Wild Wisdom Archives - Appalachian Mountain Club

Wild Wisdom

If you’ve ever noticed a swath of trees in an otherwise healthy forest flattened like matchsticks scattered by a giant, you were probably seeing the effects of a microburst or a macroburst. These downward explosions of cold air, which form during severe thunderstorms, leave noticeable changes in woodlands for years to come. “The trees will…

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If you think fireflies’ flashes are simply random, pretty bursts of light, think again. “They’re not just putting on a fantastic light show for our enjoyment,” says Sara Lewis, a professor of biology at Tufts University and the author of Silent Sparks: The Wondrous World of Fireflies. “Those are the silent love songs of the…

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It may not feel like beach weather to you, but piping plovers are already returning to their northern nesting grounds along the Atlantic coast. These tiny shorebirds usually reach southern New England by the end of March or early April and arrive in habitats farther south even sooner. In 1986, plovers were listed as threatened…

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Want to know if an upcoming storm will dump heavy, wet snow or soft powder perfect for skiing? You’ll probably need to check a meteorologist’s forecast. But to understand why the white stuff falls, and which atmospheric conditions create different kinds of snow, you can learn the basics yourself. Here’s a primer from Mike Carmon,…

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Although chances are low you’ll see a North American bobcat while hiking, the elusive nocturnal predators are prowling the Northeast in increasing numbers. In fact, the bobcat population has grown so large in New Hampshire that officials considered allowing the animals to be trapped and hunted again. Public outcry stopped that plan in its tracks,…

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If a lot of acorns are knocking you on the head and crunching underfoot, it might be a boom year for nuts in your neighborhood. Trees don’t make acorns at a steady pace. Oaks, for instance, “will produce very few acorns for three, four, or five years. Then, all of a sudden, they’ll produce 100 times as many,” says Richard Ostfeld, a disease ecologist with…

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If you’re in the right place at the right time this summer, an endangered species the size of a postage stamp may flit past you in a flash of blue wings and gray underside. Karner blue butterflies, named after a town in the Capital District region of New York where they were first discovered, have…

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Black fly season, which runs from about Memorial Day to mid-June in the North Country, scares off a lot of people. And who could blame folks for not wanting to be surrounded by swarms of blood-sucking bugs? But this is also prime time for viewing alpine flowers and other harbingers of summer, so Nicky Pizzo,…

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Beaver dams get a bad rap. Sure, they can be a nuisance, wreaking havoc on roads, cellars, and culverts across the Northeast and inspiring officials to extend beaver-trapping season and install beaver-proof pipes to drain flooded areas. But the busy rodents and the ponds they create are also cleaning our waterways and protecting fish that live…

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You might not know it, but deer and moose aren’t the only antlered giants roaming the Northeast. Elk can still be found in north-central Pennsylvania. The 1,000 or so elk currently living in the state aren’t descended from native, pre-Colonial herds. Overhunting wiped out the Eastern elk by the 1870s, according to Jeremy Banfield, a…

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