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Science
Natural Sciences
Sports
Wilderness

Field Notes from the Montana Natural History Center

Updated 6 days ago

Science
Natural Sciences
Sports
Wilderness
Read more

Nature notes and inquiry from the Montana Natural History Center.

Read more

Nature notes and inquiry from the Montana Natural History Center.

iTunes Ratings

12 Ratings
Average Ratings
8
2
2
0
0

iTunes Ratings

12 Ratings
Average Ratings
8
2
2
0
0
Cover image of Field Notes from the Montana Natural History Center

Field Notes from the Montana Natural History Center

Latest release on Feb 16, 2020

Read more

Nature notes and inquiry from the Montana Natural History Center.

Rank #1: Hoofprints And Footprints: History On Flathead Lake's Wild Horse Island

Podcast cover
Read more
Just the name – Wild Horse Island – sends the imagination soaring. The short boat trip to this island on the west side of Flathead Lake about ten miles north of Polson is magical. This is certainly not an area where humans have left nothing but footprints. Even the name suggests a story.

Nov 03 2019

4mins

Play

Rank #2: A Portrait Of Kehi-oo-Leh, Rattlesnake Creek

Podcast cover
Read more
I grew up in Missoula with the sound of Rattlesnake Creek pouring bedtime stories into my room, its chanting waters carrying me away to peace-filled dreams. When I was younger, my brother, our two neighbors and I used to build dams in the creek when summer warmth slowed the waters. At ages 10 and 12 we considered ourselves the best in the field, and this was reflected in our job titles: log expert, rock expert, and rescue expert.

Dec 29 2019

4mins

Play

Rank #3: Order in the Roost

Podcast cover
Read more
Once the turkeys had returned to the trees, a dance began. They leaped from branch to branch and sometimes switched trees, trying to get higher and higher—or so I thought. I began to wonder if the social hierarchy, so well-established for turkeys while on the ground, carries to the roost. Was it possible that the ideal vertical place in a tree could be the middle, high enough from land-based predators, yet far enough below flying threats from the night skies?

Oct 27 2019

4mins

Play

Rank #4: Thermophiles: Multitudes In The Hot Spring

Podcast cover
Read more
Researchers are now testing theories that archaea populate the lowest branches, maybe even the roots, of our phylogenetic family tree. The hydrothermal ecosystems that encompass hot springs are among the oldest continuously-inhabited ecosystems on earth. These environments and the creatures that thrive there need to be protected, for they may tell us invaluable information about evolution and our ancestry.

Nov 17 2019

3mins

Play

Rank #5: Batholiths: Born From Earth's Giant, Slow-Motion Lava Lamps

Podcast cover
Read more
The difference in temperature between the crust, mantle and core creates an effect where hot molten rock, called magma, slowly moves toward the surface in plumes, much like the wax of a lava lamp. This phenomenon, called convection, slowly moves the plates of the earth’s crust, grinding them against each other, causing volcanoes, earthquakes -- and mountains.

Oct 20 2019

4mins

Play

Rank #6: Fens Are Montana's Spring-Fed, Species-Rich Pocket Peatlands

Podcast cover
Read more
Even as the deep snowpack buries much of the landscape in Western Montana, there are some very special wetland habitats that will not freeze at all this winter. These wetlands, known as fens, are among the rarest habitats in the state.

Nov 10 2019

2mins

Play

Rank #7: Eagle Watching At Rogers Pass, 2008

Podcast cover
Read more
As raptors at the top of their food chain, goldens are good indicators of the ecological health of a region. In recent years, studies show a population in decline. What does one do with this information? This is one of the questions of science, and of birders: what are we really looking at?

Nov 24 2019

4mins

Play

Rank #8: Sponges: These Aquatic Oddities Are At Home In Montana

Podcast cover
Read more
Although many people associate these stone-like animals with the crystalline waters of the tropics, several species of sponges do occur in lakes and ponds across North America, including those of western Montana.

Jan 05 2020

4mins

Play

Rank #9: Super-Morph: Botanist In The Produce Aisle

Podcast cover
Read more
As the temperature drops and the leaves turn brown and drop as well, it gets hard for a botanist in Montana to find anything interesting to study outside. At this time of year I go on field trips to the supermarket. In the produce section the leaves are still green, and you can always find some germinating alfalfa and mung beans. There’s a lot to be learned among the aisles, but there’s a distressing amount of misinformation as well.

