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Phenology

A writhing mass of … Indiangrass seed?

When things move that shouldn’t it’s a cause for investigation. The self-seeding motions of a pile of volunteer-gathered Indiangrass seed caught this FMR ecologist by surprise.

October 7, 2016

Earthworms invade our forest floor

A field assistant prepares to collect a nightcrawler for analysis as part of an earthworm sampling project in Minnesota forests.

A field assistant prepares to collect a nightcrawler for analysis as part of an earthworm sampling project in Minnesota forests. Photo: Alex Roth

When people think about phenology, the study of natural phenomena and cycles, they usually look up. We tend to focus on events like bud break, bird migration, leaf fall, etc. But what about the changes going on beneath our feet? Looking down once in a while may help you familiarize yourself with the buzz of activity underfoot, including the effects of one particularly damaging invasive species: earthworms.

September 12, 2016

Earthworms invade our forest floor

When people think about natural seasonal changes, we usually look up — bud break, bird migration, leaf change, etc. But what about the natural world under our feet? There's a buzz of activity, including the effects of one particularly damaging invasive species: earthworms. >>

September 1, 2016

Blazing blooms!

Arrowhead flowers

The blazing white flowers of the arrowhead plant (Sagittaria latifolia) seem to light up the shoreland areas where they grow.

July and August are the most flowerful months in our native prairies and wetlands. Enjoy a few of the beauties FMR ecologists have recently come across in their field work.

August 9, 2016

Mini-mystery revealed: They're caterpillar houses.

The bagworm caterpillar is safe when left in its tiny house.

The vulnerable bagworm caterpillar is safe from most predators inside the case it built around itself. Only its head and forelegs extend as it moves about, then readily retreat if danger threatens. 

The little known, but very abundant, bagworm moth has recently emerged from the protection of the home it built and carried on its back throughout its larval-hood!

July 8, 2016

Dung Beetles: Waste Warriors!

Among the world’s smallest sanitation engineers, the dung beetle takes on the task of managing the world’s copious quantities animal waste with enthusiasm and rivalry!

June 13, 2016

Spring nighthawks: Acrobats of the bird world

Common nighthawk

The common nighthawk is known for its distinctive "peent" and graceful swoops and dives at dusk. Photo courtesy of Kim Taylor.

When you hear the distinctive call of these late Mississippi River flyway migrants, look to the early evening skies to enjoy their graceful dusk-hour dives.  

May 4, 2016

Unpredictable weather, fuzzy eaglets and great horned owls

The eaglets have hatched!

This time of transition between winter and spring can be a wishy-washy, ambivalent affair. It’s sunny and 50 degrees, then 20 and snowing. Likewise, some bald eagles are still hanging out in their winter homes or migrating along the Mississippi River, while others are nest-bound, feeding fuzzy eaglets. Another impressive hunter, the great horned owl, is also nesting these days. Luckily, there's great local spots to see all of this avian action, both outside along the Mississippi River and online.

March 4, 2016

Not a creature was stirring...

Picture of a red-backed vole

A red-backed vole. Source: D. Gordon E. Robertson, via Wikimedia Commons.

Not even a...vole? An evening visit to the compost bin turns into a deadly encounter with a native rodent.

December 8, 2015

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