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!

 

Do you have a nature question you’d like to see in a future post? Get in touch via the contact form!

All about the Opossum

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, …

How to garden for wildlife

No matter where you live, it’s possible to find an array of wildlife right around your home. Your yard or garden can attract a wealth of fascinating critters for you and your family to enjoy.

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?

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 …

5 Household bugs that you should know about

Despite our best efforts, invertebrate visitors are common in our homes. As explained in the first installment of this mini-series, household bugs can be charming, harmless, or potentially dangerous depending on the species. These posts will help you get to know some of the usual suspects and whether or not they’re worth worrying about. As with part 1, I’ll be …

Why are there suddenly so many bugs in my house?

Even if you like spiders and insects, it can be unsettling when they show up at home. It is always worth knowing whether or not bugs in your house could potentially be harmful. However, most invertebrates in our homes are pretty harmless. Despite what profit-driven exterminator and pest control companies would like you to think!  Nonetheless, when a handful are …

Why do birds fly in a V?

Have you ever looked up at the sound of honking geese or crying gulls to see a big group of birds winging by overhead? Perhaps they’re so close you can hear the air rushing around their wings. The birds may fly in a ‘V’ or check-mark shape, with a sharp point and birds trailing off to either side. These flocking …

Where do bugs go in the winter?

Summertime is always marked by an explosion of life. The air is filled with birdsong, flowers are blooming, and frogs sing from ponds and wetlands. Perhaps the busiest lives in summer, though, are invertebrates. These are small animals with no internal skeletons. They include things like spiders, insects, pillbugs, mites, and snails. For simplicity’s sake, bugs. But where do these bugs …

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 …