Wild Wisdom Archives - Page 2 of 6 - Appalachian Mountain Club

Wild Wisdom

When you’re out hiking this fall, you’re likely to see some stunning foliage. But in addition to the bristling evergreens and the maples just starting to shed their autumn colors, the careful observer will spot another set of trees: the ones whose branches are bare year-round. These trees may be dead, but they’re far from…

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As anyone who has read Make Way for Ducklings knows, adult ducks shed their flight feathers—the long, stiff plumes from their wings and tails—in late spring and early summer, and they can’t fly for about a month as the replacements grow. While most ducks don’t spend that time begging for peanuts in Boston, they do…

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The eastern hemlock can grow to more than 150 feet tall and live more than 500 years, but the tree’s future is threatened by a tiny bug. The hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) is an invasive species that was accidentally imported on nursery stock from Japan. First reported in the eastern United States near Richmond, Va.,…

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The spring peeper, a frog species, is named for its most distinctive feature: a high-pitched mating call that is inextricably tied to the end of winter—and that’s very loud. “To hear hundreds and hundreds of males making that sound, if you’re camping in a tent or shelter, or if you have a pond near your…

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Moose in northern New England are dying off in startling numbers. In New Hampshire, 70 percent of moose calves died in 2014 and 2015, according to Kristine Rines, wildlife biologist and Moose Project leader at the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. The decline is associated with a trend toward shorter winters, with later starts…

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The writer and naturalist Henry David Thoreau famously mourned how tame the wilderness of his day had become. On his rambles in mid-19th century Massachusetts, he saw no cougar, wolf, bear, moose, deer, beaver, or turkey. These and other animals had been displaced or killed outright, their forested habitats transformed into active farmland. Now, as…

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When hiking in the mountains, you’re often reminded to stick to the trails to protect alpine plants. But it’s not just diapensia or dwarf cinquefoil that’s eking out an existence in these high elevations. The rare northern bog lemming also calls some of our alpine environment home. This small mammal weighs just an ounce and…

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The way water striders skim across the surface of ponds has earned them the nickname “Jesus bugs.” But this seemingly miraculous ability—a signature of the mostly freshwater-dwelling Gerridae family of insects—has a perfectly natural explanation. POSITIVE TENSION Surface tension helps make the water strider’s leaps and glides possible. Water molecules are attracted to each other…

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The mushrooms you see on a woodland hike are like the tips of icebergs, heralding something much larger below. Some species of fungus boast networks beneath the soil that can extend for miles. These subterranean webs also play an outsize role in the forest ecosystem. “It’s hard for us to imagine there are such large…

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One of the earliest signs of spring is the Eastern skunk cabbage pushing up through thin ice and snow-covered ground. This remarkable plant actually produces heat as it grows. Look for it in early March while walking near swampy areas in woodlands or near creeks and ponds. Sniff Around Skunk cabbage gets its name from…

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