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Mountain Lion

Mammals in the Desert

If you took a flight over a desert, what would you think as you flew over? Many people would probably think they were flying over a barren wasteland. But deserts aren’t dead; far from it, they are teeming with all sorts of specialized plants and animals. The Sonoran Desert alone boasts more than 500 species of birds, 130 species of mammals, more than 100 species of reptiles, and more than 2,500 plant species. And if you spend any time in the desert, you’ll see, hear, or smell evidence of all of this life: Coyotes howl during the evening, owls call out, breezes bring the sweet smell of flowers and plants, and it’s impossible to miss the towering saguaros, the flowering ironwood trees, and the vivid displays of wildflowers, or the butterflies and hummingbirds zipping from one bloom to another. There are four major deserts in North America. The Chihuahuan Desert is the largest and covers about 175,000 square miles in Mexico, with fingertips in southern...

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Bigfoot

Mammals in the Desert

If you took a flight over a desert, what would you think as you flew over? Many people would probably think they were flying over a barren wasteland. But deserts aren’t dead; far from it, they are teeming with all sorts of specialized plants and animals. The Sonoran Desert alone boasts more than 500 species of birds, 130 species of mammals, more than 100 species of reptiles, and more than 2,500 plant species. And if you spend any time in the desert, you’ll see, hear, or smell evidence of all of this life: Coyotes howl during the evening, owls call out, breezes bring the sweet smell of flowers and plants, and it’s impossible to miss the towering saguaros, the flowering ironwood trees, and the vivid displays of wildflowers, or the butterflies and hummingbirds zipping from one bloom to another. There are four major deserts in North America. The Chihuahuan Desert is the largest and covers about 175,000 square miles in Mexico, with fingertips in southern...

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Bluebirds in winter

Winter—A Challenge for Our Resident Birds

In this week’s column, Stan Tekiela discusses how challenging winter can be for birds. Winter can be a very challenging time for the birds who don’t migrate. The rigors of winter, lack of food, reduced access to fresh water, and extremely long and cold nights do represent a lot of challenges for our resident birds. The other evening I was out filming a pair of Barred Owls. The sun had set and the blue shadows of winter descended upon the landscape. I call this the cobalt hour: after the sun sets, when everything outside is cast in a cobalt blue color. It’s a magical time of a winter day. I was hiking back to my truck with my oversize camera and tripod hoisted over my shoulder when I heard a Pileated Woodpecker giving a loud call. Glancing to my left, I saw our largest woodpecker species land on a dead tree and slip into...

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Children reading books

Winter—A Challenge for Our Resident Birds

In this week’s column, Stan Tekiela discusses how challenging winter can be for birds. Winter can be a very challenging time for the birds who don’t migrate. The rigors of winter, lack of food, reduced access to fresh water, and extremely long and cold nights do represent a lot of challenges for our resident birds. The other evening I was out filming a pair of Barred Owls. The sun had set and the blue shadows of winter descended upon the landscape. I call this the cobalt hour: after the sun sets, when everything outside is cast in a cobalt blue color. It’s a magical time of a winter day. I was hiking back to my truck with my oversize camera and tripod hoisted over my shoulder when I heard a Pileated Woodpecker giving a loud call. Glancing to my left, I saw our largest woodpecker species land on a dead tree and slip into...

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Christmas tree

The Christmas Tree Conundrum

Just in time for Christmas, Stan Tekiela, author and wildlife photographer for many Adventure Publications books, considers the question of which is best—a fake tree or a real one. Are you like me? Each holiday season I ponder the whole fake tree/real tree conundrum. Which one is better for the environment? To understand this question, let’s look at some history. The first Christmas tree lot opened on the streets of New York in 1851 when Mark Carr hauled two ox sleds loaded with trees from the Catskill Mountains into town. Today, about half a million acres of land are used by 22,000 Christmas tree growers, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These tree farmers produce more than 32 million trees each holiday season. The question remains: Is cutting down a tree for temporary use in your home during the holidays good or bad for the environment? Let’s first look at some facts about artificial trees (which...

