Today is Mother’s Day in the US and is a chance to honor and give thanks to mothers, both human and those of the animal variety!
In nature, mothers come in all shapes and sizes and are equipped with a wide range of different parenting styles. We’ve selected a handful of moms with unique and fascinating methods for raising their babies from keeping little ones close for years to kicking them right out of the nest before they can even fly!
Furry and ginormous, American bison mothers live with their young in hierarchical herds led by one dominant female. Within three hours of being born, the newborn calves are able to run about but are guarded closely by many of the herds’ mothers who will charge any intruders. Talk about safety in numbers!
Our fine, feather mom, the long-eared owl, takes on the more ‘distant’ parenting approach. In a behavior known as ‘branching’, chicks leave the nest before they are able to fly and reside in surrounding vegetation, roosting separately, and thereby potentially reducing predation. While the young are capable of flight at around 35 days, both parents continue to provide food for several weeks after fledging.
Read more at ENN Affiliate, ARKive.
Putting the focus (back onto) the marine world – Experts believe the colony of Limaria hians in Loch Alsh, a sea inlet between Skye and mainland, is the largest of its kind. The Guardian reports
The discovery of a large shellfish reef on the west coast of the UK could be the biggest find of its kind in the world, experts believe.
The reef, made up of more than 100 million brightly coloured and rare flame shells, or Limaria hians, was found in Loch Alsh, a sea inlet between Skye and the Scottish mainland. It covers an area of 4.6 sq miles (7.5 sq km) and was discovered during a survey commissioned by Marine Scotland. It is the largest known colony of flame shells in the UK and possibly the world, say experts.
“With Scottish waters covering an area around five times bigger than our landmass, it’s a huge challenge to try and understand more about our diverse and precious sea life.
“This important discovery may be the largest grouping of flame shells anywhere in the world.
“And not only are flame shells beautiful to look at, these enigmatic shellfish form a reef that offers a safe and productive environment for many other species.”
Flame shells have a similar shape to scallops, with many neon orange tentacles that appear between the two shells. They group together on the sea bed and their nests create a living reef to support hundreds of other species.
The Loch Alsh survey was carried out by Heriot-Watt University on behalf of Marine Scotland. Dr Dan Harries, from the university’s school of life sciences, said: “Too often, when we go out to check earlier records of a particular species or habitat we find them damaged, struggling or even gone.
“We are delighted that in this instance we found not just occasional patches but a huge and thriving flame shell community extending right the way along the entrance narrows of Loch Alsh. This is a wonderful discovery for all concerned.”
Ben James, marine survey and monitoring manager at Scottish Natural Heritage, said: “Whilst we had some records of flame shells in Loch Alsh, we had no idea how big the bed was.
“It’s great to have this new information and it’s yet another example of the fantastic diversity of Scotland’s marine environment.”
Hatton Bank, near the Isle of Lewis, covers about 9,752 sq miles (15,694 sq km) and features a large volcanic bank which is home to a large variety of corals.
WWF Scotland spokesman Lang Banks said: “These surveys highlight that Scotland’s seas and coasts are home to a truly amazing range of stunning wildlife.
“Who needs space travel when we’ve still to fully explore and understand the oceans and seas here on planet Earth?”
- Shellfish reef off UK’s west coast could be biggest in world (independent.co.uk)
- ‘Huge’ flame shell bed discovered (bbc.co.uk)
- World’s biggest shellfish reef found in Britain (telegraph.co.uk)
- Shellfish reef ‘huge and thriving’ (standard.co.uk)
- Scottish Shellfish Reef ‘Is World’s Largest’ (news.sky.com)
- Shellfish reef ‘huge and thriving’ (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Scottish News: Shellfish reef ‘huge and thriving’ (acadvertiser.co.uk)
There’s new evidence that our minds thrive away from it all. Children and Nature Network report
Research conducted at the University of Kansas concludes that people from all walks of life show startling cognitive improvement — for instance, a 50 percent boost in creativity — after living for a few days steeped in nature.
Ruth Ann Atchley, whose research is featured in this month’s Backpacker magazine, said the “soft fascination” of the natural world appears to refresh the human mind, offering refuge from the cacophony of modern life.
“We’ve got information coming at us from social media, electronics and cell phones,” said Atchley, associate professor and chair of psychology at KU. “We constantly shift attention from one source to another, getting all of this information that simulates alarms, warnings and emergencies. Those threats are bad for us. They sap our resources to do the fun thinking and cognition humans are capable of — things like creativity, or being kind and generous, along with our ability to feel good and be in a positive mood.”
The researcher said that nature could stimulate the human mind without the often-menacing distractions of workaday life in the 21st-century.
“Nature is a place where our mind can rest, relax and let down those threat responses,” said Atchley. “Therefore, we have resources left over — to be creative, to be imaginative, to problem solve — that allow us to be better, happier people who engage in a more productive way with others.”
