Field Notes from the Montana Natural History Center

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Website
http://mtpr.org/programs/field-notes
Description
For keen observers, a walk to the grocery store or a hike up a mountain can inspire questions. Where do magpies nest? Why doesn’t a spider stick to its own web? How do water striders keep from sinking? Every week since 1992, Field Notes has inquired about Montana's natural history. Produced by the Montana Natural History Center, Field Notes are written by naturalists, students and listeners about the puzzle-tree bark, eagle talons, woolly aphids and giant puffballs of western, central and southwestern Montana.
Language
🇬🇧 English
last modified
2019-09-15 12:47
last episode published
2019-09-15 11:00
publication frequency
7.39 days
Contributors
ltalbott author  
MTPR owner  
Explicit
false
Number of Episodes
146
Rss-Feeds
Detail page
Categories
Science & Medicine Sports & Recreation Natural Sciences Outdoor

Recommendations


Episodes

Date Thumb Title & Description Contributors
15.09.2019

A Leatherman (Fused To A Rocket Launcher) Can't Beat A Set Of Ant Jaws

There is an ant and she is next to my foot, dragging a fly up the same hill that I have just stopped trying to drag myself up. All worker ants are females and this particular female has a black fly in her mandibles, but she’s having a hard time keeping...
Kyle McClure author
8.09.2019

Ecologically, Fishers And Porcupines Are More Frenemy Than Foe

As my dog starts to circle, the porcupine turns its rear end to my dog and begins to back into him, thrashing its tail back and forth. Lunging at the porcupine, my dog comes up with a face full of quills. As he winces back to my side, I begin to wonder...
Kelly Matthews author
2.09.2019

Freshwater Diatoms: Small, Slimy, Stream Quality Monitors

The bottom of this shallow stream is covered with a complex community of algae, comprising many different species. Probably most abundant of all are the diatoms, many of which secrete a slippery mucus as they travel, leaving the rocks very slick.
Taylor Wilcox author
25.08.2019

Do Noxious Weeds Owe Their Success To Soil Microbes?

"What exactly is a weed? This can be a tricky question to answer. A plant that is nurtured and cultivated by one gardener may be yanked out unapologetically by the next, in favor of something preferable. It seems that a weed to one person can be a priz...
Leah Grunzke author
18.08.2019

Quaking Aspen, Disturbance, And The Return Of Yellowstone's Wolves

Yellowstone National Park has lost much of its aspen forest cover -- not just to the detriment of the aspen, but to all the other species that depend on them, including many birds, black bears, snowshoe hares, porcupines and beavers. I, too, miss the a...
Mike Lommler author
11.08.2019

Piloting Hazardous Skies: The Long-Distance Migration Of Montana's Pelicans

It’s summer in Montana. The sun is bright and the Missouri River has never looked more refreshing. As I hike along a well-worn trail, I see two gorgeous American White Pelicans soaring to an unknown destination. Their grace and beauty are breathtaking.
Whitney Bergum author
8.08.2019

Doodlebug Death Traps: A Closer Look At The Infamous Ant Lion

Ant lions, or "doodlebugs" have impressive mandibles, are adept at camouflage, and are very successful at trapping and ambushing their prey. "Field Notes" takes a closer look at these fascinating insects.
Theresa Duncan author
7.08.2019

Nurse Rocks: Shaping Montana's Ecosystem For 10,000 Years

Few sights have the romantic appeal of a lone tree growing in the grasslands of Montana. While these trees are beloved by photographers and artists for the serenity and peace they evoke, their origins typically lie in a more abrasive past. As the Wisco...
Tom Torma author
29.07.2019

Loon Calls: From Inquisitive To Bone-Chilling

Loon calls flow through our veins, seep into our bones and sinew. For a moment, we become the wild flute music that curls into every recess of the lake. The echo pulses within us long after the stillness returns. Loons call in four ways, each carrying ...
7.07.2019

Birds Of A Feather Flock Together...To Bathe In Ants?

