Seasonal Backyard Science – Winter Secrets

Seasonal Backyard Science – Winter Secrets

Music; Ambience: bark peeling, footsteps in snow

Even in the winter, the world of nature is alive and active. You can see signs of it in your own backyard — if you know what to look for. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Mitchell: Right in front of us running through a patch of snow is a strange groove in the snow.”

Naturalist John Hanson Mitchell is the author of a Field Guide to Your Own Backyard.

Mitchell: And what this is, I believe – it’s a very narrow groove, maybe two inches across – is the – a trail of a – of a shrew. They’re active all through the winter, and they run beneath the snow. And when it warms, as we’ve had a few warming days here, the tunnels more or less cave in leaving this groove. And these things are very common. They’re made by shrews and meadow mice, and after warming trends in snow areas you always see them. Almost any backyard will have these grooves running through the snow.

Mitchell: There’s a stump of an old pine tree here. If you look up at the top of it – of the stump, there’s a strange collection of – of little chips here and a very odd looking stick about five inches long covered with a sort of a fuzz. Well, what this stick is is the interior of a pine cone, and then spread out all along the flat of the trunk are these – they look like little potato chips. What these are are a torn apart white pine cone, and a squirrel – red squirrel has carried this pine cone up here and stripped it and eaten the seeds that are inside the little flakes. It’s called a midden, a kitchen midden, and it’s usually up on a little rise, like a stump.

We’ll hear more on seasonal backyard science in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by Virginia Tech, inventing the future through a hands-on approach to education and research.

Seasonal Backyard Science - Winter Secrets

When you find grooves in the snow, or piles of pine cone chips- who has been there? Learn about the signs that animals leave behind.
Air Date:02/14/2005
Scientist:
Transcript:

Seasonal Backyard Science - Winter Secrets

Music; Ambience: bark peeling, footsteps in snow

Even in the winter, the world of nature is alive and active. You can see signs of it in your own backyard -- if you know what to look for. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Mitchell: Right in front of us running through a patch of snow is a strange groove in the snow."

Naturalist John Hanson Mitchell is the author of a Field Guide to Your Own Backyard.

Mitchell: And what this is, I believe - it's a very narrow groove, maybe two inches across - is the - a trail of a - of a shrew. They're active all through the winter, and they run beneath the snow. And when it warms, as we've had a few warming days here, the tunnels more or less cave in leaving this groove. And these things are very common. They're made by shrews and meadow mice, and after warming trends in snow areas you always see them. Almost any backyard will have these grooves running through the snow.

Mitchell: There's a stump of an old pine tree here. If you look up at the top of it - of the stump, there's a strange collection of - of little chips here and a very odd looking stick about five inches long covered with a sort of a fuzz. Well, what this stick is is the interior of a pine cone, and then spread out all along the flat of the trunk are these - they look like little potato chips. What these are are a torn apart white pine cone, and a squirrel - red squirrel has carried this pine cone up here and stripped it and eaten the seeds that are inside the little flakes. It's called a midden, a kitchen midden, and it's usually up on a little rise, like a stump.

We'll hear more on seasonal backyard science in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by Virginia Tech, inventing the future through a hands-on approach to education and research.