Atchley led a team that conducted initial research on a backpacking trip in Utah with the Remote Associates Test, a word-association exercise used for decades by psychologists to gauge creative intelligence. Her fellow researchers included Paul Atchley, associate professor of psychology at KU, and David Strayer, professor of cognition and neural science at the University of Utah.
Intrigued by positive results, the researchers partnered with Outward Bound, the Golden, Colo.-based nonprofit that leads educational expeditions into nature for people of many backgrounds. About 120 participants on outings in places like Alaska, Colorado and California completed the “RAT” test.
“We worked with a number of backpacking groups that were going out last summer,” Ruth Ann Atchley said. “Four backpacker groups took the test before they hit the trail, and then four different groups did it on the fourth day just like we had done before. The data across age groups —regular folks from age 18 into their 60s — showed an almost 50 percent increase in creativity. It really worked in the sense that it was a well-used measure and we could see such a big difference in these two environments.”
Best of all, she said that the benefits of nature belong to anyone who delves completely into wilderness for an amount of time equivalent to a long weekend.
“There’s growing advantage over time to being in nature,” said Ruth Ann Atchley. “We think that it peaks after about three days of really getting away, turning off the cell phone, not hauling the iPad and not looking for internet coverage. It’s when you have an extended period of time surrounded by that softly fascinating environment that you start seeing all kinds of positive effects in how your mind works.”
The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU’s Lawrence campus.
- Researchers find time in wild boosts creativity, insight and problem solving (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- A nature hike is key to refreshing your brain (kansascity.com)
- Nature is good for the mind, KU research finds (kansas.com)
‘We share our lives with these beautiful creatures…. ‘ Turtles on the tarmac : Questioning our relationship with Nature
Originally called ‘As We Seek Nature, We Wall It Out’ by guest blogger Diane Ackerman.
Never mess with a female ready to give birth. A guest blog in The International Herald Tribune. Below, the blog inspired many comments…
~ From: There is this ambivalence about nature. For example, many fear and loathe wolves, though from what I have read, a true attack on a human being is rare, almost unheard of. Yet we happily welcome dogs into our lives, a direct descendant of the wolf.
To…. The most ridiculous premise in this ever present argument is that Humans are not part of Nature – that we are alien to earth.
We must be exterminated to avoid the death of nature?
Graced by beautiful rings and ridges on their shells, diamondbacks look like a field of galaxies on the move. They inhabit neither freshwater nor sea, but the brackish slurry of coastal marshes. Mating in the spring, they need to lay their eggs on land, so in June and July they migrate to the sandy dunes of Jamaica Bay. The shortest route leads straight across the tarmac at Kennedy International Airport.
Never mess with a female ready to give birth. On June 29, more than 150 diamondback terrapins scuttled across Runway No. 4, delaying landings, halting takeoffs, foiling air traffic controllers, crippling timetables and snarling traffic for hours. Cold-blooded reptiles they may be, but they are also ardent and single-minded.
Don’t the plucky turtles notice the jets? Probably not as monsters. Even with polka-dot necks stretched out, diamondbacks don’t peer up very high. And unlike, say, lions, they don’t have eyes that dart after fast-moving prey. So the jets probably blur into background — more of a blowy weather system than a threat. But planes generate a lot of heat, and the turtles surely find the crossing stressful.
Mounted on the shoreline of Jamaica Bay and a federally protected park, indeed almost surrounded by water, J.F.K. occupies land where wildlife abounds, and it’s no surprise that planes have collided with gulls, hawks, swans, geese, and osprey. Or that every summer there’s another turtle stampede, sometimes creating two-hour delays.
People around the world became obsessed with the plight of the quixotic turtles, a drama biblical in its proportions (slow, sweater-necked Samsons vs. steely Goliaths). It defied reason that small reptiles would take on whirring leviathans whose gentlest tap may crush them and whose breath can blow them to kingdom come.
Many people also felt a quiver of disquiet, of something elemental out of place. Supposedly, in our snug, walled-in cities, we’re keeping nature in check, growing docile plants, adopting pets and erecting a buffer of steel and cement. If wild turtles can find their way into suburbia, can larger animals be far behind, ones with fangs and teeth, whose red eyes pierce the night?
The answer is yes; it happens more often than one supposes. Chicago is home to hundreds of coyotes, which have been tracked near strip malls, in parks, and even in residential neighborhoods. Last year, New Jersey hosted a six-day black bear hunt. Moose regularly pay house calls in Alaska, stomping into yards and onto porches, looking for grub. Giant antlers and all, they can leap chain-link fences. On many a golf course in Florida, alligators create an extra water hazard, and lakeside settlers know to keep their Chihuahuas indoors. Mountain lions forage in Montana cities; cougars stalk joggers in California; elk stroll through housing tracts in Colorado. At least one Brooklyn woman found a 7-foot-long python in her toilet. We forget that the animal kingdom is a circle of neighbors who often drop by unannounced.