Anting is a bizarre form of bird behavior that has often been observed but is not well understood. It typically involves a bird picking up ants and rubbing or jabbing them into the feathers, especially under the wings and tail. The action is so rapid a...
Mary Anne Peine author
1.07.2019

Creating A Backyard Banquet For Butterflies

I recently listened to a Field Note about the joys of designing a backyard landscape for wildlife and birds. As you’re scheming and poring over seed catalogs, consider the smaller winged creatures in your plans. Butterflies not only bring their own del...
Chris Paige author
24.06.2019

Cottonwoods: Born From The Floods

I’ve just started noticing cottonwood seeds in the air again — the bits of white fluff that bounce around on the breeze. It seems impossible that big, beautiful cottonwood trees can grow from such insubstantial beginnings.
Mary Manning author
3.06.2019

How Spider Webs Can Detect Air Pollution

Classic spiral spider webs are made by orb-weaving spiders which weave them deadly traps for flying insects. But orb spider webs are also electrostatically charged, making them perfect for capturing not only prey but pollen and other small pollutants, ...
Taylor Craig author
29.05.2019

Intelligent Tweeting: The Cognitive Capacity Of The Clark's Nutcracker

As a bird biologist who studies bird songs, I immediately recognize most sounds I come across in nature: the winnowing of a Wilson’s Snipe, the smack of a Dark-eyed Junco, the zee-chubbity-chub of a Rufous Hummingbird, just to name a few. For me it is ...
Megan Fylling author
20.05.2019

For Birds, Being Friendly With The Neighbors Has Perks

It’s spring in the Rocky Mountains, the air is filled with birdsong and my feathered neighbors are back again. Recently, a pair of American robins arrived and set up housekeeping in the neighbor’s maple tree, just as a pair did last year. There’s a son...
Chris Paige author
7.05.2019

Glacier Lilies: Enchanting Yellow Lights Of Spring

"Glacier lilies set standards in beauty and cultural importance. These charming flowers are the lights of spring, indicators of winter’s end, symbols of nutrition, yellow images of patience and longevity, and for me, a new and solid representation of p...
Melissa Matthewson author
29.04.2019

Mountain Lions: '150 Pounds Of Lithe And Splendid Beasthood'

As the rising sun chases away the glittering stars, a slinking figure moves within the shadows of the trees with grace born only of felines. A small herd of mule deer feed in an adjacent clearing, oblivious to the impending danger. Then, with a flurry ...
Byron Weckworth author
15.04.2019

Whitebark Pine: The Crown Of The Continent's Vanishing Giants

I first visited Glacier National Park in June. Though winter had only recently loosened its grip on the Crown of the Continent, there were blue skies and sunshine as I hiked up a high-elevation glacial basin. The temperature was a balmy 60 degrees.
Nick Voss author
8.04.2019

Truffles, Trees And — Squirrels?

Walking through the woods recently, I saw a red squirrel digging in the litter of the forest floor. I assumed it was burying a pine cone, but on closer inspection I found a piece of mushroom. Little did I know I was witnessing a process critical to the...
Sue Reel author
27.03.2019

Do Bobcats Kill Deer? 'Field Notes' Investigates

Bobcats are relatively common in patchy habitats all across the U.S., but we don’t see them often because they are crepuscular or nocturnal and well camouflaged. But after a recent bobcat sighting, I'll be on the lookout for bobcats much more than I ha...
Ellen Knight author
19.03.2019

The Quiet Giant With A Raucous Rookery: A Great Blue Heron's Double Life

I’m not sure if I’ve ever been on a river, at any time of year, and not seen a Great Blue Heron . They seem to stand as solitary sentries on the rivers of Montana, but also on rivers from Canada to South America.
Sarahlee Lawrence author
11.03.2019

'Field Notes': Butterfly Winter Survival Strategies

Here's a topic you might not be thinking much about right now. Remember all those colorful butterflies that visited your garden just a few short months ago? They seemed the very definition of summer. What's happened to those delicate creatures?
Brett Walker author
4.03.2019

