Season Watch Newsletter: 9/29/2023

This week, I learned that red squirrels harvest mushrooms, dry them on tree branches, and cache them away for winter. In the process, they bring the fungal spores underground where they grow best. Look, I know nature ~can be cruel~ or whatever, but LITTLE SQUIRREL MUSHROOM FARMS. My heart!

FEATURE: Wildlife biologist Pam Perry talks fall phenology

I don't know about y'all, but I find Pam Perry and John Latimer's conversations about nature absolutely charming. This month, they covered fall migrations, the oft-misunderstood word "herpetology," and how to construct a birdbath that will attract a wide variety of birds. Pam also glows about the seasonal roosting displays of Purple Martins - one of the natural phenomena that first sparked my interest in biology.

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It's not even October and we're already celebrating reports in the double digits! On Minnesota's northern border, skunks are hunting larvae in backyards. "Way down south" in Northfield, there are still hummingbirds and monarch butterflies. Meanwhile in Massachusetts, the tips of the maple leaves are just starting to turn red. It's fascinating to hear the seasonal progression through the students' perspectives!

Hear their voices!


This week, John Latimer watched a Merlin and a Sharp-shinned Hawk hunt songbirds, observed red squirrels harvest mushrooms, and he dug through his records to see when snakes slither off to their seasonal slumber. The Trumpeter Swans on nearby Crooked Lake departed last week, and he is watching the robins and flickers to see how long they'll stay in the area! He also updates us on which plants are blooming, and which ones are at peak autumnal color.

Listen to John's report!

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This one's for you, bird nerds! The second annual Great Midwest Crane Fest is coming up Nov. 10-11 in Baraboo, WI. According to their press release, "the festival will include events at both sites and features lectures, workshops, food, crane art, and tours of each organization’s world-class attractions." The festival is hosted by the International Crane Foundation and the Aldo Leopold Foundation.

You won't even need to crane your neck to see the main attraction: thousands of Sandhill Cranes will be congregating on the nearby Wisconsin River as they prepare to migrate south.

You won't egret it!

Season Watch Photo Feature:

Mary Sellon-Seitz

White-lined sphinx moth (Hyles lineata). Ojibwe: Animikiidokam

I can't say it better than Mary did: "This is why you shouldn't rake leaves."

She found four of 'em in her yard!

Bonus fact: Sandhill Cranes' plumage is naturally gray, but they will dye their feathers red using iron-rich mud.

You won't complain about seeing a crane!

Northern Community Radio



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Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). The Trust Fund is a permanent fund constitutionally established by the citizens of Minnesota to assist in the protection, conservation, preservation, and enhancement of the state’s air, water, land, fish, wildlife, and other natural resources.