What happened here? Feb.20

One of the great things about spending time in the natural world is getting to experience its ever-changingness. New surprises pop up daily, even in our small fragment of a forest.

Here’s a chance to test your nature interpretation skills, with some photos from the past few months. Guess what the picture is about, and check your answers below.



 1. Hint – the snow free area is about 3.5 feet at the widest.




2. The two pics above are feathers from the same unfortunate bird – what is it?




3. I kicked this organism to produce the dusty looking brown cloud




4. Yes it’s a deer skull, but there’s something different about it.




5.  Another unfortunate bird – the yellow color is a hint




6. Hint – this strange pattern was hidden by the bark of a tree.






1. It’s a deer bed. Deer spend plenty of time lying around – it helps them conserve energy when it’s cold and stay comfortable when it’s hot.




2. Note red feathers on the back of the head, and  bl. and wh. barred wing feathers of a male Downy Woodpecker. Why would anything bother with such a tiny bird and how would they catch it, since the Downy is not a perching bird? Likely suspects – Cooper’s Hawk or Screech Owl.




3.  Lovely in its youth, this giant puffball, Calvatia gigantea,  must fulfill its purpose in life by turning into a spongy brown mass of spores.


4.  The flat-top knobs on the deer skull are “pedicles”, not antlers. This little guy died in his first year. We know this because pedicles must develop first, before antlers can grow from them. These are the pedicles of a young buck.




5.  A Yellow-shafted Flicker also was eaten. See the little streak of yellow feather shaft peeking out from the wing. I have observed a number of piles of these lovely yellow feathers over the years. Not sure if Flickers get eaten more, or if I just notice their feathers more.




6.  The hieroglyphic looking marks are the larval feeding paths of the Emerald Ash Borer beetle. It kills an ash tree by feeding on the living part of the inner bark that moves sugar and nutrients. Over time this layer is so disrupted that it can no longer function.


So how many did you know? Four or more and you earn the title of “naturalist”. Less than three – it’s time to get out in the woods more!

3 thoughts on “What happened here? Feb.20

  1. Phyllis Fitzgerald

    I’ve been in the woods a lot, and knew a couple of these, but did not know the names, such as which bird; I knew there was a tree fungus or bacteria, but didn’t know it was emerald ash borer.


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