Metamorphosis transforms many insects

One of the most fascinating transformations in nature is the change a caterpillar undergoes to become a butterfly. Small, wriggly caterpillars hide within a chrysalis and emerge as a winged butterfly. Butterflies may be the most well-known insect to undergo metamorphosis which is Greek for transformation or change in shape.…

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Elusive wolverines travel impressive distances

Certain animals are elusive–lynx, bobcats and most notoriously wolverines. I’ve been lucky enough to see two wolverines in all of my hiking–way across a valley on a mountainside in Denali National Park. Without binoculars, I would have thought they were bear cubs. Wolverines and bears share a few physical traits–a…

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Larger birds visiting your feeder

Little songbirds may be the most frequent visitors to bird feeders but occasionally larger birds stop by. Over the past few weeks, I’ve written about smaller birds that commonly visit bird feeders and I’ll conclude the series this week with some of the larger birds. All of the following birds…

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Less colorful birds visiting feeders

Little brown birds. Often sparrows and finches are called little brown birds because they look similar at first glance. Their markings may not be as distinct as chickadees and juncos but after watching them at the bird feeder for awhile and consulting a bird identification book, one can determine what…

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Common birds to visit your feeder

A freshly-filled bird feeder can bring life to a backyard, deck or window. First one bird finds the feeder then entire flocks. Soon the feeder needs filled more than once a day. Certain birds tend to frequent bird feeders in winter more often than others. In a three-week series, I’ll…

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Animals move atop and beneath snow

Winter can bring a range of snow conditions from minimal snow to deep snow with an icy crust. Whether the snow condition is favorable or not depends on how the animal moves through it or on it. Deep snow can be a disadvantage or an advantage for predators. When deep…

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Animals take advantage of trails in winter

When the snow becomes deep enough, we bring out our skis, snowshoes and snowmobiles to travel around. Even with snowshoes, slogging through knee-deep powdery snow can be exhausting if you are breaking trail. Worse is a thin icy crust that doesn’t support your weight and you punch through with each…

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Some animals capable of growing new appendages

Lizards are one of the more well-known animals to regrow their tail after shedding it to evade predators. Last week, I wrote about autotomy (the process of voluntarily shedding a body part) and how it is advantageous at first but can cause hardship afterwards. Certain animals alleviate these hardships by…

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Animals utilize self-amputation for numerous reasons

Northern alligator lizards and western blue-tailed skinks possess two unique abilities in the animal world–they can self-amputate their tail and grow it back. The process of voluntarily shedding a limb or tail is called autotomy and the ability to grow it back is called regeneration. Animals capable of autotomy include…

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Owl pellets provide clues to owl’s diet

Even though most owls are nocturnal hunters and we can’t see what they hunt, we know a surprising amount of information about their diet. An owl’s feces look like any other bird dropping, so we can’t tell what they eat. The clues to an owl’s diet lay in owl pellets–regurgitated…

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