Field Notes

Monday 3:00 PM and Sunday 12:25 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.

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Field Notes
9:45 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

Mount Aeneas In Autumn

Mount Aeneas, Swan Mountains, Flathead National Forest, Montana. (CC BY 2.0)
Credit Liz Rohde

"Mount Aeneas," by Margo Whitmire.

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Field Notes
5:00 am
Fri October 17, 2014

Dance Of The Sandhill Crane

Sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) dancing at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, NM. (CC BY 2.0)
Credit Manith Kainickara, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

"Dance of the Sandhill Crane," written by Clare Antonioli, read by Caroline Kurtz.

"Why do sandhill cranes dance? There are several theories. They may be establishing territories, or they may be warning other cranes of possible danger, but the most widely accepted theory is that the dance is a mating ritual. However, sandhill cranes dance all the time, even when they aren't mating, so how could a dance be only a mating ritual? Even juveniles, who are not of mating age, dance.

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Field Notes
8:29 am
Fri October 10, 2014

Daddy Longlegs: Two Eyes, Eight Legs, And No Webs

Harvestman, a.k.a. Daddy longlegs (Holocnemus pluchei). (CC BY 2.0)
Credit Mattknight

"Daddy Longlegs," written by Melissa Zapisocky, read by Caroline Kurtz

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Field Notes
5:00 am
Fri October 3, 2014

Starling Swarms And Hunting Hawks

A moot of European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) (CC BY 2.0)
Credit Flickr user, Seabamirum

"Starling Obfuscation," by Robin Childers.

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Field Notes
5:00 am
Fri September 26, 2014

Pine Squirrel Caches And Buried Treasure

Abandoned squirrel cache. Flickr user, Joel Penner. (CC BY 2.0)
Credit Joel Penner

"Pine Squirrel Caches," written by Caitlin Fox, read by Caroline Kurtz.

"Last September, I went on a hunt for buried treasure. I had heard of a man who put himself through college collecting pine nuts from squirrels' winter caches and selling them to the local grocer. He must have learned their hiding places and robbed their summer's work in late fall. I had pictured uncovering stores of hundreds of smooth, white pine nuts, individually shelled, like candy.

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Field Notes
5:00 am
Fri September 19, 2014

The Hidden Life Of Lichens

Lichens on rock. Flickr user Jared Tarbell. (CC BY 2.0)
Credit Jared Tarbell

"Lichens," written by Ted Morrison, read by Caroline Kurtz.

"As I belayed my partner up to the ledge, I examined the colorful world on the rock in front of me. The closer I looked, the more I saw. The small cracks in the mat of lichen surged like huge crevasses in a microworld, curving and breaking with the topography of the rough granite. The small polygons of green were flecked by a multitude of browns and grays.

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Field Notes
5:00 am
Fri September 12, 2014

Mint Evolution

Wild mint and pollinator. (CC BY 2.0)
Credit Flickr user, Dendroica cerulea

"Mint Evolution," by David Kerber.

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Field Notes
5:00 am
Fri September 5, 2014

Ravens At Play

Raven in flight, Northern Italy. (CC-BY-NC 2.0)
Credit Niccolò Caranti

"Ravens At Play," written by Michael K. Schwartz, read by Caroline Kurtz.

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Field Notes
5:00 am
Fri August 29, 2014

Reflections On Wilderness

Idaho's Sawtooth Wilderness. (CC-BY-NC)
Credit Fredlyfish4

"Reflections on Wilderness," by Allison Linville.

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Field Notes
5:00 am
Fri August 22, 2014

The Quiet Courtship Of Mountain Pine Beetles

The scraper, half a beetle's stridulatory mechanism.
Credit Malcolm M. Furniss and Parks Canada

Pine beetle chirps are too quiet for humans to hear, but they play an important role in beetle courtship.

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