MTPR

Field Notes

Sunday 12:55 PM, Tuesdays and Fridays at 4:54 PM

For keen observers, a walk to the grocery store or a hike up a mountain can inspire questions. Where do magpies nest?  Why doesn’t a spider stick to its own web? How do water striders keep from sinking?  Every week since 1992, Field Notes has inquired about Montana's  natural history. Produced by the Montana Natural History Center, Field Notes are written by naturalists, students and listeners about the puzzle-tree bark, eagle talons, woolly aphids and giant puffballs of western, central and southwestern Montana.

Interested in writing a Field Note? Contact Allison De Jong, Field Notes editor, at adejong [at] montananaturalist.org or (406) 327-0405.

'Field Notes:' North America's Pleistocene Megafauna

Nov 13, 2018
Artist's rendering of an American mastadon.
Charles R. Knight (PD)

A cheetah crouches in the tall grass. Pronghorn graze warily in the cool summer breeze. After minutes of quiet patience the cheetah erupts into a burst of muscle and speed. A small herd of pronghorn sprint into action, their nimble legs churning ground. A race for life ensues as the cheetah and pronghorn tear across the prairie. But bad luck this time for the cheetah; it retires to the shade for another hungry morning as the pronghorn dance away into the grass.

'Field Notes:' Glaciers 101

Nov 4, 2018
Scientists measuring the terminus of Grinnell Glacier, in Glacier National Park.
Glacier National Park

Glaciers: they are sculptors, carvers and artists. When the Bitterroot Mountains, the Missions and the Rockies were raised from the floor of the ocean it was the glaciers that came behind, crawling over the surface, grinding and eroding the face of the land.

Fall Migration Brings Golden Eagles To Montana

Oct 28, 2018
Golden eagle.
Flickr user Rocky (CC-BY-2)

I had been sitting in the observation blind for a couple of hours when I heard a commotion outside. Looking through the one-way glass, I saw an enormous bird with a golden crown and talons that were built for serious damage. Another landed nearby. I knew immediately that they were golden eagles, which are one of the largest predatory birds in North America.

'Field Notes:' What Determines When Leaves Fall?

Oct 21, 2018
Fall leaves.
(PD)

Every autumn, deciduous trees and shrubs shed their leaves. In some years, leaves are shed earlier than in others. Why does this happen? What determines when leaves fall?

'Field Notes:' Bull Snake Encounter

Oct 8, 2018
Bull snake, also known as a gopher snake.
iStock

One recent summer a group of friends and I floated the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in central Idaho. On this eight day trip we rafted 100 miles through some of the wildest country in North America: a 2.5 million-acre wildland officially called the Frank-Church-River-of-No-Return Wilderness Area, a wilderness whose name is as out-sized as the area itself.

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