Emily Stone

Natural Connections - birds, animals, habitats

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The Elegance of Moss

Emily Stone

In just 20 minutes, bone-dry moss can return to full vigor. This resilience of mosses is mostly due to their amazing ability to live thriftily and within their means.

Balsam fir

Emily Stone

A slight breeze through the treetops initiated a cascade of snow plops onto the trail—and down my neck. That got me hiking again. As I pushed aside a drooping branch, the movement released some of the fir’s wonderful perfume

Snowbirds

Emily Stone

The Beaver’s Sparkle

Emily Stone

Beavers are not my favorite animal. Their drab, oily fur, plodding manner, and lumpy design don’t inspire the same feelings of wonder in my heart as a cheery little chickadee

Thistles and those who love them.

Emily Stone

As seed-eating specialists, finches are among the most strictly vegetarian birds of the world. While many small birds eat seeds, most of them also feed insects to their young.

Borealis

Emily Stone

Isle Royale: How did you get here?

Emily Stone

We heaved our backpacks, loaded with high-energy foods, waterproof tents and warm clothing, onto the ferry dock just as the gray dawn was beginning to break.

The Corn Belt Tightens the Belt on Monarchs

Emily Stone

One of my most vivid childhood memories from Iowa’s corn country is watching clouds of monarch butterflies dance around the milkweed patch by our back steps and finding caterpillars on the leaves. My brother and I raised them, as many kids do.

Monarch Migration Begins

Emily Stone

I see them everywhere now. Deep orange with black trim, monarch butterflies dance among the wildflowers we planted for them.

Northwoods Lobsters

Emily Stone

Lobster mushrooms are a delight for beginning mycophiles, since they and their hosts are easy to identify. They are on the short list of mushrooms that I’ll eat without expert help

Phantom Crane Fly

Emily Stone

The mystery came and went all afternoon, interrupting our discussions as we all tried to get a better look at it. Black and white bands on the thread-like legs

The Brookies of Cap Creek

Emily Stone

We’d just dipped our feet into Cap Creek, a spring-fed tributary of the upper Namekagon River, and that cold water was part of what drew us here. The cold water is also what draws native brook trout here

Monarch Chrysalids

Emily Stone

The milkweed looked like it had seen better days. Many leaves were completely missing, while others were chewed down to a yellowing stub

Monarch Caterpillars

Emily Stone

Lunch bag in hand, I hurried up the Cable Natural History Museum’s front walk, ready for another day at the office. On a whim, I detoured over to one of our native plant gardens

Clay-colored sparrow returns

Emily Stone

Returns – re-catching a previously banded bird at least three months later – are rare in the banding world, but they provide a wealth of information. From these recaptured birds, scientists have learned about the incredible 24,000 mile round-trip mig

Sundew

Emily Stone

Bogs are a unique, almost alien landscape, with a charm all their own. Funny plants, few trees, and a wonderful, squelchy, squashy, shaky, shivery, sucking substrate can turn adults back into giggly, wiggly kids

Orange Chicken

Emily Stone

It was impressive. Nearly two feet across, with layer upon layer of rippling brackets giving it a ruffled appearance, the yellow edges

Snapping Turtles

Emily Stone

The old turtle scraped at the sand with her naily toes as the kids gathered in a wide circle around her. Sometimes I get questions about dinosaurs on field trips, but they don’t fit into the Museum’s focus on Northern Wisconsin species.

Fiddleheads

Emily Stone

Fiddlehead ferns! Their unique pattern of emergence, called circinate vernation, protects the tender growing tip of the frond within the tightly curled bundle of leaves.

Trees, trees, murmuring trees

Emily Stone

Professional birders, and the serious guidebooks, do describe the song more reservedly as “zee zee zee zoo zee.” Other folks, somewhere in between on the scale of birding humor, think “trees, trees, murmuring trees"

Return of the Ruby

Emily Stone

A non-technological indication of the hummers’ impending arrival is the return of yellow-bellied sapsuckers. Sapsuckers’ squeaky-toy calls filter through the forest about two weeks before the first hummingbird buzzes in

“…what is lovely, and will not last…”

Emily Stone

The flute-like notes of a hermit thrush wafted through my bedroom window. “Whyyyyy don’t you come with me?” he sang in a rising scale.

The Wolves of Isle Royale and Michipicoten Island

Emily Stone

With the fluctuation in the numbers of charismatic megafauna came ups and downs for vegetation on the island, too. After the huge wolf crash due to parvovirus in the early 1980

The Loons are Back

Emily Stone

Spring is here. With it comes young and hopeful life decked out in many styles of tuxedoes and rainbows of colorful gowns. Everyone must sing, perform, defend, watch, or choose according to their own, individual, natures. Who have you been admiring

Fairyland

Emily Stone

Patchworks of emerald, olive, and chartreuse moss draped over soft, sunken logs. Hummocks and swales in the forest floor told tales of large trees, long fallen.

Pileated Woodpecker

Emily Stone

Sunlight streamed through the tree trunks as we meandered into the warming woods. The Ruffed Grouse’s thumping faded into the distance as we left his territory.

The pulse of a waking forest

Emily Stone

Our morning dawned crisp and blue. In the woods, we knew that the trails would be firmly frozen, the mosquitoes still far from flying, and perhaps the ticks would be hunkered down, too.

Saw what owl?

Emily Stone

It also makes sense that the mast of acorns we experienced last fall may have increased the local mouse population and attracted this cute little hooter to my backyard.

Awakening

Emily Stone

Just a couple days later, after a fully-thawed night, I stepped out into a morning thick with the aroma of rotting leaves and breathing soil. The pale lavender sky seemed gentler than usual in this warmth, softened by the return of humidity.

A Vocabulary of Seeing

Emily Stone

Maples, ashes, dogwoods and viburnums have opposite arrangement. Their twigs and buds sprout directly across from each other in pairs, while other trees place their buds and twigs singly, in an alternate arrangement. This is a good place to start

Wolves at Rock Lake

Emily Stone

Of course, I know that there is nothing to worry about. Wolf packs surround Cable and inhabit all of the wilds I play in. Tens of thousands of humans recreate in these woods each year, and most don’t even see a wolf

American Dippers

Emily Stone

The watery, wintery scene must have fired some memory synapses in my brain, because into my mind’s eye flashed the image of another river flowing through snow-covered banks in Yellowstone National Park.

Science as Storyteller

Emily Stone

“Once upon a time in June,” I begin, “a fly landed on the stem of a goldenrod flower and laid an egg. The little tiny caterpillar hatched, and started chewing its way into the stem

A Forest in an Acorn

Emily Stone

Judging by all the tracks along the trail, there are plenty of critters already on-hand to eat the acorns. Four-footed red squirrel tracks crisscrossed the trail and connected every tree.

Lamar Buffalo Ranch: “We got the tablets here.”

Emily Stone

While bison survived the mass extinctions of other megafauna at the end of the Pleistocene, they fared much worse during the 1800s. Settlers, market hunting, sport hunting, and a U.S. Army campaign nearly eliminated these majestic creatures

Three Dog Day

Emily Stone

In the absence of wolves, coyotes changed their behavior to fill the niche of an apex predator. By living in larger packs than usual – up to seven coyotes in a family group

The Magic of Yellowstone

Emily Stone

Since at least 1872, Lone Star Geyser has been erupting approximately every three hours. It begins with a heat source – shallow magma chambers left over from one of the largest volcanic eruptions known to have occurred in the world.