Dec 08 2019

2mins

Play

Rank #10: The Short-Tailed Weasel: Life Sped Up

Podcast cover
Read more
While some animals get off comparatively easily in the winter by hibernating, or by gorging and then fasting, the short-tailed weasel has to hunt every day to keep its blast-furnace metabolism stoked. With a heart rate of several hundred beats a minute and little in the way of fat reserves on its long and slender body, the animal must consume half its body weight daily.

Dec 15 2019

2mins

Play

Unique Fur And A Nomadic Nature: Otter Survival In Winter

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What happens to otters in winter when the lake is frozen, I wondered. Does the family stay together or disperse? Do otters have any special survival strategies to get through the cold times?

Feb 16 2020

4mins

Play

How Do Ants Keep Warm In Winter?

Podcast cover
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On a recent stroll around a local bird refuge, I was struck by the appearance of a large ants’ nest, covered with a thatch of pine needles. The type of ants who construct these nests are called “mound builders,” and this particular mound was made by red wood ants. What do they do to survive the cold, I wondered?

Feb 09 2020

2mins

Play

Do Falling Snowflakes Whisper, Or Scream? Depends On Who's Listening.

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Read more
Walking in a heavy snowstorm at night is one of my favorite ways to experience winter. There is something quite magical about being wrapped in the hug of falling snow. Snowflakes land delicately and melt on the tip of my nose. The trees are covered in a lacy latticework of icy crystals. The world slows down for a while and becomes quiet, save for the scrape of shovels on driveways and sidewalks, or the thwop of snow as it slides en masse from roof to yard.

Feb 02 2020

3mins

Play

'Field Notes': Meeting A Montana Loon In Mexico

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Each week, the haunting wail of the common loon opens the Field Notes program. The loon’s cry always brings to my mind clear mountain lakes rimmed by lush coniferous forests, a handsome pair of birds in their formal black and white courting plumage calling across the quiet water.

Jan 26 2020

3mins

Play

Needle Ice: A Freeze-Frame Of Capillary Action

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It was midnight and dark, but when my boots made crunching noises as I walked along the dirt road, I knew what was underfoot: tiny, clustered pillars of ice lifting the top layer of soil debris from the road. Now, in the light of the morning, the ice pillars look like miniature, partially buried, delicate ice castles. I am as intrigued by them now as I was when I first noticed them a few years ago, both here by Flathead Lake and up along McDonald Creek in Glacier National Park.

Jan 19 2020

3mins

Play

Beneath The Snow, The Subnivean Zone Bustles

Podcast cover
Read more
Many animals are able to survive the freezing cold temperatures of a Montana winter by making use of that place between the snow and the ground called the subnivean layer. This layer is created because snow is such a good insulator, holding in warm air heated by the earth, and keeping out cold air.

Jan 12 2020

4mins

Play

Sponges: These Aquatic Oddities Are At Home In Montana

Podcast cover
Read more
Although many people associate these stone-like animals with the crystalline waters of the tropics, several species of sponges do occur in lakes and ponds across North America, including those of western Montana.

Jan 05 2020

4mins

Play

A Portrait Of Kehi-oo-Leh, Rattlesnake Creek

Podcast cover
Read more
I grew up in Missoula with the sound of Rattlesnake Creek pouring bedtime stories into my room, its chanting waters carrying me away to peace-filled dreams. When I was younger, my brother, our two neighbors and I used to build dams in the creek when summer warmth slowed the waters. At ages 10 and 12 we considered ourselves the best in the field, and this was reflected in our job titles: log expert, rock expert, and rescue expert.

Dec 29 2019

4mins

Play

The Bird Count Of Christmas And 'One Magpie Dancing'

Podcast cover
Read more
Just before lunch, we pulled up to a dead end at the base of the foothills and looked out into a plowed field to see … yet another magpie. This one, though, was hopping and flashing its wings in jerks, as if trying to perform a mad waltz, so we drew up our binoculars for a closer look. We could see then that it was corralling a small rodent, a vole I guessed, as it danced from foot to foot.

Dec 22 2019

4mins

Play

The Short-Tailed Weasel: Life Sped Up

Podcast cover
Read more
While some animals get off comparatively easily in the winter by hibernating, or by gorging and then fasting, the short-tailed weasel has to hunt every day to keep its blast-furnace metabolism stoked. With a heart rate of several hundred beats a minute and little in the way of fat reserves on its long and slender body, the animal must consume half its body weight daily.

