The industrious Eastern Chipmunk spends its days, especially this time of year as the weather is getting colder, gathering and storing food in their burrows, which will sustain them during the winter.
Seeds, berries, nuts, and fruit are the mainstay of the chipmunk’s diet, but they also eat insects, insect larvae, slugs, snails, and earthworms. Occasionally they will eat birds such as sparrows, juncos, and starlings, bird’s eggs, frogs, and small snakes.
Folks who enjoy watching the antics of chipmunks in their yards are all too familiar with their iconic cheeks. Chipmunks possess cheek pouches in which they store food before depositing it in their burrow. Researchers have reported watching a chipmunk stuff nearly six dozen black-oil sunflower seeds into its pouches!
Learn more about chipmunks (including what to do if one accidentally finds its way into your house) on our website and enjoy these five fun photos of chipmunks literally stuffing their faces, all submitted in the past to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest.
Throughout September, birders and raptor-lovers have kept a careful eye on the sky on warm days, looking for “kettles” of hawks, climbing slowly upward in a spiral pattern on rising thermals (warm air pockets). September is prime season for fall hawk-watching, particularly for the Broad-winged Hawk, which is so numerous at times that hundreds or even thousands of birds have been reported in a day, but if you haven’t had a chance to get out there yet, there’s still time!
Although the total number of migrating hawks begins to decline after mid-September, the variety improves by late September and early October when more of the larger, less common raptors are moving. These include the Cooper’s, Red-tailed, and today’s featured raptor, Red-shouldered Hawks.
These distinctively marked beauties are typically smaller than a Red-tailed Hawk but larger than a Broad-winged Hawk. Adults have reddish banding on their breasts and black-and-white banding on their tails.
These five photos have all been submitted in the past to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. Today is the last day to enter the 2019 contest, so submit your photos now! You can also learn more about fall hawk-watching, including how to gauge the best time of day and weather conditions, on our website.
We all know that haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, but if you take after these finely feathered friends, all you have to do is shake it off! To get your week off on a positive note, here are five birds that really know how to let things roll, like water off a…well, you get the idea.
The photos in this fun collection were all submitted to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. The 2019 photo contest closes on September 30, so submit your own nature photography today!
We’ve given snakes some love on this blog before, but they’re just so cool it seemed like time for a redux. This time of year, as young people everywhere are heading back to school or leaving home for college, the young of many species of snakes are also setting out on their own in the world.
Some species, like Ringneck, Milk, and Eastern Hognose snakes, lay eggs during the summer that hatch in August or September while others, such as Copperheads and Northern Red-bellied Snakes, give birth to live young anywhere from mid-July through September, even into October in the case of Eastern Garter Snakes and Northern Watersnakes.
Massachusetts’s 14 species of native snakes can be found everywhere from wetlands to woodlands, from rocky hillsides to stone walls, and from forests to fields. You might even find an Eastern Garter Snake or Eastern Milk Snake hanging out in your basement, generously helping to remedy any rodent problems you might be having!
The days are getting shorter, summer camps are wrapping up for the season, and some schools are already back in session. Summer may be winding down, but there’s still time for you to sneak away to the beach and enjoy the remaining sunny days and hot weather.
And even if you can’t get away to spend some time by the ocean (or if sand between your toes—and everywhere else—just isn’t your thing), you can still enjoy a little beach vacation right here. These five images of “seashells by the seashore,” all submitted in the past to our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest, are just the ticket to remind you that summer is still hanging on. The 2019 photo contest is open for just one more month, so submit your nature photography today!
Summer is such a fantastic time of year for stargazing. True, you’ll have to stay up later for it to get dark, but at least you can comfortably enjoy the majesty of the night sky without a wool hat, gloves, heavy boots, parka, and half a dozen base layers.
Typically the most-viewed shower of the year, the Perseid meteor shower falls on August 13 (Tuesday). Although the Perseids can spit out 100 meteors per hour at their peak, the moon will be nearly full around the same time, so it may drown out many of the fainter meteors. Still, if the skies are clear tonight and tomorrow, you should be able to see a few “shooting stars”, especially after the moon sets in the early morning hours.
Thinking about taking a radical step with your next hairstyle? You could take a cue from the Hooded Merganser, a common but striking duck with an over-the-top (pun intended), fan-shaped, collapsible crest atop their heads. Adult males have bold black-and-white crests while females sport a cinnamon-colored version of the ‘do. Either coloring would certainly set you apart in a crowd!
Awkward on land but graceful in the water, Hooded Mergansers are diving ducks, preferring small ponds, rivers, and wetlands where they can dive for fish, amphibians, mollusks, and crayfish. They use their eyesight to hunt below the water surface and even have an extra set of transparent eyelids that act as a natural pair of “swim goggles” to protect their eyes.
Here are five fantastic photos of Hooded Mergansers from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. The entries for the 2019 photo contest are rolling in, so submit yours for consideration soon!
Incredible wildlife shots and curiously textured mushrooms certainly make for amazing images, but sometimes great nature photography is as simple as capturing an interesting bend of the light.
This week, we are featuring photographs from our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest that highlight the beauty of “crepuscular rays”, commonly known as sunbeams. This optical phenomenon occurs when sunlight shines through openings in the clouds or forest canopy, creating columns of brightly lit air molecules or particulates. Interestingly, these rays are actually parallel to one another but can appear to radiate outward from the sun’s location in the sky because of linear perspective—the same visual illusion that makes railroad tracks appear to converge in the distance.
Enjoy these five beautiful images and be sure to submit your own gorgeous landscape photography to the photo contest!
Moths are one of the most diverse groups of organisms on the planet with scientists estimating there are at least 150,000 species worldwide, a testament to their adaptability, diversity, and success as a group. Their size, coloring, and shapes vary widely, from large, graceful Luna Moths to the sherbet-colored Rosy Maple Moths to the drab but perfectly camouflaged leaf-lookalike Walnut Sphinx Moth.
National Moth Week is celebrated the last full week of July and everyone is invited to observe, enjoy, and even document some of these amazing creatures. Most (but not all) moths are nocturnal, so attracting them can be as simple as leaving an outdoor light on and waiting for your winged guests to arrive.
Take a walk through a weedy meadow or shrub-filled forest edge and there’s a chance you might spot a flash of brilliant jewel blue singing boisterously from a treetop or telephone wire.
Not only are male Indigo Buntings gorgeous in their azure plumage, but they are also prolific singers and may whistle their high-pitched songs from dawn until dusk. Individual notes are often clustered in pairs and pairs often come in threes (“what what, where where, here here?“) but songs can vary widely from one individual to the next—young males learn their songs not from their fathers but from their nest neighbors, creating distinct “song neighborhoods”.
Fascinatingly, Indigo Bunting feathers contain no blue pigment. Like all blue birds, their coloring comes from the microscopic structure of the feathers that refracts and reflects blue light and absorbs other colors. Females are plain brown but may occasionally have a slight hint of blue on their wings, while immature and molting males have splotchy blue and brown patches.
Here are five photos of male Indigo Buntings from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. The 2019 contest is open, so submit your nature photography today!