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Children reading books

The Christmas Tree Conundrum

Just in time for Christmas, Stan Tekiela, author and wildlife photographer for many Adventure Publications books, considers the question of which is best—a fake tree or a real one. Are you like me? Each holiday season I ponder the whole fake tree/real tree conundrum. Which one is better for the environment? To understand this question, let’s look at some history. The first Christmas tree lot opened on the streets of New York in 1851 when Mark Carr hauled two ox sleds loaded with trees from the Catskill Mountains into town. Today, about half a million acres of land are used by 22,000 Christmas tree growers, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These tree farmers produce more than 32 million trees each holiday season. The question remains: Is cutting down a tree for temporary use in your home during the holidays good or bad for the environment? Let’s first look at some facts about artificial trees (which...

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Nature

Wolves — The Epitome of Wildness!

Few animals in the wilderness elicit such strong emotions in people as wolves. Loved by many who cherish wild places and intact ecosystems, wolves are however loathed by others who regard them as competition for natural resources. Stan Tekiela, the author of The Life of Wolves, Coyotes and Foxes lives in Minnesota, a state with more wolves than any other in the Lower 48. To Stan, the wolf is the symbol of all things wild—the epitome of wildness! Today, Stan shares with us his fascination for these mysterious mammals. Living in close proximity to them makes me feel more connected to the wild, and for that I am grateful. Wolves, along with coyotes and foxes, are a group of animals that I’ve always found fascinating throughout my career as an author, naturalist, and wildlife photographer. I have been studying and photographing wolves for more than two decades, but I still get excited each time...

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The Lives of Wolves, Coyotes, and Foxes

Wolves—The Epitome of Wildness!

Few animals in the wilderness elicit such strong emotions in people as wolves. Loved by many who cherish wild places and intact ecosystems, wolves are however loathed by others who regard them as competition for natural resources. Stan Tekiela, the author of The Lives of Wolves, Coyotes and Foxes lives in Minnesota, a state with more wolves than any other in the Lower 48. To Stan, the wolf is the symbol of all things wild—the epitome of wildness! Today, Stan shares with us his fascination for these mysterious mammals. Living in close proximity to them makes me feel more connected to the wild, and for that I am grateful. Wolves, along with coyotes and foxes, are a group of animals that I’ve always found fascinating throughout my career as an author, naturalist, and wildlife photographer. I have been studying and photographing wolves for more than two decades, but I still get excited each time I see one...

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The Migration of Hummingbirds

Migration Remains a Great Mystery Much of migration remains a great mystery to science. While we can only speculate how it started and why it continues, there are a number of facts we do know. Migration allows an expanded bird population, including hummers, to exploit food resources and breed elsewhere. Nearly all species of hummingbirds in the United States travel thousands of miles to find food and reproduce with intense competition from others of its own kind. Ruby-throats, for example, fly north after wintering in the tropics of Central and South America and fan out in spring across the eastern United States, where they find many sources of food and breeding opportunities. We also know that hummers return to the region where they hatched. Ruby-throats hatching in Missouri will return to Missouri the next year. Others hatching in Michigan will return to Michigan. Once at the breeding grounds, hummers look for a suitable territory with enough food to sustain themselves for the entire summer. Hummingbirds are so small that they often will not...

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The Migration of Hummingbirds

Migration Remains a Great Mystery Much of migration remains a great mystery to science. While we can only speculate how it started and why it continues, there are a number of facts we do know. Migration allows an expanded bird population, including hummers, to exploit food resources and breed elsewhere. Nearly all species of hummingbirds in the United States travel thousands of miles to find food and reproduce with intense competition from others of its own kind. Ruby-throats, for example, fly north after wintering in the tropics of Central and South America and fan out in spring across the eastern United States, where they find many sources of food and breeding opportunities. We also know that hummers return to the region where they hatched. Ruby-throats hatching in Missouri will return to Missouri the next year. Others hatching in Michigan will return to Michigan. Once at the breeding grounds, hummers look for a suitable territory with enough food to sustain themselves for the entire summer. Hummingbirds are so small that they often will not...

Read More