Night in the northern tier comes much earlier in the winter than in the summer. For an added bonus, during our colder months we also happen to have the best shot at getting crystal clear skies thanks to the lower humidity. This week, in fact, you can watch the Geminid meteor shower at a conveniently early time and revel in the abundance of “earthgrazers,” or meteors that barely enter our atmosphere at a very shallow angle and create notably long, bright, colorful tails as a result.
Why a group of American crows is called a “murder” is, perhaps, anyone’s guess, for this term is so old it is chronicled in fairytales and folklore. As such, there are many colorful rationales for this grim name that all seem to stem from the fact that crows are opportunistic scavengers, so wherever there is death, there is often a group of crows not too far off.
If your home isn’t completely tight (whose is?), you probably have some ladybugs accumulating now. Like us, ladybugs seek a warm winter dwelling to help in their survival of the cold season.
In October, the bright red fruits of winterberry often go unnoticed amidst the stunning range of red, orange, yellow, and green painting every nook and cranny of the natural world. But come November, when the landscape turns nearly grayscale, that splash of lipstick red on the landscape is a most welcome sight.
I watched a flitting dart of a small bird zooming one way, then I’d hear a brief scuffing against the clapboard of the building with its diminutive feet and wingtips, then darting back from where it came and disappearing. This happened over and over again as if mechanized.
Ring-billed gulls flock together to feed in open spaces in the fall and spring in Maine on their way to more northern summer haunts and more southern summer haunts. And haunting they can certainly be if you’re a person who gets uneasy about seeing large flocks of birds in one place. Just ask Alfred Hitchcock what could happen.
Despite their reputation for being a staple of the New England diet and landscape, apple trees are actually native to what is now Kazakhstan at about the same latitude as Bangor, Maine. Apples reveal a crisp slice of human history as rich as the flavor of apple pie.
Maine is doubly famous when it comes to salmon. For one, Maine is the last stronghold in the country for wild sea-run Atlantic salmon. Their populations have been so reduced because of overfishing, pollution, and dams that they are listed as a federally endangered species and fishing for them is illegal. Landlocked Atlantic salmon are more often simply called “landlocked salmon” in Maine to help differentiate them from their sea-run brethren. These landlocked populations were stranded in inland lakes and ponds after the last ice age.