MTPR

Field Notes

Sunday 12:55 PM, Tuesdays and Fridays at 4:54 PM

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.

Interested in writing a Field Note? Contact Allison De Jong, Field Notes editor, at adejong [at] montananaturalist.org or (406) 327-0405.

Field Notes podcast

'Field Notes:' What's Wrong With Whitefish?

Dec 10, 2017
Mountain whitefish.
(PD)

I dipped my woven landing net into the frigid creek water and drew the fish towards my legs. It was winter and I was standing mid-calf deep in a favorite fishing spot outside Missoula. I knew the fish wasn’t a trout before I scooped it into my net.

An icy bank embraced the creek, and my breath rose before me, rhythmically billowing out my mouth and nostrils. The fish nonchalantly took one of the nymphs I had been sinking near the creek bottom, diving into the depths and pulling its weight into my fly line. I could feel its tail in the handle of my fly-rod, palpitating like an irregular heartbeat.

'Field Notes:' How 'Moon Dogs' Are Made

Dec 3, 2017
A lunar halo, or moon dog. Ruka, Finland
Timo Newton-Syms (CC-BY-SA-2)

Moon dogs have many names: lunar halos, moon rings, or winter rings. Their scientific name is “paraselenae” and they are made visible by a combination of specific circumstances.

Snow Fleas
FLICKR USER, LINDSEY (CC-BY-2.0)

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?

'Field Notes' Talks Turkey

Nov 20, 2017
Although never native to Montana, turkeys were introduced here in the 1950s when national conservation efforts were mounted to save the species.
(PD)

In those early days of the young republic, hunters would come back with reports of seeing a 1,000 turkeys in one day, often in flocks of as many as 200 birds. Yet from an estimated population of perhaps 10 million, the numbers of wild turkeys dwindled as unrestricted hunting increased and their woodland habitat was cleared to make way for homesteaders. By the 1940s there were only some 30,000 wild turkeys left in a fraction of their former range. 

Rough-legged hawk
FLICKR USER, FRANK D. LOSPALLUTO (CC-BY-2.0)

As winter comes to the National Wildlife Refuges of the Mission Valley, we begin to see a whole different group of visitors. And I’m not just referring to the human kind. Strange as it may seem, the National Bison Range, Ninepipes National Wildlife Refuge and Pablo National Wildlife Refuge, along with other lands in the Mission Valley, are where a number of birds choose to spend their winter.

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