Dec 15 2019

2mins

Play

Super-Morph: Botanist In The Produce Aisle

Podcast cover
Read more
As the temperature drops and the leaves turn brown and drop as well, it gets hard for a botanist in Montana to find anything interesting to study outside. At this time of year I go on field trips to the supermarket. In the produce section the leaves are still green, and you can always find some germinating alfalfa and mung beans. There’s a lot to be learned among the aisles, but there’s a distressing amount of misinformation as well.

Dec 08 2019

2mins

Play

A Naturalist's Perspective On Winter Weeds

Podcast cover
Read more
As you travel about Montana’s fall and winter landscape, you’re bound to see the brown and gray patchwork of roadside weeds. We tend to classify weeds as those nuisance plants that grow where they are not wanted. It’s a rather subjective definition. Often the “weedness” of a plant rests in the eyes of the beholder. One person’s weed may be another person’s wildflower. To me these remnants of summer look like survivors the morning after a great party.

Dec 02 2019

3mins

Play

Eagle Watching At Rogers Pass, 2008

Podcast cover
Read more
As raptors at the top of their food chain, goldens are good indicators of the ecological health of a region. In recent years, studies show a population in decline. What does one do with this information? This is one of the questions of science, and of birders: what are we really looking at?

Nov 24 2019

4mins

Play

Thermophiles: Multitudes In The Hot Spring

Podcast cover
Read more
Researchers are now testing theories that archaea populate the lowest branches, maybe even the roots, of our phylogenetic family tree. The hydrothermal ecosystems that encompass hot springs are among the oldest continuously-inhabited ecosystems on earth. These environments and the creatures that thrive there need to be protected, for they may tell us invaluable information about evolution and our ancestry.

Nov 17 2019

3mins

Play

Fens Are Montana's Spring-Fed, Species-Rich Pocket Peatlands

Podcast cover
Read more
Even as the deep snowpack buries much of the landscape in Western Montana, there are some very special wetland habitats that will not freeze at all this winter. These wetlands, known as fens, are among the rarest habitats in the state.

Nov 10 2019

2mins

Play

Hoofprints And Footprints: History On Flathead Lake's Wild Horse Island

Podcast cover
Read more
Just the name – Wild Horse Island – sends the imagination soaring. The short boat trip to this island on the west side of Flathead Lake about ten miles north of Polson is magical. This is certainly not an area where humans have left nothing but footprints. Even the name suggests a story.

Nov 03 2019

4mins

Play

Order in the Roost

Podcast cover
Read more
Once the turkeys had returned to the trees, a dance began. They leaped from branch to branch and sometimes switched trees, trying to get higher and higher—or so I thought. I began to wonder if the social hierarchy, so well-established for turkeys while on the ground, carries to the roost. Was it possible that the ideal vertical place in a tree could be the middle, high enough from land-based predators, yet far enough below flying threats from the night skies?

Oct 27 2019

4mins

Play

Batholiths: Born From Earth's Giant, Slow-Motion Lava Lamps

Podcast cover
Read more
The difference in temperature between the crust, mantle and core creates an effect where hot molten rock, called magma, slowly moves toward the surface in plumes, much like the wax of a lava lamp. This phenomenon, called convection, slowly moves the plates of the earth’s crust, grinding them against each other, causing volcanoes, earthquakes -- and mountains.

Oct 20 2019

4mins

Play

How Swallowtail Butterflies Survive The Winter

Podcast cover
Read more
Fall is a hectic time of year in Montana. There are a thousand things to do before the first snow, and not nearly enough time. The days shorten, tourists leave, seasonal shops close, kids romp at the playground one last time, flower beds are mulched, snow tires put on the car, storm windows polished and mounted. You can feel the change in season just walking down the street: people hurry from building to building, head down and quiet, bundled up and hunched against the cold, looking for warmth, a fire, hot cocoa.

Oct 13 2019

4mins

Play

Black-Billed Magpies: Common But Uncommonly Smart

Podcast cover
Read more
When I first moved out West, I was impressed by the large black-and-white bird I noticed strutting around my yard and campsites, its long black tail dragging on the ground behind it. The bird’s loud “mag-mag-mag” calls slowly became a familiar sound. Now the black-billed magpie has become an important symbol of the West to me, and whenever I see or hear it, I’m reminded how lucky I am to call the Rocky Mountains home.

Oct 06 2019

3mins

Play

iTunes Ratings

12 Ratings
Average Ratings
8
2
2
0
0