Nature

An orange-crowned warbler looks for bugs on a willow (Photo by K.M. Hocker)

On the Trails: Maple flowers and some spring observations

The sun came out! So it was a day for me and a friend to head to the Boy Scout Camp Trail, dodging rain puddles… Continue reading

 

An orca swims beside a boat near Berners Bay on May 12. (Photo by Eric Jorgensen)

On the Trails: Orcas, ducks, warblers and others

I went on the Audubon cruise to Berners Bay in May, on a drizzly, breezy day. On the outbound trip, we enjoyed some of the… Continue reading

 

A porcupine nurses its young one, providing milk. (Photo by Bob Armstong)

On the Trails: Feeding the kids

A parental duty of feeding the offspring can be very expensive in terms of energy expenditure and sometimes risks of predation. Many animals avoid that… Continue reading

 

An adult male mountain goat scans the horizon near the Juneau Icefield. (Photo by Kevin White)

Alaska Science Forum: Mountain goats live and die on the edge

Kevin White has placed his hands on the long, white fur of more than 400 Alaska mountain goats during the past 20 years. His diligence… Continue reading

An adult male mountain goat scans the horizon near the Juneau Icefield. (Photo by Kevin White)
A white-crowned sparrow inspects the ground for seeds. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)

On the Trails: Yellow-rumped warblers, white-fronted geese, and white-crowned sparrows

These are some natural history tidbits about three of the several species I’ve enjoyed seeing this spring. Yellow-rumped warblers Usually the earliest warblers to arrive,… Continue reading

A white-crowned sparrow inspects the ground for seeds. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)
Denali stands at 20,310 feet as seen from a commercial flight between Anchorage and Fairbanks. (Photo by Ned Rozell)

Alaska Science Forum: Searching for microplastics on Denali

Two college students will soon be stuffing snow from the slopes of Alaska’s highest mountain into Nalgene bottles. Their goal is to see if that… Continue reading

Denali stands at 20,310 feet as seen from a commercial flight between Anchorage and Fairbanks. (Photo by Ned Rozell)
A Pacific wren sings in the understory. (Photo by Helen Uhruh)

On the Trails: April jaunts

A walk at Fish Creek was productive, as it usually is. The marine side of the point was full of ducks: widgeon, green-wing teal, mallards,… Continue reading

A Pacific wren sings in the understory. (Photo by Helen Uhruh)
A beach marmot carries nest material to its den. (Photo by Jos Bakker)

On the Trails: Spring is really happening

A spate of fine, sunny weather in mid-April was most welcome. Those clear skies, however, meant that the nights were still about crispy, and at… Continue reading

A beach marmot carries nest material to its den. (Photo by Jos Bakker)
Pseudoscorpions are very small predators of springtails and mites. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)

On the Trails: Intertidal explorations

A bit of exploration of the rocky intertidal zone near Shaman Island yielded lots of big sea stars (mostly five-armed), little green sea urchins, and… Continue reading

Pseudoscorpions are very small predators of springtails and mites. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)
Astrophysicists Lindsay Glesener, left, and Sabrina Savage enjoy the sunshine on an observation deck at the Neil Davis Science Center on a hilltop at Poker Flat Research Range north of Fairbanks. (Photo by Ned Rozell)

Alaska Science Forum: Waiting for the sun at Poker Flat

POKER FLAT RESEARCH RANGE — Under a bluebird sky and perched above a resilient winter snowpack, two sounding rockets point upward, ready to blast through… Continue reading

Astrophysicists Lindsay Glesener, left, and Sabrina Savage enjoy the sunshine on an observation deck at the Neil Davis Science Center on a hilltop at Poker Flat Research Range north of Fairbanks. (Photo by Ned Rozell)
Purple mountain saxifrage blooms on cliffs along Perseverance Trail in early April. (Photo by Pam Bergeson)

On the Trails: Flowers and their visitors

Flowers influence their visitors in several ways. Visitors may be attracted by floral color, shape, or scents. Flowers offer rewards — nectar and pollen. But… Continue reading

Purple mountain saxifrage blooms on cliffs along Perseverance Trail in early April. (Photo by Pam Bergeson)
A male rusty blackbird in breeding dress. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)

On the Trails: A hungry goshawk and some early spring observations

Every late afternoon, a bunch of mallards is in the habit of coming to snack on fallen birdseed that accumulates on my ice-covered pond. And… Continue reading

A male rusty blackbird in breeding dress. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)
A harbor seal lazily floats in the calm cool downtown harbor waters on March 21. (Photo by Denise Carroll)

Wild Shots

To showcase our readers’ work to the widest possible audience, Wild Shots have been moved in front of the Juneau Empire’s paywall. Don’t have a… Continue reading

A harbor seal lazily floats in the calm cool downtown harbor waters on March 21. (Photo by Denise Carroll)
A robin feeds on insects along the shore of Mendenhall Lake. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)

On the Trails: Robins come, and it’s springtime

Spring comes, quite reliably, but sometimes reluctantly, by fits and starts. Every year we go through a process of counting the increasing hours of daylight,… Continue reading

A robin feeds on insects along the shore of Mendenhall Lake. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)
A palm cockatoo, which among males is known for its loud drumming behavior. (JJ Harrison/CC BY-SA 3.0)

On the Trails: Drummers on land and in water

In an orchestra, drums are a central feature of the percussion section, in which sounds are made by an object striking another one, creating aerial… Continue reading

A palm cockatoo, which among males is known for its loud drumming behavior. (JJ Harrison/CC BY-SA 3.0)
A pine grosbeak munches on some old berries. (Photo by Kerry Howard)

On the Trails: Animal tracks and pine grosbeaks

February had an extra day this year, a cold and gusty one. Those gusts were enough to knock me off balance and make it temporarily… Continue reading

A pine grosbeak munches on some old berries. (Photo by Kerry Howard)
An infection of dwarf mistletoe has caused the deformation of tree branches, making what is called a witch’s broom. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)

On the Trails: Witch’s brooms and gumboots

Local creatures have often been given the names of early explorers and naturalists that visited our northern shores and forests. So (until the names are… Continue reading

An infection of dwarf mistletoe has caused the deformation of tree branches, making what is called a witch’s broom. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)
A female varied thrush pauses to look around during her foraging bout. (Photo by Helen Unruh)

On the Trails: Early signs of spring

The ground is heavily blanketed with snow. The snow berms in my driveway (and, dangerously, at some street intersections too) are still over six feet… Continue reading

A female varied thrush pauses to look around during her foraging bout. (Photo by Helen Unruh)
A female white-winged crossbill contemplates a partly open spruce cone. (Photo by Helen Unruh)

On the Trails: Crossbills

Most birds have bills with tips that come together when the jaws close. But not crossbills — hence their common name. The crossed bill tips… Continue reading

A female white-winged crossbill contemplates a partly open spruce cone. (Photo by Helen Unruh)
Mendenhall Glacier and Mendenhall Lake on Jan. 28. (Photo by Deana Barajas)

Wild Shots

To showcase our readers’ work to the widest possible audience, Wild Shots have been moved in front of the Juneau Empire’s paywall. Don’t have a… Continue reading

Mendenhall Glacier and Mendenhall Lake on Jan. 28. (Photo by Deana Barajas)