Field Notes

Sunday 12:55 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.

United States Fish and Wildlife Service

Walking around old-growth forests this winter, if you're lucky enough to see fur-lined tracks leading to the base of a tree, or scat containing porcupine quills, look up. Scan the treetops. You might catch a glimpse of a marten or a fisher, two members of the mustelid family that roam Montana's winter landscape.

Flickr user, Sandor Weisz

"Plant Morphology in the Supermarket," by Peter Lesica and Annie Garde.

Liz Rohde

"Mount Aeneas," by Margo Whitmire.

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.

Mattknight

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

Flickr user, Seabamirum

"Starling Obfuscation," by Robin Childers.

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.

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.

Mint Evolution

Sep 12, 2014
Flickr user, Dendroica cerulea

"Mint Evolution," by David Kerber.

Ravens At Play

Sep 5, 2014
Niccolò Caranti

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

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