Love is in the air!
Love is in the air at public lands! Every year, couples make national parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands the backdrops for their proposals and weddi...ngs. We’re celebrating today with a sweet video of romantic moments shared on public lands. Thanks to everyone who sent in photos and videos for this year’s #ValentinesDay video!
A feathery Valentine's day to you!
Happy Valentine’s Day to all feather lovers from #featherfriday! Heart-shaped spots grace the plumage of a surprising number of birds, including such familiar ...species as Northern Flicker and American Kestrel. This valentine features three secondary wing feathers of juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker, from The Feather Atlas of North American Birds https://www.fws.gov/lab/featheratlas/feather.php…). Lovely!
Not the best photo, but check out who just came for a visit.
And I just found this article that includes Benjamin's Franklin's views on eagles and turkeys. "...For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America… He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”
Thanks to the Idaho Statesman Helping Works column for spreading the word about the Deer Flat chapter of Idaho Master Naturalists classes starting on Friday!
Interested? Sign up ASAP as we have only a few spots left in the class.
Bzzzzz. Check it out!
Today is Western Monarch Day. (That's the butterfly, not the queen/king!)
Unfortunately just last week results of citizen science butterfly counts at California's coastal overwintering spots showed that western monarch populations are continuing to decline.
So...in celebration of Western Monarch Day, why not start planning your summer garden and plan to include 1) native milkweeds to provide food for monarch caterpillars that eat only milkweed) and 2) a variety of nectar flo...wers that will bloom throughout the summer and fall to provide food for adult butterflies.
...and happy Poorwill Day!
This #featherfriday falls on February 2, which is, of course, Poorwill Day, when the Common Poorwill comes out of hibernation – and if he sees his shadow, we’re... in for six more weeks of winter. Some of you may have heard this referred to as “Groundhog Day,” but the poorwill, as one of the few birds to hibernate, is far more worthy of recognition.
Poorwills (named for their call) are nocturnal, insect-eating birds in the nightjar family (Caprimulgidae), along with onomatopoetically-named relatives like the Whip-poor-will, the Common Pauraque, and the Chuck-wills-widow. Found in semiarid plains and foothills throughout the West, poorwills can adapt to an extraordinary range of temperatures, from extreme heat to freezing cold. In the winter, they are able to enter profound torpor, dropping their body temperature to as low as 5° C (40°F), and their oxygen consumption by 90% (some persnickety physiologists do not consider this true hibernation, but to them I say “phooey!”).
As small defenseless birds given to long periods of oblivious sleep, poorwills need to have very, very good camouflage. This picture demonstrates how their plumage blends perfectly with the stony ground where they roost. The photo shows the bird’s back; the head is to the right. Your best chance of spotting a poorwill is slowly driving a backcountry road on a cool summer night and looking for the reflected orange eyeshine of a poorwill keeping warm by resting on the gravel. Or just sit quietly on a dry hillside and listen for the poor-will! call, and know that somewhere out there, an almost invisible bird is living a remarkable life.
Happy Groundhog Day!
This is our local "groundhog," the yellow-bellied marmot. I haven't seen one yet this year, but they should be emerging soon from a long sleep (since end of June or early July!). Have you seen a 2018 marmot? (And did you see its shadow?)
Photo copyright Alexander Sapiens
Rodent forecaster vs. citizen scientists!
That's a lot of feathers!
A single Canada Goose has between 20 and 25 thousand feathers, many of which are the short, fluffy kind — the down that insulates the bird from the cold. https://www.birdnote.org/show/how-feathers-insulate
"Seeing" with your hands?!
Watch this raccoon superpower in action.
Did you know that a raccoon's strongest sense is touch? It's almost like they have superpowers in their feet! Watch this raccoon use his front paws to search ...for food underwater. Fun fact: Raccoons have 4 to 5 times more sensory cells in their paws than most mammals. They basically "see" with their paws!
Video by Laura Bonneau/USFWS