Something Wild

Fridays at 8:30 am and Sundays at 10 pm

Credit Roger Goun for NHPR

Something Wild explores the features of our local landscapes, from birds to trees to stone walls, and explains some of the behavior and science behind what we see and hear in our backyards.

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IN PARTNERSHIP WITH:

Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests
New Hampshire Audubon

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Red-Winged Blackbirds

A red-winged blackbird showing off his flare.
Credit Alexandra MacKenzie via flickr Creative Commons

Red-winged Blackbird -- Agelaius phoeniceus

Move over robins; red-winged blackbirds are the real harbingers of spring.

The male’s scratchy “oak-a-lee” songs are heard when the world is still blanketed with snow and maple sap is just beginning to flow. Males return north well before females, and the early bird does get the worm. In this case the metaphorical worm is prime breeding territory.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Spring Sunlight

Credit Dave Anderson

Daylight floods a rural NH valley. A rooster crows in the village. The morning songbird chorus features mourning doves, red-wing blackbirds, a cardinal. The symphony will soon swell with grouse drumming, wood thrush flutes and a crescendo of warbler songs.

Strong sunlight of lengthening days is the catalyst that controls circadian rhythms influencing production of hormones - in birds, wild mammals and people.

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Something Wild
3:33 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Manchester Peregrine Finds New Mate

Male peregrine, banded by Chris in 2000. He was found with a broken wing and has been taken in for surgery and rehabilitation.
Credit Chris Martin / NHA

On Monday, the Union Leader reported that the peregrine family nesting high above Manchester had found a new papa bird. After her previous mate injured his wing and was taken in for surgery, the female falcon eventually left the nest in search of food. Within 72 hours of her former mate's disappearance, she successfully found a new male for her nest.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Saw-Whet Owls

Northern saw-whet owl.
Credit Kent McFarland via flickr Creative Commons

There are a lot of unusual sounds out there in the natural world. Here’s one from the nighttime forest, often heard this time of year.

Hey, is that a bus backing up?

No, it’s not a school bus backing up.

It’s a tiny owl, the northern saw-whet, and it’s a lot more common than bird surveys suggest. As you might imagine, small birds active only at night are not easy to survey. Also important to note is that because they're the favorite meal of the much larger barred owl, their survival depends on keeping a low profile—usually under cover of dense conifers.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri March 28, 2014

The Sugaring Life

Credit Charlie Kellogg via flickr Creative Commons

 Maple time in New England brings out the essence of the trees and the character in the people. For those who love trees, a tongue-tip taste of fresh maple syrup is a sacrament, maple communion at the end of a long winter. To ingest the distilled essence of trees confers the spirit of the forest itself.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Vernal Equinox Means Equal Night

Sunset over Mt. Major.
Credit Abigail via flickr Creative Commons

The Vernal Equinox has arrived! For one brief moment, everywhere on planet Earth, day and night are equal: 12 hours from sunrise to sunset and sunset to sunrise.

The length of daylight compared to dark, is known as photoperiod. Seasonal changes in photoperiod  trigger a lot of changes in plants and animals. Many plants are known as short-day species; they flower after the summer solstice when days are getting shorter. Plants that bloom in spring are known as long-day species.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri March 14, 2014

For Some Plants, Getting Green Means Starting Early

Snowdrops in snow.
Credit elPadawan via flickr Creative Commons

For some plants, the race to harvest sunlight to make food starts early, in March. Skunk cabbage and many alpine plants begin to photosynthesize under the snow using red "anthocyanin" pigments which can absorb the longer-wavelength blue light at the ultra-violet end of the spectrum--even while buried beneath the snow. 

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri March 7, 2014

The Common Junco And Its Uncommon History

foxtail_1 via flickr Creative Commons

A huge question in evolutionary biology is the very basic one: How do species form? It turns out that the Dark-eyed Junco, one of the most common birds at winter feeders, is providing a  clear picture of that process.

First, a quick review of what defines a species:

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri February 28, 2014

In Appreciation Of Winter

Credit Judy van der Velden via flickr Creative Commons

Wait! Don't wish this winter away...not yet.

Before dirty, old snow banks rot and melt onto sun-warmed pavement; before sweet steam of maple sugaring or green thoughts at St. Patrick's Day; remember one perfect day, when winter took your breath away.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri February 21, 2014

The Truth About Coy-Dogs

Credit Jeff Wallace via flickr Creative Commons

It's the height of eastern coyote courtship, and a pair can really yip it up. Coyote sightings, as well as the sounds of coyotes often sparks talk of coy-dogs. Is there such a thing?

Yes. And no.

Yes, domestic dog and coyote hybrids are biologically possible and have occurred; but no genetic sampling of coyotes has found evidence of domestic dog. Coy-dogs don't survive, and here's why.

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Something Wild
12:48 am
Fri February 14, 2014

No Such Thing As Animal Love?

Are these otters in love?
Credit Mark-Spokes.com via flickr Creative Commons

If Valentine's Day alone were not a slippery slope, consider this question: Muskrat Love?

Science long taught its practitioners--biologists in particular--to avoid ascribing human emotions or attributes to animals. But are we not animals ourselves? For the past century, animals were afforded no emotions despite exhibitions of behaviors humans recognize as emotional: anger, revenge, fear, and love.

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Something Wild
12:07 am
Fri February 7, 2014

Creatures In The Night

Credit Douglas Brown via flickr Creative Commons

Wildlife tracks in the snow indicate of a lot of coming and going in the nighttime world. Why are so many animals active, given their limited ability to see in the dark?

There's the obvious reason: division of resources helps avoid competition. A red-tailed hawk hunts the same fields by day that a great horned owl hunts by night. Night also offers some animals protection from their main predators. Mice lie low by day, but in the wild—and in my house—they come out at night.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Snow: An Ally For Winter Survival

Credit Tom Petrus via flickr Creative Commons

Got snow? That's probably a sore subject for many in New England this time of year, but in the woods, snow is not an enemy--a scourge to be shoveled, scraped and plowed out of the way. In nature, snow is a trusted ally to plants and wildlife. Snow acts as a blanket, a source of camouflage, a form of concealment,  and even a sponge. 

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri January 24, 2014

A Snowy Invasion

Snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus) as seen along the Boundary Bay Dyke Trail.
Tom Magliery via flickr Creative Commons

This year is being referred to as an "invasion year" for snowy owls, and it might be one for the record books.  

Most of the snowy owl sightings have been along the coast where a flat, open landscape resembles their native tundra. Reports from New Hampshire birders include sightings of up to nine in a single day. On Nantucket, the annual Christmas Bird Count found 33, far surpassing the previous count record of four.

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Something Wild
6:00 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Tree Bark: Winter Food Pantry & Shelter

Credit Charles Brutlag / Dreamstime.com

In the frozen fastness of a winter forest, devoid of green plants and insects, winter tree bark provides important winter insect habitat and a food pantry for forest birds and small mammals hunting for tiny insects or seeds.

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