Learning firewood physiology

Learning firewood physiology

DAVE MANCE III This week feels like fall proper. It’s gray, drizzly, 50s; the kind of weather that makes you realize you’d better batten down the house for winter. We’re going to get to the first fire of the year in a moment, that pathetic, smoldering pile of hissing wood in your woodstove that you… Read More »

Seeing spots: The sandpipers that like lakes

Seeing spots: The sandpipers that like lakes

LAURIE D. MORRISSEY If there’s one place you’d expect to see a sandpiper, it’s on the sand. However, there is one member of this family of shorebirds that prefers streamside to surfside. Almost any time you go for a paddle, you are likely to see small brown birds skimming low across the water with stiff,… Read More »

Wonderful world of rodent grave diggers

Wonderful world of rodent grave diggers

ROD VALLEE A regular chore of mine is to dispose of the mice and moles trapped in our home. I place them on a four by five-foot patch of dirt and rock — which I have named the gravesite — beside my woodshed. They typically disappear overnight, taken, I had assumed, by our resident barred… Read More »

Mosquitoes: Life under tension

Mosquitoes: Life under tension

DECLAN MCCABE A good friend was in touch; her son was enduring allergic reactions to mosquitos and, like any good parent, she sought solutions. I told her that the most practical, non-toxic way to deal with the problem was to consider a mosquito’s life cycle and interrupt it where it starts. Mosquitoes begin their lives… Read More »

The brook floater mussel

The brook floater mussel

SUSIE SPIKOL Freshwater mussels are not exactly charismatic. They don’t flit gracefully about like a Karner blue butterfly or munch on clover like a cottontail. They aren’t known for their sweet songs like a wood thrush, and they don’t close down traffic on the first rainy night of spring like spotted salamanders. They are fish… Read More »

Early summer nights great for luna moth watching

Early summer nights great for luna moth watching

SUSAN SHEA On early summer nights I sometimes see large, pale green moths with long, twisted tails fluttering near our porch light. Later, I often find them dead on the ground. These beautiful moths are luna moths, named for the Roman goddess of the moon. Each of their four wings has a transparent, moon-shaped eyespot.… Read More »

The humble hornpout: a bottom-feeding delicacy

The humble hornpout: a bottom-feeding delicacy

JOE RANKIN Consider, for a second, a fish that can live in turbid, low-oxygen water. It can breathe through its skin, eats almost any-thing, has a wickedly effective defense mechanism and is a really focused parent. Plus, it’s good to eat. We’re talking about the humble hornpout, or “horned pout,” if you prefer. Or “mud… Read More »

Fish scales and the American shad

Fish scales and the American shad

TIM TRAVER It’s tempting to simply view fish scales as armor, but there’s more to them than that. They provide camouflage; they also play a role in locomotion. For scientists working on the recovery of American shad in the Connecticut River, scales provide a record of a fish’s life history and a way to measure… Read More »

Northeastern wolves: The past, present and future

Northeastern wolves: The past, present and future

SUSAN SHEA On a moonlit night 200 years ago, a dog-shaped shadow slipped through the Vermont woods. The large, shaggy canid emerged onto a hilltop pasture, raised its muzzle, and howled – a deep, throaty howl that reverberated through the hills. A chorus of wolves responded. Wolves were common in the Northeast and most of… Read More »