'Field Notes': Camas Bulbs Below The Snow

On a recent early winter morning I am cross-country skiing along the trails at Lolo Pass in the Bitterroot Mountains. As I glide along Packer Meadows in the breaking dawn, I think about early summer when this is a wet meadow awash with a sea of blue-vi...
Nancy Heil author
25.02.2019

Forget The Powder; Why Some Animals Prefer Crusty Snow

This morning, the valley sits under a blanket of fresh snow, and another few inches is forecast for tomorrow. I love the first day or two after a snowfall when everything is still white and clean, before the snow’s presence in town becomes more of a hi...
Drew Lefebvre author
25.02.2019

Forget The Powder; Why Some Animals Prefer Crusty Snow

This morning, the valley sits under a blanket of fresh snow, and another few inches is forecast for tomorrow. I love the first day or two after a snowfall when everything is still white and clean, before the snow’s presence in town becomes more of a hi...
Drew Lefebvre author
28.01.2019

'Field Notes:' How Insects Survive Montana Winters

Every autumn I begin to wonder – where do all the bugs go? Unlike people, and other warm-blooded critters that can maintain a consistent internal temperature, insects cannot. So, you might wonder, what do insects do to survive the cold?
Ashely King author
28.01.2019

'Field Notes:' How Insects Survive Montana Winters

Every autumn I begin to wonder – where do all the bugs go? Unlike people, and other warm-blooded critters that can maintain a consistent internal temperature, insects cannot. So, you might wonder, what do insects do to survive the cold?
Ashely King author
20.01.2019

'Field Notes': Why Dead Standing Trees Are Essential To Forests

One of my favorite places to look in the forest is up. I love the way trees frame patches of sky, and how rays of sun slide over the branches and slant into pockets of darkness. On a recent stroll through the woods near Echo lake, I found myself, as us...
Emily Miller author
20.01.2019

'Field Notes': Why Dead Standing Trees Are Essential To Forests

One of my favorite places to look in the forest is up. I love the way trees frame patches of sky, and how rays of sun slide over the branches and slant into pockets of darkness. On a recent stroll through the woods near Echo lake, I found myself, as us...
Emily Miller author
14.01.2019

'Field Notes' Investigates Gizzard Grit

Afternoon sunshine was softening into twilight on a recent fall day as I drove with my family down a forest road in the mountains north of Missoula. We were heading home after a day of hiking and grouse hunting—and we had a blue grouse to roast for din...
Kathleen Ort author
14.01.2019

'Field Notes' Investigates Gizzard Grit

Afternoon sunshine was softening into twilight on a recent fall day as I drove with my family down a forest road in the mountains north of Missoula. We were heading home after a day of hiking and grouse hunting—and we had a blue grouse to roast for din...
Kathleen Ort author
7.01.2019

Tough But Sensitive: How Climate Change Threatens Bull Trout

In the beginning, the idea of global warming was easy for me to ignore. Of course I found the footage of floating polar bears distressing, but the ice caps seemed far away, and scientists seemed even farther from any real answers.
Jane Sullivan author
7.01.2019

Tough But Sensitive: How Climate Change Threatens Bull Trout

In the beginning, the idea of global warming was easy for me to ignore. Of course I found the footage of floating polar bears distressing, but the ice caps seemed far away, and scientists seemed even farther from any real answers.
Jane Sullivan author
24.12.2018

Why No Two Snowflakes Look Alike

You know the old saying “no two snowflakes are alike”? Well, there may be more truth to that than you think. I am from Hillsboro, Oregon, where the snow falls in wet, indistinguishable clumps. When I moved to Montana, I immediately noticed a difference...
Brooke Carlisle author
17.12.2018

How Fir Trees Became Christmas Trees

Fir trees, decorated and lighted, are such a fixture of American homes at Christmas that it's difficult for us to imagine that it was not always so. But on a time scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the beginning of life on earth, the Christmas tree traditi...
Pat Tucker author
17.12.2018

How Fir Trees Became Christmas Trees

Fir trees, decorated and lighted, are such a fixture of American homes at Christmas that it's difficult for us to imagine that it was not always so. But on a time scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the beginning of life on earth, the Christmas tree traditi...
Pat Tucker author
10.12.2018

