Showing posts from November, 2014

Put out the Suet

WINGIN’ IT By Kate Crowley From the looks of things it appears we are in for a long winter.  The jet stream is following the same path we saw last winter and getting stuck in one pattern with the arctic air shooting straight down through Minnesota.   While these cold temperatures are going to put a strain on our heating resources in the coming months, we can’t forget the impact it will have on wildlife.  The 12 inches of snow that fell last week has covered up the dried grasses at an earlier date and so the availability of natural food resources for the seed eating birds is greatly reduced.  If ever there were a year to hang up bird feeders around your home, this would be it.  Most people put out seeds of one sort or another; we highly recommend the black sunflower seeds because they provide more protein and fat than some of the mixes which might include millet or corn.  You will find that squirrels and non-native birds like starlings and house sparrows are attracted to the latter.  The…

Ballooning Spiders on the Mississippi

Last week while we were traveling on the Mississippi River, I began to notice strands of filament floating above the water.  They almost looked like fishing line, but they were out in the middle of the river and drifting at least 20 feet above the surface.  Later on we noticed that the bow of the boat (it is a Paddlewheel) was festooned with streamers of the same type of filament, all caught on the rigging and ropes and streaming to the right with the wind.  I had realized by this time that we were seeing the apparatus and migratory technique used by some spiders, called ballooning.   Charles Darwin noticed the same phenomena when he was traveling aboard the Beagle on his epic voyage of discovery.  In his notes he wrote “In the evening all the ropes were coated & fringed with Gossamer web. I caught some of the aeronaut spiders, which must have come at least 60 miles: How inexplicable is the cause which induces these small insects, as it now appears…