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It’s a bird, it’s a plane—no, it’s a super moth!

  In today’s post, naturalist and wildlife photographer Stan Tekiela talks about the super moth visiting our gardens this time of year. Late summer brings an amazing insect to flower gardens across the United States. It is the Sphinx Moth, also called the Hawk Moth or Hummingbird Moth. No matter what you call it, this is a large nectar-feeding insect that looks and acts just like a hummingbird. A unique insect that is found worldwide, there are more than 1,400 different kinds of Sphinx Moth. The vast majority are found in the tropical parts of the world, but a few reach into the northern half of the United States. Most are large in size with large, narrow wings and streamlined bodies. Nearly all feed on nectar from flowers, so they have the ability to hover in flight. The other evening, I was standing in my perennial flower garden, surrounded by blooms, when I noticed...

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Bald Eagles: Master Carpenters, Building with Sticks

The bold and beautiful bald eagle, the U.S. national bird, appears on the great seal of the United States. Bald eagles are not actually bald, as their name implies. “Bald” derives from an older use of the word balde, which meant “white-headed.” Males and females look exactly the same, but females tend to be upwards of 20 percent larger. It is difficult to tell them apart, unless they’re perching next to each other. While adults appear to be black and white, they are actually brown and white. Juveniles are splotchy brown and white for the first 5–7 years of life. Only when they reach full adulthood do they obtain the bold dark body and striking white head and tail. Bald eagle adults weigh 8–12 pounds. They can be aggressive when hunting for food, but, contrary to legend, they cannot carry off your dog or small child. Like other birds, they are governed by aerodynamics. From...

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Stan Tekiela Reports from Alaska

Naturalist and wildlife photographer Stan Tekiela just returned from Alaska with many new tales and fabulous photography. Here is his first report. I go to Alaska every year for a variety of reasons: the wildlife, the amazing adventures, and the chance to connect with the mountains. This year is no different from any other year, but, on the other hand, everything has changed. In the natural world, nothing ever stays the same. There is no consistency from year to year. It might seem similar, but, in reality, nothing ever stays the same. This is how nature works and how it must be. For many years, I have returned to the same region of central Alaska. This year I spent seven days in the wilderness, away from it all—with no electronic connections (no email, no texting, no breaking news from around the world). The wilderness turned my cell phone into a very expensive watch, and I...

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A Trip to the Falls of Whiteoak Canyon

Join Randall Sanger, author of Waterfalls of Virginia & West Virginia: 174 Falls in the Old Dominion and the Mountain State, on a trip to the waterfalls of Whiteoak Canyon. I love multiwaterfall hikes, and my friend Kevin and I were excited to see all the waterfalls in Whiteoak Canyon. We couldn’t have timed our visit any better. We were there in early spring during a very rainy period; in fact, it rained on us for most of the hike. The online sources I consulted listed six waterfalls in Whiteoak Canyon, but we saw several more, as well as some beautiful stream scenes with small cascades. In this book, I’m also featuring six waterfalls, but a couple of them aren’t the ones I saw during my research. The waterfalls I’ve listed are ones I could safely access with the high water flow and very slick conditions. If you’re there during normal water flow...

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A Healthy Osprey Population is Thriving in the Nation

Renowned naturalist and wildlife photographer Stan Tekiela set out to capture images of osprey, now thriving once again across much of our nation. Here’s his report. Climbing a 20-foot-tall, narrow, metal ladder with an armful of expensive camera gear is always a nerve-racking experience. Once I am perched on top, I start to organize all the equipment and get settled in for a long wait. It takes several minutes to adjust the camouflage material I use to conceal my tripod, camera, and body. No part of me can be seen, and only the front of my camera lens is visible. I also make sure that I have a seat cushion because I’ve spent too many hours in photo blinds sitting on bare wood or metal. Blue skies and a moderate wind out of the north make for perfect conditions for photographing. Stretched out in front of me is a beautiful deep-blue lake ringed...

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Dead River Falls: Popular Among Thrill-Seekers

Locally, the Dead River Falls are well known, but they aren’t as well known state-wide. Today, Greg Kretovic, author of Waterfalls of Michigan, takes us on a visit. Here is his report. Dead River Falls is a popular destination for local college students and thrill-seekers who cliff-jump into the river. At the wild and rugged falls, you’ll instantly forget you’re only a few minutes from town. If you’re looking for adventure and some amazing terrain, this place is for you. The Dead River Falls are actually made up of several waterfalls. For a half mile, the river flows through a gorge of steep, rocky terrain and drops in elevation nearly 100 feet. Between the first waterfall and the last, you will discover some incredible spots to view the river—whether from a bluff or up close on jagged volcanic rock. Along the way, the river twists and turns through a forest of giant hemlocks, cedars,...

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Red Fox Sighting in Yellowstone National Park

Each winter Stan Tekiela makes a pilgrimage to his favorite winter wonderland, Yellowstone National Park.  Today, Stan shares with us his encounters with the clever Red Fox. Everything from the tiniest critters to the largest predators inhabits the park, making it one of the few places with a complete ecosystem. I go in winter especially for the predators, both large and small. One of these predators is the Red Fox. They are the smallest of the canids (dog family) in the park. About half the size of a coyote and just a fraction of the size of a wolf, the Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) still manages to find a place to eke out a living. He is one of the most widely distributed members of the canids. They can be found throughout the Northern Hemisphere (North America) from the Arctic Circle to North Africa (nearly all of Europe) and Eurasia. The Red Fox has...

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Wood Storks: Peculiar-Looking Birds

In contrast to the fresh pink of the spoonbill, the wood stork appears oddly prehistoric. A close relative of the spoonbill and the ibis, this is the only stork native to North America. Fossils of a wood stork (or a “sister” stork—one that is very similar) were found in Brazil and date back about 10,000 years. Tropical in origin, these birds haven’t expanded their range beyond their original roots. Wood storks are peculiar-looking wading birds with bald heads and necks. They are large-bodied, with dark legs and pink feet. On the hunt in the water, their long legs help them to wade easily as they maneuver their feet to stir up food from the bottom. While stalking for prey, storks keep the tips of their open bills in the water. When they feel something, they snap their bills shut, capturing the meal. Fish are the main diet but not their only food...

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