Western Montana's Winter Inversions Explained

Since my recent move to Missoula from the sunny state of Florida, I had experienced many unfamiliar weather conditions. Montana residents might be well accustomed to snow, black ice, negative temperatures, and the season known as winter, but these were...
Ondi Crino author
10.12.2018

Western Montana's Winter Inversions Explained

Since my recent move to Missoula from the sunny state of Florida, I had experienced many unfamiliar weather conditions. Montana residents might be well accustomed to snow, black ice, negative temperatures, and the season known as winter, but these were...
Ondi Crino author
26.11.2018

'Field Notes:' The Power Of The Western Red Cedar

The ides of November, a time of limbo between autumn and winter. It is my birthday. I take a walk in celebration of existence. The atmosphere is cool and gray, and the first layers of high-elevation snow have cast a renewed sense of dimension and perso...
Mike Roesch author
26.11.2018

'Field Notes:' The Power Of The Western Red Cedar

The ides of November, a time of limbo between autumn and winter. It is my birthday. I take a walk in celebration of existence. The atmosphere is cool and gray, and the first layers of high-elevation snow have cast a renewed sense of dimension and perso...
Mike Roesch author
13.11.2018

'Field Notes:' North America's Pleistocene Megafauna

A cheetah crouches in the tall grass. Pronghorn graze warily in the cool summer breeze. After minutes of quiet patience the cheetah erupts into a burst of muscle and speed. A small herd of pronghorn sprint into action, their nimble legs churning ground...
Thomas McKean author
13.11.2018

'Field Notes:' North America's Pleistocene Megafauna

A cheetah crouches in the tall grass. Pronghorn graze warily in the cool summer breeze. After minutes of quiet patience the cheetah erupts into a burst of muscle and speed. A small herd of pronghorn sprint into action, their nimble legs churning ground...
Thomas McKean author
5.11.2018

'Field Notes:' Glaciers 101

Glaciers: they are sculptors, carvers and artists. When the Bitterroot Mountains, the Missions and the Rockies were raised from the floor of the ocean it was the glaciers that came behind, crawling over the surface, grinding and eroding the face of the...
Charles Finn author
5.11.2018

'Field Notes:' Glaciers 101

Glaciers: they are sculptors, carvers and artists. When the Bitterroot Mountains, the Missions and the Rockies were raised from the floor of the ocean it was the glaciers that came behind, crawling over the surface, grinding and eroding the face of the...
Charles Finn author
29.10.2018

Fall Migration Brings Golden Eagles To Montana

I had been sitting in the observation blind for a couple of hours when I heard a commotion outside. Looking through the one-way glass, I saw an enormous bird with a golden crown and talons that were built for serious damage. Another landed nearby. I kn...
Kristie Lawson author
29.10.2018

Fall Migration Brings Golden Eagles To Montana

I had been sitting in the observation blind for a couple of hours when I heard a commotion outside. Looking through the one-way glass, I saw an enormous bird with a golden crown and talons that were built for serious damage. Another landed nearby. I kn...
Kristie Lawson author
22.10.2018

'Field Notes:' What Determines When Leaves Fall?

Every autumn, deciduous trees and shrubs shed their leaves. In some years, leaves are shed earlier than in others. Why does this happen? What determines when leaves fall?
Peter Lesica author
22.10.2018

'Field Notes:' What Determines When Leaves Fall?

Every autumn, deciduous trees and shrubs shed their leaves. In some years, leaves are shed earlier than in others. Why does this happen? What determines when leaves fall?
Peter Lesica author
8.10.2018

'Field Notes:' Bull Snake Encounter

One recent summer a group of friends and I floated the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in central Idaho. On this eight day trip we rafted 100 miles through some of the wildest country in North America: a 2.5 million-acre wildland officially called the ...
Edward Monnig author
8.10.2018

'Field Notes:' Bull Snake Encounter

One recent summer a group of friends and I floated the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in central Idaho. On this eight day trip we rafted 100 miles through some of the wildest country in North America: a 2.5 million-acre wildland officially called the ...
Edward Monnig author