The myth of our sprawly, paved-over cities and towns is that we’ve driven native animals out and stolen their habitat. Not entirely true. We may drain the marshes, level forests and replace meadows with malls, exiling some animals. But, because we also need nature, we create a new ecology that happens to be very hospitable to wild animals. In some ways, it’s more inviting than wilderness. We install ponds, lawns, groves of edible trees. We leave garbage on the curb and design flowerbeds that are well-watered and well-fed, serving a smorgasbord of delicacies.
We can’t help ourselves; we evolved to feel part of nature’s web. So we erect walls to keep nature out and take pride in scrubbing dirt and dust from our homes. Then we fill our houses with bouquets of flowers, adopt pets and scent absolutely everything that touches our lives. We seat windows in our walls, install seasons (air-conditioning and heat) and fasten at least one noonday sun in every room to shower us with light. Confusing, isn’t it?
In my hometown upstate, we’re blessed by lots of wild animal visitors, from star-nosed moles and foxes to eagles, otters and skunks. White-tailed deer are so numerous that they qualify as residents. Each year, I line up behind a dozen cars on a busy highway as a caravan of Canada goose chicks waddles across in a single line between guardian geese, apparently unfazed by motorized honking.
Like the turtles at J.F.K., they remind us that, even with egos of steel and concrete plans, we’re easily humbled by nature in the shape of snowflakes, goslings or turtles — all able to stop traffic. They also remind us how conflicted we really are about nature.
Some of the COMMENTS inspired by this blog ….
* I puzzle over the apparent paradox of people with both bird feeders and outdoor cats. I guess maybe that scenario doesn’t present a paradox — it could reflect an attempt imitate both nature’s nurturing aspect and predatory aspect. http://dictaobscura.wordpress.com/
* You’re right, that there is this ambivalence about nature. For example, many fear and loathe wolves, though from what I have read, a true attack on a human being is rare, almost unheard of. Yet we happily welcome dogs into our lives, a direct descendant of the wolf.
You write beautifully, yet from one of your sentences in particular, I was left with the impression that somehow you view our making over our environment as sometimes good for some animals. We are the only animals who have truly altered our own landscape in a very lasting way. Millions of animals have died in the process and many will not ever live because what was once ‘their’ domain – and our primitive ancestors – is no more, buried under miles of asphalt and other alterations. Isn’t it sad that some brave souls try to save the last few of a species on the brink of extinction, breeding them in a safe compound with a hope to release them into a safe habitat in the future?
Nature cannot be improved upon, to think otherwise is somehow not really seeing things as they are, in my view.
* Our conflict with nature goes much deeper than ambivalence regarding wildlife. About wildlife, in fact, I’d argue we humans aren’t really all that conflicted. We want wild creatures to stay in the wild, in their “proper place,” which is away from cities, away from so-called civilization, away from us humans.
The deeper conflict is with our own natures, our impulses to claim territory, aggress on other creatures (including other humans), and take what we want regardless of consequences. As it happens, wildlife do those very things, too. They just don’t feel guilty about it.
* Thank you for a delightful article which reminds us that we humans share the earth with all of these beautiful creatures. The parade of turtles which blocked plane traffic at JFK is a welcome diversion in the frantic pace of our lives, an event far more significant and enriching to our humanity than an ontime departure!
* Thanks for this reminder that many animals have adapted to the presence of man. There is a fiction that is popular amongst mainstream environmental organizations that man must be excluded from nature so that animals can survive. This perception of nature as fragile results in Fortress Conservation even in urban settings. In the San Francisco Bay Area Fortress Conservation has a death grip on our public lands. Some of the resulting access restrictions are described here:http://milliontrees.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/fortress-conservation-the-l….
The Sierra Club has redefined “recreation” to accommodate their agenda: http://milliontrees.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/the-sierra-club-redefines-r…
Environmentalism has lost its way. It has backed itself into an irrelevant corner from which it is no longer capable of addressing serious environmental issues such as climate change and widespread pesticide use.
* The real problem with nature is the overpopulation of humans which take more and more habitat away from the rest of natures children for no other reason than that we can. Humans are the only creature that tries to change the environment instead of living with it.
* Yay, nature. Just don’t mess with my air conditioning.
Yay, trees – unless they block my view of the ocean.
Yay, birds – just don’t bomb my fancy car.
Yay, snow – unless it keeps me away from the slopes.
More Turtles! Fewer New Yorkers!
* The most ridiculous premise in this ever present argument is that Humans are not part of Nature – that we are alien to earth.
We must be exterminated to avoid the death of nature?
- Flights Delayed After 150 Turtles Crawl Onto Kennedy Airport Tarmac (newyork.cbslocal.com)
- Why J.F.K.’s Runway Has Turtles All the Way Down* (news.sciencemag.org)
- Turtles on runway cause delays at JFK airport (cbsnews.com)
- New York flights delayed by turtles laying eggs at Kennedy airport (mirror.co.uk)
- Turtles occupy JFK airport runway (aviationjustice.org)
- They Might Be Slow… (eastsideah.wordpress.com)