdsong relaxing? Do birds really stop singing when there are predators around?

What is Bird Banding/Ringing and how does it work?

The part of my conservation work that people are most interested in is bird banding. Folks see pictures of me holding gorgeous feathered animals and understandably have a lot of questions. How do you catch them? What are you trying to find out? What do you do to them? Does it hurt? In this Naturalist Answers post, we’ll explore some …

Is it better not to rake your leaves?

Trees, shrubs, and other plants make a lot of mess when they drop their leaves in the fall. All of the leaves, twigs, branches, and other plant matter can pile up quickly over the course of a year. Within a few weeks or months it can cover a well-groomed lawn. Biologists and naturalists call all this mess “leaf litter”. Although …